Just a few decades ago, consumers and companies alike were focusing on hardware: which new phone, which brand of computer, which car would be the best? But that’s not necessarily the case today, in large part simply because the exponential advances in hardware capabilities that helped to make the information age and the digital revolution possible are beginning to plateau, at least in terms of quantifiable returns on investment.
We have the storage, the speed, and the networks to accomplish our goals. But innovation doesn’t sleep. If it’s not the hardware that’s fueling it today, what is it? The answer is software. This is a particularly noticeable phenomenon in marketing, right now. It’s no longer about what print ads, what coupons, what physical mailings go out—it’s about what platforms you engage your audience on, and how.
And that’s not the only way in which marketing software is becoming more important by the day: it’s also making big waves when it comes to collecting and utilizing information that results in data-driven, technologically advanced, efficient, and effective marketing campaigns.
No more guesstimating, because not only do you have the data, you also have a huge selection of quality tools to analyze that data, and truly put it to work. Data driven campaigns deliver, there’s no doubt about it.
Marketing automation software will continue to improve. The sheer quantities of useful data will continue to grow as more people and more devices become increasingly interconnected. Marketing has always been part art and part science. Through the use of marketing automation software, we’re learning more and more about how to harness the science to see results. Software isn’t vulnerable to the prejudices, habits, or biases that a human marketer is, and of course, it is far more efficient at those tasks that it can perform.
Because of the nature of marketing itself, its purpose, and the requirements it must meet to achieve that purpose—influencing other people—it also shouldn’t be surprising that advances in marketing software are making their mark in other industries, as well. Many of these insights and software innovations were first dreamed up during marketing and email software development.
Automated Insights’ Wordsmith API, for example, translates raw data into natural language. Narrative Science’s Quill is doing something similar. Marketing software innovations that track behavioral data are teaching us a great deal about consumers and in the process, we’re also learning more human nature and society. Artificial intelligence research has benefited immensely from the desire to incorporate the technology into email marketing software and similar products. Simply by creating a strong commercial demand for better AI, better natural language generation, better predictive analytics, and better voice recognition, marketing software is encouraging innovation.
None of this means that marketing software is putting human marketing experts out of their jobs. On the contrary, many in the profession welcome these developments for the simple reason that automation frees the human marketer from the drudgery associated with the science of marketing—allowing them, instead, to focus on the art of marketing.
Right now, think about how much time the average human marketer spends on the vital (but surely, for most, not enjoyable) things like trying to make sense of the data they’ve collected, trying to communicate that information with the rest of their team, scheduling and carrying out repetitive social media tasks… Today’s software is very capable of accomplishing most of these things in an automated fashion, and it’s only getting better.
So, in one sense—yes, machines are replacing humans. As Mike Rhodin, a Senior Vice President for IBM’s influential AI-oriented Watson groups points out, human beings have always taken freedom from repetitive, mundane chores to be an opportunity to create and innovate. Imagine putting all of that human brain power to work on creative marketing pursuits rather than collating data. The software is far better at dealing with data than most humans—but that frees us up to make our creativity, our spark, our human touch the priority.
There are as many marketing automation software options out there today as there are types of companies. If you’re interested in seeing how marketing software can change your business and give you the opportunity to innovate, it’s a good idea to educate yourself a bit about the top options. Our marketing automation information guide is a great place to start!