From Deren Baker, CEO Jumpshot

Businesses collect massive amounts of data, both about their consumers and about their marketing programs. This pileup of information has transitioned marketing analytics from a buzzword to an essential part of every marketer’s arsenal of tools.

2016 was a big year for marketing analytics, and they’re only going to get bigger in 2017. Marketers hoping to keep up with the competition need to get on board with key trends.

Agile marketing, which 30 percent of marketers currently use, came to the forefront of the industry in 2016, and another 41 percent of marketers plan to implement the tactic this year. With more analytics sources and ad platforms, like Facebook and AdWords, improving, marketers can test, iterate, and optimize throughout a campaign’s life cycle. Agile marketing calls for marketers to achieve this continuous optimization to achieve results in weeks (or even days) instead of months.

2016 also saw a higher demand for data scientists than years past, a role vital to the success of agile marketing.

And when they share those insights, the whole team — from entry-level workers to the CMO — can be data-driven, allowing a company to fully assess what’s working and what’s not.

 

Data Trends Shaping 2017

With 2016 in the rearview mirror, marketers should keep look forward as 2017 boldly forges ahead. Here are three trends to look out for this year to stay in the fast lane to success:

 

1. Marketing will become more customer-centric.

The transition from one-size-fits-all to personalization has already begun, but there’s still room for improvement. This is particularly true when a customer switches devices, such as from a mobile device to a desktop, while researching a product. Using the current cookie-based, cross-device targeting method is useful for advertisers, but there are far too many holes in the capabilities to be reliable. This wastes advertisers’ budgets and hurts customer experience. Persistent IDs, used by companies such as Google and Facebook, can help identify users, but even that provides limited information.

To become more customer-centric, look internally at your customer relationship management warehouse or set up a connection between the CRM team and your marketing team. Very few companies use the massive amount of first-party data that is available to them, but your own data is the most valuable thing you have. Once you have identified the information you have to work with, it can help you handle the rise of more personalized targeting like custom audiences and appropriately emphasize past purchase history to make predictive product offerings based on past viewing habits. A better understanding of your customer across touchpoints improves outreach, customer acquisition, and retention.

 

2. Online-to-offline and cross-device attribution will improve.

Accidentally targeting the same person on multiple devices can be costly or provide a substandard user experience. Eighty-nine percent of those working at marketing agencies say the inability to track consumers across devices is restraining mobile’s development. As smartphones and tablets have now become the dominant devices (versus desktop), the challenge is only increasing. Most digital consumers own at least three connected devices and are always using them, so data matching for online to offline and across devices will become more popular.

To improve attribution, identify your customers across touchpoints to deliver the right offer at the right time and channel. Omnichannel approaches are the answer to the multidevice consumer. In order to reach your customers (no matter the device they’re using) and continue to engage with them as they change devices, seek out companies that can match up cross-device or connect offline to online. Also, partner with a data onboarder to unlock a vast amount of data opportunities.

 

3. Agile marketing will continue to rise.

Agile marketing will keep growing as investment in big data and analytics increases. Real-time data is becoming the norm, making agile marketing more mainstream. Testing and iterations will have a much shorter turnaround, and marketing departments will have to become more agile and effective at making data-driven insights. Marketers are moving toward continuous iterations and using platforms and monitoring tools to analyze results.

Marketers can better use their resources and engage with their customers through agile technology, so staff your team with more analytics professionals. They can piece data together and understand the language of analytics technology. These professionals will help you sift through the data to identify what is useful for real-time bidding and what doesn’t have incremental value.

Marketers saw some interesting progress in marketing analytics in 2016, but even more is coming in 2017. Use data to better understand customer behavior across multiple devices, implement agile marketing, and employ the right people to handle the data you have. Then, you’ll be ready to capitalize on these trends and gain an edge over the competition.

 

Deren Baker is the CEO of Jumpshot, a San Francisco-based startup that offers marketing analytics solutions tailored for the travel, retail, media, financial, and e-commerce industries. He previously held senior roles at Travelocity and Switchfly.