Is machine learning the future of marketing?

What will the future of marketing hold? Will it be entirely automated by smart AIs that fully understand human nuance? Probably not. Will it be entirely manual and managed only by individual people without the aid of technology? Definitely not.

As we’ll discuss shortly, the top influencers in marketing put their heads together on this very topic, and the results may surprise you. In any case, it’s safe to say that marketing probably isn’t going back to the old days of billboards, newspapers, and radio spots. The numbers don’t lie: the future of marketing is definitely digital.

The digital marketing space continues to grow: Online sales have doubled in the past five years, and more than two-third of adults in the U.S. shop online monthly. Revenue for online advertising recently surpassed that of television for the first time in history, and growth of traditional advertising such as TV and print are projected to stay flat while newspaper advertising continues to decline.

What all of this means is that marketers need to develop effective strategies to realize the opportunities digital provides. However, there are several factors that can either help or hinder your digital marketing efforts, and they all revolve around data and the customer journey.

Too much data, too few answers

Marketers must always strive to understand the needs of their customers, so digital marketing is driven by customer data. The good news is that there’s a wealth of data in every online search and click that can reveal insights about consumer behavior and demographics. Ideally, marketers would use this information to drive customer engagement that leads to increased revenues.

The problem is that data isn’t an easy-to-use solution to marketing challenges in and of itself; it needs to be collected, managed, and interpreted correctly for it to have any value at all. Even valuable data can go to waste when it isn’t integrated properly, and most marketing leaders spend up to half their budget on data analytics that ultimately lead to no company-wide improvements.

Data is also often mismanaged because of a lack of central ownership. This leads to significant digital skills gaps that are projected to cost businesses $3.3 billion by 2020 considering that much of the data marketers collect gets mismanaged and thus becomes irrelevant, redundant, or obsolete.

It’s always a bad investment when businesses spend money on data that goes nowhere. There…

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