As we approach the end of 2023, we start to turn our attention to the Digital trends and innovations that will shape 2024.
As a consultant I find myself in the privileged position of hearing directly from the market – specifically, from CMOs of some of the largest businesses within the investment management vertical – on upcoming challenges and plans for next year, within the Digital space.
Feedback from prominent individuals within the industry is broadly centred around the requirement for Marketing to ‘do more with what you have’, while both continuing to serve as a strategic partner to the business and illustrating how Marketing improves the client experience and drives growth.
There are four key areas we believe digital marketing teams will be focusing on in 2024. These are artificial intelligence (AI), hyper-personalisation, marketing automation and tech stack optimisation.
These four elements are linked, and I will explore how in this article.
Rest assured that this isn’t going to be another article hyping up AI. Nonetheless, it’s useful to understand the role it can play in your business.
If you haven’t been caught up in the AI hype that has dominated headlines throughout 2023, our advice would be to – at the very least – dive in and enough empower yourself with information, so you’re able to make an informed decision on its use, or not.
We hear the terms AI and ChatGPT mentioned in the same sentence so often, as if they are a single entity. AI is much broader than this and we don’t generally believe that ChatGPT is the solution for businesses in investment management. Sure, there can be some useful outputs, but we work in a highly regulated industry, where tone-of-voice is carefully crafted and authenticity is paramount. ChatGPT is unlikely to be able to accurately reflect the way your business wants to position itself (at least for now). Another concern is data protection – once data has been inputted into ChatGPT, it’s no longer private. This could likely be a business risk. Our advice would be to use it with caution (assuming your business hasn’t already stopped usage).
So, what are the alternatives? We would split approaches here into those that are top-down and those that are bottom-up. Most services are in a race to adopt AI in a practical way. This includes products we already use, such as Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Zoom, Salesforce and Adobe, to name a few. Utilising AI within tools that have been rigorously tested before release can be seen as a safer (and far cheaper) way of attaining exposure to assistive technology. Big businesses that have access to huge historical data sets generally do a good job of understanding how AI can be leveraged to produce practical outputs. We consider this a top-down approach.
Contrastingly, a bottom-up approach may involve creating your own AI product. This would most likely be a LLM (large language model) or custom GPTs, where you can train the algorithm specifically for your business, so your tone of voice, investment philosophy and other considerations are accurately captured. The great benefit of this in our industry is that the data stays within the entity. However, while there are clear benefits and use cases here, it is time consuming and can be costly.
The adoption of artificial intelligence can be viewed as the key that unlocks the ability to super-charge activity. As we move to our next topic, automation, you will see how AI can be applied in practice.
Marketing Automation isn’t a new concept, but it does provide the ability for businesses to manage and develop a huge number of opportunities or touchpoints throughout the marketing funnel – far more than a sales team could alone. The benefit is that, once it has been implemented, automation follows a defined set of parameters all day, every day, until you tell it to stop.
Key examples here would include lead nurture journeys where we could be reaching thousands of uncontacted individuals, empowering them with information and starting to drive them through the funnel. Alternately, there could be a re-engagement journey, using automation to reach out to previous clients or individuals who have dropped out of the funnel after some previous engagement, or complex event journeys.
We are able to serve these individuals with tailored journeys, using multiple touchpoints. When we add the ability to achieve a high degree of personalisation, we know we are more likely to receive engagement.
Going back to one of my opening statements, automation allows Marketing departments to tangibly illustrate their contribution to the businesses they’re part of. Practical metrics here would include number of outreach touchpoints, as well as delivery of marketing- and sales-qualified leads.
Automation requires a highly complex environment, with lots of data. This lends itself to being a great opportunity for AI support – which is where hyper-personalisation comes into play.
The ability to leverage AI functionality to crunch data in real-time, segment audiences based on their activity and provide them with personalised content and personalised experiences is a functionality that can take our marketing to the next level.
By hyper-personalisation we mean the ability to personalise content and experiences, right down to the level of the individual. This is very challenging to do without the assistance of AI.
A real-world example of hyper-personalisation is ‘send time optimisation’. If we take newsletter sends, historically marketers would try to optimise their approach through finding the best time of the week to send the newsletter in terms of opens and engagement. Using AI, we can send the newsletter to each individual on the distribution list at the time they are most likely to open the email (but within the time parameters we set). The benefit here is that our emails are at the top of recipients’ inboxes at the time they are most likely to open and engage with them, giving us a clear advantage over our competitors.
While there are a host of other examples, this illustrates how we can benefit from using artificial intelligence to crunch vast amounts of data, producing tangible actions to improve the experience of the client or prospect and in turn, yield better results.
So far, we have discussed how AI can improve (amongst other things) the effectiveness of your marketing automation. This can help drive a higher conversion rate for the business, while building a better experience for clients and prospects is also enhanced through hyper-personalisation. I did tell you it was all linked.
The last piece of the puzzle is tech stack optimisation.
As previously mentioned when discussing the ‘top-down’ approach to adopting AI, lots of the products or services businesses already own have now built assistive AI technology into their processes.
Making sure you are using the technology you already own to optimise your marketing is a key area of focus for 2024.
This allows marketers to do more with what they already have.
It’s common for us to see businesses that have great tech stacks but aren’t really optimising their use. Next year could be the time to do that.
2024 feel like an exciting opportunity to mark a sea change in our marketing approach and effectiveness, an area we would very much enjoy partnering with you on.