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5 Predictions From the World’s Most Intense Marketing Conference

Last night, a close friend who works in content marketing DMed me on Twitter. She was very concerned.

“I have to admit I’m Twitter stalking you because I’m intrigued that this conference has you turned into a tween at a Harry Styles concert,” she wrote. “You’re suddenly VERY EXCITED about things like demand waterfall. Or, intervention? Anyway def going to pump you for cliff notes.”

It’s true. Over last few days at the SiriusDecisions Summit, I’ve tweeted about marketing and content strategy like a deranged Directioner. I attend a dozen marketing conferences every year, and SiriusDecisions is by far the most intense one I’ve been to—a constant barrage of intriguing frameworks that have my head spinning.

The attendees are almost all marketing leaders, and as a result, you get a unique look into the future of the industry. You know what that means: It’s time for a prediction piece! After spending three days trapped inside a conference hall in the middle of the Las Vegas strip, here are five predictions I have for the future of marketing.

1. Collaborative measurement dashboards are going to be mandatory

On Tuesday, I was sitting in a case study on digital attribution. Dan Roden, Domo’s senior director of product advocacy, asked us to raise our hands if we went to too many meetings.

I raised both.

Roden pointed at me. “You know why you’re going to too many meetings, Kevin? ” he yelled, before clarifying that he was calling me Kevin because I looked like a Kevin. “You’re going to too many meetings because you don’t all have the same data. Nancy and Jim have different data, and you have meetings to talk about data.”

Roden presented an alternative: What if we were all aligned on our metrics, had real-time dashboards, and could just message each other instead of wasting valuable time building PowerPoints to advocate for the the work we’ve already done?

It’s a compelling argument, and dashboards that can quickly and elegantly aggregate metrics from different sources have become crucial in the dizzying era of big data. Domo is going all-in on enabling collaboration within those dashboards via commenting and chat features. For people who are sick and tired of going to meetings, that kind of software sure is tempting.

2. The backlash to big data is coming

We have too much data flowing at us right now, and we’re looking at too many metrics without a sense of which ones matter. You can feel a backlash to big data brewing.

I was talking to one of SiriusDecisions’ senior researchers this morning. I’d attended one of her measurement dashboard sessions, and she had explicitly given attendees about 10 metrics they should be measuring, no questions asked. She didn’t want to talk about measurement in broad strokes and simply give people the tools to figure it out on their own. She realized that we were in an age where people needed to be told exactly what to measure; otherwise, we’ll drown amidst hundreds of possible KPIs. (Check out yesterday’s post for more about how Sirius is thinking about measurement.)

I’d wager this is the next big marketing movement—marketers need to pick five to 10 metrics and get back to work.

3. The winner of the predictive intelligence war is going to be a super unicorn

What is a super unicorn? I’m not really sure. But here’s what shows up when I search “super unicorn” on Giphy:

Well, I’m not sure any of us can unsee that.

Point is: One of the most sought-after technologies is predictive intelligence that can pinpoint buyers who are starting to search for a solution like yours. But judging from the reviews on G2 Crowd, no one has really cracked the code on that yet. But if someone does? There’s nothing marketers want more, and that company will make billions upon billions.

4. Account-based marketing won’t be adopted universally until the 2020s

Account-based marketing (ABM) is the new kale. At least 10 percent of the sessions at SiriusDecisions involved account-based marketing in some way (for content, for sales, for operations, for grandmas!). The sessions were packed. People want to figure out how to do it right. I’m one of those people.

At several ABM sessions, audience polls and questions quickly revealed that most people aren’t using ABM effectively. There’s still a lot of confusion as to what ABM really means. A lot of folks think it means making content and messaging meant for one specific company. But SiriusDecisions has defined it as creating content that appeals to buyer personas inside common target accounts. Think creating content to appeal to leaders inside Fortune 100 financial service companies, not just Bank of America.

Account-based marketing is getting a lot of hype right now, but it’s going to be a few years before most organizations can implement it successfully.

5. Marketers will run out of metaphors

So far this trip, I have seen presentations built around the metaphors of waterfalls, turbines, Fibonacci sequences, seashells, skyscraper architecture, and many more. While this is all very majestic and industrial, let’s slow down people. We’re going to run out. Let’s save some for next year.

Image by Annabelle Breakey / Getty
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