What is the most important word in the phrase “data-driven marketing?”

Lots of marketers might think it’s “data.” But every marketer has data; we’re practically drowning in the stuff. The problem is that not all of us are using our data to inform decision-making and improve results.

No, the most important word in “data-driven marketing” is “driven.” It means we’re not just sitting on the data; not just collecting and filing it away. It means we are putting that data to work.

My team recently published a report on the trends shaping the future of martech. Unsurprisingly, all of these trends rely on marketers making better use of their data.

5 Martech Trends for Data-Driven Marketers
Keep these trends in mind as you plan your own data-driven marketing strategy.

1. Personalization Gets More Personal
It’s no longer enough to add a [first name] field to your marketing emails. Customers are used to being called by name. Now they want content tailored exclusively to their needs, and they want it delivered in the format they choose.

That means we need to transform drip campaigns into a branching, responsive journey that delivers content at just the right trigger points. We need to move from static blog posts to modular content that intelligent software can assemble on the fly to match each customer’s needs.

Personalization turns marketing into a conversation, rather than a broadcast. Martech is crucial for delivering the experiences that customers demand.

2. Programmatic Buying Is Taking Over
From around the 1400s through the 2000s, the way we bought advertising didn’t change much. A media outlet would offer ad space, a brand representative would bid on it or purchase it, and the outlet would display the ads. From broadsheets to newspapers to television to banner ads, the basic process was the same.

But now there’s a new way to buy and sell advertising, and it operates exponentially faster than the human mind ever could. Programmatic buying involves rules-based artificial intelligence programs holding microsecond-long auctions for ad space on the web. These automated, lightning-fast bidding wars happen in the instant between opening a web page and seeing the content load in.

Simply put, computers are faster and more accurate than humans for these transactions. Marketers who get on board with programmatic buying can expect higher conversion rates and lower costs of acquisition compared to traditional buying.

If you haven’t gotten started, the time is now: Forrester predicts 65% of all digital ad spend, and 90% of mobile display ads, will be programmatic by next year.

3. Omnichannel Beats Multichannel
Too many marketers think “multichannel” means “we have to message on every channel where our audience might be.” In other words, it means broadcasting everywhere, hoping to attract attention.

Like I mentioned earlier, modern marketing isn’t about broadcasting. It’s about the conversation. Potential customers should be able to interact with your brand on multiple channels. That’s the baseline.

True omnichannel takes it one step further: Customers can have a single ongoing conversation with your brand regardless of channel—phone, email, social message, chatbot—and every channel adds its data to the larger conversation. The experience should be consistent and continuous.

True omnichannel requires a robust customer data platform to unite all of these disparate conversations and give your brand conversational “memory” that carries across channels.

4. Smarter Analytics = Smarter Decision Making
The most successful marketers know that marketing is a game of inches. Measurement, analysis, and optimization are crucial for continually improving results over time. Martech is making it easier to unite data and analyze it.

We’re starting to see AI applied to the process, too. Adding AI makes it easier to collect huge data sets and analyze them faster than any human (or spreadsheet) could. AI-driven analytics will help marketers spot trends, identify outliers, measure the effectiveness of messaging, and much more.

5. Privacy and Security Will Drive Strategy
Brands are collecting more customer data than ever before. But customers are also starting to become aware of, and concerned about, the sheer volume of personal data being collected. Each new data breach just serves to underscore how much data is out there, and how little control consumers have over it.

Data-driven marketers have the responsibility to keep data secure and private. It’s an ethical and business obligation—one company will be rewarded for upholding. Customers will gravitate toward businesses that respect their privacy. Making sure your brand is trustworthy and transparent with data makes good business sense and customer loyalty more likely.

Privacy and security solutions should be an indispensable part of your martech stack.

It Comes Down to Data
Customer data is at the heart of personalization at scale, choosing audiences for programmatic buying, tracking conversations across channels, and optimizing results over time. Most importantly, your team’s commitment to data security and privacy will determine whether customers put their trust in your brand, or a competitor’s.

Ready to become a truly data-driven marketer? Learn how data is shaping the Future of Martech in our interactive guide.