In speaking about the always changing nature of marketing, Steve Lucas, Marketo’s new CEO, half-joked “Wait 5 minutes… It’ll change!” In fact, in his opening keynote at Marketo’s annual Marketing Nation Summit, he spent ten or so minutes discussing the rapid pace at which marketing is evolving.

Why is the art and science of marketing evolving so quickly?

Partly because consumers are more empowered than ever with better decision-making tools; gone are the days where salespeople could sell on charm or big brand recognition alone.

Another reason why marketing is changing so dramatically is due to how rapidly marketing budgets are increasing from year to year. For example, if you evaluate the annual digital advertising budgets, you’ll see 10% to 20% YoY increases from 2014 on to 2020. Because budgets are increasing, there are more and more small martech startups that want a piece of the pie. In order to differentiate they are always creating new ways of doing marketing; thus, the constant changes in the art and science of marketing.

Constantly evolving martech landscape

So, what does all this mean for marketing technology and those of us marketers that live and die by martech?

While I was at the Marketing Nation Summit recently, I talked with dozens of martech influencers from many of the most innovative martech companies. I asked five of them to share what they thought some of the greatest trends and fastest changing niches were in marketing technology. Below I’ve shared portions of those interviews with you, including my thoughts on five of the most important martech shifts they discussed.

1. Account-Based Marketing

Everywhere you turn, it seems, conference-goers were talking about account-based marketing (ABM) and the technology that is enabling it. As this is a topic that many attendees were clamoring for, Marketo did a fabulous job of providing breakout sessions for ABM — with ABM being the third most presented on the topic, after marketing analytics (first) and marketing/sales alignment (second).

“The Marketo Summit is an important event because it is all about marketing,” said Heidi Bullock, the Chief Marketing Officer for Engagio. “We were very excited that one of the biggest storylines at this year’s summit was account-based marketing.”

Engagio, one of the main sponsors and exhibitors at the conference, provided one of the leading platforms for gaining insight into your company’s specific ABM needs and then helping you fulfill those needs. When asked about this, Heidi shared that “Engagio’s approach to ABM is fundamentally different than what we often hear about. Our marketing orchestration platform provides customer-facing teams with account-level insights and the ability to run coordinated plays throughout the entire customer journey — not just at a singular point in time. Our customers are successful because marketing and sales can actually align to drive the right business outcomes in target accounts.”

2. Evolving Marketing Automation Platforms

I’ve attended, several times, conferences for each of the big three marketing automation providers (Marketo, Oracle/Eloqua, and Hubspot) and one thing that each of them focuses on at their conference is improvements and evolutions of their platforms. Daniel Johansen, the Marketing Operations Manager for MaritzCX, a leader in customer experience research, shared his findings on how Marketo is evolving its solution:

“The redesign and changes Marketo is making to their platform are very exciting. As a marketer who works with Marketo daily, the improvements they are making, not only to the look and feel but to the functionality of their tool, will help me be more productive and efficient at my job. New features and enhancements will make their tool more flexible and easy to use, while improvements to their analytics suite will streamline our reporting and help surface insights into our marketing efforts. I’m looking forward to Marketo rolling out these updates so I can get my hands on them.”

3. Big Data Fuels the Engagement Marketing Economy

In addition to speaking about the quick pace of changes prevalent in the world of marketing, Steve Lucas also introduced the idea that marketers need to be creating positive engagements with our prospects and customers. Adam Hutchinson, the Senior Marketing Manager at Socedo, explained how an engagement marketing economy is powered by big data:

“Summit 2017 underscored a fundamental shift in the way marketers are required to consume and take action on data. Marketo is investing in its big data architecture to fuel the engagement economy. Predictive vendors such as Lattice Engines and 6sense are adding more and more behavioral data into their algorithms. Intent data providers like Socedo and Bombora are bringing granular, third-party data directly into marketers’ central stacks.”

In addition to providing valuable insight into big data and engagement marketing, Adam also provided me with a prediction that I tend to agree with, “Mark my words: Sending a single irrelevant message to a contact will become absolutely unacceptable for B2B and B2C marketers alike by Summit 2018.”

4. Intersection of Adtech and Martech

This year’s Marketing Nation Summit marked a significant milestone for the intersection of advertising technology and marketing technology. While Marketo already has some powerful integrations between its marketing system and social media websites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn (through their AdBridge feature), they announced a big partnership with AdRoll.

I’ve been an advocate for AdRoll and used it for several employers to more efficiently retarget site visitors with relevant ads along their buyer journey. As such, I got time with Jessica Cross, the Senior Manager of Customer Lifecycle at AdRoll, for a quote about their integration:

“I’m excited for the final merging of adtech and martech.  As a B2B marketer who has used advertising solutions for 8+ years, bridging the gap between the two industries has often meant running reports in regular old spreadsheets. Now with the work of AdRoll in partnership with Marketo, B2B marketers can see inside their system of record the impressions served, view-throughs, and conversions of prospects in their funnel. We’ve finally connected the dots between adtech and martech.”

5. Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots Find a Place in Marketing

Even though artificial intelligence and chatbots have been around for a few years now, it is only recently that they’ve really begun to mature to a point of being valuable to marketers. For the first time ever, several breakout sessions at the conference were dedicated to these two inter-connected topics.

For the last few months, I’ve been helping clients build out chatbots for marketing, and have been reading a lot from industry experts about artificial intelligence. For this reason, I turned to one of the thought leaders in this space, Josh Hill, Director of Lead Lifecycle Management for RingCentral, for a quote concerning AI in marketing:

“The next stage of B2B martech is to plug in artificial intelligence. AI can be used to target the right message at the right time, allowing marketers to move from linear stages to mirroring the reality of the buyers’ “messy” journey. AI will manage email nurturing as well as the DMPs to manage anonymous intent data and messaging. We won’t see this for a few years. In the meantime, bring in your DMP and anonymous data.”

If you’re interested in learning more about how to build your own chatbot, you should check out this #MarTechMonday post about how to create a chatbot in around 10 minutes. You also might enjoy this #MarTechMonday post on building artificial intelligence for your chatbot.