MarTech Was an Early Player in Retail's Big Shift

For as long as customers have been buying products, marketers have been trying to convince them to. From humble beginnings of handmade posters in the town square, marketing has come a long way to become the advanced MarTech industry it is today.

With the advent of the internet came the biggest change in how marketing fundamentally functions. Cutting edge technology shifted best practices from the idea that marketers should be telling consumers what to buy, to that of marketers engaging consumers in a conversation about what they really want.

Before the technology age, marketing and advertising were not very targeted, and they was passive. Everyone reading the newspaper saw one advertisement, and the admen were hedging their bets that enough of those people would respond to that one message. It was an imprecise method.

With emerging technology in the 80’s and 90’s, the industry transitioned towards the first iteration of direct marketing with the birth of telemarketing. Once email came around, telemarketing transitioned to spam, which was also quickly relegated to the same “please, no!” pile as telemarketing. Once online payments and e-commerce, and all the data that came with them really took off, marketing made its first giant leap into the technology age.

E-commerce sites provided big data on customer behavior and with this new information the world of MarTech exploded. After only a couple decades of development, the industry now boasts hundreds of startups and longstanding companies dedicated to improving targeting, analytics, funnel management, copy writing, SEO, SEM, search rankings, click through rates, downloading content, lead generation, etc.

This array of marketing technology can be applied at every point on the retail spectrum. When it comes to enterprise, grocery chain Kroger is a frontrunner in the MarTech and data mining field. Kroger noticed early on that customer data was the key to smart success, despite the fact that they do not work in e-commerce. They put tons of money and energy into loyalty programs, effectively data mining their customers’ buying habits while building up loyalty. According to Advancing Retail, they have over 500 data analysts, showing the industry that even if you are an e-commerce store and gathering all the data on your customers is the easy part, being able to decipher that data is what will really put you ahead of the crowd.

It’s not only the big guys with massive advertising budgets who can make technology work for them, either. Growth and marketing in the age of technology has become so highly effective and agile that it’s even spread into a new category of “growth hacking,” a popular method for gaining a lot of PR attention by leveraging virality, instead of capital. This method aims to attract users, whether paying customers or not.

The fact that inbound marketing techniques, or those that promote conversation and mutual “attraction” between customers and marketers, have paved this path towards highly effective marketing technology solutions goes to show that the entire retail industry is working towards a more collaborative future, and that’s for the better — for everyone. More information is shared on both sides of the table, products are being created that better suit consumers’ needs, and they’re getting to consumers faster and more efficiently than ever. This revolution is top to bottom and back up again, furthering the central idea of shifting power and voice from the advertisers to creating a collaborative and conversational environment and structure.