One of the most fun aspects of being an analyst is the opportunity to look to the future and peer around corners in an effort to bring clients ideas about the most promising new techniques and tools that could drive business results. Every year, Gartner publishes a long list of Cool Vendors across myriad sectors. This year, we’ve covered more marketing technologies than ever before.  That’s because innovation in marketing is steadily increasing as both an executive expectation and as a meaningful part of the marketing budget.

Our 2015-2016 CMO spend report found that 71% of marketing leaders have a dedicated budget for innovation, up from 64% last year. On average, that budget was 10% of the total marketing expense budget.  That’s no small sum for most brands.

But what are marketers spending that innovation budget on and what cool new technologies should be on your radar in the near term?  And, furthermore, how do you go about selecting the products and vendors that are right for your business?

digital marketing technologies, transit map

Here are a few highlights from some of our 2016 marketing cool vendors reports as well as guidance on technology selection.

  • Cool Vendors in Content Marketing: As content marketing grows up from its early tactical success to become a scalable program, marketers need to expand their content pipeline with high quality results. The vendors highlighted in this year’s research all heed that call: Seenit supports UGC video, Canva and Visage extend graphic design capabilities and Cintell helps increase content relevance by making personas more actionable.
  • Cool Vendors in Digital Commerce Marketing: Marketers need to enhance and evolve their digital commerce marketing to create compelling shopping experiences. Both Edgecase and Reflektion make shopping more informative and relevant, while ChannelSight powers distributed commerce and shoppable media to expand marketers’ addressable audience. Two players make it easier to merchandising complex products – Marxent uses virtual reality to bring products and environments to life, while True Fit takes the guesswork out of sizing shoes and clothing online.
  • Cool Vendors in Mobile Marketing: Understanding how consumers use mobile devices to engage online and offline is key to an effective mobile marketing strategy. Location based marketing is top of mind. Bluefox helps retailers and brands engage in location based personalization – without the need for an app, NinthDecimal supports location related insights with a focus on online/offline attribution and Gravy provides location informed behavioral analytics by tracking attendance at live events. Yext, serves the flip side of location, helping businesses maintain their physical-world information across online directories and listings. Marfeel – the only non-location based player in this year’s lineup – provides tools to design native mobile-optimized pages that load faster and create better end-user experiences.
  • Cool Vendors in Social Marketing: Social marketers are looking for new ways leverage the audiences they’ve built over years – from activation to insights – especially now that advertising dominates organic reach in social. On the activation front, Ahalogy helps clients drive sales through pay-for-performance via Pinterest, Chirpify offers awards in return for social engagement that builds out richer customer profiles and Mavrck uses the concept of microinfluence to drive scalable word-of-mouth efforts. Using social data for customer insights, Hyperactivate lets brands track and understand which individuals create the most campaign impact whereas Pixability helps marketers track and optimize their YouTube advertising efforts.
  • Framework for Choosing Digital Marketing Technology (Gartner client access only): With so many cool vendors, you need to choose carefully to ensure that you get the most bang for your marketing buck. It’s vital that you don’t jeopardize your investment by looking too narrowly at a particular feature set or become restricted by unrealistic budget caps. You need to hone in on how the technology will help you achieve your marketing goals. Gartner’s framework will help you define and articulate the capabilities you need the tech to deliver. And it will guide you through the process of vendor selection, to ensure you get the tech that’s best for you.

You can learn more about each of the trends and vendors by checking out the Cool Vendors reports in full – they are freely available to all.  If you’re keen to learn about more trends and innovations relying on AR, VR and IoT – consider joining us next week in San Diego at the Digital Marketing Conference where we’ll be diving in deep.

All that said, take heed, innovative marketers are spending more time to differentiate their brands through creative experimentation. If you don’t have an innovation budget or pipeline – start building the case for it today.

1 Comment
  1. July 4, 2016 at 1:42 pm
    Kathy Spencer says:

    Hey Kristen
    Excellent post I must say! The increase in the digital spend can also be attributed to the convenience businesses have catering to a digital identity that of the customer or user. In this age of the customer, her digital identity and the digital footprints left behind online is what is helping marketers make confident strategic decisions. What do you think?
    Kathy Spencer

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