Over the past few years, data-driven marketing meant investing in programmatic advertising, using smart retargeting tools, and taking a persona-based approach to your marketing campaign creative. But those activities are increasingly table stakes.

So, with an eye towards on 2018, we asked marketers at our recent meetup for their vision of what data-driven marketing looks like in 2018.

Here’s what we learned.

2018 is the Year Data Gets Integrated

Marketers used to feel frustrated about not having enough data to make the right decisions. But these days, the issue isn’t a lack of data. Rather, it’s the overabundance of siloed data.

For Mimi Rosenheim, Director of Web Marketing, Demandbase, her 2018 data-driven marketing vision is all about blending data and segmenting data in a more granular way.

“I’m looking for relevance,” she said. “I’m looking for being able to not explicitly get information, but use a combination of data to get implied scores in order to increase the velocity through our funnel.”

She plans to do a lot more data blending to enable her team to pinpoint smaller segments and better understand what moves the needle.

2018 is the Year of Experimentation to Bring Down Acquisition Costs

Everyone likes a sure bet, especially when it comes to marketing campaigns. But the bad thing about data-driven marketing best practices—and those sure bets—is as they rise in popularity, they also often rise in cost per acquisition as well. For example, analyst reports are great lead generation tools, but they rise in cost significantly year-after-year. That means data-driven marketers are going to be taking a test-and-learn approach in 2018.

“The cost of acquisition just grows and grows and grows as we’re all doing the same tactics every year,” said Emma Dunstone, Vice President, Marketing, Mixpanel. “We have to find a different way to do things. And that means giving yourself permission to try things that just don’t work, just to say, “Okay, at least I tried that.”

For Dunstone, she’s starting by looking for the stickiest prospects.

“Who are the sticky people?What is it they like to do—both what it is and why they do it,” she said. “Then start using that message right at the top end. These guys are the ones that give us the most revenue at the end, keep turning over and renewing and upgrading. I want to find these now up here [at the top of the funnel].”

2018 is the Year of the Exceptional Customer Journey

By now, data-driven marketers understand the buyer’s journey isn’t a linear path. And it’s not the same for each persona—let alone for each customer. That’s where data comes in. Data-driven marketers will be using data to architect a more powerful customer journey.

“When you look across the marketing function, it’s really about how do we create this experience from tip to tail for our customers and our prospects that is value added at every step and makes them, really brings them close to us as a company,” said Claire Hunsaker, Senior Director of Demand Generation, Okta. “And it [the customer journey] sounds often squishy, but it is entirely just a series of data-driven decisions and data-driven interactions. I’m excited at what that looks like.”

If this vision of data-driven marketing feels like a stretch goal for your team, schedule a people.ai demo today and we’ll show you how to make it a reality.