There are about 100,000 software companies around the world, and that number could grow to 1 million by 2027 as tools become more and more hyper-specialized.

That means a seemingly never-ending cycle of innovation in how to communicate, automate and track with potential customers. Unless you have unlimited resources, you’ll have to figure out which tools make the most sense for you financially and which are luxuries or simply wastes of time and money. Marketo is a marketing automation platform focused on analytics, web management, digital ads, and social, mobile and email marketing. It surveyed a bevy of digital marketing specialists to find out what they believe that you should be prepared for in 2018.

Its 2018 Marketing Predictions slideshow contained lots of interesting thoughts. Here were several that stuck out:

  • Batch-n-blast emails are on the way out. Technology is getting better at being able to deliver behavior-based communications. The one-size-fits-all email group is increasingly ineffective.
  • Marketing directors will have to think like financial directors. Financial directors are going to be more likely to ask marketers to prove a ROI on the various dollars being spent. Research and use technology that can track financial outcomes.
  • Test, test and test again. Don’t just assume that a message is working. Try various messages, different images, different platforms, different times. That will create the data you need to do more of what is working and less of what isn’t.
  • Content personalization and targeting will become more automated. Artificial intelligence will continue to provide more and better data on your target market. That means more people going after your specific customer. You’ll have to work harder to deliver interesting and relevant messages.
  • Increasing use of social channels as first line of communication. Today’s consumer expects almost instant responses to product inquiries and support issues. To deliver, you’ll have to look at a chatbot strategy. Do your best to personalize it or it will hurt your brand.
  • Video will continue to grow in popularity. Develop a strategy that includes video and livestreaming. It’s your best chance to engage in real time.
  • Events will become more integral in marketing strategies. It may seem strange, but as marketing becomes more automated and digital, face-to-face marketing will increase in value. It’s easier to get the message out about your business, but most people still want to know the people with whom they are doing business. Make the experience memorable, though. Have a multichannel engagement strategy to drive attendee engagement to your brand.
  • Staffing must adjust to new tools. As the marketing technologies grow and proliferate, you’ll need to adjust your staff to take advantage.
  • The year of Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, are becoming increasingly able to allow hyper-targeting by company and job function or by retargeting specific prospect lists on Google.