Martech is indispensable. It helps with everything from email marketing to website analytics, and it’s incredibly useful in building deeper, more personal relationships with consumers. Quite simply, martech improves our marketing through the smart application of technology — and it’s helping brands shorten the consumer journey and reduce friction in commerce.

The increasing prevalence of martech has led to a booming industry, with more and more providers entering the fray each year. ChiefMartec’s 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic shows the industry in visual form — with more than 3,500 companies in the 2016 edition (up from around 2,500 a year ago).

With so much competition, innovation is inevitable. Below are six martech trends that have been building momentum in 2016 and will be significant forces in the coming year.

1. Cross-device tracking will lead to more personalization

There’s a lot to be said about the “creepiness” of retargeting ads. But tracking consumer behavior tends to come with an upside: increased personalization. In fact, 71 percent of consumers said they prefer ads that fit their interests and shopping habits, according to Adlucent.

There’s a slight problem, though. As consumer attention is fragmented over multiple devices (especially among Gen Z), it gets a lot tougher to collect the necessary data for sophisticated personalization. Piecing together data for accurate cross-device customer profiles can still be a challenge. Fortunately, martech providers will be continually offering better tools to track cross-device activity (like Google, which recently introduced cross-device retargeting).

2. AI is taking martech into the future

Artificial intelligence is getting more and more sophisticated, and machines are gaining the ability to do lots of human-like things. Not only can they soundly defeat the world’s top chess masters, but they can also write news headlines. As time goes by, artificial intelligence will be further integrated with martech and the possibilities seem endless. As David Raab noted at MarTech 2016, “Using machines effectively will be essential for future success.”

3. The industry will become increasingly crowded

“The industry has accepted that we’re living in a world of 1,000+ marketing technology solutions for the foreseeable future,” says Scott Brinker of ChiefMartec. His point: There’s a lot of competition out there, and the battle between point solutions and all-in-one suites will continue to rage on.

Amid the chaos, consider starting with this simple question: What’s best for your customer? To understand what your customers need, you need data that fits together and gives you a comprehensive picture of the customer journey. Are you able to effectively manage your point solutions, for example, so they’re integrated seamlessly? The better you are at getting the most out of your martech, the better you can communicate with your customers.

4. More marketers are picking up social media martech

Almost one-third of marketers intend on acquiring a social marketing tool in the next year, according to Walker Sands’ State of Marketing Technology 2017 report. It’s been a banner year for social media, and as the space becomes noisier, savvy companies will hyper-target their messaging.

5. The lines between martech and adtech are blurring

Martech and adtech have been converging for a while now. This trend will only accelerate, as harmony between the two sectors will help create even more personalized and engaging ads for consumers.

6. Email still works, and martech will only make it better

Consumers are quick to report email as spam, but that’s often because they get so many irrelevant messages sent to them. The truth is, email is still an excellent way to reach your customers. It’s one of the most personal mediums, and you can use it to have one-on-one conversations you can’t initiate anywhere else. The key is sending your customers information they want to hear. There’s good news in this regard. In 2017, we’ll be seeing more innovation in areas like triggered emails and automation, according to Martech Today’s James Green. The result will be more valuable messages that give customers the information they want, exactly when they want it.

Be sure to watch for plenty of martech innovations from Curalate in 2017. One is Intelligent Product Tagging — technology that can analyze an image and use machine learning to identify the products depicted within that image.

We’re also on the cutting edge of Facebook Dynamic Ads, helping Creative Recreation double clickthrough rates with their retargeting ads and helping Schutz get a 98x return on ad spend.