Econsultancy has recently published their Digital Trends report for the first quarter of 2015.
The regular report is created in partnership with Adobe and aims to highlight key trends in digital, as well discussing challenges that are likely to be faced by marketers in the coming months. The report’s contents are based upon the results of a survey of over six thousand marketers and internet professionals from different types of business around the world.
The main theme of this edition of the report is the suggestion that 2015 will be the year in which customer experience comes to the fore and becomes one of the main focuses for marketers in all industries worldwide.
Products and services that are easiest to use will be favoured by consumers, while brands who focus on a positive overall experience will be rewarded at the checkout. Where call centers and P.O. boxes were once the standard, businesses will be forced to demonstrate excellent customer support at the core of their business in order to maintain a positive image.
Furthermore, this excellence in service must be delivered publicly (particularly via social media) in order to win the trust and positive sentiment of customers – as negative customer stories are certainly harder to keep private than ever before. Brands are going to need to shout as loudly about their positive customer experience as their detractors do when it goes wrong.
Previous years have seen other elements of the digital marketing mix heralded as the greatest thing since sliced-bread. Mobile, big data and social media have been the buzz words of the season for the past three years respectively.
This new movement towards customer experience will use each of these now defacto elements of the digital marekting mix to deliver easier, personalised and scalable experiences to customers.
These existing tools will be used to make customer experience a major part of the marketing function – joining the likes of email, SEO and paid search as core competencies of digital marketers. The main goal of marketers in 2015 will be to stop interrupting people in order to gain their attention, but rather serve or entertain potential customers wherever they are, and use that interaction as an introduction to providing high-value services with perfect customer experiences.
This trend fulfils predicitions by leading marketeers such as Seth Godin, whose bookPermission Marketing forsaw the decline of interupption marketing, being replaced by marketing based on positive experiences that the customer would actively seek out. Other recent titles such as “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug may also have an influence on the design of cutting-edge consumer experiences.
Now, thanks to new technology allowing for fine-tuned personalisation, insights from big data and simple multi-channel campaign management, businesses will be able to provide types of customer experience that were simply not scalable in the past.
Of course, there are privacy concerns raised when businesses use new technology and data to market in a more personal way, and the Digital Trends report also explores the ways in which companies will have to focus on keeping within legislation when using these new tools in order to avoid falling foul of privacy laws.
38% of marketes believe “omnichannel personalisation” will become a reality in 2015. This means that the personalisation that brands can offer will extend from in-store, to online, to social platforms and beyond. Instead of Gap’s website remembering your favourite colour, for example – so will it’s social media team, it’s Android app and it’s smart-mirrors in the physical changing rooms.
“The customer has always been in charge, brands have been slow to accept that. There is a shift happening from brand experience to customer experience and personalisation will be the driving force of this”, the report explains.
As well as peronalisation facilitated by customer preferences and data, 2015 is also expected to see brands adopting geo-targeting, which will allow them to deliver marketing messages to people in specific locations (near a store for example) or in store using techology like iBeacons. Perhaps your phone will deliver a message about salsa when you have just stopped near the nachos.
“As mobile is gaining scale, it becomes more important to offer a multichannel customer experience to users through personalisation and targeting on different platforms / channels.”
However, for all of these advancements, the Digital Trends report also warned that companies were continuing to struggle to accurately measure the ROI of certain digital marketing activities, which will surely slow down the adoption of experimental customer experience programs at more risk-averse businesses.