The end of the decade will be here before we know it. And despite prevalent fears about an upcoming recession (one expert says we will likely avoid in 2020), most marketers are optimistic: in fact, 61% of CMOs expect marketing budgets will increase in the coming year.
If CMOs’ predictions prove true, marketers will have more flexibility with their strategies with the added responsibility of justifying their expanding budgets. As a marketer, the same holds true in that you’ll need to remain nimble and forward-thinking to ensure you make the most of your budget and make the biggest impact on your organization.
In addition to growing budgets, the new decade is likely to bring a mix of new technologies and trends that will reshape the way you approach marketing. And while some trends will fade, other developments — like emerging regulations, voice commerce and more — are here for the long run.
With that in mind, here’s how you can best contribute to a competitive customer experience in the new year and beyond:
Create more integrated loyalty strategies
Brands understand the value of loyalty strategies as ways to ensure their biggest spenders continue to do so. But some brands think this is just about points. They will face a harsh reality as the old points-based loyalty model — where customers might receive a discount after a certain amount of purchases — is no longer enough to encourage loyalty. To find success, brands need to create loyalty programs that are integrated throughout the customer experience, not just the marketing department.
The best loyalty programs contribute to an easy, seamless customer experience that centers on shopper needs, wants and dreams along every touchpoint (and not just when they’re in the checkout line). Loyal customers expect you to know who they are, understand their preferences and tastes and receive VIP treatment whether they are in-store or online.
New Balance provides an innovative example of an immersive, exciting experience a brand can provide for loyal customers. At the brand’s London pub The Runaway, customers can track running miles and exchange them for drinks and snacks at the bar. The pub also includes a gym and weights area for active-minded New Balance fans to work out.
This shows the brand understands its customers and is committed to providing them with experiences they really get excited about. It also creates an opportunity for New Balance to gain critical data about their most valuable customers.
Stay proactive when it comes to customer data privacy
Even a year and a half after General Data Regulation Protection (GDPR) was enacted, most companies still report they are unprepared to comply appropriately. And now with the California Consumer Privacy Act, we’re seeing the same story: only 8% of businesses say they’re prepared for the deadline.
It seems many companies are willing to take a gamble on the fact that enforcement of these regulations are unlikely, even with steep fines for violations. At the end of the day, even if companies might save money in the short-term by abstaining from investing in better privacy compliance processes, they’re losing out in the long run with their customer’s trust. Beyond potential fines, brands risk angering customers and damaging their reputations if privacy violations occur. In the end, privacy regulations are both a CX issue and a legal one.
Instead of rushing to comply with every state-level privacy regulation that is passed (and trust me: more are coming), aim to meet the strictest policies and adapt accordingly. You can’t lose by showing customers you respect their data — and you’ll dodge massive fines if violations occur. On top of that, if a customer wants to break up with your brand that badly, maybe it’s time you both move on to the next relationship.
Take a bolder approach with customer personalization
The other good news about proactive privacy compliance: If you’re confident you meet high standards when it comes to customer data, you can be bolder in your approach to identity resolution and more personalized marketing tactics.
For a while, analysts cautioned marketers on the risks of being “creepy” with customer data, with the idea that customers are turned off when brands are too on-the-nose with their tactics. And while there’s obviously a line (and consequences for crossing it), customers are more open-minded to more personalized experiences. In fact, reports show most customers are NOT creeped out by increased personalization, and the brands that lose out are ones that are overly generic in their communications.
Don’t shy away from personalization strategies. Customers understand what brands should know about them, and they’re disappointed with bland email and retargeting efforts that don’t speak to their needs. It’s important to gain more accurate data about your customers and use it accordingly. Southwest Airlines does a good job with their end-of-year summary emails, showing customers how many flights they’ve taken, miles they’ve traveled and even their best boarding position of the year.
Prepare for voice commerce to shift CX expectations
We’ve been anticipating the rise of voice commerce for a while, and it seems like we’re on the brink. Forecasts say there will be 8 billion voice assistants in use by 2023, with voice commerce growing to be a potentially $80 billion industry. While a significant chunk of that $80 billion is likely to be purchases of digital products and not physical ones, the growth of voice commerce has significant implications for marketers across industries.
Voice commerce will force marketers to radically rethink their customer experience — from backend data processes to IT investments to broad user experience strategies. You need to prepare for customers who want to interact with your brand with no visual interface whatsoever. For example, that means rethinking product descriptions so customers can order with no other cues. It also means making sure customer data like address and payment information is consistent and easily accessible regardless of customer touchpoint. Alignment across all departments when it comes to preparing for this new model is the only way you’ll be successful in this endeavor. Define a voice strategy across all departments so the voice CX feels as clean as intentional as your email messages and social media posts.
On a broader note, the rise of voice commerce, higher standards for personalization and new consumer privacy regulations highlight a more critical need for agility and flexibility. New channels will constantly emerge — be it voice commerce or social commerce or more — and you can’t reinvent the wheel every time. Companies with the ability to adapt to emerging channels and incorporate new technology will be the ones to succeed in the next decade.
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