Digital trends to follow @ 2015
More than ever before smartphones and social media are the means clients are using in order to shop online and engage with businesses. E-mail campaigns though are still the companies’ preferred method for sending content to clients and – let us not forget that – people expect this content to be engaging and personalized. Despite all these, nearly 60% of them actually state that they …”won’t even open an email if they think it’s irrelevant to them”.
In this landscape, enhancing clients’ experience at every touch point has rarely been more important.
TREND #1: Stored payments change the way people shop
Mobile, e-mail and website interactions have drastically risen in recent years, but the increased smartphone usage has created such a challenge for marketers, since the majority of conversions have continued to take place on desktop/laptop computers or tablets.
For example, on 2014 smartphones drove 28.5% of all online traffic compared to tablets at 12.5%. But when it comes to sales, the figures are shifted: Tablets drive 12.9% of online sales, edging out smartphones, which only accounted for 9.1%.
The emergence of stored payments, such as iTunes, is poised to change during 2015 and beyond. Research conducted in the US state that in the next 18 months, instead of primary e-mail calls-to-action routing to a website where customers could complete their purchase, they’ll increasingly link to an application. Within the app, customers will simply need to push their thumb to the screen, at which point payment will instantly transfer from the credit card on file to the retailer.
The choice is easy if one considers the options: a) forcing customers to key in their 16digit credit card number on a small screen — often while on the move, versus b) typing an e-mail address and/or click a button or two.
The key-word is “mobile-optimization” and for marketers, this means the entire buying cycle will need to be even more aggressively compressed, since they will have to shift (if not re-direct) their revenue through another channel.
TREND #2: Mobile apps 2.0 shift the way companies interact with on-the-go customers
Statistics from the US state that 20% of apps are used only once and about 60% are opened less than 10 times. This is probably because most businesses look at mobile apps as a necessary evil. They usually contract them out to a third party, check off their mobile Marketing checklist and then forget about it.
With recent technological advancements though, smart marketers have begun awakening to the data implications of having an integrated, well-thought-out app. So, in 2015, we are already coming across statistics which show that more leading businesses seek out new ways to create mobile apps with a stronger customer value proposition. In this mobile app 2.0 world, companies are now asking themselves how they could benefit from building a more vigorous mobile app, while also delivering more value to customers. The answers include the following:
- Gain data: What actions are my customers taking from my mobile app? What else could they do? What’s is my customers’ location? How often do they check my business out?
- Push notifications: Statistics show that by using mobile touch-points, such as personalized push notifications, a business can increase its conversion rates by 8.5%.
- Access to a new inbox: The mobile app inbox is more and more used by businesses and delivers an all-new destination for marketers to reach. Beyond the fact that permission for sending is typically contained in your terms and conditions of usage, in-app inboxes allow marketers to send time-constrained offers and single-use promotional codes to specific users in a true one-to-one manner.
Key tactics for improving mobile app engagement in 2015:
- Create a drive-to-app plan: Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come to it. So, create a “download our mobile app” digital campaign and remember to emphasize what’s in it for the customer!
- Repurpose content with a twist: The idea of creating all-new content for a mobile app might seem daunting. It is such an important step though, since your existing channel waits for something different, knows the competition well (sometimes better than you) and finally wants to be given an advantage through your app’s unique capabilities.
- Focus on app’s strategy: Feed all those app behaviors you’re monitoring into a central Marketing campaign, where you can use all information to trigger personalized content, create interaction and manage across-fields through your e-mails, website, call centers and more.
TREND #3: E-mails become more and more the basic framework when it comes to delivering relevant, timely content
Statistics state that in 2015 more digital marketers will transit to becoming strong data-based e-mail marketers.
Of course, using dynamic content has been e-mail’s best practice for years. But the difference now is that more sophisticated Marketing platforms (along with integrations) are enabling businesses to personalize a larger portion of their e-mails by leveraging all kinds of real-time, implicit and explicit data from internal systems and external feeds.
In a world in which e-mail campaigns are being reduced, the way marketers think about and create these messages will eventually shift. E-mail marketers will first set up a basic yet robust format, then, they’ll build dynamic rules for the content and lastly will alter plain text and photos with other items which will reflect customers’ real needs. All these will of course be based on certain statistics, such as the send and/or open time, the location, the device used etc.
Shifting to data-driven e-mail frameworks will help marketers to increase the relevance of their messages, which in turn can improve overall success metrics. Examples of what can be done include the following:
- Talk about your latest inventory levels, stock offers etc
- Display different images / texts based on the gender / age / education of the recipient
- Take notice on the weather conditions in recipients’ location and personalize your content / communication acordingly
- Use different texts and messages depending on whether someone watched or not a video you uploaded
- Display different texts based on the recipient’s previous actions / choices / purchases
Key tactics for making your e-mails more relevant in 2015:
- Expand your data sources and gather as much information as possible.
- Combine rules, associate information with one another and then design rule-based communication models such as “If someone watched this video will be approved to receive this content” etc.
- Make incremental changes by trying to add something new every e.g. 2 months and by this the change will seem less daunting.
TREND #4: The customer journey moves to center stage in digital Marketing
For many old-school Marketing traditionalists, digital Marketing technology is still primarily used for generic push e-mails focused on products, offers and company news. Some mainstream marketers are a little more sophisticated, using Marketing automation to schedule their e-mails out over time, run drip nurture projects, or replicate campaigns for new events or product launches.
Unfortunately, these approaches will not be enough for 2015 and beyond, due to lack of customized content and interactions based on today’s buyers’ demands. Nowadays digital Marketing is all about delivering personalized, behavior-driven content that helps your contacts along their online journey. Whether a customer is conducting early research, evaluating and comparing brands, selecting a solution, or experiencing a product or service after the sale, digital Marketing must be at a position to enhance customer’s experience at each of these stages.
Several ingredients are necessary to support a strategy focused on the customer journey:
- Web Tracking: Allows you to understand what and why individuals visit this site, pushed that button, downloaded a video etc.
- Single Identity: Helps the company ensure that each person’s online journey is consistent and updated across all different devices and channels and that he can have the same behavior and feeling everywhere.
- Integrated CMS: Enables business to deliver an advanced website experience since the content management system can pull in all necessary information for the visitors / buyers etc.
Key tactics for taking customer’s online journey to the next level:
- Improve Your E-mail Magnet: Without a strong offer to help drive e-mail addresses to you, contacts remain anonymous and tailored Marketing approaches remain difficult. So, design a creative e-mail campaign which will communicate and interact with your clients beyond simply offering a discount or a newsletter subscription.
- Implement Implicit Profiling: Assign database values for a client based on his/hers preferences (websites, hobbies, buttons clicked etc). By capturing data implicitly, you can easily assign prospects to specific customer groups with greater success.
- Provide a unique website experience for every visitor: Build dynamic content rules within your website that customize what a visitor sees, based on the person and buyer stage values stored in your digital Marketing platform and available via your CMS integration.
TREND #5: Content becomes your secret weapon
In recent years, “content Marketing” has been one of the hottest topics in B2B circles. On the B2C side, though, “content is king” moto has remained somewhat ignored — but that’s also starting to change.
Here’s why: Many companies are increasing the volume of e-mails sent to clients. And a lot of marketers are starting to wake up to the fact that amidst all this inbox clutter, continuing to push discounts, free shipping and new products has the potential to reach a point of diminishing returns – if it hasn’t already for specific business sectors.
One solution to this challenge would be the addition of a more valuable information, in order to maximize the interest from customers’ part. So, our proposal for 2015 is the expansion of content, the better e-mail campaign programming and generally go beyond the traditional ways. Here are some thoughts:
- Incorporating more triggered e-mails into the mix: Birthdays, name days, celebrations, anniversaries, even random week days and a lot of other stuff can trigger e-mails which promote your brand. Regardless of the trigger, they will considered to be relevant since they’re based on an attribute or behavior specific to the recipient.
- Sending more “white space” e-mails: These messages, named after the space you give to customers through your promotional e-mails, contain fun, educational and/or humorous content, whose goal is not to make your market relax, have fun and feel at home. Although they are not sales-oriented, they can help you create stronger bonds with customers.
These ideas can actually enable you to send more messages and be more successful because you will be appearing more compelling and relevant. The challenge, of course, is that you’ll need to come up with the content for these messages… Some ideas would be a) seasonal tips b) personality & humor c) user – generated content d) buying tips e) product/services usage tips etc
TREND #6: Marketers think highly of the post-purchase experience
More and more professionals are starting to believe that 2015 will be all about customer’s lifecycle experience, the repeated purchases and brand loyalty – totally different from the focus on growing lists and nudging new contacts toward making a first purchase.
Several key factors are pushing forward-thinking marketers to reconsider how much emphasis they put on the crucial post-purchase time frame when the real relationship with a brand begins:
- Focus on how your business can provide a superior customer experience and actively manage customers’ purchase journey. Overall competition will easily increase for you the risk to lose a first-time customer for life.
- Marketing automation systems make post-purchase programs simpler to create and as a consequence make your Marketing mix more inviting and successful at the end. E-commerce systems and advanced data bases will also support your vision and goals.
- Everybody must re-think margins’ management and where the revenue comes from. By improving the post-purchase experience you can increase customers’ satisfaction, margins and revenue. No surprise why so many surveys and Web experience data are presented to the business world daily.
Key tactics for enhancing the post-purchase experience:
- Pull in dynamic content: Whether you’re sending a first-purchase welcome e-mail, a “purchase anniversary” message or a win-back e-mail, you can drive engagement by setting up rules that further personalize these e-mails by pulling in content based on other behaviors, interests and demographic data.
- Set up a “Best Customer” program: Surprise and delight your most loyal customers by setting up a program that identifies qualified contacts, triggers an e-mail when a customer reaches a certain threshold and serves up an appreciative e-mail message with a reward your customers will value.
- Make it a series: In today’s busy world, buyers may need more than one nudge to move them to action. So, look for situations where you might move from a single post-purchase message to a series, based on your target for engagement and further revenue.
TREND # 7: Marketing departments shift to cross-channel execution, integrated data flow and measurements
More than 80% of consumers today are using social, local and mobile technologies to do some combination of browsing, researching and buying products. Yet 73% of companies rate their multichannel customer experience as “OK,” “Poor” or “Very Poor.”
Despite the need to deliver a seamless omnichannel customer experience, many of today’s Marketing departments fail to do so. Companies lack the cross-channel customer insights they need to deliver relevant, timely, personalized content and we often see customer data across email, mobile, web, social and other channels to be siloed. Sometimes even the Marketing personnel in charge of these channels are equally siloed from one another. Companies must understand that channel-by-channel Marketing creates great communication gaps. Data mining systems and technology have to be connected in order for the customers to feel the proper engagement.
Fortunately this is also starting to change. More and more market pressure drives companies to look for better ways to perform multichannel Marketing campaigns which create a superior overall experience for the customers. As marketers shift to creating more automated programs, collecting all sorts of data and information, the need to integrate data and technologies from multiple sources and work across groups is growing.
Hopefully in 2015, new technologies are about to emerge, strategies and collaborations are about to be taken more seriously which will solve the disconnection between siloed technology and Marketing teams. These will replace the complex Marketing resource management (MRM) solutions of the past and give access to real-time messaging systems.
Key tactics for improving Marketing department in 2015:
- Shift your hiring: You’ll need a combination of right-brain (logic) and left-brain (sentiment) types in order to thrive in a new digital Marketing world. Creativity but also strategic thinking will be required for the maximum success and market penetration.
- Shift to multichannel personalization: Not only individualized e-mails are proposed but also personalized content on your website, differentiated content within your mobile app, via SMS and/or on social media.
- Reach across the aisle: Your customers may not think about having an omnichannel experience with your business, but chances are high they’ll notice if the way you interact with them lacks contextual understanding of who they are. A smart move from you’re your site would be to start aligning your power around the overall customer experience.
Special thanks you to IBM’s statistics, from November 2013 – August 2014 and also to www.silverpop.com, an IBM’s company.