The modern customer

The modern customer is more connected, more mobile and more demanding when it comes to buying products or services. We’re all surrounded by advertising, propositional messaging and our expectations of great customer service are heightened whether you’re buying gelato ice cream from your local coffee shop or a new car from the local dealer.

Customer Experience

Customer experience is a top priority for any marketer and to ensure the journey from awareness to acquisition is as efficient as possible. This notion is even more important in a digital environment when customers are accessing your brand or investigating the players in your industry across multiple devices (smartphones, to tablets to desktops) and across multiple OS’ and browsers.

These devices all play different roles in the key stages in the buying cycle, and consumers have different expectations from the variety of communication combinations available at the ends of their finger tips. The expectation for brands to engage in personal ways and in a timely manner has increased since the emergence of social media. So how do marketers make smart, strategic technology choices when it comes to improving business objectives and providing rich and engaging experiences on an individual level?

According to Mike McGuire, research vice president for Gartner in this year’s Digital Marketing Hype Cycle Report, ‘since 2015 we have seen an emergence in five trends that are being driven by digital marketing technology’.

These trends revolve around cross-channel execution, automation, personalisation, engagement and commerce.

Digital Marketing Hype Cycle

Cross-channel execution

The modern day digital marketer wants shareable, actionable audience data to be used at the right time, right place, the right group of people and with the right proposition.

The Digital Marketing Hype Cycle represents the latest and greatest emerging technologies that digital marketers are utilising or exploring today. From the far left of the graph we can see the bleeding edge of technology and the triggers of innovation. These are market technologies, yet to be fully utilised but as time progresses and technology is adopted it reaches a point where the expectations are at their highest.

This peak can, in some instances, take a very steep dive into the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’, where the value and output from the technology cannot yet be fully realised. However, for these technologies there is often still hope as marketers get smarter and use the data better, collaborating with other technology we move towards enlightenment.

For any business though, moving to enlightenment can be a costly and timely exercise. For example; ‘Augmented Reality’ has been of hot discussion for over 10 years and yet we’ve not really seen any tangible use of it able to drive qualified ROI to business….until recently. Pokemon Go is probably the first ‘proper’ campaign that we’ve seen, on a global scale, take augmented reality to the point of enlightenment. But it didn’t come overnight, it took 10 years to develop and £100,000’s to build.

However, contrary to the title of this post, step aside from the hype and look deeper into some of the technology available in the digital marketers armoury and there is often a golden nugget of opportunity. As time also progresses and we move further towards the peak of expectations, some technology leaps straight over to enlightenment. Take email and paid search for example, they don’t feature on the hype cycle because they are ‘BAU’ or Business As Usual. Every business should be utilising email and paid search to some degree, it’s digital basics.

That said, within those channels there is emerging technology where it crosses over into other areas such as tag management, data driven-marketing, mobile commerce, predictive analytics, multi-touch attribution and responsive design. On that note, by 2017 we reckon responsive design will be a ‘BAU’ responsibility of digital marketers and will likely not feature on the hype curve, though as smartphones advance who knows how ‘responsive’ can go…what about voice and hand gestures to browse web content?!

Automation to boost speed and performance

Marketers should continue to seek automated solutions to overcome inefficiencies and improve campaign targeting capabilities. The journey so far hasn’t been easy, for example real-time bidding has had a few hiccups such as delivery fraud, non-viewable ads, privacy issues and questionable quality at times.

However, the technology has delivered clear gains in efficiency and effectiveness. Alternate forms of automation, such as programmatic direct, will supply advertisers with improved access to high quality content and selective audiences and we see this a key area for advertisers to target relevant audiences.

Yearning for 1:1 customer relationships

The holy grail for marketers is 1:1 customer relationships and more importantly developing long term value from that relationship. Climbing up the Slope of Enlightenment on the hype curve, personalisation applies context and a user’s circumstances to tailor content, offers and interactions at the point of awareness.

This can range from customising emails with the recipient’s name through to fully contextual and bespoke landing pages. Further from this and on the bleeding edge of technology we move towards personification which is the delivery of relevant digital experiences to individuals based on their inferred membership in a customer segment.

We’ll start seeing marketers take those landing pages and start building in demographic, gender, channel, medium, source and even historical search activity data to provide unique experiences for customers.

Event triggered engagement

This technology that can recover at least 20% of shopping cart abandonment and deliver 5x improvement in response rates over untimed mass-marketing and have a significant impact on revenue.

Engaging with your audience in the context of their daily lives is an efficient way to ensure your message is received in a timely manner and the reason why it is quickly moving toward the Plateau of Productivity in the hype cycle.

Additionally, a recent multichannel marketing survey revealed that marketers would double their investment in event-triggered personalisation over the next two years. Real-time marketing and mobile marketing are progressing as well with real productivity gains.

Be ‘mobile ready’ in digital commerce

Mobile commerce has grown fast and opportunities expand every year. Smartphones are now being used as payment devices and boarding passes, they are in effect our digital wallets. The largest opportunity for mobile today is for marketers to improve their customers’ experience whether online or offline.

Smartphones play such a critical role in the consumer buying cycle and across different sectors it’s critical that marketers must ensure that the user experience is optimised and as efficient as possible. We see approximately 30% of user sessions across sectors are instigated by a mobile device, combined with the various mobile payment solutions and the ability to call you there and then it makes logical sense for marketers to focus on the ROI mobile can offer.

Aside from these great advancements we at Insightful UX always recommend that before investing in emerging technology or spending money on programmatic display any business needs to understand the existing customer journey, seek out the pain points and focus on resolving those or enhancing the existing proposition.

To fully understand the capability of mobile, or any other medium in your digital journey’s as well as receive actionable insights into the performance of your website across devices, channels and triggered events we recommend running a full audit. Click the link for more information on our web audit services.

Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed this post please feel free to share!