There’s no denying ‘customer engagement’ was a buzzword in 2016. But for many marketers, that’s all it was. Only 5% of marketers are confident they have mastered the ability to predict and adapt to the customer journey, which is a vital component when building out any customer engagement strategy. Instead many have found themselves weighed down by data overload, existing legacy systems, and the increasing number of channels and competing priorities.
However, in 2017 to remain competitive marketers will need to move away from a short-term focus and make the moves needed to build long term, more sustainable relationships with their customers. Typically, this has been difficult when marketers have been forced to place much of their attention on customer acquisition and, despite their best intentions, only been able to pay lip-service to the practice of building true customer engagement.
But increased efficiency is on the way. According to IBM’s global C-suite study, CMOs believe the marketing industry is on the cusp of a technological revolution that will transform the way brands interact and engage with customers. Using technology, it’s now possible for marketers to see and understand customer journeys in real-time, unlock the knowledge they already have about their customers across the business, and use this combined insight to deliver joined up and consistently good customer experiences that drive long term customer engagement.
In today’s digital economy, where every business is a service business, engagement will be the key differentiator. Progressive businesses and their marketing teams will stop talking the talk and start walking the walk when it comes to putting the customer first. However, as these torchbearers adopt the disruptive technology that will allow them to do this, customer expectations will continue to increase. As customer experience becomes a real battleground for competitive advantage, the focus of marketing will change so that customer experience is placed firmly back at the top of the agenda, supported by an inside-out, customer-centric approach.
Taking accountability – end-to-end
In 2017, marketing teams will continue to move beyond their traditional remit and look at the customer lifecycle and the end-to-end customer experience. There are a couple of factors driving this. Firstly, industry research has established a clear relationship between customer experience and business value and as marketing is generally the primary growth engine for any business it’s vital that markers take responsibility for the end-to-end experience to ensure that they build longer term and more profitable relationships with their customers. Secondly, customer perception and how they feel about brands has always been the marketing team’s remit and that’s often based on the many different interactions that a customer has with the organisation, so it’s vital that the marketing team make sure that the brand delivers the value that the customer expects at every point.
Two-speed marketers will bring engagement marketing to the fore
Savvy marketers are beginning to complement their traditional, campaign-based marketing strategies with strategies that build long term value and engagement. In 2017 we expect to see the rise of two-speed marketing – a term coined by Jake Sorofman of Gartner. This will become embedded into the culture of the marketing team, blending traditional and customer engagement strategies to succeed. Marketers can do this by listening to customers and responding with the next-best conversations, rather than attempting to direct their own dialogue. In this way, torchbearer marketers will be able to strike that fine balance, moving away from campaign and towards ongoing relevant conversations with customers.
Engagement is the key to digital transformation
Marketers are beginning to realise that customer engagement and digital transformation are inextricably linked. Digital transformation has to start from a customer centric standpoint, it has to be centered around creating value for the customer. This means that digital transformation initiatives will need to be driven by the insight that marketers gather around customer behavior throughout the customer journey.
New year, new goalposts
In today’s digital economy, where every business is a service business, engagement will be the key differentiator. In 2017, the key to effortless engagement will be harnessing actionable insights in real-time, bridging the gap between disparate customer interactions and departmental silo and making adjustments at each interaction to ensure a seamless customer experience throughout the journey.
As the race to engage with customers hots up over the coming months, we will start to see brands begin to adopt new metrics that reflect lifetime customer value, retention, referral and influencer value, and brand engagement.
Altogether, 2017 will be the year that forward-thinking marketers begin to blaze a trail towards effortless engagement.
Follow the customer engagement blog for more trends to look out for in 2017.