Today, consumers hold in their hands the power to bring down your brand with a single tweet. So how can brands positively engage with their customer base?
Forrester set to answer that question with its 2019 B2C marketing predictions, released today (November 8). The report says marketers have painfully learned they need to better care for their existing customers, and this realization “will yield creative new and enhanced marketer efforts to engage with existing customers.”
Jessica Liu, a senior analyst at Forrester who co-authored the B2C predictions, told The Drum we’re in the middle of the age the customer, a 20-year business cycle that is seeing “the most successful enterprises reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.”
Just by using their phones, Liu said, customers have the power to in-store price check against what’s available online, or speak directly to brands on social media and expect instant responses.
Once the calendar flips, Forrester sees five ways for brands to better interact with their customers and reinvigorate their marketing strategy.
Consumers want control over their info, so marketers will turn to zero-party data
With GDPR and data privacy regulations in California and Vermont, Forrester says third-party data is getting weaker, and the research firm is predicting brands will augment their first-party data with zero-party data, information customers willingly give to brands.
Liu said this will help companies measure data that is harder to infer, like intent, rather than relying on third-party data collected in the aggregate that forces brands to pain with broader strokes. She did say, however, that receiving zero-party data is like a relationship building exercise.
“The onus is on brands to make this data participation easy. It’s like going on a first date: You don’t ask a thousand questions on a first date; that’s exhausting for both parties involved…[Brands] need to ease into it. You should make your preference centers easy to manage and monitor. You should ask for the key information upfront, and then gradually ask for more in the moment, in context,” Liu said.
Consumers want better experiences, so marketers will add emotion metrics
The report notes that marketers often ignore customers' emotional responses to campaigns that reveal experience satisfaction, which can stoke recall. So next year, measurement vendors will apparently look to explore the predictive power of a brand’s emotional intensity.
Liu said some vendors are already trying to get mass adoption of technologies like facial coding to detect emotion and track how that varies throughout a customer’s experience with an advertisement. She added this approach won’t reach every individual consumer, but in the aggregate it will help marketers predict and understand broader trends.
“It’s more about drawing correlations,” Liu said. “It’ll be more specific to the marketing tactic or marketing program rather than a general understanding of [an individual consumer’s] feelings.
Consumers want better quality social media, so marketers will rediscover community
Forrester predicts marketers will invest more energy on social media to reinvigorate relationships with loyal customers, but Liu warned brands need to do their homework before they enter the space.
“Many brands are motivated to get on social media for the wrong reason, because they think they need to be there…or they think that everyone else is doing it. I find that’s the wrong motivation. The motivation to be on social media is if your customers are [there] and want to talk to you as a brand on social media,” said Liu.
Liu added that brands need to be aware of their demographics. She said if a company’s customers participate more via email or in-store, for example, then there’s no point in spending big on social, even with the popularity of the platforms.
Consumers want consistency and relevance, so martech will meld with customer experience
Forrester says customers are demanding that marketing coordinate with sales, service and commerce to deliver better experiences, so 2019 will see marketing clouds pivot allowing marketers to claim their space in the customer experience ecosystem.
Liu said big marketing clouds, like Salesforce, Adobe and Oracle, can “no longer operate in silos” so that they can participate at every single touchpoint a consumer has with a brand.
Consumers want purchases to reflect values, so marketers will court controversy
Similar to Forrester’s 2019 CMO predictions, brands are expected to capitalize on today’s polarizing political, social and cultural climate. However, the B2C predictions warn that some brands will fail.
The report says, “with each crisis baiting, consumers will get less tolerant of inauthenticity, raising the bar for all brands in terms of values-based marketing.”
Liu said companies need to consider the strength of their brand, their values and understand how their customers will respond before centering a campaign around a controversy. Nike, for instance, could risk running its Colin Kaepernick ad because it trusted how the brand’s loyal consumers would respond.
To reenergize their consumer base, companies won’t need to invest in specific channels, Liu added. What they will need to do, she said, is cultivate and curate their own consumers to deliver experiences that better match their behaviors and needs.