To some extent, our habits and way of living may be changed forever by the pandemic that started in 2020. Nevertheless, the goal of digital marketers has remained the same: providing a consistent customer experience across every channel through every step of the customer’s journey. This new pandemic situation has brought a huge shift in customer experience. In this blog article our Digital expert, Robin Gaethofs, highlighted the emerging customer engagement trends we should keep an eye on.
Due to the pandemic in 2020, providing a consistent customer experience became more challenging as digital suddenly became the way to go for most companies to stay in touch with their customers. We noticed this kind of digital transformation already before the pandemic started, but needless to say there was a huge difference since the pandemic began: there was a lot at stake, more than before.
As we are slowly but steadily entering the post-Covid phase, it is time for marketers to consider how the customer’s new digital habits will fit into their longer-term customer engagement approach. Many of these new habits have proven to be here to stay and thus can be considered permanent
From our experience as a Data & Digital partner involved in multiple customer engagement tracks at different clients, we have recognized 5 new customer engagement trends that unfolded in 2020 and early 2021 and that we think will stay with us post-Covid.
1. Rapid acceleration of Digital Transformation initiatives
The pandemic has forced an acceleration of digital transformation by several years within companies. Nowadays, companies embracing digital transformation are many steps ahead of the competition. Being digital native is not just a competitive advantage anymore, it sometimes even became a mean of survival for several companies who suddenly had to embrace digital. For instance, we have seen several businesses that all of a sudden had to become digitally active by creating a webshop when their physical shop had to close for a longer period of time due to Covid restrictions.
Sales numbers from a recent study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) show that customers are spending more time online in the light of COVID-19. Brands which have not truly embraced digital transformation over the recent years could be missing out on a lot of revenue opportunities. Consequently, businesses are looking at ways to spend smarter by shifting ad budget from offline to online to better reach these customers.
2. Marketing personalization & customer confidence are key enablers
Back in the days, personalization was not really a must for brands, rather a “nice to have”. Due to the pandemic the urgency for personalization in digital marketing quickly escalated. Today’s consumers expect brands to go above and beyond and predict their needs based on their last interaction and feedback.
Moreover, we saw a huge impact on customer confidence in 2020 and 2021, driven by (not so pleasant) waves of lockdown restrictions around the globe and uncertainty in the economic situation. As the economy recovers and customers will feel safe to spend money, personalization and brand confidence will become key enablers.
Brands which have not truly embraced digital transformation over the recent years could be missing out on a lot of revenue opportunities. Consequently, businesses are looking at ways to spend smarter by shifting ad budget from offline to online to better reach these customers.Robin Gaethofs
3. Technological advancements driven by insights are changing customer engagement campaigns
According to Gartner, 85% of marketing executives said that by 2022 significantly more of their organization’s marketing decisions will be based on marketing analytics. Needless to say, this is not really a surprise in today’s customer engagement landscape.
Nowadays our partners providing leading Customer Engagement platforms to the market have the strong ability of notifying marketers of critical moments in the customer journey. For example: are businesses sending repeating, similar messages or maybe even too few messages? What is their churn rate and which customers are at risk of churn? Using the insights gained by a customer engagement platform can quickly identify what is working and what’s not for a company’s digital campaigns.
The pandemic has also led to an increase of digital usage by customers, which means there is an even stronger growth in available data and related insights. Customers like elderly people suddenly had to embrace digital in the past year, meaning businesses have captured their data and are now able to easily reach this age group in a digital manner.
4. How Artificial Intelligence is transforming Customer Engagement
In this day and age, marketers have access to a broad set of digital marketing tools that enables them to synchronize their digital activities at the speed of the customer. By embracing AI, marketers can deliver more relevant content in real-time across every digital channel and touchpoint. The more AI is used, the stronger and more effective (smarter) it becomes. Therefore, a higher usage of digital tools immediately uncovers the added value and efficiency of AI.
Leading Customer Engagement platforms which we work with can suggest the right approach for the next step in the customer journey, by enforcing minimal efforts to analyze marketing data thus leading to a higher effectiveness of marketers’ initiatives.
The more AI is used, the stronger and more effective (smarter) it becomes. Therefore, a higher usage of digital tools immediately uncovers the added value and efficiency of AI.Robin Gaethofs
5. Moment-based omnichannel and multichannel strategy are the future of customer engagement
In 2022, marketers will likely continue to rely on digital channels to reach consumers wherever they are and through every step of the customer journey. However, this does not mean marketers should use a “lock & load” approach and distribute every campaign via any medium possible. A so called “moment-based multichannel strategy” with content presented in the right context at the right time is demanded by today’s consumers.
Critical to a consistent moment-based multichannel strategy is being able to identify the preferences and behaviors of their customers. Doing so, enables companies to best plan the right customer engagement strategy for them. For example, which are the preferred (digital) channels of their customers? Where do they engage on most often? Which products have triggered their interest or are they viewing? Are they first visitors, returning visitors looking for more information, or are they dropping off? Understanding these steps of the customer’s journey will help marketers in creating a consistent moment-based multichannel strategy.
What are the next steps for your company in 2022?
We cannot undergo a global pandemic and not expect any digital habits to change. Luckily, digital marketers have proven time and time again that they can cope with drastic changes. As marketers, we must continue to reflect, adapt and find ways to answer to the growing demands of consumers. Keeping these 5 trends in mind while planning your 2022 strategy is already a great starting point. And while you’re keeping these trends in mind, feel free to also keep in mind Business & Decision is here to help you 😉.