In a few days, we are going to enter a new decade. And as I look back, it seems it was as fast as the technology that is evolving around us. With it, a lot has also changed about the consumers - how they interact with businesses, their interests, and their consumption behavior. Other than becoming hard to predict, customer habits and preferences are also changing rapidly.
Now, these changes have made a huge impact on how we do marketing today and how it is going to evolve in the future. It would be safe to say that marketing is experiencing the most interesting changes to date. There was a time when predictive analytics, voice search, artificial intelligence, and personalization were considered a far-fetched dream. Now, they have become a reality and opened up several possibilities. Engaging with the customer in an intimate and personal manner has become the topmost priority of digital marketers and brands. This explains why in the latter half of the last decade we saw increasing use of marketing technology to understand the users and improve the outreach.
With this, a lot of challenges have also surfaced which will need to be dealt with as we head into 2020. Keeping that in mind, here are a few trends which I think will help you build better customer engagement in 2020:
Marketing Automation No Longer An Option
It will be an absolute must for companies of all sizes to adopt the use of marketing automation in 2020. Marketers will open their eyes to increasing competition in the market. This will be looked at from the perspective of customer experience, scalability, differentiation, productivity, and efficiency of marketing operations.
It is humanly impossible to be able to beat the competition now purely basis manual efforts and intelligence. Marketers will need to leverage AI-based automation that will help them speed up changes and take quick actions basis faster insights.
Many known brands are already using it to improve their marketing in one or the other form - like SEO, email, analytics, and social. There’s no way marketers will be able to crush the competition with big brands without using marketing automation technology.
The Next Chapter For Personalization
If there is one technology that remained transformative and controversial in the same breath - it is Personalization. Not long before, it was considered a fantasy. But it now has emerged as not only real but the most powerful and important capability for marketing teams. As per a McKinsey study, more than 90% of retailers consider it a top priority for their business.
For businesses, looking to take a leap into personalization, it will take a long-term commitment as well as a joint collaboration between IT and marketing functions. Marketers will need to be extra cautious with the data they use considering the recent data breaches. In order to keep the trust of their users and improve their experience, they will also need to ensure the quality of the technology they invest in.
Businesses toying with the idea of personalization must also build their capacity to handle customer data using advanced solutions. In addition, they will need to give more transparency to the users as to how you want to use it. Marketers should also ensure that before implementation, they have a clear strategy and roadmap that justifies the ROI.
Emotions In Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence remained quite popular during the last few years. And in 2020, I expect it to grow bigger and better. Lately, a new branch of AI known as AEI (artificial emotional intelligence) has entered the market. Many marketers, as well as Fortune 500 companies, are already using it to understand the emotional responses of their users to content.
During the next year, we will see this impacting the way we advertise to our users. With the onset of technologies like biosensors and consumer-facing devices, big brands with bigger budgets will be among the early adopters. Since this technology is still in its infancy, there’s a chance of possible backlash due to privacy concerns. Hence, we will see brands taking it slow and very cautiously.
Increased Adoption Of Chatbots In Conversational Marketing
In the last few years, marketers have increased their focus on providing human-first experience to their users. While email will still stay relevant, it is more corporate-like. Therefore, marketers will look to grow the repository of channels they use for communicating with their users in an intimate and personal way.
For this reason, we will notice a drastic increase in the adoption of chatbots in the coming many years. The trend will be seen both across the web-based software (Drift, Intercom, etc.) and standalone apps (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.). Besides, the improvements in machine learning and natural language processing capability of chatbots have prepared them for better and meaningful conversations. They are set to become the ultimate solution for customer engagement and customer service. It is likely that we will only see them getting better from here.
AR/VR Based Marketing To Enhance Customer Expereince
Customer experience takes precedence more than anything for a marketer today. With consumers looking for unique content and experiences, marketers are forced to explore new formats and channels to engage them. The use of AR/VR in marketing is one of the most innovative ways that allow marketers to approach consumers effectively.
Up until now, this technology remained in the hands of big players only because of being expensive and due to network challenges. However, we will see this changing in the coming future. With the 5G spectrum arriving on the scene especially in Europe and the U.S., it is bound to go mainstream and we will see more brands experimenting with AR/VR in their marketing campaigns.
Omnichannel Customer Engagement To Grow
The customer journey has turned ever more complex. Users tend to switch one channel to another quite rapidly. However, they want to meet you whenever and wherever they are. The biggest impact of this is to be seen on retail businesses that will need to adopt the omnichannel approach of marketing in the near future.
Doing so will enable these businesses to provide a consistent and personalized experience on all channels. Also, this will help them immensely in understanding their user behavior from a unified lens. Again, the role of AI and machine learning will be crucial in deploying and optimizing an omnichannel experience.
In addition to the above, the quality of videos in video marketing will go high-definition with the adoption of 5G across Europe, the U.S, South Korea, and Germany. It is expected to bring with it increased consumption and pave the way to experimentation. The increased penetration of the Internet of Things will redefine the customer journey. It will also require marketers to detect real-time business opportunities and build systems to provide in-the-moment guidance to users.
Bottomline - the customer experience will hold the highest value, and in the highly competitive times ahead, these trends are going to be crucial for businesses to be able to retain their users.
Have a great 2020!
The article has been penned down by Kalpit Jain, CEO Netcore Solutions