Digital Marketing

Where Customer Experience is Heading in 2015 and Beyond


For marketers, change is now the rule, not the exception. That means the New Year will be filled with new opportunities… and new challenges. Are you ready to turn the page and embrace all that lies ahead? To help you prepare, here are five ways I see customer experience evolving in 2015:

More companies will move to Digital 3.0. Marketers have long agreed that digital is their top priority, but it takes time for organizations to mature their approaches and truly marry digital to customer experience. Years ago, “moving to digital” meant simply getting your arms around all the relevant channels. Then, the next step was actually connecting with audiences on those channels. In 2015, I expect to see more and more companies achieve the third iteration; they’re going to start using data-driven decisions to segment personas and deliver tailored content. Digital 3.0 will be focused on meaningful engagement and the seamless customer experience.

The growth of technical roles on the marketing team will expand organically. Remember when “data” used to be the realm of a select few in the marketing organization? (It wasn’t that long ago!) Well, as marketing shifts towards Digital 3.0, there will be the growing expectation that everyone needs to be looking at the data and using it to drive better decisions. As a result, 2015 will bring increasing demand for marketers who can analyze data and apply it back to marketing programs. Likewise, you can anticipate mounting pressure for more integration and collaboration between marketing and IT, too.

How customers behave and digitally connect will become more important than traditional demographic parameters. Earlier this year, Brian Solis and I discussed this trend in detail. As Brian explained it, the addressable audience is no longer specific to traditional demographics like age. Sure, Millennials are the fastest growing segment of consumers, but it’s the way Millennial habits are being adopted by older generations that now drives consumption, purchase and interaction trends. Brian calls this newly created and ageless demographic “Generation C,” for the “Connected Generation.” (See more of my interview with Brian here.)

Exceptional customer experience will continue to become more affordable. Why? Because technological innovation is happening at all levels and that’s driving accessibility up and costs down. For the first time since the digital revolution began, marketing technology is well within reach of mid-size –and even some larger small-size –companies.

Customer experience will become increasingly integrated into everyday lives. Studies have shown that customers don’t mind marketing messages if they’re relevant and unobtrusive. So, as technology becomes more and more a part of who we are, what we do and even the things we wear (illustrated most recently by devices like the iWatch, i.amPULS, FitBit and GoogleGlass), it may become easier for marketers to reach their target audiences. I’m careful to say “may” there because no one is predicting marketing via wearables will be an instant slamdunk. First of all, customers need to invite you along. Then, you’ll need to earn –and continually nurture –their trust.

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Customer Experience, Customer Journey, Digital Culture, Digital Marketing

@BrianSolis on The Future of Business, Generation C, and Napkins

A few weeks ago, I sat down for a chat with Brian Solis (@briansolis) from the Altimeter group. We had a great time discussing a number of topics that are close to both our hearts, several from his smart and enlightening book, ‘What’s The Future of Business?’.

You can watch the entire 30 minute video here.
WTFbookyesIf you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you get hold of a copy and see if you have the same experience with it as I did. And experience is exactly the word to describe it because Brian deliberately wrote it and designed it that way, even changing his methods of writing to adjust to the sound-bite mode of preference in which we consume media today.

“I love writing, but now suddenly everything had to be a tweet version. Maybe a paragraph and then an image before you continue with a longer post, but I didn’t dumb it down,” Brian explains.

It is Brian’s view that the addressable audience is not specific to a demographic based on age per se, and whilst Millennials are the fastest growing segment of consumers – with a spending power of £1.5 Trillion by year 2015 – it is the way Millennial habits are being adopted by older generations that is driving consumption, purchase and interaction trends today. He terms this newly created and ageless demographic ‘Generation C’ — or the “Connected Generation.”

In the full interview, available here, Brian and I discuss the following topics:

  • Customer experience is becoming more important than the product itself.
  • Disruptive technologies and customer behavior are changing how we do business.
  • ‘Generation C’ – not an age but how customers behave and become digitally connected.
  • Digital culture, experience and journey.
  • The importance of empathy combined with understanding the customer.
  • Design by napkin…

Yes, napkin. Funnily enough, we discussed the fact that napkins are still a popular design medium of choice in Silicon Valley. Take a look at this extra outtake to find out more and if you haven’t had chance to see the full 30 minute interview between myself and Brian Solis, it is available on demand for you to enjoy at your leisure.

I have to admit my brain hurt a bit afterwards! Hoping to sit down with Brian again soon.

Customer Experience, Digital Marketing

Are Marketing Channels Becoming Irrelevant?

As a marketer, I love saying out loud in public forums that I think marketing channels are becoming irrelevant. It makes some marketers very uncomfortable. With all the talk of Digital-Channel-this-and-that, how can we even suggest that this is the case? Because a true focus on Customer Experience dictates that it must be so.

How do customers connect with your brand? Do they use online channels, off-line channels or a combination of the two? Among the online channels, which ones are the most popular . . . and how are they accessed – by mobile, tablet or desktop? How does the in-store experience relate to online?

While it’s essential for you to know the answers to those questions – and more importantly, where your messaging performs well and who interacts with it – I challenge you to take that baseline knowledge and consider it in a new light.

I’d like you to think about how your marketing strategy might change if you thought less about channels and more about the overall customer experience you’re delivering.

We all know today’s consumers are empowered by digital devices. That means your customers choose when, where and how to interact with your brand. It also means they fully expect to move seamlessly between on- and off-line touch points. Your customers want omni-channel engagement, and they assume your brand will be there, as needed, every step of the way.

Along with these rising expectations, your customers care less and less about what channel they’re using.  And that includes marketing channels, which I believe are quickly becoming irrelevant.

Are you ready for that kind of paradigm shift? Few are. But that’s no excuse for putting it off any longer. You need to get moving in the direction of omni-channel engagement, and I suggest you start by:

Connecting the silos. Create a communications asset inventory and identify all touch points along the customer journey. Be sure to include all relevant departments and agencies. Odds are, it will be immediately apparent where you need to improve so that you’re collecting and leveraging data as efficiently and effectively as possible. Internal collaboration is fundamental to delivering an omni-channel experience.

Focusing on consistency . . . and relevancy. As I’ve mentioned before, once you dig into your customer data, you’ll identify where and when to create triggers for communication at different points along the customer journey. Your goal is to fine-tune your messaging so customers feel like they’re being acknowledged as individuals – with unique preferences and paths to purchase.

Taking a long-term view. Omni-channel engagement won’t happen overnight. First, you need to get your house in order. Then, you need to start growing customer relationships – and that takes time. Stay focused on the experience. Not the channel. Not just one sale.