The marketing trend of the decade: insight-driven and customer-focused

It’s hard or near impossible to plan for the future, especially with constant changes and updates to marketing innovation, but marketing leaders are always a good sounding board on giving insight and even predicting what may catch on sooner or later. 

It wasn’t long ago when marketing experts were saying video would be the next big thing. And that came true. 81% of businesses now use video as a marketing tool, up from 63% last year. 

To be forewarned is forearmed, and marketing is one of the biggest areas where knowledge really is power (and profit!). And videos only works when they’re customer-focused: entertaining, informative, and visually concise and helpful. 

Which leads me to the marketing trend of 2020 and beyond: customer insights for customer-focused content and communications. 

Use martech tools 

Martech and CRM innovation will continue to get rid of silos. Sales, marketing, and customer engagement will blend and flow together to deliver the best customer experience. The funnel is no longer a funnel so much as an interconnected flowmap — or lifecycle

Your martech tools and CRM should provide the best capabilities for your messages to anticipate and meet your target audiences and keep them engaged in the lifecycle.  

It’s admittedly bewildering to choose from thousands of martech tools currently in the market. Our blog post on martech and your goals and this graphic from Smart Insights narrow down the categories you should focus on automating for maximum opportunities in your customer lifecycle. 

“Always on” lifecycle marketing 

The funnel isn’t dead, is it? It has just evolved. Rather than creating awareness, marketers should now be aware of what the customers want and need. Customers expect and demand a personalized experience from the awareness stage to well beyond the decision-making stage. 

  • How are you retargeting your current and lapsed customers?
  • Or are you focusing all your marketing on SQLs and MQLs? 

Customers are giving away tons of data on what they want — they expect us to be aware of their needs. The ball is in our court, so to speak, and it’s up to us to take action, online, and offline. 

Thankfully, AI now makes it more possible to deliver messages that match up with a customer’s needs and perspective throughout the customer journey. There are now martech tools that can even audit your communications and content for top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel. 

Proactive data collection for customer experience

Customers do not mind personalization, and being in compliance with data regulations only means transparency and helpfulness in how you collect and use customer data. 

In this decade, I know collecting data won’t just be the name of the game — analyzing and acting on it will be. AI now gives you one more tool to determine how to talk to your customers. 

  • Are there specific language types your target audiences respond to? 
    • AI technology can give you insights on what engages your customers more: Urgency? Exclusivity? Challenging language? 
  • Have you experimented with single product pushes and strategic promotions? 
    • Using AI data, mono-product campaigns can increase conversions when sent to the right people. 
    • Your marketing teams can reduce costs by a lot if their strategic promotions only go where it will be most effective.
  • Are you implementing micro-targeted campaigns triggered by customer behavior? 
    • The spray-and-pray method is a fossil. If you’re still using segments for marketing instead of having campaigns that move with individual customers, you’re already behind. 

All the above are insights-driven marketing. Not only should you proactively collect and utilize data, you should keep building your data by tracking your customers response and behavior AND adjusting your messaging, providing better email targeting recommendations and maximizing engagement and conversions. 

In 2020 and beyond, marketing will continue to be insights-driven. But marketing teams need to implement smart experiments with the use of AI to build that cache of insights — and help AI learn with all those insights. 

Communication that sparks loyalty

Customers expect brands to have and use data for marketing insights. And you need insights to empower every communication, whether through chat, email, or voice. Loyalty marketing is simply VIP treatment in your communications with every client. 

Marketers should use customer insights to send out bold messaging that serves their communities and makes them feel seen and recognized. 

In their Shopper Insights, Red Bull’s marketing team delivered insight on exactly who consumes Red Bull — challenging the usual assumptions, and “revealing channels the company can enhance to improve growth.”  

Bold, effective communication diminishes or eliminates the “creep factor” and shows your customers you understand them, so it effectively locks in your messaging for conversion.  

  • Give your audience a review of what they’ve purchased and repurchased — especially what they’ve clearly enjoyed. Airlines do this, giving you a summary of your miles and destinations. 
  • Then give them a voucher for that item alone — or if they purchase this new product with it, or… 
  • Ask them for a review or feedback in exchange for a voucher, or…
  • Give them discount or reward codes that they and/or their referral can both enjoy on their next purchase. 

Nothing bolder than asking for something! But it’s personalized and incentivized. 

2020 is the year marketers will stop being scared of personalization, utilizing the side of “just right” instead of fearing “too much.” The result is confident and personal emails that truly touch your customers in their pain points and preferences, in the language/s that prompt action. 

Loyalty starts when your customers believe you know who they are and what they like at every touchpoint. 

Personal communication and real conversations

“ContentMarketing 2020 is all about content becoming more strategic, more impactful, more automated, and yet more human.” 

This is from Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group and author behind Mean People Suck. 

Insights-driven marketing, loyalty marketing, lifecycle marketing, prepping for voice search, ramping up your video content and chatbot messaging — these should all be rooted in real conversations. 

You do need martech to help your human teams, and the main goal of smart automation is to have conversations with your customers at scale. 

Conversational marketing will tailor interactions based on customer inquiries. Product search, product comparisons, all delivered in a more personal tone. As smart speakers and voice assistants become mainstream in the next 2 to 3 years, conversational marketing tech will also evolve with the demand. 

In the meantime, conversational should apply to all your messaging. Flashy new tech can only do so much. Clear, personal communication, focused on your customer needs and expectations, should drive your marketing strategy for the next few years.  

Dan Baird

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