Hitting the Mark
5 marketing trends defining customer experience in 2022
Over the last couple of years, the marketing landscape has changed dramatically. The recent pandemic has led to an increase in shipping and acquisition costs while seeing customer unsubscribe rates increase.
At the same time, consumer behaviors and expectations have also changed irrevocably. Shoppers are becoming more selective about the brands they choose to interact with, they demand immediate attention whether that be query responses, speedy delivery, or search results.
Similarly, these expectations are seeping into the world of B2B, NFP, and non-commerce marketing. Customers want to have similar experiences, no matter who they’re interacting with. First and foremost, modern customers want to be treated as human beings.
In our latest Hitting the Mark report, we evaluated the customer experience delivered by 100 brands worldwide. From this, we’ve been able to identify five key trends that will help you engage with customers, no matter your sector or vertical.
1. Authentically engage with your audience
In a new world where customer loyalty is hard to come by, shared values are on the rise as a key factor in the decision-making process.
Customers want to connect with brands that have a purpose beyond making money. Doing business with a brand that shares its values – such as sustainability, environmentalism, or humanitarianism – makes the customer feel good because they know their business is helping a good cause.
But brands must do more than say they support a cause. To really connect with your audience, your brand must be authentic and honest. That means clearly stating your goals and objectives, outlining how you hope to achieve them, and keeping customers informed about your journey.
Modern customers are far too savvy to fall for sweeping statements or greenwashing claims. The only way you’ll be able to drive conversions and improve customer retention is through open and honest communication of your values.
2. Communicate your brand story
As well as connecting with your shared values, customers are looking for brands that stand out from the crowd. The rapid emergence of DTC brands in the ecommerce world has proved that customers are happy to shop with new and upcoming brands if they tell their stories well. After all, who doesn’t love a business started in someone’s parents’ garage?
Your brand story is what sets you apart. It should be the central vein of everything you do and everything you say. That means it goes far beyond your ‘About Us’ webpage. It’s your personality and you need to let it shine.
The best way to do this is in an editorial newsletter. We’ve often talked about the steady decline in genuine newsletters. As marketers, we often get dragged down by the idea every email we send needs to drive conversions. Of course, that’s the end goal of email marketing, but sometimes looking at the bigger picture helps give us a greater perspective.
Editorial newsletters are all about creating connections. They demonstrate that you know what’s important to your audience while adding value to the overall exchange. Providing additional or educational content alongside your marketing, customers will feel as though they’re getting more out of the relationship than they’re putting in – dramatically improving their overall experience.
And, ultimately, that will lead to stronger, longer-lasting relationships between you and your customers.
3. Be wise in your data collection
Recent changes to laws and regulations surrounding data privacy have made customers more astute to the way brands use personal data. What used to be a simple exchange, the newsletter subscription process has become more complicated due to increased mistrust.
News stories about data breaches and companies selling personal information now mean that brands must demonstrate themselves to be trustworthy before they can obtain a new email marketing contact.
Once again, the answer to this marketing conundrum is simple: be open and honest. Integrity is something customers are looking for in the brands they do business with. Right from your very first interaction, at the point of subscription lay out the facts for your new prospective customers.
- What information do you need?
- Why do you need it?
- How will you use it in the future?
- What will be the benefit to the customer?
But that’s not the only way to collect information. There are many smart tactics you can employ to get to know your customers. Some brands get customers to complete quizzes to learn what customers are after. Others send out surveys or have intelligent preference centers. All empower the customer to determine the course of their own journey.
4. Create journeys with positive friction
What is positive friction? Positive friction refers to the process of putting light friction in the right stage of the customer journey.
As marketers, we strive to make the customer journey as smooth and seamless as possible, but sometimes, in doing so, we can create more problems. For example, a five-second checkout process is great for reducing cart abandonment, but what happens when the customer wants to change their delivery address? They’ll have to contact customer services and wait to get the problem fixed.
Adding a little bit of friction here can prevent these kinds of mistakes from happening. Offering simple options along the customer journey can help you create conversion-driving experiences with fewer problems. For example, offering alternative payment options, such as Klarna or Afterpay may better suit the shopper in the moment. Or, adding chat widgets to pages with a high bounce or exit rates can remove barriers to conversion.
5. Always be thinking about retention
As Dotdigital’s resident marketing guru, Gavin Laugenie always says, customers start depreciating from the moment they sign up to your email marketing. That is the point where they are the most engaged, and from then on, it is a constant battle to keep them.
A lot of work has gone into the conversion-driving part of the customer journey, but what happens to them after that? Post-purchase, or post-conversion depending on your industry, is an often-overlooked stage of the customer journey. This typically happens because transactional emails such as order confirmation or onboarding programs are automated.
But, as a result, they’re also at a pivotal stage of the customer journey. Having just converted, you need to give customers a reason to keep coming back. Weaving in your brand story, showcasing product recommendations, or driving new clients to free learning resources will keep them engaged for longer.
Retention isn’t always about loyalty programs – though they are proven to significantly improve engagement. Every interaction you have with a customer will influence their decision to come back to you in the future. It’s time to turn our attention to these hidden moments and build upon them.
Jenna Paton, Content Marketing Manager
Jenna expertly writes thought-leadership content about cross-channel marketing and customer engagement and manages the creation and execution of Dotdigital's content marketing strategy.
Unlock more secrets to CX success
Learn more about the ideal customer journey and how you can build experiences that drive conversions, growth, and retention with our latest research report, Hitting the Mark.Access the report