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Anticipatory experiences in marketing featuring Forrester’s Julie Ask

Read on to learn about how anticipatory experiences can impact your business.
Anticipatory experiences in marketing featuring Forrester’s Julie Ask

We recently had the pleasure of hosting a thought-provoking webinar with guest speaker Julie Ask, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester. Julie is an expert in digital customer experience (CX) strategy, moments-driven CX, and mobile trends. She shared invaluable insights on the importance of anticipatory experiences (AX) and how businesses can use them to gain a competitive advantage.

In this follow-up Q&A, Julie answers key questions related to the business value of AX, the right channels for its implementation, and typical challenges businesses may encounter. She also shares her views on the potential risks of brands overstepping the mark with AX and suggests metrics marketing teams should consider when evaluating their AX efforts.

A huge thanks go to Kevin Davis, Chief Data Officer at More2, and Dotdigital’s Juliette Aiken and Steve Shaw, who joined Julie in the webinar to share their knowledge.

Don’t miss the chance to learn from an expert and discover the potential of data-driven anticipatory experiences in your marketing strategy.

Q&A: How to leverage anticipatory experiences

How do anticipatory experiences (AX) translate into business value?

Anticipatory experiences deliver a broad set of business values. Since the design point for AX is delivering consumer convenience, improved customer satisfaction and delight top the list. When consumers are task-oriented or need peace of mind, they will prioritize convenience or speed —the next business value in operational cost savings.

When companies serve customers more proactively with status updates, reminders, and more, customers are less likely to reach out to a contact center (i.e., higher cost than self-service) to get help or information. Finally, when customer needs intersect with business needs, there is an opportunity to sell consumers more products or services. Forrester calls this variation of anticipatory experiences (AX) –  the next best experiences (NBX). NBX experiences optimize customer life time value (CLV) when making suggestions to customers.

Is there a risk of brands overstepping the mark with AX? When does proactive verge into creepy or even obnoxious?

There absolutely is a risk. Everyone remembers the 2012 story of Target sending prenatal vitamin promotions to a teenage girl whose father did not yet know she was pregnant. Just because a brand can anticipate a customer’s need does not mean the brand should act on it. Brands must constantly make judgment decisions on timing and actions based on a holistic view of the customer – not just a single business function’s view – as well as objective ethical functions. Smart brands will prioritize the needs of customers (e.g., eat less sugar, save money, mitigate risk, etc.) over their own needs. 

AX experiences must also evolve over time as customers learn to trust brands based on the value the brands deliver – what Forrester refers to as a “value flywheel.” Brands should ask customers for a little bit of data and then provide a little bit of value. This initial exchange builds trust. Consumers will provide a little more data in exchange for even more value. 

You talk about how anticipatory experiences are constantly evolving. Can you provide examples of the most recent trends or expectations?

AX experiences are evolving along three distinct dimensions. First, brands are evolving how much action they are willing to take on behalf of their customers. Today, many can send content (e.g., “It’s time to board your flight”). In the future, more will send suggestions (e.g., “You should leave now to make your flight” or “Do you want to reload your stored value card?”) and ultimately act on behalf of their customers as they build mutual trust and confidence.

Second, brands will deliver AX on increasingly complex customer journeys. They will start with well-understood journeys (e.g., food delivery, boarding a flight), then watch and listen to their customers so that they can react quickly (e.g., detect potential fraud and pause charges to a credit card), and then ultimately truly anticipate the need of a customer (e.g., if the customer has a stroke). Finally, brands will evolve from a static assembly of moments to a dynamic assembly or construction of moments (e.g., who, what, where, and when) in real time based on insights.

When thinking about creating anticipatory experiences, what channels should be top of the marketers’ list?

Forrester recommends that marketers understand how their customers use technology to access digital experiences – and then marketers should choose their use cases before making technology or channel decisions. For example, nearly all consumers use email, SMS, and push notifications – but fewer consumers may feel comfortable with audio or haptic notifications on their smartphones or smartwatches. 

Marketers should choose channels based on how well matched that channel is to the use case. For example, mobile notifications work best when immediacy is important, and the content is simple (e.g., a short text message or image). Email is more appropriate for longer forms or less urgent content. 

Creating anticipatory experiences is reliant on having real-time information to act on or trigger from. What are the biggest challenges businesses face here?

Decision makers – people or technology solutions – need access to accurate, real-time data or insights that take into account a holistic view of the customer. According to Forrester’s 2021 Global Emerging Technology research, 46% of executives surveyed believe that they are collecting all the customer data they need – but only 34% assemble it into a single profile, and just 14% distribute it to enable critical decisions. Other inhibitors to delivering more anticipatory experiences that executives cited included a lack of automation and the complexity of integration into existing platforms. 

What metrics of success or engagement should marketing teams consider when thinking about AX?

Ultimately, marketing teams want to measure (1) a decrease in time (i.e., for a customer to complete a task) and (2) a reduction in inbound engagement, whether to a contact center or on a mobile app. These metrics purely focus on a customer’s convenience. However, they should use more operational metrics as they start their journey toward delivering AX and then evolve their metrics as they become more sophisticated. 

For example, initially many AX may be mobile notifications that give consumers peace of mind about the status of a process or the location of a delivery. Marketers can start by measuring how many consumers opt-in to receive notifications. They will also need permissions (e.g., use of location) and zero-party data to deliver more personalized and timely content. Marketers can measure the effectiveness of these tactics.

Next steps towards anticipatory customer experiences

If you’re looking to create anticipatory customer experiences, it’s important to use data and analytics to personalize interactions and anticipate customer needs. To get started on this, schedule a call with the Dotdigital team to discuss incorporating this approach into your customer engagement strategies. Visit our partner directory to find out more about More2.

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