Digital marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2016
No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll probably have at least dabbled in digital marketing. Whether you simply encourage customers to your website or have a full digital marketing team working hard to get the biggest return on investment, you’ll still find value in keeping on top of the latest trends.
Video is everywhere and millions of videos every day are watched on Facebook. The social network understands the power of video as a marketing tool and sponsored posts featuring video content are always going to do much better than simple text posts.
2016 is going to be the year this steps up considerably because Google is finally getting on board and will be offering video content within the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is something Yahoo and Bing already do but with Google’s ownership of YouTube, the possibilities are virtually endless.
Twitter-owned Periscope has been gaining traction since it launched and it’s expected that additional players will be entering the market in 2016 to offer their own social streaming platforms. It’s important for brands to start leveraging these tools to reach their customers in the moment.
While virtual reality (VR) has yet to become mainstream, there have been a lot of signs that things are moving that way. Car manufacturers are already using it to introduce their customers to new vehicles and there’s a rise in the amount of games being launched on VR platforms.
This is the year that businesses need to start focussing on VR as a way to market to their customers. It’s a great way to immerse your audience in your products and what you do, and it’s great for product demonstrations that might be a little more tricky in real life.
Relationship marketing is a strategy focussing on customer loyalty, engagement and interaction. Marketing will get more personalised in order to reach customers on a deeper level. While this approach may cost more money than casting a wider net, the return on investment per person reached will be higher.
While personalisation will be important, advances in software and technology are making it easier than ever for marketers to automate some marketing processes. Things like email marketing can be more closely linked to website interactions, meaning emails get sent automatically when a customer completes a requirement such as an enquiry or product purchase.
Further focus on location-based marketing
It’s estimated at around $9 billion was spent on location-specific mobile adverts in 2015, this number is expected to grow to around $15 billion by 2018. This growth is down to better targeting and the need to bridge the gap between digital marketing and the more traditional in-person marketing in the real world.
Thought leadership marketing
This is all about establishing an individual in your business as an expert in your industry. It might be the head of PR, the CEO, general manager of a branch, or a brand ambassador. Having one person that potential customers can connect with is really important and having that person show their expertise builds trust in your company.
There are a number of ways to go about thought leadership marketing. One is to create articles on a company blog, another is to offer guest posts and articles to websites, and you can also offer your expert for comment on topical subjects. Working with a digital marketing company or PR agency is the best way to go about this and they’ll already have the contacts in place to get the content out there.
Now is the time to make your digital marketing more direct. Where possible, businesses will start upping their digital market budgets in order to increase return on investment, and will focus more closely on each individual customer’s needs.
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Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey
There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.
There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.
There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.
In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.
Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.
So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?
Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney
While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.
For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.
For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.
Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.
It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.
How do companies support the new customer journey?
More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.
These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.
The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?
For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.
It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.
And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.
It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.
At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.
About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.