Marketers believe ad blocking is good for the industry, says CIM
More than three quarters of marketers believe ad blocking will lead to greater creativity in the industry, according to a new report.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), has released the findings of a study asking marketers which trends are their top priorities in the year ahead.
Key results revealed:
- Overall, the majority of marketers surveyed (76 percent) feel ad-blocking will encourage greater creativity; although 38 percent said it could lead to a decline in online marketing
- When looking at priorities for the year ahead, personalisation (42 percent), data-driven marketing (37 percent) and influencer marketing (31 percent) topped the list
- Technology continues to have a big influence on marketing, and many marketers are feeling the strain; 49 percent of respondents said that they are under greater pressure to reinvent customer experience as a result of tech disruptors like Uber and Amazon
- This pressure is unsurprising when you consider that one in five businesses (20 percent) say customer experience is now their business’ primary focus in the year ahead. Marketers are at the centre of this storm, with marketing leading customer strategy for almost a third (32 percent) of companies
- This is having a positive impact on how marketing is viewed by those in the industry; almost a third (32 percent) of respondents see marketing as a pathway to senior management
Marketer trends for the year ahead focus on better understanding customers
While personalisation, data-driven marketing and influencer marketing are revealed to be the biggest focus for marketers surveyed, it is evident that new technologies and trends are making an impact. Chatbots, Virtual Reality and short-lived content that is only available for a limited amount of time, are starting to feature on some marketers’ priority lists. However, this is still quite a niche focus, as only 8 percent or 9 percent of marketers highlighted these as areas of focus for the year ahead.
The results also showed that ad-blocking is a divisive topic. More than three quarters of marketers (76 percent) think ad-blocking could be a good thing, as it will force marketers to be more creative about how they engage with customers. However, 38 percent think it will mean marketers will be less likely to use online marketing.
Chris Daly, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, comments: “Marketers are naturally skilled when it comes to embracing change and new technologies, and they have a natural thirst for creativity. So it was positive to see the majority of respondents rising to the challenge of ad-blocking. It was also encouraging to see that whilst marketers are starting to look at new technologies (like Chatbots and Virtual Reality), the fundamental skills of their profession in terms of delivering more personalised, targeted and influential campaigns, still sit at the core of marketers’ everyday life.”
Tech disruptors turning up the heat for marketers to reinvent customer experience
It is evident from the research that customer experience and technology are still having a major impact on marketers. Marketers recognise that tech disruptors, such as Amazon and Uber, have raised the bar on customer expectation - with almost half (49 percent) of marketers surveyed feeling the pressure to reinvent customer experience just to keep pace. Customer experience is clearly moving up the business agenda, as it clearly should, with one in five respondents asserting that customer experience is now the primary focus for their organisation, and a further 15 percent saying they have gone through a major process of transformation in the past year to ensure they stay relevant. Unfortunately, 28 percent feel they do not have the investment needed to change their customer experience, despite wanting to, and 11 percent say customer experience is not a main focus of their business.
When looking at who owns customer experience, almost a third of marketers (32 percent) say marketing leads the strategy on customer engagement within the organisation, and one in five say that there is a clear division between departments. However, this is not always the case; a third (33 percent) feel the lines between IT, digital and marketing are becoming increasingly blurred, and 22 percent feel there are more people involved in the customer experience process, which is making it more confusing.
Chris Daly, continues: “I do question the 11 percent who say that customer experience is not a focus – no matter what business you are in, the customer should always be at the heart of the operation – particularly in today’s customer-led environment. More broadly, however, it’s encouraging to see customer experience is being given the consideration needed at a business level, and that marketing is clearly playing a more strategic role. However, organisations cannot expect to deliver superior customer experience without making the necessary investment. Marketers have a clear role to play in demonstrating their value to the business, and for making the case for increased investment to meet their organisational goals.”
A race to the top – marketing paves the way to senior management
As customer experience grows increasingly important to the business, it is positive that marketing is being taken more seriously as a career path to senior management:
- 14 percent of marketers surveyed entered into marketing with the deliberate aim of reaching senior management
- 18 percent said they did not consider a career path when they entered the marketing industry, but now see themselves moving into senior management as a result of their role
The younger generation of marketers are more likely to have entered into marketing because they see it as a career path to senior management. A quarter of 18-34 year olds chose to enter marketing to further their long-term ambitions, which decreased to 6 or 7 percent of those over 35. However, a worrying 7 percent entered the industry to get into senior management, but no longer feel they can, which perhaps demonstrates a skills gap is prevalent and needs to be addressed.
Chris Daly concludes: “It’s really encouraging to see so many young people joining the marketing profession with long-term ambitions of reaching senior management positions in the future – and they are right to do so. An increasing number of marketers have made the move to Chief Executive roles, with Tesco perhaps the most high profile example in the UK. This trend was also reflected by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), who revealed the role of Marketing Director is now the third most highly paid job title in the UK. This demonstrates a shift in business - recognising the talents and value senior marketers can bring to the boardroom – now looking to marketers as the natural business leaders of the future.
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.