2019: The Year of the Customer

If 2017 was a year of hoopla and hype, and 2018 was a year where marketing moved closer to actually fulfilling some of those lofty promises with data and tech and persona mapping and customer experience creators, then 2019 might aptly be called The Year of the Customer. At least that’s what I’m going to call it.

Everything will start to come full circle, and us marketers will get closer to connecting the dots. Here are 5 things to look for in the upcoming 12 months.

1. More native and relevant social advertising

Interruptive advertising is quickly becoming extinct for all intents and purposes.

In fact, more than 30 percent of all internet users have installed ad blockers — and that number is rising steadily. Traditional ads now won’t even reach 30 percent of your possible target audience members.

banner ads generate 5 clicks only
For every 10,000 impressions, traditional display and banner ads only generate 5 clicks. Source: SmartInsights.

Advertising isn’t dead, but the same ol’, programmatic banner ads are a dying breed. A new way of reaching people with relevancy is needed and, luckily, emerging.

Retargeting existing CRM contacts — as well as displaying content to anonymous audiences that demonstrate similar behavior to known database segments — with relevant social media ads specifically designed for them are breaking through the clutter. CRM ads create audiences based on data in a specific marketing platform.

CRM ads go beyond simple banners or sidebar widget ads on randomly selected websites. They’re designed to either strategically engage prospective buyers who have already indicated interest in your products/services or entice narrowly defined audiences that will likely be interested in your brand.

Look for these kinds of native ads to take the place of interruptive, ineffective banner ads throughout 2019.

2. Greater emphasis on creativity as more marketers break the wheel

If content is king — and I wholeheartedly believe it is — then the customer experience is the empire to conquer, and experience creators are the conquerors fighting for dominance of the empire!

Creativity, innovation, and artistry will rise up as more marketers seek unique solutions to solve challenges.

As Jay Acuzno eloquently described on the Marketer + Machine show, we must and will, collectively, break free from the constraints of the proverbial “hamster wheel” which keep us confined in stagnant patterns of thinking… and of doing.

More marketers will shift from a prescriptive, reactive mindset to a much more enlightened, proactive place of performing and operating. It will be creativity and strategy — not necessarily technology — which will be the catalyst for widespread change.

And The Era of the Customer demands such an adjustment. The success of the customer experience truly hinges on the marketer’s mindset, strategy, and ability to pioneer unthinkable ways of doing into 2019 and beyond.

3. An emergence of “doing-for-the-customer” will replace the outgrown mentality of “doing-because-we-have-to”

In addition to a shift toward more creativity — which will be reflected in a multifaceted way within certain aspects of the CX — we’ll also see another mind-shift begin to emerge: a customer-first one.

We’ve heard buzzwords floating around all rooted in this concept… channel-agnostic, omnichannel, customer-centricity, and more.

But they all point to one central truth: we exist because customers choose us. We exist to serve our customers the best we possibly can. More marketers, I think and hope, will begin to fulfill a greater sense of purpose that is charged with customers at the core.

“The Future Marketing Organisation” study (2018) reveals that customer centricity is, by far, the ultimate goal for the majority of marketing teams of the future. Source: Marketing Week.

How will this be reflected? Eventually, everywhere we turn. Website experience. Newsletter design and delivery. Timeliness and personalization of messaging.

This is just the beginning of the dawning of a new age of the customer.

4. Automation and technology will bring us full circle with (what I’m dubbing) my 10 S’s

Look for tech and the automation it enables to continue to revolutionize everything about the online shopping experience and your ability to curate it for your customers. You’ll be able to:

  1. Survey your database with a greater degree of intelligence (and make smarter decisions that allow you to be more sensible with content/campaigns).
  2. Segment customers more effectively and at a more granular level.
  3. Scale everything you do — create content, campaigns, blueprints, and more, one time, and be done with it while the machine mechanically extrapolates/distributes everything for you.
  4. Select overarching objectives and schedule emails, push/SMS messages, and other messages at the best time for each individual customer.
  5. Be more scientific behavioral science and understanding the “why” behind customer intent will separate the savviest marketers from the rest.
  6. Serve customers with content they actually desire, and share your unique value with them on their terms. When you consider that each of your thousands or millions of contacts essentially has their own rules for when, where, how, and with what content they want to communicate with you, tech and automation become critical for meeting those expectations.
  7. Save time, energy, and money by allocating resources toward the activities with the highest impact, greatest likelihood of conversion, etc.
  8. Sever ties to the status quo. With deeper access to well-organized, high-quality customer data, the possibilities expand in terms of how original, creative, and unique you can be in leveraging that data.
  9. Start with strategy. Ironically, tech and automation will enable us to reverse our thinking and get back to the basics… starting with strategy and turning to tech for execution.
  10. Create personalized online shopping experiences and interactions for customers that ultimately boost sales.
twitter “#Tech + #automation will bring #marketing full circle with 10 S’s including scale, strategy, & #shopping,” says @mjbecker_ CLICK TO TWEET

5. Digital experiences and immersive interactions will take center stage

Before reading any further, I’d like you to do something. After you finish reading this sentence, close your eyes, and imagine the last brand you encountered that provided you a truly differentiated, truly engaging, immersive or highly personal experience. Go!

Now, imagine that every brand you interact with provided that kind of experience — one that engulfs you within the brand, that touches your senses. That kind of experiential marketing is the future. While it won’t all happen in 2019, it will become more common.

The Pulse
Image source: The Pulse.

The bar has been set high, and the threshold continues to climb as Amazon, Apple, and other giants dictate what shoppers consider a great brand experience.

Soon, anything short of that… won’t be acceptable.

Coca Cola
Coca-Cola set up a pop-up shop made from shipping containers in Georgia. Source: The Coca-Cola Company.

The emergence of new technologies we’ve all heard so much about — AI, augmented reality and virtual experiences, smart devices, and more — are permeating the consumer market at an unprecedented pace. It’s difficult to keep up with all the innovations both as consumers and marketers — so how in the world are we to understand, implement, and iterate?

Look at leading brands, and borrow ideas that will resonate for your audience. You don’t have to be Apple overnight, but you do have to be you, and deliver on the promise of your brand to drive that sought-after loyalty that you NEED to move forward in a digital world where the law of the land is “the survival of the fittest.”

Moving Forward Full-Steam Ahead

So, this will be fun.

2019 will be a year characterized by many things, including:

  • An abundance of options, technology, and solutions to adopt or not
  • Channels to incorporate into your strategy
  • How you decide to reach customers, with what content, and when
  • Evolving ideas about what being “customer-centric” really means
  • New modes of thinking and resulting behavior changes in your customers

If 2019 goes as fast as ‘18 did, then we’ve got a lot to do — and a lot of people to do it for — in a very short amount of time. How about starting small… with strategy? How about empathizing with your customer — and giving your team the grace to try and fail? Because despite what everyone else is doing, those brands that decide to reciprocate and innovate, to create and resonate, and to orchestrate interactions despite distractions are the ones that will own the year ahead. ◾

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