The father of electronic commerce, British inventor Michael Aldrich believed that a highly participative, “many-to-many” approach to mass communication could change the world.

Aldrich was both brilliant and correct.

But it’d be a stretch to say that even he could have anticipated the impact his work in IT and e-commerce would have on today’s elucidation of the concept of ‘customer engagement.’

Online sales are increasing at a rate 10X that of brick-and-mortar.

The argument can be made that engaging customers online is exponentially more valuable than engaging them in-store. While both in-store and digital experience are important elements of the overall sales strategy, the experience of shopping in the future is going to be predominantly had via tablets, smartphones, desktops and to-be-created technologies.

Consumers will judge that experience primarily by brands’ ability to anticipate needs and proactively deliver what consumers want before they even need to ask.

But, for many marketers, achieving this level of understanding is easier said than done.

These three B2C marketing trends – which are, more accurately, major industry movements – are important for marketers to fully understand as they evaluate new ways to increase online and offline customer engagement.

1) Big Data

Big data is a very simple term, used to describe the large amounts of information that inundate a business every day. Collecting customer data across each available platform, at every possible point of the customer lifecycle, can help brands process an abundance of information about their customers’ habits.

Collecting this information from in-store purchases, online shopping behavior, email engagement, mobile app usage, etc., allows the creation of a unified customer profile for each individual buyer. Brands that apply big data to achieve this understanding of their customers are able to create highly personalized and relevant marketing interactions along each step of the customer lifecycle.

Knowing, for example, that a customer didn’t engage with an email but did redeem a promo code sent via SMS, is incredibly valuable information. As a result, the brand could continue to engage with that individual via SMS to see if it is the most effective marketing channel for that customer.

2) Artificial Intelligence

As previously discussed, the large amount of customer data available can be overwhelming for even the most skilled marketing analysts. Revisiting the example above, in which the customer seems to be most responsive to SMS messages, how can a marketer possibly achieve this level of personalization with thousands of customers in a database? Attempting to do so manually would be futile.

Artificial Intelligence Marketing (AIM) helps overcome this obstacle. It bridges the gap between big data and personalized customer interactions, by analyzing all data collected for a contact to create personalized interactions with each individual, and leveraging technology like machine learning and automation to scale this personalization to even the largest databases.

By using AI technology to effectively sort data, marketing teams can gain significantly more in-depth customer knowledge and understanding, a catalyst for superior product recommendations, customized incentives, and personalized interactions.

The result? Improved engagement and increased conversions, with less time spent manually tweaking marketing tactics. Who wouldn’t want that?

3) Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel marketing is all about delivering a consistent brand experience, conglomerating all customer data into a unified profile that defines a strategy across every single channel.

By implementing omnichannel marketing strategies, marketers can see where individuals engage, and where they don’t, with greater transparency than ever before. They can then use this information about each customer to create holistic, increasingly personalized messages, incentives, product recommendations, and overall shopping experiences. The outcome is not only increased conversion rates, but also positive impact on brand loyalty and customer retention.

Final Thoughts

Credited with the advent of what’s today commonly called e-commerce, Aldrich laid the bedrocks for modern-day social networking and online shopping.

By using these major B2C marketing trends to learn as much as possible about customers, marketing experts can create the optimal campaigns for their brands.

The better the customer profile, the more personalized the campaign and, subsequently, the more connected the buyer feels to their brand of choice.

Learning how customers want to receive communication, what they prioritize, how they want to engage with a brand, and finally, what will keep them coming back, can be some of the most valuable resources for a brand. This knowledge has enormous potential, but only for those with the capability to collect, understand, and utilize it.

Interested in learning more about building customer-centric marketing campaigns? We’ve got you covered right here.

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