You’ve spent the last few weeks making merry with friends and family, and it’s likely you overindulged. Today, you don’t want to look at another cookie, and you’ve swapped the booze for green juice. You’ve resolved to fill the next decade with yoga and maybe even meditation.
But what are you going to do to improve your digital strategy in 2020? How are you going to go about building a healthier, nourishing, more blissful experience for your customers?
Here is our roundup of 7 trends we think should guide your digital resolutions this year.
1. The experience wars heat up
The numbers have been out for a while: the gulf between businesses’ perception of their own customer satisfaction versus the consumer’s reality is widening. On the other hand, brands that are synonymous with excellent Customer Experience (CX) are reaping outsized benefits. According to a Forrester report, insight-driven companies are growing 7-10x faster than the average enterprise.
The key to a great CX lies with… your customers. The new standards of experience demand greater, smarter customer proximity — one that hinges on a true understanding of what your audience expects and how it wants to connect with you in 2020 and beyond. If you choose not to go all-in on creating an unexpectedly great experience this year, you do so at your own peril.
2. Leaders scramble for new metrics
Knowing how your brand stacks up to customer expectations — and how many different factors from price, to app ease of use, to customer support — contribute to the experience is still a challenge. This is the year many digital professionals will rebel and demand meaningful analytics that are easy-to-consume. Many brands are finding themselves constrained by old metrics, which can tell you how many people visited your site, and how many converted, but don’t offer many clues as to why they left without buying, or if a purchase was in fact the primary goal of their visit.
When it comes to understanding customers, metrics such as content attractiveness and engagement, friction scores and even an objective measure of consumers’ Digital Happiness paints the story between the clicks. You’ll see more CX Index and e-NPS type metrics coming out from agencies, consulting firms and analytics players this year to help meet the demand.
Having access to a system of insights that can capture the nuances and fluctuations of customer behavior, and translate these into actions is how you turn customer intelligence into intelligent CX.
3. More brands flip the acquisition model
Digital teams understand that getting as many people as possible through the door is no longer a viable business strategy. It’s simply too expensive and it is not in fact, a customer-centric approach. Why invite someone in unless you can actually deliver value to them? More brands are shifting their focus to analyzing what happens once customers are on their site in order to better understand who they should be marketing to in the first place, and how.
Think about it — not everyone will want to convert on your site (maybe they’re here to check out in-store availability, use the store locator, etc), and those who do will have a specific customer agenda (they might want to see if a coupon works, to check out fast on their smartphone, etc). The key is to understand: 1) what are your high-value segments, 2) how they like to browse.
By analyzing and understanding the journeys and behavior of customers who are already on your site or app, you can surface intelligence about what they’re trying to do, and in turn, use this intelligence to target specific segments with highly relevant experiences. Don’t forget: the best remedy for churn is a relevant customer experience.
4. Smarter content
Which brings us to content (…don’t all roads lead to content?).
Businesses invest a ton of time and resources into creating content that communicates the brand’s offering and helps customers connect with their values. But how do you measure the impact of content decisions? How do you know what content to display for which audience? How do you maximize your creative investments and merchandising strategy?
Well, it goes back to those smarter metrics. Your customers are giving you real-time feedback on your content with every swipe, tap, scroll, click, etc — each element of your site is either a relevant step in the journey, a distraction, or worse, an obstacle. Customer journey insights are finally becoming operational at scale. And, advanced AI-driven analytics will help translate this customer feedback into actions your team can take to improve the experience and your bottom line. Don’t be left behind.
5. Personalization partners with privacy
Brands in 2020 are going to become better at combining their personalization efforts with their customers’ privacy concerns. Why? Because consumers today want more of both. High profile data breaches and an overload of personalized marketing that isn’t in fact that relevant have made consumers wary of oversharing in the digital world.
But is it really possible to personalize without personal info? We think it is. The beauty of behavioral data is that it delivers on both these demands: privacy and personalization.
Because one consumer does not equate one way to browse a website. And just because a brand knows your name, birthday, address and a few of your interests, doesn’t mean they know what drives you crazy when you’re trying to refill a standing cat food order on your mobile. By analyzing and aggregating the behavior of specific customer segments (based on their context and intent) digital teams can unlock a much deeper, truer type of personalization than that made possible by demographic data.
And if you are going to collect data, the key is to use it well. Be transparent and clear about any request for personal information — customers are often willing to give information that is genuinely going to add value for them.
6. D2C is the new flagship store
Marketplaces don’t afford brands the same level of control over the end-to-end customer experience as direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing. By entrusting others to promote and sell their products or services, businesses are not only settling for lower margins; they’re essentially giving away crucial customer intelligence they could be using to elevate and personalize the brand experience.
And when you’re competing on experience, as brands are today, owning the relationship with your customers so you can better meet their needs and expectations — and strengthen your community at the same time — is crucial.
This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon, and it’s not only reserved for new, agile startup companies. Leading brands like GoPro have shifted their strategy, and are putting more emphasis on owning the end to end experience, and cultivating a meaningful, enduring relationships with their customers on their digital properties.
7. Inclusivity becomes core to your digital strategy
According to the CDC, one in 4 U.S. adults has a disability that impacts major life activities. So if your website and app are not accessible to everyone, that’s 61 million people (in America only) you’re not including in your CX decisions.
The good news is when you design for disability first, you often come up with solutions that are more advanced and smarter than if you hadn’t. Brands everywhere are putting innovation at the service of inclusivity, and are leveraging new technology to future-proof the CX, improve accessibility, and ensure customer-centricity is not just for some, but for everyone.
We’re heading into a new decade of innovation, digital creativity and intelligent technology. Your best strategists in 2020 and beyond will be your own customers. The key will be to tune into their expectations and align your experience strategy with their goals.
It’s time to get a new yoga mat, and a new solution to translate customer behavior into profitable CX actions. As you navigate your favorite sites to find the first, think of the dozens of micro-decisions you take as a consumer: click on this image over that one, filter by size, give up halfway through a scroll, login as guest, etc.
We help brands make the journey to digital wellness more seamless and satisfying. The rest is up to you.
Hero Image via Shutterstock, by Boiarkina Marina
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