Early 2016, we wrote an article about ‘Changes in the Marketing department’, which we see happening daily at our (potential) clients. It’s time to update that article, because even more things are happening in today’s Marketing Departments.
Customer Experience (CX) is the new marketing battlefront.
This is a quote from Gartner. We think it’s by far the most important development for Marketers in 2019. CX is not new of course, it exists longer than Marketing itself, but the awareness that this is area where brands / companies should battle for the attention and wallet from their customers is growing fast. We think that 2019 is the year in which Customer Experience will become the key driver for your marketing projects. No less.
A nice quote from Walker is that by 2020, CX will overtake price and product as key brand differentiator. We expect that it might actually be happening already in Q3 2019.
Every CX-flow is an opportunity to actively influence customer behavior, in every channel and on every interaction in every touchpoint. That’s quite a bit of ambitions in just 1 sentence, and managing these opportunities is a serious challenge that must be the key focus of every marketer in 2019.
When implemented correctly, the end result is that on every interaction in a CX-flow, customers are nudged into coming more often, spending more per visit and staying longer. If on top of that, your CX-flow enables, inspires or stimulates advocacy, engagement and/or the collection of data…then you’re in Marketing nirvana. And that’s something to aim for in 2019.
The biggest challenges for most companies to overcome are:
- the fragmentation of CX-flows
- the speed and flexibility with which you can update CX-flows
The first one is usually already on the radar of CMO’s, but the latter will prove to be of increasing importance in the coming year. We do not see this prioritized in all marketing departments we have contact with at the moment.
CX Management importance grows quickly
As a result of the above, the importance of the management of Customer Experience (CXM) is growing quickly. Many organizations are just starting to realize what CXM is, or wonder how to actually do that. The link between available tools, management platforms and the marketing staff has not been made, simply because knowledge and skills are lacking. The bridge with IT is unstructured and opportunity driven, or delivers extra bureaucracy through a ‘digital transformation team’ or ‘marketing technology director’. Although they seem solutions, they are not always positioned centrally and are side projects to not disrupt the current organization too much. While it should be disrupted to solve the fragmentation and to increase CX-flow update speed.
CX budgets are not clear
Since CX has only been recently added to the list of ‘strategic topics’ of most CMO’s, there’s often not a specific budget assigned to it, so CX is funded on project basis, which provides lack of clarity how the project will land in marketing operations, the digital/ecommerce team and IT. Who is the boss and who will do the work? We have not seen many organizations that have addressed this topic satisfactory yet. 2019 is the year to correct this.
The most immersive CX is driven by AI
The easiest prediction we make: In 2019, powerful CX will be driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Recommendations, segmentation and personalization are the quick wins for companies that start using AI in real processes, and they will be quickly followed later in 2019 by more advanced AI driven CX that will automatically create content (including image and text creation) for each individual customer in each specific situation. It’s the most underrated development by many, in our opinion, but fortunately also one that is relatively easy to catch up with as many vendors will offer products that will help you out and that can integrate with your marketing technology infrastructure.
MarTech Giants will further raise prices
The few enterprise solutions that exist are often fragmented themselves because they consist out of ‘acquired’ solutions that are not fully integrated and come from (by now) classic marketing areas as email automation, campaign management and/or CRM. They are not fully focused at CX and that is noticable.
To be able to develop further into CX Management, these Marketing Technology Giants need to write off acquisitions sooner than expected and need to do new investments. This raises price levels, or prevents them from going down. Because the knowledge in many companies is lacking, the MarTech giants seem to get away with that, since ‘nobody ever got fired for choosing
In 2019, fake news will impact your company
Accelerated social media rumors, consumer activist campaigns, competitor campaigns will influence the perception of your (potential) customers. There’s no time to respond and there is the risk to let others ‘control the narrative’, while you will want to respond quickly, control the narrative, pivot the story or communicate your version of the situation.
To turn your own communication into the prime source of information about your brand/products to the loyal customers and influencers in your audience, you will have to make sure they know about your channels, that you can reach them directly, for example through a program or through trusted channels for which they have signed up for. You will have to prepare that early 2019, since it’ll be too late to organize that when the fake news tornado hits your company.
Preparing for an economic downturn, CX Transformations are required
The next economic downturn (will it come in 2019?) will separate the winners from the static companies, often the ones that have not been able to adjust their CX-flows fast enough to changing circumstances. Often, we hear companies claim they ‘already have documented THE customer journey’. Questions like ‘what have been the customer journey changes in the last month’ cause minor panic or comforting smiles. Neither one is a sufficient answer.
Many companies will return to classic methods like price cutting when circumstances change to win on volume, but we expect this won’t cut it in the next economic downturn and expect these players to disappear from the landscape.
Product cycles are shorter (again)
In 2019, product introductions/new collections will have shorter cycles. More than you expected.
Your 2018 investments in agile product development and E-tailers investments in ‘last-mile’ warehouses will start to deliver: product introductions will be smaller, faster and new collections will come in stores with a higher speed, responding to consumer trends faster than ever before. If you’re not sure if your company is up to that: make an extra check.
It’s not a surprise that – if we at VEMT have this vision on 2019, that – we’re prepared for these challenges and opportunities. We have created a platform with which you can optimize your CX-flows and flexibly and quickly update them, or even create new ones or clones. You’re covered when it comes to increasing use of AI in your CX-flows and we make sure our clients stay happy about the price/quality ratio of our in-house developed software platform that does’t struggle with forced integrations and write offs of acquisitions. Moreover, we’ll show you more innovative CX-flows throughput the year that you might not have even considered yet. When your customers start following that pattern, we’re ready to switch that new CX-flow on for you. Let us know!