Marketers know the true meaning of the old expression; the grass is always greener on the other side. Those with strong brick-and-mortar sales long for website customers, and those with powerful digital platforms wish for more foot traffic. Factor in a global pandemic and marketers have a lot to contend with.
Despite all of these challenges, when companies successfully market across channels the grass can be green on all sides. A truly loyal customer shops online, in-store and everywhere in between. Unfortunately, that loyalty isn’t often rewarded with good marketing.
All too often, marketing across channels feels disjointed. A customer who has bought ten products from a brand online walks into the brick-and-mortar store and is treated like a stranger, while a loyal social media follower visits the website and feels like a newbie.
Technology and data will fix these cross-channel problems in the immediate future, especially as businesses accelerate digital transformation. Here are three reasons why:
1. Data interoperability between platforms will improve
One of the biggest challenges in cross-channel marketing is siloed data. What’s collected in a brand’s content management system (CMS) tends to stay there. That data can’t be used for basic functions like email marketing or for advanced marketing strategies like personalization. In fact, in Acquia’s most recent Customer Experience Trends Report, 83% of respondents said that their customer data was siloed.
The good news is that in the next 10 years these silos will break down. This is because more and more brands will use open tools and technologies to stitch together disparate platforms. As open tools continue to proliferate, marketers will be able to unify content from proprietary, home-grown and open tools into a single platform—the digital experience platform (DXP).
2. AI will drive smarter experiences
Machines are good at things that humans aren’t, and humans excel at activities that computers fail at. Employing AI isn’t a matter of replacing humans but rather of enhancing marketing. In the next 10 years, AI-driven technologies will become commonplace. These algorithms will process data faster than any human can, segment customers with great precision and deliver truly personalized experiences, offers and interactions.
Combined with the dissolution of siloed data across channels, AI will create more personalized experiences than ever before. You could even say that AI will make marketing more human.
3. Culture will shift to opt-in data practices
Acquia’s research indicates that around half of consumers find it unsettling when brands know something about them that they didn’t disclose directly. The same research found that 65% of consumers would ditch a brand if they found out their data was being used dishonestly.
In the last few years, consumer awareness of privacy and data brokers has grown. Many people are not comfortable with how quickly their data is aggregated and sold.
The industry is on the cusp of a big cultural change around consumer data and privacy. Some of this will be driven by brand behaviors and commitments to their customers. Some of it will be driven by policy from Capitol Hill.
Either way, we’ll see a shift toward an opt-in culture. This might result in higher-quality data for brands. Why? Because when consumers trust a brand with information like their birthday, family makeup, preferences and tastes they might provide more accurate information.
More accurate information will help brands build better customer profiles and segmentation, which leads to better personalization. And, as you well know, personal connections are the bedrock of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
While a lot has changed in the last 10 years of marketing, even more has changed in the past few months. Customer experience has a whole new meaning for both consumers and marketers in the Covid-19 era, but one thing remains the same. The brands that embrace this digital acceleration by keeping an eye on data interoperability, AI and customer privacy will be well-positioned to win the customer loyalty battle.
As Acquia’s CMO, Lynne Capozzi oversees all global marketing functions including digital marketing, demand generation, operations, regional and field marketing, customer and partner marketing, events, vertical strategy, analyst relations, content and corporate communications. Lynne is one of Acquia’s boomerang stories, first serving as CMO in 2009, leaving in 2011 to pursue nonprofit work full-time, and returning in 2016 to lead the marketing organization into its next stage of growth.