What are the best ways to keep your existing customers delighted with what you give them? By drilling down into the various data sources at your fingertips, you might gain some useful insight into what’s been working best for you to date. But that won’t reveal much about what’s going to happen in the months ahead.
Often, external factors beyond our control as marketers end up. New technologies emerge and become available to us. New channels and modes of communication trend. And our clientele’s goals likewise evolve.
Want to prepare for what’s coming, so you can keep your customers with you in 2018? We asked these eight experts for their predictions on the trends that matter and what to do about them.
Shane Barker, Digital Strategist, Brand and Influencer Consultant
“I believe we can expect to see a rise in customer loyalty programs tailored to the needs and preferences of individual customers. This will improve the engagement rate of the program and increase customer loyalty.
“The main reason why people stop participating in brand loyalty programs is because they were not interested in the offers provided by the program to begin with. There’s also an increase in the number of tools and platforms that help brands understand the unique needs of individual customers.
“I believe marketers should completely review their current loyalty programs to see where they can make improvements and provide their customers with what they need. They should also start investing in tools that can help them gain a better understanding of their customers’ individual needs and preferences.”
Shayla Price, B2B Marketer
“To succeed in retention marketing, I predict companies will rethink the consumer relationship. Businesses will move beyond both the transactional and trusted advisor stances. Instead, I see more companies taking a partnership approach with their customers.
There’s a growing distrust of brands by consumers. Brand messaging isn’t resonating with audiences like in the past. Shoppers are verifying product benefits from two or three sources before making purchasing decisions.
Marketers can prepare for this change by including customers in the marketing conversations. It’s important to offer transparency along with an open door for customers to provide ongoing feedback. There’s an opportunity for customer-involved marketing to drive retention.”
Derric Haynie, CEO, Vulpine Interactive
“Chatbots will overtake email as the most effective retention tool. The AI from chatbots is getting stronger, and we see a strong acceptance among user bases to interact with them. The truth is, people prefer this as a way to communicate with the brands they actually love.
“The one catch to all this is that you need to be a brand that the user actually wants in their Messenger. You need to be awesome enough to deserve to be an SMS away from your consumers.
What awesome things can you do to deserve this?”
Agnes Józwiak, Marketing Director, ClickMeeting
“Brands know that the satisfaction of existing customers is one of the keys to long-term financial success, so retention activities will be at the core of their strategies. It means creating and delivering more educational content and trainings, offering customers more support and listening to their feedback. All of it to improve the company performance.
“The customer experience has already been a hot topic in 2017. The increasing expansion of data driven marketing, marketing automation platforms and a growing role of mobile show how crucial it is to know one’s clients and be able to deliver them relevant content. We already have the tools, so 2018 is going to be about making the most of them and working with knowledge that tools help us to acquire about our customers.
“To implement a successful retention strategy, they need to get to know their customers. And to achieve that, they need to carefully gather and analyze data about their needs, habits etc. They also need to be more open to feedback, which will help to create a cohesive strategy that will yield increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
Barry Feldman, Owner, Feldman Creative
“I’ll answer with my SaaS copywriter hat on and say marketers will work to make their content and communications more focused on the needs of the individual. Marketing decisions, largely made automatically, will respond to behavioral triggers to enable the brand to be more helpful and responsive to the client’s needs.
“Great digital marketers now understand how vital it is to be data-driven. Marketing automation systems — big and small — are widely available and becoming easier to master.
“Marketers should focus on putting the technology in place which they need to better segment and personalize their email lists. And, of course, they should be thinking about producing content for the post-sales customer experience. How can the brand foster continued satisfaction? How can the brand consistently win advocates to grow by way of referral?”
Lilach Bullock, Entrepreneur
“Many businesses and marketers will be hit by the importance of creating amazing customer experiences. That’s the reason people keep coming back to brands like Airbnb, Uber and other millennial-savvy companies that are taking the world by storm. Consumers want an amazing experience, and they want it to be as convenient for them as possible.
“The rise in omni-channel marketing is also showing us how important a unified, seamless customer experience is right now.
“There needs to be better communication between marketing and other departments; companies and marketers need to make a conscious effort to collaborate more in order to create a seamless and amazing customer experience.”
Danny Halarewich, Founder and CEO, LemonStand
“Ecommerce brands that only sell through traditional one-off sales require a lot more effort to drive repeat business and retain customers long-term. For online retailers, subscriptions are having a dramatic impact on repeat business and retention, to create a reliable base of recurring revenue that they can build off of.
“Consumers are becoming very comfortable with subscription products and services. On the other side, online retailers are realizing that they can sell subscription in addition to traditional ecommerce models.
“For great retention in 2018, I recommend that marketers get familiar with subscription ecommerce, especially the different approaches in business models, how to incentivize customers to subscribe (as opposed to purchase one-off), what features to provide customers to ensure they stay happy (such as ability to pause and skip upcoming orders) and retain them for the long haul.”
Ron Sela, Growth Marketing Advisor
“The most dramatic change will be witnessed in the personalization of marketing through the use of artificial intelligence (AI). With time, AI will become more time–efficient, cost-effective and valuable. Companies are already studying the patterns of their most loyal customers. While it is true that no two customers are alike, AI has enabled personalized recommendations and incentives for individual customers to be more focused than ever before.
“Whether it’s your health statistics or online habits, marketers are currently able to monitor actions and reach out personally should the data reflect that. It is only a matter of time before conventional marketing strategies are rendered obsolete. Marketers should be cognizant of existing technologies, together with the ones that will be prominent in the future.
“A better understanding of the marketplace is essential to ascertain what to hold onto and what to let go of. Conducting adequate research into these technologies and learning about them can assist in better comprehending the corresponding market trends. After determining which technologies to improve, marketers should endeavor to train their organizations to use the existing technologies to stay ahead of the marketplace’s developments.”