Under the Tree for 2019: Customer Experience & Beyond

Our experts aren’t done yet sharing their gifts of foresight by the fire. This round covers all facets of customer experience. And in the spirit of giving, and getting what you wish for, later on in this concluding episode, we swap topics (Yankee swap style) and extend our 2019 predictions into previously unpredictable territories.

Voice search In 2019, voice search will have a huge impact, as early adopters (publishers/advertisers) will benefit from increased consumer engagement and more insight gained from the unique data sets that will emerge as a result. With this, consumers will be able to engage with their favorite publishers and advertisers on the devices they use every day, such as mobile, tablet and desktop. So long as voice search offers a variety of choices and options to the consumers, the opportunities to understand what consumers are truly interested in on the most natural level are endless. Another area we’ll see voice search have a significant impact is through smart assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, as both companies continue to search for ways to monetize voice search via advertising without compromising consumer experience. Should they be successful, both could see significant increases in consumers using voice search to shop online.

— Dominic Joseph, co-founder and CEO, Captify

Data-driven creativity A data-driven approach to creativity helps marketers work more productively, create the right content faster, and deliver that content to the right customer, across the right channels, at the right time. One common denominator among today’s most innovative companies is a unified view of the customer, pulling data from across multiple sources. In 2019, creative teams need to work more closely with their data and analytics teams to better understand the changing behaviors of consumers both online and off. Even further, we’ll see enterprises focused on building a seamless flow of connected customer data  — behavioral, transactional, financial, operational, and more — to get a true end-to-end view of their customers for immediate actionability.

— Stacy Martinet, VP of Marketing Strategy and Communications, Adobe


Human mindset, plus AI Digital is what will continue to define marketing in 2019. But what’s changed is that it’s not simply about martech or even customer-facing activities. It’s a mindset and culture that modern marketers can help drive throughout the entire company, one that takes a unified approach to customer and employee experience, technology and business performance. It’s about curiosity, experimentation, and embracing new ways of working and learning. It’s central to our strategy — in marketing and every part of the organization. Artificial intelligence is just one tool in the toolbox. It offers great potential — in fact, nearly half of the execs in our recent AI survey say they expect AI to help them create better customer experiences, whether through natural language processing, conversational AI, or predictive analytics. But you don’t want to lose sight of the need you are addressing. Is AI the best fit? And you also need to tackle how AI will integrate with your other enterprise systems, including analytics. That’s a big priority for companies this year.

 Matthew Lieberman, U.S/Mexico CMO, PwC


AI behavior insights As the volume of customer data continues to grow, we will continue to see an increase in the use of AI and machine learning toward developing deeper levels of customer intelligence, which will be vital in making customer data actionable. Through the use of AI, ML and Customer Intelligence, marketers will have access to unprecedented levels of customer behavior insights, resulting in a more nuanced, comprehensive understanding of each customer’s purchase journey and relationship with brands. Show your customers that you know and understand who they are and what they want, and see engagement with your brand multiply.

— Christopher Hansen, Chief Product Officer, IgnitionOne 

Cross-selling Start plucking low-hanging fruit with the data and systems you already have. No doubt, you already possess the data, systems and talent required to capture significant net-new value, so why not begin with a relatively modest personalization effort? This is also an opportunity to evaluate your current personalization capabilities across the entire customer lifecycle, from acquisition to retention. What are you getting right? Where you are falling short? And where can you quickly add value? A straightforward cross-sell  campaign is a great place to start, since most brands already possess significantly more data to drive such a campaign than they are currently using, like past purchase transactions, product details, and behavioral triggers such as Web browsing activity. Such an effort can do more than improve marketing performance in the short term. You can use it as an opportunity to consciously build on the organizational knowledge and momentum required to make your personalization-at-scale strategy a success.

— Tasso Argyros, CEO, ActionIQ


AR & VR in the store, vehicle entertainment on the road Customers want brands to treat them like they are special. Experiences personally tailored to a consumer’s needs make them feel heard and leave them coming back for more. We’ll see more and more companies tapping into emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as a way to bring customers into a more immersive experience where they are in complete control. These technologies enable customers to interact in a personal way while simultaneously providing information on how to adapt to changing customer preferences in real time. For example, Ikea has created its Ikea Place app, where shoppers can visualize how products will realistically look in their homes. Brick-and-mortar stores will continue to prioritize personalization in 2019. Digital engagement is not just for online properties, but we’ll see more physical stores adopting strategies like AR to create unique experiences for consumers. In-vehicle systems are growing in connectivity and becoming a new touch point for brands. Automobile manufacturers are entering the third wave of vehicle entertainment systems and are now pushing toward becoming digital platforms for entertainment, productivity, utility, and safety. Manufactures are opening up more access to app stores to create extensions of customers’ digital ecosystems. Car manufacturers like Nissan have shelved their internal platforms to adopt Android-based solutions. We will see the beginning of ecosystem integration going beyond the current extension of the phone or tablet to the dashboard.

— Kevin Hanley, Senior Vice President of Marketing Services, Hero Digital


Real-time While real-time engagement is currently available, it will finally tip the scales into an imperative rather than a luxury, and as a necessary component of closing the gap between the consumer expectation and experience in 2019. Real time engagement will force the elimination of data silos as a barrier to timely, relevant customer engagement and as a barrier to a seamless omnichannel experience. It will accelerate the ability of brands to close the expectation-experience gap. In a 2018 report, the CMO Council found that marketers ranked real -ime engagement as the number one requirement for customer experience success. Brands will recognize that complex real-time engagements  where they need to identify customers, understand their context, decide on next-best actions, and personalize it to an individual consumer, all within seconds – are necessary, within their grasp, and a source of competitive differentiation. 

–?John Nash, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at RedPoint Global 


Experiential commerce and subscription services Experiential commerce is on the rise and requires a shift in mindset across the organization. It’s all about refocusing your strategy around experiences and an ongoing relationship with your customer, rather than just vying for a single transaction. With the rise of subscription-based selling and usership, there’s a fundamental shift occurring in the way people purchase, especially when it comes to digital goods (Spotify, software subscriptions, etc.) In order to keep up, online sellers must embrace and understand how this shift in purchase behavior will help or hurt their business model, and know when, if and how to make a change.

Chris Lueck, CEO, FastSpring

Agencies change the brief Meeting the need for personalized, customer-centric experiences means that agencies need to change the brief. We need to move from “What is the action we want him or her to take?” to “What is he or she already doing? How can our client’s brand fit into and enrich these experiences?” It’s no longer about the art of persuasion. We know what our shoppers and consumers want, need and desire. They tell us hundreds of times a day, and we are now able to collect and make sense of all of this data. Instead of fighting against it to persuade them to do or buy something they aren’t interested in, let’s create better brands and brand experiences in partnership with our clients.

— Janine Flaccavento, Client Partner ? VP, Merkle 


Yankee Swap!!!


Voice platforms The continued integration of voice has been a big shift in the industry and will continue to be in 2019. Brands want to show they have considered this input, and facilitators of the technology (e.g. Google, Amazon, Sonos) have gone all-in in making it a prerequisite element of any interactive experience. This factor will allow voice software to finally iron out the kinks in the New Year, and unleash a new platform that actually impacts everything we do, work on and create. The platform’s still in development and isn’t totally seamless at this point. Plus, people are currently unsure of it, especially in the context of such widespread data misuse by the largest tech companies. However, voice technology is evolving very quickly, and I think 2019 will see a tipping point where it becomes so good, people feel they have to embrace it fully.

 Dan Carter, Executive Creative Director, Set Creative. 

Attribution 2019 will be the year of attribution. The Holy Grail for marketers is being able to measure if their marketing spend led to getting shoppers into a store and ultimately making a purchase. Due to some great recent strides in technology, this is now a reality in the influencer marketing space, and it will reset the bar for success in our industry. When we got into the business, back in 2014, the primary metric that we could report to our clients was impressions. Less than 5 years later, a consumer can see an influencer’s ad on social media, and we can track, in an anonymized and consented fashion, if they went into a store, how long they dwelled there, and in some cases, if they even made a purchase. In addition, we now also have the ability to measure tune-in through paid influencer ads on social.

 Ryan Detert, CEO, Influential

Synchronized messaging As we enter 2019, we will see the intersection of creative and data finally impacting the way consumers engage with digital ad content. Data will continue to remain key for serving more relevant ads to consumers, but without fully investing in creative, companies risk sacrificing ad recall, brand sentiment and the right kind of engagement. This coming year will be a watershed one for marketers and advertisers applying creative and data to create truly seamless, synchronized brand messaging across mobile, tablet and desktop devices. It’s time to achieve real, positive change in the way consumers view and engage with digital ad content.

— Mike Pallad, President, Undertone 

China Today, western brands are underinvesting in China despite the quickly growing opportunity its burgeoning middle class offers. In fact, over 70% of marketers stated that they plan to increase that investment next year, according to a recent Forbes survey that was sponsored by The Trade Desk.

— Brian Stempeck, Chief Client Officer, The Trade Desk 


Dynamic commerce Dynamic commerce will be required for online sellers to stay afloat:?consumer expectations now require brands and online sellers to deliver a fast, easy, secure and personalized shopping experience from browsing to checkout.?2019 will be the year of dynamic commerce, which allows the ability to have your customer-facing pages to dynamically update based on multiple factors, such as browsing history and geolocation.?This will ensure a personalized experience for the shopper from content to currency.

— Brian  Deignan, VP Sales, FastSpring   

Personal chatbot in the workplace The problem with instant messaging is that it takes time and is distracting. In the future, each new employee will be issued a personal chatbot assistant during onboarding. Among other things, this chatbot will do most of the instant messaging, conversing with other employees, with company leadership, and with other personal chatbots.

— Chris O’Neal, Evangelist, Workfront

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