Innovations and trends continue to shift at a fast pace in the marketing landscape, accelerated by the uncertainty of recent times. As a result, the methods by which organizations are attracting, engaging, and growing their audiences are constantly changing.
by Linda Vetter
New martech innovations allow for greater personalization, which we covered in our previous Trends We Like article. The trends we have identified today are similarly part of a wider shift towards a more consumer-centric approach to the consumer journey. In a time of uncertainty and polarized opinions, consumers are looking to align their personal values with their purchasing decisions. Due to this, defining and highlighting brand values has never been more important and is being effectively used to turn satisfied customers into brand advocates. Alongside this, consumer data is becoming more internally accessible, which increases its potential strategic impact within all areas of a business.
These three trends have caught our eye recently and here’s why…
Consumers are increasingly aligning their purchases with their personal values. According to Forrester, 59% of UK consumers consider company values when making a buying decision. This percentage is even higher among younger generations. Consumers are increasingly searching for companies that do more than just provide a satisfactory product or service. This isn’t just a trend amongst higher-earners either, the desire to align values with purchases spans all income brackets, even if lower-earners are not always able to.
“Businesses that know why they exist, whom they serve and their purpose have successfully navigated through these uncertain times.” – Forbes
Companies that define and highlight their social purpose are seeing success, especially throughout the pandemic. This is why Burger King put rivalries aside and told customers to support McDonald’s. This is why Nike donated $5.5m worth of product to healthcare workers. Being able to identify and define your mission and values, and then act on them, has seen visible upswings in brand sentiment that will only accelerate this trend. 50% of Americans say that they would switch to a company that supports a cause they believe in, increasing to 61% of younger adults (aged 18 – 41).
To meet this growing trend, the number of organizations making vocal social responsibility commitments is on the rise. However, most companies have a long way to go before catching up with brands such as Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, or TOMS, who have all baked their mission into their business models. Organizations also need to be cautious, as disingenuous attempts to leverage this trend can have a negative impact on brand reputation.
“On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers.” – Harvard Business Review
At the heart of this trend is a move to making genuine, human connections with customers, rather than solely relying on the satisfaction of service. HBR goes on to report that emotionally connected customers pay more attention to your communications, are less price-sensitive, recommend you more, and ultimately, buy more of your products or services. As more companies see the impacts and benefits of deploying emotional-connection-based strategies, the faster this trend will accelerate.
Brands using customer service as a marketing strategy demonstrate a shift in perspective, moving away from viewing customers simply as the end goal. Organic advocacy from customers who trust and respect your brand is one of, if not the most, powerful advertising channels out there. Proactive companies are leveraging this by creating easy ways for customers to share their brand affinities.
Using customer service as a marketing strategy means thinking long-term. Customers are seen for their potential lifetime value rather than their short-term, immediate value. Companies that develop long-lasting relationships and emotional connections with their customers will be rewarded with repeat sales. Value doesn’t just mean immediate financial return either, developing trust and respect also encourages occasional customers to become brand advocates.
“Companies that choose to use the flywheel model over other models have a huge advantage because they aren’t the only ones helping their business grow — their customers are helping them grow as well.” – Hubspot
The Flywheel model puts the customer at the heart of your growth model. According to Hubspot, 57% of B2B purchase processes are completed before buyers ever reach out to vendors. Alongside this, 81% of buyers trust their families’ and friends’ recommendations more than companies’ business advice. Review sites and personal recommendations play a huge role in attracting new audiences and thinking of the lifetime value of your customers will benefit brands in the long term.
At 3radical, we completely agree that presenting a fair and meaningful value exchange that considers the customer’s potential lifetime value rather than their momentary value, will allow your customers to help you grow. This also encourages organizations to listen to their audience and adapt experiences and services accordingly. Using proven data capture techniques such as Earned Data and bringing authenticity into your marketing will get to the heart of what really inspires and activates your audiences.
We’re creating more data now than ever before. Traditionally, capturing that data was the easy part; analyzing that data to draw out insights was an expensive and time-consuming process. With the rise of big data came the necessary experts and data analysts who could interpret dashboards and draw out the answers to predefined questions. In this way, analysts became gatekeepers of customer data, channeling the insights and often requiring specific queries to respond to.
Now, however, martech innovations and AI advancements have paved the way for analytics dashboards that are open to the whole company, not just a select few experts.
“[This] shifts the insight knowledge from a handful of data experts to anyone in the organization” – Gartner
The ability to process vast amounts of data and interpret this into customizable dashboards allows anyone in any department to quickly and easily access customer insights. Having this accessibility means every employee can lend their own perspective to the insights that inform strategic decision-making. They can use their knowledge and experience to draw out areas of opportunity that may have escaped a pure data analyst.
Datamation has also identified another key area that has accelerated this trend:
“The task of extracting meaning from the proverbial business data “water hose” is becoming increasingly simple with the help of recent innovations in data visualization.” – Datamation
Being able to glean the insights is one thing, but being able to communicate them in a way that generates impactful actions is another. More powerful visualization tools allow data analysts to craft data stories that can communicate ideas more effectively. They also have indirect benefits such as shortening meeting times (by 24% according to this study).
As data and analytics become a core business function, companies can react in real-time to the latest trends and identify issues before they happen. Ultimately, leveraging customer data to inform strategic decision-making across every area of their organization.
These three trends all point to a general shift towards consumer-centric strategies. Viewing consumers in terms of lifetime value and placing the emphasis on the end-to-end customer journey is the first step towards personalizing campaigns to the individual, not the persona. With brands building emotional connections with their customers alongside robust data becoming a core business function, businesses need to capture data in the right way.
Linda Vetter is SVP, Marketing at 3radical.
At 3radical, we believe that organizations must establish trust to capture customer data and gain permission to deploy it, providing consumers maximum control of their experience. Proposing meaningful value while capturing consented Earned Data will provide insightful and rich data sources that will increase customer’s lifetime value. Developing the long-term relationships and personalized service that turns your satisfied customers into loyal brand advocates. Learn more about the power of Earned Data and get in touch.
Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash.