As brands seek to become more customer-centric, the joint opportunities of customer experience and personalisation look set to become major themes in the next five years. Marketers looking to rise to the challenge should consider three major trends that will determine their success.

According to a survey of 4,000 marketers by Econsultancy, the top two digital trends in 2020 are going to be focused on customer experience (24%) and personalisation (23%). Those trends encompass myriad opportunities. They are indicative of a general strategic shift within companies towards greater customer centricity. The more specific sub-trends driving the move to customer experience are three-fold:

  1. The rise of creativity and design
  2. Marketing as a service
  3. Connecting the dots

Creativity and design

“The last twenty years we have all been in love with technology but we’re at a point now that we have plenty of it. The problem is what we do with it. There is a reawakening that the people who can come up with the experiences are increasingly valuable to organisations,” notes Econsultancy Founder, Ashley Friedlein.

The last 20 years we have all been in love with technology but we’re at a point now that we’ have plenty of it. The problem is what we do with it.

The travel sector in particular has been able to tap into the experiential potential of mobile. United Airlines Terminal C hub uses 6,000 tablets across lounges and at 75% of the gates. Customers can order from their seat at 55 of the airport’s restaurants and check their flight status. HotelTonight uses mobile check-in as well as turning the device into a room key. With creativity it is eminently possible to deliver enhanced customer and brand experience, simultaneously.

However while creativity is enticing, Chief Marketing Officer of (WRI) Ottokar Rosenberger points out: “Having mobile remember your search and let you pick it up across device is one of the basics it’s important to get right.”

Marketing as a service

Speaking to the personalisation trend, this is about the combining of data at infrastructure level: taking data, applying business logic and delivering it back to customers and prospects. Friedlein notes: “Marketing will become like this not least because it is scalable and more efficient but can still be localised and personalised.”

Brands can exploit this even through video, as demonstrated by Nike’s FuelBand campaign, that produced videos based on individuals’ running data for the year. Videos included a potential 100,000 different variants including wealth, location and personal metrics.

Connecting the dots

“Digital being part of everything raises many challenges - silos, skills, technology and processes,” Friedlein reveals. Isobar Global Commercial Strategy And Network Development Martin Baillie suggests a tactic: “Have data, client, technology and design or UX people get together and iterate forever until they find a solution. You become extremely lean and fast at finding out what works.”

He advises testing in real time - in a client briefing, test assumptions on PPC clicks, for example, by logging into AdWords during the meeting. “Ideas and beautiful experiences don’t come from sitting around a table, they come from tests.”

The need to tackle these three trends by 2020 should not be underestimated, Friedlein warns: “That is the strategic battleground for the future. It’s where competitive advantage lies.”