Time flies when you love what you do! Just like that, the first quarter of 2016 is done. We thought this would be a good time to analyze the emerging marketing trends of 2016 so far. After looking through many of the trends we are seeing, the common themes across almost all new marketing initiatives have to do with delivering excellent customer experiences. Here are 5 marketing trends that all impact the customer experience.

  1. Advanced Retargeting: Most online shoppers are now familiar with retargeting. They are used to seeing ads for previous searches throughout their journey online. However, the more these ads are viewed, the less effective they become because the surprise factor is now gone and they are easily ignored. To combat this, the newer retargeting plans are more sophisticated behavior-driven retargeting. The new tools that are now available allow you to use display ads, mobile ads, social ads, and a diverse amount of segmentation so that you can help your target audience along with their customer journey.
  2. Delivering a Connected and Personalized Customer Experience: Personalized marketing messages are increasingly important as consumer expectations rise with the increases in technology. Consumers will forget you if you don’t stay connected. This new marketing trend takes it a step further and uses cognitive technology. According to Maria Winans, CMO, IBM Commerce and Social, “It is possible to create unbreakable bonds with customers, understanding them in the moment and responding immediately with relevant, personal engagement.” This is achieved by:
    • Understanding what individuals really want, maybe even before they know it.
    • Identifying the perfect moment.
    • Layering in nuances of tone, sentiment, emotional state, environmental conditions, and personal relationships for deeper human engagement.
    • Bringing more certainty to the business by extracting real-time information to enhance forecasting and decision-making across the value chain, all enabled by cognitive processes and systems.
    • Being able to act on all of these capabilities simultaneously and in real time.
  3. Social Media and Automation Combine to Improve the Customer Experience: Social media campaigns (both paid and organic) will have to adapt and grow with the technological advances that are now available to marketers. Most companies already know that effective social media marketing must include paid and organic social media marketing efforts. Advancements in paid social marketing campaigns include incorporating data collected from other channels into social media marketing campaigns. This helps you not only stay top of mind with your customers, but lets them know that you haven’t forgot about them and shows that you care about them socially. Organic social marketing efforts must make your channels an inviting place and interesting enough to entice them to interact, engage and come back regularly.
  4. Loyalty Programs Continue to Expands: Loyalty programs are often what sets one company apart from others. Loyalty program cards or applications help remind consumers about your brand. Digital marketing advances improve communications as well as offer specialized and personalized offers based on individual’s loyalty club status, history, and trends.
  5. The Internet of Things Connects Businesses to Customers: The Internet of Things will continue to grow as technology does and as consumer adoption increases. Companies using the Internet of Things will start to see increases in customer engagement and data collection. The connected devices of the Internet of Things will mean that companies can (and should) contact customers at the right time depending on where they are in the consumer cycle and not just when they are in store or on your website. The Internet of Things devices and technology will add more push options for consumers who will be able to automatically reorder goods or add them to shopping lists.

Summary and Takeaways
If anything is evident from this article, it should be that companies must keep up with trends and technology in order to survive in the competitive landscape of today’s markets. Customer experience marketing is taking the forefront for many companies’ marketing efforts, which are leading the way in this challenging aspect of business. The five customer experience marketing trends we covered today are advanced retargeting, delivering a connected and personalized customer experience, social media automation, loyalty programs, and the Internet of Things. There are more marketing trends emerging, not just in the area of customer experience, but across many different aspects of marketing. What trends do you see emerging, and which are most important for your business?