With the new year comes new goals and (hopefully) a refreshed mind ready to tackle some big projects. At Flightpath, we’ve put our heads together to identify digital trends that we expect to continue rising in 2017. These trends should help inform your company’s priorities for the new year. Read on to learn how to keep your customers happy in what’s become an all-for-the-customer world, and how to adapt your marketing tactics to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive environment.

1. High expectations

Customer experience has been a hot topic for the past year, and it seems the more we focus on creating a positive customer experience, the more demanding customers become. Companies like Casper and SoulCycle are setting the bar high by putting their customers’ happiness first.

When Casper unexpectedly ran out of mattresses during their initial launch, they ordered air mattresses on Amazon for the customers whose mattresses were backordered. They even put some people in hotel rooms while they waited for their mattress to arrive. Though costly, this was a smart move because a.) it was the first move of many that’s declared Casper’s customer service over-the-top, and b.) they kept customers that they otherwise would have lost to a competitor (and mattress purchase lifecycles are typically six years or longer-making it worth the effort to beat out mattress competitors).

If a customer doesn’t enjoy her experience in a SoulCycle class, they’re given a free class credit to try it again. SoulCycle does this because a bad experience could keep a customer from returning, but a free class provides a second chance for a better experience, which raises the likelihood they’ll return. After all, retaining customers is cheaper than attracting new ones.

Aside from delighting existing customers and bringing in lots of new ones, companies like SoulCycle and Casper have set a standard for companies to go out of their way to see to their customers’ needs.

Focus on delighting your customers in 2017. Whether it’s developing an easy-to-navigate app or website, or hiring cheery customer service representatives, your customers will be expecting their experience to be seamless, so make it a priority for 2017.

2. Authentically mobile experiences

Do you have any apps on your phone that you’ve never accessed on a desktop? Think: Uber, Snapchat, Pokemon Go. These are authentically mobile experiences because they were designed with a mobile-first mindset. You can easily navigate the apps on your phone, no pinching and zooming necessary. There also aren’t too many options in these applications. A simple menu or settings screen is all that’s necessary to complement the app’s primary function.

If your business or service can’t be converted to a standalone mobile experience, there are still plenty of opportunities to prepare your company for the mobile-first world. Focus on making your customer journey as simple as possible on a mobile device. Responsive website design and large form fields are good places to start. Take some time to explore chatbots and mobile payments to see if either could be a fit for your business. As Google has begun testing its mobile-first index, mobile optimization should be at the top of your list this year.

3. Video everywhere

Video continues to dominate as the format of choice. Adults are spending an average of 1 hour and 15 minutes consuming video each day. Video has proven to be effective in email and on websites in driving conversions and increasing customer loyalty. Just seeing the word ‘video’ in email subject lines leads to an increased open rate of 19%, according to Hyperfine Media.

So what can you do to keep up with the trend? Explore new video formats like 360 video and livestreaming. Give Facebook Live or Periscope a try, and if Snapchat is a good fit for your brand, now’s the time to get on the platform.

Just making videos isn’t going to drive conversions and boost sales, though. Your content should be relevant and entertaining. We live in an era of “infotainment,” a response to consumer demands for better content over ads. Think: Tasty and GoPro. Consumers need to digest information but be entertained at the same time. Finding a balance of entertainment and information engages users, grows awareness, and develops trust.

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4. Marketing automation

The use of marketing automation software like HubSpot, Marketo, and Salesforce is continuing to grow. For those who aren’t familiar, marketing automation is a category of software that streamlines, automates, and measures marketing tasks and workflows so companies can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.

Ease of building landing pages, creating emails, social media distribution, and CRM integration allow for marketing and sales alignment and lead generation and segmentation. While there are important differences between marketing automation platforms, success is often primarily determined by strategy and process, content and lead flow, and lead quality.

Having enough content is often the most underestimated challenge for successful marketing automation. Original, high quality content is a must-have for consistent lead generation and nurturing. This content should be based on a solid understanding of your target personas so that messaging resonates with your audience. While content marketing can be low cost, it requires a large amount of pre-work (persona research) and maintenance.

For a step-by-step guide on creating a content strategy:

Download our workbook
“How to Create a Purposeful Content Strategy.”

5. Data attribution

The consumer decision journey has been fractured into hundreds of tiny decision-making moments at every stage of the funnel. Many companies have worked to engage the customer in all category-relevant micro moments. But 2017 will emphasize the importance of measuring and attributing that data.

Consumers take a multi-device path to purchase, and with advancing technology, we’re able to see those touchpoints. Enhanced attribution analysis can enable us to truly understand our customers’ experience. This year, work on understanding the interplay between multiple channels and devices. In a strong modeling methodology, values are assigned to marketing touch points, helping you quantify your marketing returns. Improving your data attribution can inform your marketing mix.

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We hope reading through this list has helped open your eyes to what your company should focus on in the new year, and inspired you to start a project or two.

Take a deep dive into these trends and others

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2017 Digital Trends | Thursday, January 26

 

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