The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic caused customers to adopt digital shopping and eCommerce in unprecedented numbers. Businesses had to shift to online platforms and were forced to shut physical retail stores virtually overnight.
Companies have now realized online and mobile engagement is going to remain significant elements of the customer journey in the future, even long after the pandemic ends.
Businesses now understand that customer journeys must be curated across various platforms to enable the seamless movement of customers through the sales funnel and help them achieve their goals.
One of the biggest priorities and challenges for retailers has been creating a cohesive customer journey across channels and devices. 89 percent of marketers at startup businesses and SMBs say digital engagement strategies have changed since the pandemic.
Business owners now feel customer engagement is data-driven and they must enhance the use of data to create relevant customer experiences.
Thus, there is a pressing need for marketers and businesses to engage customers in real-time. Let us explore how startups and SMBs can face these challenges and tell you how enabling cohesive, real-time customer journeys can create value for smaller businesses.
Real-time engagement is driven by social media and mobile
94 percent of marketers at startups and SMBs use social media to initiate real-time conversations with customers. Marketers are also investing heavily in live streaming video. Two out of three marketers are engaged in influencer marketing, while 60 percent are actively leveraging user-generated content.
Startup businesses are thus increasingly reaching out to target audiences and customers in real-time through social media platforms. However, customers expect relevant experiences across all channels and marketers are using websites, apps, and mobile messaging to connect with customers.
Customer Data sources are plenty but capability must improve
To deliver real-time, cross-channel customer experiences, marketers are investing heavily to gain access to and process more data. 47 percent of marketers are satisfied that they create relevant customer experiences with their data.
Businesses can gain a significant competitive advantage by leveraging data more effectively to create real-time, cross-channel experiences for customers.
The top three use cases of customer data platforms among startups and SMBs are consent management, customer insights, and personalization.
There is a long way to go before data is consistently and effortlessly transformed into insights, enabling relevant customer experiences.
Marketers must find new ways to identify customers online
The task of ensuring the quality and hygiene of data is not a simple one. Only a minority – 42 percent – of marketers think they do this well. They lack confidence in identity reconciliation. This shows marketers are yet not completely comfortable creating and delivering cohesive customer journeys.
Marketers realize they need to identify and interact with customers in real-time. There is still much work to be done to achieve this. They could deploy a test-and-learn approach to evaluate the ecosystem of partners and solutions, to find effective ways to identify and target customers across various channels.
Privacy is of great importance to marketers with 61 percent agreeing that they go above and beyond standards to ensure people’s privacy. They now find it easier to strike a balance between personalization and privacy compared to a year ago.
Real-time measurement is key
Marketers need to not only identify customers but also understand their interactions with brands in real-time. This is key to creating effective customer journeys. Those marketers who can achieve this at scale and speed have a competitive advantage.
Marketing measurement has become a real-time effort. These are the most valuable marketing metrics and KPIs:
- Customer satisfaction metrics
- Marketing and sales funnel
- Content engagement
- Customer lifetime value (LTV)
64 percent of marketers say their measurement and attribution are automated. Startups and SMBs are well-equipped for campaign measurement. 90 percent of them use CRM and marketing analytics tools while 80 percent of startups and SMBs use attribution tools.
Marketers who actively listen to changing customer needs by deploying the latest AI tools are driving successful innovation. This will likely be a key differentiator in responding to data signals with automated, personalized messaging and reporting results in real-time.
The way forward
Times have changed. Staying in sync with customers’ evolving needs at the precise moment they interact with a business or brand will be the key to creating profitable long-term relationships for businesses of all sizes.
Also read: Why Video Advertising is Essential To Brand Marketing