2020 is the year of the customer

By Sam Holding, Head of International, SparkPost

Who would’ve thought that 2020 would be one of the most disruptive years for global markets and marketers? When industry experts were making predictions for 2020, little did they know that this would be a most disruptive year for global markets, with ongoing adversities and anomalies. Consequently these factors have driven brands to focus exclusively on one of their most important assets: the customer to solidify engagement and loyalty.

Offering a seamless experience throughout the customer journey is not easy though, but for many businesses this has been the only way forward. As most consumer products have become commoditised with very few differences and unique selling points, consumers are in pursuit of better service. Not every company has a truly unique product, but any company could potentially deliver a truly unique customer experience; one that reflects expectations of the connected consumer and helps enhance customer engagement and loyalty.

The connected consumer is crucial to acknowledge

New trends and advances in marketing automation have redefined the way businesses look at their customers, as they develop a “consumer-first” mindset. Businesses need to be up to date with their practices, and regularly review and evaluate their programmes to keep up with technological advancements, current trends and, most importantly, the connected consumer’s evolved expectations.

Sam Holding
Sam Holding

Yes, customers have changed as well. Consumers across the globe are connected via all the devices in their lives, and they have become more proficient with tools, media and apps than ever before. They are at the heart of the digital world, and they know it. What used to be the “internet of things” is now the “internet of me”, and consumers expect that all the things they want and need will be just one click away.

The connected consumer generally likes to be kept informed. They want to receive updates about their recent purchases (whether a new garment or the weekly groceries shopping, or their train ticket). They want to know of new products they might like, and they particularly like news about discounts, offers, and loyalty rewards. They enjoy being asked about their experience and to evaluate your service. The connected consumer expects to receive your emails, and both quality of content and timely delivery will affect their experience with your organisation.

Optimising brand experience through email

Assisted by martech and the rise of analytics, marketers can focus on programmes that bring the highest return and enrich the day-to-day interactions consumers have with the business. For customer communications, email has always been an indispensable tool. It’s needed much of the time for account logins, order updates, etc. Even consumers that opt out of promotional emails have come to expect that their email address will be used to keep them informed of important transactional updates. Email has become ground zero for any online digital relationship.

While the connected consumer has many apps on his/her mobile device, the one app that comes pre-loaded on every smartphone is email. Email is definitely one of the most cost-effective methods of communication, still it bears significant commercial value that translates into positive results towards strategic business KPIs (such as customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and repeat business). Brands can capitalise on this most valuable and most leveraged app in the world, by optimising the brand experience through email. It sounds obvious, but it is in fact both the most prime and most overlooked opportunity for approaching the connected consumer.

To maintain a good level of engagement, though, businesses must invest in developing meaningful interactions. Marketing technology providers offer a plethora of analytics tools to collect and analyse operational, contextual and behavioural data, so they can improve their campaigns and make them more relevant to their customers.

For brands in 2020, there is a real dependence on marketing automation to develop effective marketing strategies; enabling brands to meet changing market expectations, while developing strong and engaging relationships with their ‘connected consumers’. Within this scenario, email marketing is crucial, enabling optimisation and personalisation levels that result in the strong customer engagement and loyalty that is needed to thrive in today’s marketplaces.