2022 goals and predictions
So, December, here again already, huh?! It feels like just the other day we were shopping for the perfect gifts for our loved ones, playing Mariah, watching our favorite movies, and of course, prepping emails for the holiday period. Where did the time go?! Well, regardless, sadly or not, I tend to associate this time of year with predictions for the forthcoming year. Some ideas on how we can better our efforts of the closing year and take our comms to the next level to keep our audience engaged.
Before we look forward, let’s take a brief look back. What did 2021 teach us? Well, for the most part, it was mostly about opens. Or the potential lack thereof. Yes, Apple made some changes. But, no, it wasn’t just to put a dampener on your year. While they don’t always understand what happens to their data after they hand it over, it’s a brand’s responsibility to keep our customers in control and informed. Apple’s update is an opportunity for brands to build trust among their users.
I genuinely believe this move is helping to increase people’s awareness of data and privacy, which, while initially troubling for you, the marketer, will yield better results in the future, driving innovation and stronger customer relationships in the future. How? Good question. If we’re thinking less about an open rate (which, let me tell you, your audience doesn’t care about), you’ll think more about the content, what your readers want to see. The CTA’s in an email and whether or not it’s driving more conversions, whether direct sales or downloads.
CX was another area we were all keen to bolster. It’s now widely regarded as an essential component of the total digital marketing mix. Marketers must match seamless user journeys with the type of face-to-face encounter that a customer would anticipate walking into one of your stores or meeting a sales rep. The days of cold, harsh selling are long gone, and email recipients, like website visitors, want to be regarded as valuable contacts from the start.
COVID-19 (sorry had to mention it) has heightened the requirement for well-considered communications and digital experiences that prioritize the demands of your customers. So, with all that said, shall we talk predictions? What should you consider and add to your marketing arsenal to see you through 2022?
This one is short but also essential. Just be empathetic to your subscribers. Sometimes we forget it, but there is most definitely a human being on the other side of the laptop or smartphone. So think a little bit more about their situation and how your marketing will affect them. It’s not all about short-term gratification. This leads me to my next point.
Retention will be the buzzword next year, and January is an appropriate time to start thinking about it. As we go through a prosperous sales period from Black Friday right through to Christmas and January sales, a shed load of new customers and subscribers will be receiving your emails for the first time. We cannot afford to lose them. So it’s time to roll out the fine china and fancy glasses. Offer a service; you’ll have the data to help you, and if you don’t, take the time to get to know them, ask questions, don’t just appear to be listening, actively take an interest in what they’re saying and respond accordingly. What did they buy or enquire about? Be customer obsessed and always ask yourself how you can be helpful in the future.
This, need I say, shouldn’t just apply to new customers. How often have you seen new customers get the special treatment when you have been a loyal customer for years? Treat every single person on your database with the care and attention they deserve. Again you have the data (if you make use of your insights); there’s no excuse. Surprise and delight, reward loyalty, be their knight in shining armor, and give back to those who have stuck with you through thick and thin. Trust me; no one will be mad at you for that.
It may take some time and planning, but, get automated. Now let’s be Frank, setting up an automated retention program is not as easy as it sounds. Yes, our platform makes building a program super simple, but the initial time outlay needed to create them can be lengthy when you consider the strategy behind the scenes. But trust me, it’s time well spent; it enables you to send targeted and personalized content to customers in a way that wouldn’t be possible if done manually. It’s well worth your time to make your customers feel special.
The value exchange
We’ve all heard of the value exchange before. But I want to talk about the value exchange for 2022, where we move beyond an offer in exchange for data. Of course, we still want to use tried and tested means of collecting data, but today’s customer wants to see more from you; they want to align their values with your own.
They want to know who you are when no one is looking. What does your business stand for? This often gets confused with brand pillars which, in my opinion, is a pledge to your customers based on your products and service(s). Instead, talk about what the people in the business are passionate about. Other than selling another pair of trainers, seat at a conference, what gets you out of bed? For us, at Dotdigital, we’re passionate about the planet, but we’re not just jumping on the COP26 bandwagon; we practice what we preach. We’ve worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make our platform carbon neutral. Brands like Bloom & Wild have their thoughtful marketing movement, Ben and Jerry’s, often divisive political stance. Your customers want to know what else is in it for them when they hand over their well-earned cash.
So, take a stance, let your subscribers know what else you stand for. It could be something that you’ve worked on quietly for years. Well, 2022 is the year that you show what’s behind the brand. But a word of warning, if you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. It’ll be far too easy to see through a set of new values only introduced to win over new customers. Authenticity is paramount; you can’t be overly showy. Think more earned media and PR, below the line, and editorial content to make your story more believable and relateable.
Customer & User experience
I know that customer experience was a focus for 2021, but some trends last a little longer than others. CX is one of those. Yes, CX and UX are both directly correlated to retention. But for me, they will be significant to brands as they continue to deliver the most satisfying purchasing experience to their subscribers, whether that’s in an ecom or noncom world.
With CX, we’re ultimately looking to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time on the right channels. So understanding your customer lifecycle will be vital in plotting out when, what, and how customers recieve your comms. Take Bloom & Wild, who I mentioned earlier; their thoughtful marketing movement is an initiative to ensure the best experience for their customers. For example, giving subscribers the power to choose which occasions they’re marketed about, whether that’s an option out of mother’s or father’s day, Valentine’s day, and a whole host of others. Allowing your database to dictate what they receive goes a long way to creating a tighter bond, which inevitably means better retention.
With UX, we’re considering how easily your customers can interact with your website, emails or apps, etc. With that in mind, our latest platform release (which was a big one) brought with it a whole host of changes; a whole new interface to make better use of screen space, optimized for every monitor, increased accessibility, and we added dark mode. So UX and accessibility are on our minds. But what can you do?
Well, taking the time to re-think your emails, the placement of copy and CTA’s, and your unsubscribe link, don’t just hide it at the foot of your emails. Give your subscribers the chance to either unsubscribe or change their preference at the top of the page. Waste no time in letting them know that you respect them and want to make sure they’re happy with your service. Also, bear in mind accessibility and making sure all your emails look and work beautifully on all screen types and for all who are reading them. Finally, your site needs to be as easy to use as possible, thinking about how easy you make it for new subscribers to sign up, where your preference center lives, and how easy it is to use.
Going further, how about addressing your website checkout. Yes, endeavor to make the process as simple and frictionless as Amazon’s, remembering them, their address, and payment details, etc. We’re living in the BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) generation where digital wallets and QR codes (yes, they’re back and they’re bigger than ever! You can thank touchless COVID commerce for that) are king! So, reducing barriers to payment will be a winner. But have you ever thought about adding a bit of positive friction to your frictionless payment? By this, I mean asking purchasers if the address they’ve chosen is correct; how many times over lockdown did you send your goodies to the office instead of your house? Doh! Are the size and style right, and more importantly, whether or not they’ve considered the cost entirely. Offering credit is a fantastic way of making payment easier to stomach, but have they considered additional costs like shipping, upkeep, and more importantly, is this purchase essential? Chances are they’re fully aware of what they’re purchasing. And a small reminder from you won’t be required, but showing a little empathy (there’s that word again) and considering your customers wellbeing can often be more important than making that extra sale.