MobileCommunicationThere is no question that with the outbreak of the global pandemic, a lot has changed in marketing as reflected in consumer behavior, including the introduction of digital offerings. This has led many experts to question how customer engagement will evolve in 2021. Well, the following trend forecast can be helpful to answer this question:

  • According to a study by App Annie, a provider of data and analysis on the global mobile market, time spent on retail and financial apps has increased 45% year over year, excluding China. The pandemic has put the smartphone at the center of people's lives, and we are more dependent than ever on apps and mobile experiences. Brands and companies should use this situation to strengthen their connection with the customer and provide an experience that is both useful and enjoyable. This requires strategies that help personalize messages and seamlessly orchestrate the interaction across all mobile and digital channels so that the already high customer expectations are met or exceeded.

  • According to Forrester, email and mobile messaging volumes will grow 40% in 2021. SMS and their almost 100% open rate are an important channel for marketers to stand out from the crowd and encourage purchases. Given the higher cost of SMS compared to email and push notifications via apps, marketers should focus their SMS communications on time-sensitive offers that are of high value to both the recipient and the brand. By orchestrating the channels according to customer preferences, brands can seamlessly integrate SMS messages into multi-channel campaigns, and thus make the customer journey even more intelligent and effective.

  • The pandemic has forced many brands to step back and evaluate the customer experience from a new perspective, since customers expect a consistently smooth experience. Hence, contactless pick-up options on the roadside or buy online, pick up in-store are now standard. It only took a few months for consumers to find the use of these services to be very convenient, not only due to the pandemic. Today, the way in which customers and employees perceive these offers varies greatly from brand to brand, especially since consumer behavior changes so quickly. While technology integration, customer data and their processing in real time are at the heart of optimized experiences, ongoing tests can help to optimize digital offers and channels again and again. The goal must be that the customer experience works at every turn.

  • A contemporary mobile-first omnichannel approach is crucial for success in 2021, because customers will rely on brands that have interlinked their online and offline strategy well and are always able to choose the right channel. Omnichannel customers are up to three to four times more valuable than single-channel customers; even more important are cross-channel consistency and the insights gained from these interactions. Brands that are directly digitally networked with their customers and prioritize smooth omnichannel experiences can better understand the needs of their customers, and thus create added value over the entire customer lifecycle. To achieve this, brands need to use interaction data so that they can react dynamically to reach customers in the right context, via the right channel and at the right time: this is the only way to optimize the experience.

  • The ability to connect with customers at home has been the key to success over the past few months. This will continue in 2021 as the advancement of retail technology ensures that merchants can deliver the kind of experience customers long for. Identifying and fulfilling (new) customer needs shows that retailers, even if the traditional ways to the customer are currently on hold, still feel connected to the “core of the trade”: awakening loyalties, and thus boosting sales.

All the predictions made by the experts mentioned above outline a bold vision for the future of customer loyalty and engagement. The projections go beyond the time of the pandemic and show how mobile communications are moving even further into the center of consumers' lives, stimulated by the fact that online shopping is currently the order of the day. In addition, consumer expectations are evolving rapidly. They are not only shaped by competitors, but by experience from other industries, such as grocery stores or banks. Marketing teams should further intensify their commitment in the mobile area and implement solutions and application examples to continue to meet the already high customer expectations for mobile experiences. Especially since proactive, even predictive service on an individual, one-to-one level is quickly becoming a must for retailers. Anyone who not only wants to survive but also wants to thrive must now set the bar higher.

By Daniela La Marca