silverpopAccording to Silverpop’s predictions, customers and prospects will be shopping online and engaging with businesses through mobile and social media more than ever in 2015, whereby email will still be the preferred method for receiving content from companies. People expect this content to be engaging and personalized — nearly 60% say they will not even open an email if they think it is irrelevant to them – not to mention the fact that enhancing the customer experience at every touch point is most crucial.

For most CMOs enhancing customer loyalty and encouraging satisfied customers to advocate their brands has top priority. Likewise, more than half of CIOs plan to focus more heavily on improving the customer experience and getting closer to customers in the year ahead. Hence, behavioral marketing automation to create content strategically and deliver the right message at the exact time will celebrate a triumph this year, especially since marketing technologies have grown in sophistication and buying patterns have continued to evolve, providing exciting new opportunities to engage with customers

Silverpop forecasts the following key digital marketing trends in 2015:

1. Stored payments change the way people shop as reducing friction becomes a priority

“Mobile email and website interaction has risen steadily in recent years, but the increased smartphone usage has created a challenge for marketers, since the majority of conversions have continued to take place on desktop/laptop computers or tablets”, Silverpop explains.

However, the emergence of stored payments, particularly Apple Pay, is poised to change that in 2015 and beyond. Instead of primary email calls-to-action routing to a website where customers can complete their purchase, they’ll increasingly link to an app. Within the app, customers will simply need to push their thumb to the screen, at which point payment will instantly transfer from the credit card on file to the retailer. The difference between forcing customers to key in their 16-digit credit card number on a small screen — often while on the move — versus simply requiring them to enter an email address and/or click a button or two, could have massive implications on where and when sales occur.

For marketers this means that the entire buying cycle will need to be even more aggressively compressed and that it is more important to understand how to deliver the right value and the right message to drive that conversion right when customers are interacting with marketers on their smartphone.

2. Mobile apps 2.0 shift the way companies market to on-the-go customers  

Many businesses have looked at mobile apps as a necessary evil, something they can contract out to a third party, check off their mobile marketing checklist, and then forget about as they return to their regularly scheduled marketing plan. Maybe that’s why 20% of apps are used only once and about 60% are opened less than 10 times? With recent technological advancements in geofences and beacon capabilities, though, there might come changes.

3. Emails become skeletal frameworks for delivering relevant, timely content based on database values 

“In 2015, more digital marketers will transition to becoming strong data-based email marketers”, predicts Ellen Valentine, Product Strategist, Silverpop. “Specifically, savvy marketers will increasingly use data to customize what images and text are used in emails”, she adds.

Of course, using dynamic content has been an email best practice for years, but the difference now is that more sophisticated marketing platforms and integrations are enabling leading practitioners to personalize a larger portion of their emails by leveraging all kinds of real-time, implicit and explicit data from internal systems and external feeds.

In a world in which emails become skeletal frameworks, the way marketers think about and create these messages will shift. Email marketers will first set up the basic design framework of the email, which will include things like the header, footer and content areas, and then build dynamic rules for virtually all of the content areas in the email. Shifting to data-driven email frameworks will help marketers to increase the relevance of their messages, which in turn can improve overall success metrics. Besides that, the increased use of mobile and advances in location marketing have opened up even more opportunities for adding relevance, such as delivering content based on whether someone crossed a geofence or how they interacted with your mobile app. 

4. The customer journey moves to center stage in digital marketing 

“For many old-school marketing traditionalists, digital marketing technology is still primarily used for generic push emails focused on products, offers and company news. Some mainstream marketers, however, are a little more sophisticated, using marketing automation to schedule their emails out over time, run drip nurture projects, or replicate campaigns for new events or product launches” Silverpop’s strategists explain.

Unfortunately, these approaches are not enough to provide the customized content and interactions that buyers demand today, therefore, Silverpop expect more marketers to follow the lead of top-performing companies in realizing that superior marketing is all about delivering personalized, behavior-driven content. Whether a customer is conducting early research, evaluating and comparing providers and selecting a solution, or experiencing a product or service after the sale, digital marketing can enhance the customer experience at each of these stages.

Marketers that take the time to invest in buyer persona development, customer journey mapping and next-generation digital resource centers, based on implicitly derived profiles and buyer stages, will lead their peers in 2015.

5. Content becomes the secret weapon for breaking through the clutter

Loren McDonald, Vice President of Industry Relations, Silverpop points outs that in recent years, ‘content marketing’ has been one of the hottest topics in B2B circles. On the B2C side, though, the “content is king” mantra has remained somewhat ignored, but that starts to change. He believes that many leading marketers will expand their email program beyond the traditional promotional message stream in 2015 by incorporating more triggered emails into the mix or by sending more “white space” emails (messages, so named because they provide some breathing room between promotional emails, contain fun, educational and/or humorous content that intends to inform and entertain). The beauty of both of these email types is that they can actually enable you to send more messages overall because they break up the more generic promotional message flow with compelling, relevant content. As a result, they have the potential to increase engagement with the messages that follow.

6. Marketers place a greater emphasis on the post-purchase experience

For many marketers, the focus is on growing lists and nudging new contacts toward making a first purchase. These priorities won’t go away, but the third leg of the customer lifecycle experience — repeat purchases and brand loyalty — is poised to take a leap up in importance in 2015, Loren McDonald, Vice President of Industry Relations, Silverpop, predicts.

Lower database growth, technological advancements and tighter margins are pushing forward-thinking marketers to reconsider how much emphasis they put on the crucial post-purchase time frame when the real relationship with a brand begins, he states. Of course, there are tons of other post-purchase email options to choose from – cross-sell, upsell, product review request, bounce-back, replenishment reminder messages and more – but if you want to take your marketing up a notch in 2015, map out potential purchase-related communications, build out the business rules that would trigger these messages, and start transforming a customer’s first purchase into a springboard for receiving relationship-building emails from you, Silverpop advises.

7. Marketing departments evolve to improve cross-channel execution, integrated data flow and measurement

Despite the need to deliver a seamless omnichannel customer experience, many of today’s marketing departments remain poorly positioned to do so. Customer data across email, mobile, web, social and other channels are often still siloed. Making matters worse, in many cases the marketing personnel in charge of these channels are equally siloed from one another. As a result, companies lack the cross-channel customer insights they need to deliver relevant, timely, and personalized content.

This is starting to change, though. Market pressure from customers is beginning to drive companies to look for better ways to perform multichannel marketing campaigns that create a superior overall experience for the customer. As marketers shift to creating more automated programs driven by customer behaviors as opposed to product-driven, calendar-based campaigns, the need to integrate data and technologies from multiple sources and work across groups within the department is growing.

Thus, expect new technologies to emerge in 2015 that bring collaboration and workflow to agile marketing to solve the disconnection between siloed technology and marketing teams. These will replace the cumbersome, complex marketing resource management (MRM) solutions of the past, which provided workflow and resource management capabilities but weren’t connected to the automated execution and real-time messaging systems.

Interesting predictions from Silverpop, but we are nevertheless not sure what the next big evolution in marketing will look like. “What you can count on, though, is that the buyer journey will continue to change and with it the way businesses market to their customers and prospects. By carefully mapping the customer journey and searching for new and better ways to improve the experience at every touch point, you’ll be well-positioned to succeed in 2015 and beyond, no matter what surprises emerge”, Silverpop concludes.

By MediaBUZZ