Six trends marketers can watch out for this year

In the digital era, the imperative for an omnichannel marketing solution has never been greater, and delivering relevant messages in real time at the right touchpoint has never been more critical.

With Indian customers exhibiting increasingly omnichannel behaviour, one of the major challenges facing marketers is how to leverage data in real time to ensure those customer journeys are seamless and conversion-focussed across channels and devices. The start of a new year and decade is an opportune time to look ahead at marketing trends.

AI and individualised marketing: A recent survey conducted by Gartner indicates that brands risk losing 38% of customers because of poor marketing personalisation efforts. AI has the potential to heighten a brand's responsiveness intelligently, providing customers the individualised experiences they seek. From micro-segmentation to communicating contextually, AI can help marketers and business leaders engage more effectively and persuasively with consumers. Chatbots, in particular, have gained momentum with the ability to deliver conversational marketing experiences with a human-like touch.

Facilitating a seamless customer journey: In the digital era, the imperative for an omnichannel marketing solution has never been greater, and delivering relevant messages in real time at the right touchpoint has never been more critical. Only through an omnichannel communication strategy can a brand hope to fulfill its customers' expectations of seamless interactions at every turn.

Individualisation, the new personalisation: Customer experience has emerged as one of the (if not the most important) determinants of a brand's success. Customers expect relevant experiences where brands communicate with them contextually and in real time, based on their actions and preferences, and not just the segment that they fall into.

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Customers are no longer impressed by being greeted by name. They demand a deeper connection where the brand tailors a unique experience or offer, based on past purchases and individual likes and dislikes. At the same time, brands are challenged by increasingly strict data privacy and security regulations, and must tread a very fine line with individualisation.

The rise of blockchain in marketing: The emergence of blockchain in marketing has opened up many opportunities to optimise marketing efforts while increasing process transparency. For example, blockchain is being used in healthcare to unify patient data, including past and current illnesses to obtain a single, non-alterable, highly protected view of the patient. As use cases of blockchain in other industries and applications emerge, marketers will begin to realise blockchain's potential for highly targeted customer communications.

Making the most of advanced data management: As the number of Indians with access to the internet grows to an expected 730 million by 2020, and more customers switch to digital modes of shopping, marketers will have more opportunities to amass customer data.

To harness the potential of advanced data management, brands have been adopting cloud solutions on a global scale. The increasing adoption of cloud services then raises concerns on data privacy and the associated risks and complexities. I foresee the introduction of industry standards which should address all the regulatory, legal and technology related challenges.

Use of private messaging apps: As we enter a new technological era, more brands are investing in developing private messaging applications. Apps such as Facebook Messenger already provide brands with the means to send automated marketing messages that have helped them engage with customers in a more relevant manner. From the traditional mass marketing mails, brands will transition to such apps as well as private messaging groups. Brands are already looking at routes to monetise such apps and as this develops further in 2020, customers will be able to conduct purchases directly through the apps.

However, technology alone will never replace all the human elements. Customer loyalty and trust towards a brand will be cemented only by the promises kept and delivered by the brand.

The author is CEO and co-founder, Resulticks

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