2023 … Will It Really Be Any Different? Yes, Yes It Will.

By Mike Turner, Principal Business Advisor on Customer Intelligence at SAS

We all read prediction articles with a grain of salt. Marketing practitioners have been predicting the demise of silos for a decade now and yet still they persist. But even though I don’t have a crystal ball I do see some interesting rumblings and movements that make me optimistic that we’ll see continued transformation in marketing in 2023. The main drivers will be new channels that will require marketers to develop more sophisticated data strategies, more powerful consumers that want greater transparency and a possible economic recession which has the potential to change the behavior of both consumers and marketers in the next 12 months.

Sustainability will become marketing mainstream

Much has been said about the need for more sustainability in the products and services we offer to our customers. A growth in demand from customers to see evidence of that sustainability and to understand how that will be delivered in the real world is becoming paramount in brands’ communication strategies.

In very real terms this means that customer intelligence needs to be part of the whole product lifecycle and not just part of an acquisition and retention strategy. Customers will no longer accept being ‘greenwashed’ and will expect organizations they deal with to engage in a full product lifecycle relationship. This will drive the need to rethink existing data models as content strategy and sustainability will be an intrinsic part of channel decisioning going forward.

Loyalty will no longer be just a value-based exchange, but organizations will need to consider how they can support their customers in their own sustainability objectives which will of course deliver new engagement opportunities.

The pace of a real-world and digital merger will increase

Every year predictions are made about how augmented and virtual reality will become mainstream marketing channels. However, every year we have seen only sparse examples of these channels being used and delivering any value. 2023 will see an increase in the pace of a digital and real-world merger, and while this may not result in every consumer test driving products in a VR world it will result in an expansion in the creative use of less traditional consumer marketing channels such as virtual meeting platforms, gaming platforms and IoT connected devices such as our cars and even kitchen appliances.

As a result marketers will begin to look for more collaborative marketing strategies like inviting customers to experience a product through different channels and activities, and not just pushing the price point or feature functions of a product.

Global pandemics, war, and the threat of a financial recession are fueling consumers to seek new and different experiences. Anonymity through channels such as gaming platforms provide the user with a chance to seek connection and inclusion but still retain an element of privacy and security. Customer intelligence practitioners will need to learn to engage in these new channels, to develop relevant content and relationships and to address a broader range of customer needs relating to products and services that they offer.

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The dawn of data realization

In 2023 the realization that data cannot be just about the customer will drive a change in the fundamentals of data strategy. Until now customer intelligence practitioners have aggressively pursued the collection of data relating to individual customers with the hope that by applying artificial intelligence (AI) to that data they will be able to communicate on a personal level with every customer that touched their ecosystem. In 2023 the collection of data to support understanding of concepts such as context, environment and value drivers will gather pace and AI techniques previously only applied to the collected customer data will start to be applied to other data such as content management systems and promotional offers. This will drive a change in the collection and curation of data across organizations which in turn will drive the delivery of more comprehensive ‘data fabrics’ to support the engagement of every customer with a much more stable understanding of what their individual needs are.

Communication will switch from Next Best Action to Next Best Engagement

In 2023 marketers will move away from traditional thinking around action-based communications. The realization that customers all want to engage in different ways across different channels with a cohesive journey is nothing new, but it does mean that not every interaction is a call to action. In 2023 enlightened marketers will lead the way in creating engagement-based journeys and will build communication strategies to support these initiatives. Next best engagement will be built from the perspective of the customer looking inwards at the organization’s product and service offerings not as with next best action looking outwards from the product or service view at the customer. This fundamental change in approach will drive higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and ultimately lead to higher loyalty from the customer base.

Wishing all of you reading this a happy and prosperous 2023 … and may your year be filled with happy customers and an excellent Net Promoter Score.

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