With the world teetering on the edge of a possible economic downturn and the Euro in a constant state of peril, one could be forgiven for not looking ahead to 2012 with that much optimism. But for the convergence of CRM and digital marketing it could quite possibly be the most exciting thing ever.
Eight reasons to be cheerful:
2012 is possibly the year social networks ceased to be sexy and became very ordinary, just an everyday part of people's lives. Also the year that marketers realized that there is a right and wrong way to gatecrash your customers' peer relationships. Getting your fans to do your marketing for you to their peers, family, and colleagues will very much be the way forward. The quid quo pro will be greater incentives and rewards for such marketing advocacy. Air miles anyone?
The social networks value as relationship brokers is well recognized, but as we see below, this brings awesome responsibilities. Next year, everyone finally starts to wise up to data, privacy, and ethical marketing issues. More respectful marketing will increase trust and confidence in social networks, which leads to better results.
Well-established campaign management systems are making the jump to light speed with real-time decision support. Something that was once future world stuff, think "Minority Report," has finally come of age. Truly smart marketing, able to serve up real-time, context-sensitive messages, across any preferred channel, based on clearly thought-through customer strategies is now here and very real.
The challenge for 2012 will be for organizations to establish the skills, articulation, and customer planning functions to make this a relevant and profitable experience for both brand and customer.
Internet of Things
The digital dialogue is still largely confined to web, email, and mobile. As the Internet spreads its tentacles across many new devices and interfaces, we need to carefully and respectfully start to push our message across these new channels. Internet-enabled TVs, gaming consoles, cars, and even home appliances are all examples of the new interfaces that will be starting to engage customers in 2012, all wired, sorry "wirelessed," to the Internet.
How do we meet this challenge? What does the customer want to hear when she opens her fridge? Does she want her fridge to talk to her supermarket? 2012 offers us an exciting year of trial and experimentation.
The "Joined Up" Relationships
With so many new channel possibilities and so many messages, the need for the "joined up" relationship is critical; it will differentiate those that want a profitable dialogue from those that just want to shout at their customers. Campaign management tools will be playing a critical role to ensure our dialogue across multiple channels is coordinated, eliminating unnecessary repetition and acknowledging channel interaction, even from a few seconds earlier.
The tools are here; the skills and thinking needs to catch up with this innovative, rule-based marketing.
Much has been written about the privacy practices of some of the larger online players in the past year. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and excuse them any megalomaniac tendencies and simply say that they did not realize the awesome responsibility that comes with managing large amounts of very personal data.
Thanks to a lot of awareness and growth in privacy legislation, customers are starting to realize that this is important and that in the online world you need to apply the same common sense as you would in the real world. 2012 will be the year that customers take back control of the relationship and start to dictate the rules for how they want marketers to use their data. In return for more respect and smarter use of that data, trust is established and we all benefit.
The year ahead sees the continued penetration of these new phones and devices. More people with an "always on" capability to interact. We are slowly but surely seeing the convergence between location-sensitive marketing, the slow but sure introduction of NFC-based payment mechanics, and best e-commerce practice that goes hand in hand with payment opportunities.
With the opportunities this presents, mobile marketing comes of age, with marketers realizing that everything - email, web, even apps - needs to be properly optimized for mobile, creating a more successful experience.
The Data Fire Hose
I hate the expression "datarati." It conjures up images of people giving each other awards in cocktails bars. But it does describe the new breed of person who will rule the marketing world. Customer data is everything and everywhere, and 2012 will be the year that most smart marketers finally get to grips with the data fire hose and turn it to insights and actions that they can use to make money. This is a critical talent for the year ahead, look after your data people!
Technology continues to play a massive role in our evolution. Possibly the most important trend for 2012 is recognition of a new breed of marketer. They will continue to be blessed with all the creativity and innovation of the past, but also with new skills. They will be comfortable with data and the ability to see profitable patterns where others see zeros and ones. They will be able to design logical flows and customer journeys, that will be fundamental to an ordered, defined, but seamless dialogue across all the channels. All important skills to develop. 2012 really belongs to these people.
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Stephen Hay is Asia Pacific regional director for ICLP, the award-winning global loyalty and customer relationship management (CRM) agency. Stephen came into loyalty at Cathay Pacific when e-mail was still something that people in research labs used to send to each other and direct mail was still king.
ICLP works with some of the world's leading customer-focused brands, including Cathay Pacific, Mandarin Oriental, and Juniper Networks; looking to bring brands and customers closer together into a more mutually beneficial and more profitable relationship. Stephen takes a customer point of view on almost everything, not always universally popular, but proven time and again to be the basis for a sustainable, profitable, long-term relationship.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT