As the new year gets underway, we talk a lot about what marketers can expect. What new tech is coming down the pipeline? What new marketing strategies are going to change the way we do business? But amid all these predictions, we need to take a step back and focus on the “why.”

In the end, it’s all about the customer. We’re constantly trying to meet our customers’ expectations. And as new technology and data become available, consumer expectations will get higher. So to start the new year on the right foot, here are some things consumers will expect from businesses in 2017.

Simplicity

Your customers want you to make their lives easier. They’re busy and their time is valuable, so when you’re implementing new strategies and tech, ask yourself, “How can I make my customers’ lives easier?” Here’s an idea to simplify your customers’ lives:

A seamless experience – Brands like Nordstrom have a long history of creating a great in-store experience for shoppers. As the customer journey becomes increasingly complex, Nordstrom has relied on their customer-centric philosophy to guide their strategy to deliver a seamless customer experience across channels. For example, a mobile search for shoes will show you the nearest store where the boots are in stock in your size. You can order them online or in their mobile app. Consumers will also be served highly personalized display ads to remind them of the shoes they want. No matter how a consumer chooses to interact with Nordstrom, they provide a simple, personalized, and seamless experience that consumers have come to expect.

Access … Anywhere, Anytime

According to eMarketer, over half of US smartphone users reported having visited a retailer’s website or app before making an in-store purchase. The customer journey incorporates both online and offline channels, and marketers must provide a seamless experience wherever and whenever the customer chooses to interact with them. Here’s how you can make your business more accessible:

 Omnichannel presence – Create a consistent marketing strategy that spans across both online and offline channels – social, mobile, search, desktop, in-store, phone, etc. We often get so caught up in our digital strategy that we forget about traditional channels, like the phone. Incorporate phone calls into your digital strategy by including click-to-call buttons on your mobile search ads. This is an easy way to give your customers the option to interact with you over the phone while searching on their mobile devices.

A Personalized Experience

Consumers are willing to give data in exchange for an improved experience. They also want to feel like businesses know and care about them. And since there is so much data available to marketers, personalized marketing is becoming easier and easier every day. Here are some simple ways to personalize your marketing:

Retargeting – Depending on what your customer searched for online or discussed with you over the phone, you can create a targeted follow-up message. For example, if a customer called for more information about a certain product, you could send a follow-up email with info about the product along with complementary products that may interest them.

Call Treatment – When customers call, make sure their calls are automatically routed to the nearest store or branch location. Use contextual clues from the customer journey to route calls to the right department. Provide sales reps real-time data about the caller. Essentially, if inbound calls are part of your marketing mix, make sure the call process is customized for each caller.

Security

Trust is essential in a data-driven world. Consumers expect their personal data to be protected and for businesses to be honest about what is done with their information. In the end, customers do business with companies they trust. Here’s an easy way to make your company more trustworthy:

Trust symbols – Whether you include the Better Business Bureau logo or the TRUSTe logo in the footer of your website, these symbols will make customers feel more comfortable. Regardless of what provider you choose, any privacy management solution is going to make your customer data more secure. Of course, your business needs to be accredited with the BBB or be a TRUSTe client before you can put their logos on your website, but that goes without saying.

A Human Element

Tech can’t replace a conversation. We’re moving away from a digital-only experience to a more holistic experience that includes both online and offline interactions across multiple devices. Here are a couple ways to add humans back into your marketing:

Voice conversations – Incorporate phone calls into your marketing strategy. Include your phone number on your website, landing pages, paid search ads, etc. And be sure to take advantage of call-only mobile ads and click-to-call buttons on your mobile site and landing pages. Not only will this give your customers the human interaction they want, but you’ll have access to valuable data through real customer conversations.

Chat bots – While chat bots aren’t technically human, they do stimulate intelligent conversation using artificial intelligence (A.I.). Chat bots can have either written or spoken conversations. And with the help of Amazon Echo and the Alexa platform, people are pretty excited about “talking to the Internet.”

We all want happy customers. And the first way to create happy customers is to understand their needs and wants. Now that you know a little more about what your customers expect from you, it should be easier to decide what marketing strategies will create happy customers in 2017.

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Posted by Caitie Gonzalez

Caitie Gonzalez is a graduate from U.C. Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Film and Media Studies. She is Invoca's Social Media and Content Specialist, and resident videographer. She loves film/television, comic books, board games and video games.

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