Our newly published Digital Trends briefing describes 2015 as a year when customer experience really takes hold and asserts its position as the key theme for marketers and digital professionals globally.

Other areas of focus such as ‘mobile’, ‘big data’ and ‘social’ are still widely regarded as exciting opportunities, but they are increasingly seen in a supporting role as part of the overarching mission to become more customer-centric. 

Our survey of thousands of marketers globally, carried out in partnership with Adobe, reinforces Scott Brinker’s assertion that the marketing function is now becoming ‘the Grand Central Station of customer experience‘.

But how does the picture change for marketers when they are asked to choose what the most exciting opportunity will be in five years’ time? 

Most exciting opportunity – 2015 vs. five years’ time

 

CX will still be the daddy but the chart above shows that buzzy areas such as content marketing, mobile and social will be regarded more as run-of-the-mill business activities than as top-of-mind themes for businesses seeking to move to the next level in their digital journey.

(Note that the picture looks a bit different for business-to-business marketers. Watch this space for more information on digital trends specifically for B2B.)

That’s not to say that these areas won’t still be of crucial importance, but they will become areas where expertise and knowledge are more like basic core competencies as we have seen with disciplines such as email, SEO and paid search over the years. 

The themes that will move centre stage are personalisation, big data and multichannel campaign management.

This is good news for companies with the right skills and technology to excel in these areas, and also for consumers… provided that companies don’t overstep the mark in their use of data to gain a competitive advantage. 

Legislation will help companies to steer the correct path here but the ultimate deterrent against transgressions will be a boardroom-driven desire to avoid becoming a case study in how not to use customer data. 

Personalisation, covered in this separate ‘Why Marketing Should Be Personal‘ briefing, is a theme which isn’t going away.

While many marketers see this as something for the future, many businesses are making this happen now.

More than a third of marketers (38%) believe that ‘omnichannel personalisation will become a reality in 2015’, so those who aren’t there yet need to be prepared for competitors stealing a march through more relevant marketing and a better customer experience. One survey respondent sums this up nicely:

 “The customer has always been in charge, brands have been slow to accept that. There is a shift happening from brand experience to customer experience and personalisation will be the driving force of this.”

As the Digital Trends 2015 report makes clear, marketers should be thinking about personalisation in the context of the wider customer journey, rather than in the context of just a specific channel such as email or website content targeting. 

Another related theme for 2015 is the emergence of geo-targeting technology, for example the use of in-store (or in-branch) beacons which can be used to identify and target customers with the kind of information that enhances their experience and increases their propensity to purchase.

The last words go to another survey respondent:

“As mobile is gaining scale, it becomes more important to offer a multichannel customer experience to users through personalisation and targeting on different platforms / channels.”