Connecting with Customers in 2020


With 2020 underway, marketers are looking to get ahead of the trends that are already shaping the way we connect with customers. As we settle into this new year, I’m seeing the industry focus on rising above the noise through consumer channels, decentralizing the marketing organization, using data to drive greater efficiency and a dedication to always put consumers first, shares,  Jason Rose, Chief Marketing Officer, SAP Customer Experience.

Modern marketers can often feel like dogs chasing their own tails. Customer expectations and the technology we use to exceed them evolve in a perpetual loop – with marketers stuck in the middle. That isn’t, however, intended to color the current state of marketing in a negative light. Customer centricity and experience have cemented themselves as guiding principles, and marketers today understand the power of building deeply personalized connections and relationships with a community of advocates. With that mindset, the opportunities are endless.

The challenge most marketers face is balancing those principles with the ever-changing digital environment we operate in. New channels, digital or otherwise, emerge like clockwork, challenging marketers to show up where their customers are all while maintaining brand consistency and authenticity. Furthermore, traditional tactics like paid, earned and owned media, in addition to content and other campaigns, all need to fly in formation to amplify a single, cohesive message in market.

Learn More:  Making ‘Real-Time’ Personalization PossibleOpens a new window

What are the trends marketers need to deep into as we look ahead at some of the trends that will shape the way we connect with customers in year 2020. Here are my predictions for what will be top of mind for the industry as a whole:

Rising Above the Noise Through Consumer Channels

Over the last few years, marketers have seen diminishing returns on email and even some forms of paid social, as consumers either opt-out of these tactics or tune them out altogether. With the rise of personalization as a key brand differentiator, going far and wide with marketing content is significantly less likely to result in a meaningful conversation. For many people, this just creates clutter to sift through or delete as opposed to something that might hold real value.

In 2020 marketers won’t just double down on personalizationOpens a new window but rethink the channels through which they’re bringing it to life. There will be a lot more brand exploration of traditionally consumer-facing channels – take YouTube or TikTok, for example – as new ways to connect with audiences on their terms. That way marketers can present helpful, relevant content that creates a pull to your brand, rather than pushing on consumers.

Decentralizing the Marketing Organization

The list of channels through which brands and their customers engage is only getting longer. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, search, advertisements, web – just to name a few. Each has its own native nuances and language that must be accounted for. That’s a complex cocktail that only becomes more potent for global organizations who need to bridge a single brand narrative across diverse cultures and geographies.

To tackle this, in 2020 more marketing organizations will embrace the mantra of thinking global, but acting local, through a decentralized approach. By putting more power into the hands of regional marketing teams, with freedom to tailor messages to hyper-specific audiences, brands can ensure that the message fits both the channel and the customer identity. Central teams, meanwhile, will still be empowered to manage the overarching brand identity that informs regional strategy.

Driving Greater Efficiency Through Data

When it comes to budgets, marketers are always challenged to do more with less – looking at conversations and alignment to ensure we’re maximizing every dollar spent. Thus far, data and analytics have provided critical insight into tracking performance and measurement and will continue to be a priority in 2020. In fact, GartnerOpens a new window ‘s annual study of CMO spending for 2019-2020 revealed that marketing leaders put analytics as a top priority in their budget (32%), tied with research and competitive insights and just ahead of digital commerce (31%).

That said, the marketing organizations that will thrive in 2020 are those that take a deeper look at the types of data they’re leveraging to create a single picture of customers. These marketers will look at a combination of experience (X) data and operational (O) data, to link the emotional responses customers are having engaging with the brand directly with specific actions and adjust course accordingly.

Learn More: Avoiding Death by a Thousand Cuts: Analyze Your CX Data, Keep Your CustomersOpens a new window

Customers Will Always Come First

While the technologies, tools and platforms marketers use continue to evolve, the fundamental ability to understand your customer will always be the most important industry skillset. All marketing starts and ends with the customer. They drive our strategies and tactics – not the other way around. Putting them at the center of 2020 planning will help marketers stay flexible and fluid, no matter what trend upends the industry in the year to come.