This past year was marked by constant change, technological advances and innovation, leading to positive growth across the advertising and marketing industries. The following ten trends played an instrumental role in those successes in 2017 and will continue to make an impact in the New Year:
- Get emotional. Understanding the emotions of consumers in every channel is essential for connecting on a 1:1 level. And emotional intelligence is critical for making the 1:1 connection. Focus on leveraging data to create emotional intelligence for marketing. Stacey Hawes, President, Data, offered tips in Ad Age on how marketers can hone in on customer insights, digital marketing effectiveness, and loyalty to understand what customers really want in order to increase traffic to stores.
- Break down barriers. There’s been a movement to simplify marketing and remove barriers that are creating marketing complexity within organizations. Epsilon/Conversant CEO, Bryan Kennedy, addressed this in his reflection on his recognition as one of the 4A’s 100 People That Make Advertising Great. While Epsilon has a broad set of complex capabilities, Bryan explained, “It’s not just about assembling the right pieces in a world that has become pretty complex, but it is also about finding ways to introduce simplicity in the face of that complexity, and doing so in such a way that everything comes together to drive real, measurable business results.”
- Prioritize creativity. Marketing success is predicated upon the ability to be consistently creative. Creativity comes in many forms and each of us is creative in our own way. Recognize the creativity across your organization, particularly individuals and teams that provide a different perspective and a unique take on things. Epsilon strives to continue developing this competency in data-driven ways to drive value for clients in the digital era. Earlier this year, Epsilon announced an expanded relationship with client, Nature's Way, which included the addition of our creative talents. Epsilon was chosen as the lead creative agency to help drive awareness and sales of multi-vitamin products by fusing content and strategy services as well as consumer insights through digital expertise and capabilities. Nature’s Way VP of Consumer Marketing, Eric Dahmer, expressed, “By selecting Epsilon as the lead advertising agency for Alive!, our largest product, I am confident we’re getting a smart, digitally savvy agency able to deliver great content, business results and growth.” Creativity will always drive business forward, so keeping it at the forefront of any strategy is a must.
- Embrace innovation. Aspire to keep innovation front and center within your marketing programs. Explore artificial intelligence and machine learning, which will play an integral role in the future of marketing. Embracing new technologies now, will only help marketing executions in the long run. In 2017 Epsilon was named an early adopter of Amazon Alexa. Epsilon’s Data Design is among a handful of consultancies building Alexa skills for its brand clients and has worked closely with Amazon over the past year to devise uses for the Alexa platform and data. This is part of a broader effort to incorporate data from emerging technology platforms, which we plan to continue in the future.
- Don’t ‘discount’ the value of brick and mortar. In our multichannel world, in-store is still a thriving channel. Consumers continue to demonstrate a preference for the tactile experience of physical stores, particularly interacting with associates and getting advice. For some retailers, in-store drives the highest percentage of sales and new customers. Tad Fordyce, SVP, Loyalty, Epsilon and Matt Martella, SVP, Business Development, Conversant, discussed retailers’ current opportunity to embrace their physical and digital storefronts and experiences to engage consumers online and in store in Ad Age. Through maximizing cross-device reach, creating relevant content and seamless experiences, and rewarding consumers for engagement, retailers can succeed in driving customers to their brand.
- Measure with intention. Work to understand how attribution impacts your business and incorporate it into your strategic goals. Accurate attribution cannot be achieved without the proper KPIs to hold you accountable. Wayne Townsend, President, Technology, discussed with eMarketer how marketers should transition to more meaningful KPIs. As Wayne stated, “The single-channel lens doesn’t expose all the data available, and it’s easy to make the wrong decision. You need all channels to create the right experience, and if you measure overall performance, you can go backward to find a way to show the monetization of individual channels. Everything becomes part of the whole, and the strategy is the optimization driver.
- Activate content in the inbox. To take email marketing to the next level, understanding the role of content within email (e.g., templates, live content) and how it increases consumer engagement is essential. Content that’s relevant, timely and interesting is the key to stand out among brands competing for consumers’ attention in the inbox. Epsilon’s Innovations in Email eBook covers how machine learning and kinetic email are transforming the digital landscape and bringing a new element of engagement to captivate micro-moments.
- Create differentiated experiences aligned to the customer lifecycle. Personalized communications pay dividends. Marketers need to think about how they can create customer experiences in ways that align to the customer lifecycle. For example, in 2017 Epsilon expanded its relationship with Volvo to develop and execute data-driven direct and digital marketing programs focused on owner loyalty and service retention. The analytically-driven marketing program will be designed around individual customer’s vehicle ownership lifecycle.
- Broaden the scope of loyalty. Loyalty should be a broader corporate initiative, not solely a marketing one. Loyalty is not just ‘a program.’ It’s something that’s earned from customers and should be a top-down priority within the organization. Epsilon continues to evolve its loyalty offering to help brands support holistic customer experiences and was recently recognized by Forrester as a leader in customer loyalty solutions.Brands looking to build loyalty with today’s savvy consumers must go well-beyond offering a program or points and deliver on a customer experience strategy that engages customers wherever they are in the journey and inspires lifetime brand loyalty. As the Forrester report stated, “Epsilon delivers loyalty solutions that support the customer life cycle. Since the last Forrester Wave evaluation, Epsilon has invested in bringing together its collective assets, including messaging capabilities from Agility Harmony and data and media capabilities from Conversant, into one holistic loyalty solution.”
- Re-evaluate teams, processes, and technology. Too often marketers cobble together disparate technologies, which results in data leakage and inefficiencies. They need one integrated solution from the right digital marketing partner. The New Year is a good time to take another look at the teams and processes within organizations to identify pain points and develop more efficient processes. Findings from a recent Conversant report show that nearly 80 percent of marketers don’t have or don’t use the right technology to deliver one-to-one marketing. “Brands have to be able to recognize consumers across their devices and reach them with relevant and unique conversations. That means working with a partner that not only has the right technology, but also the ability to be nimble and make adjustments as needed to ensure marketers are getting the most from their investment,” shared Conversant President Ric Elert.
Looking ahead to the New Year, data, innovation and creativity will remain at the forefront of Epsilon’s business and a continued focus on these trends will drive further momentum in 2018.