Customer expectations are higher than ever, yet only 36% of companies said they had a well-defined customer experience vision, according to Forrester. This disparity opens up the opportunity for brands to listen to their customers in order to stand out. More and more, consumers are trying to connect with brands on their preferred methods of communication — for example, over 8 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses each month on Facebook Messenger. And the successful launch of Apple Business Chat last year has already proven itself as a compelling messaging platform for businesses to reach consumers.
With our bird’s eye view that comes from working with leaders like you, we’ve got a few ideas about the trends that will shape brand success in 2019:
Community is Key
For brands, facilitating and fostering a sense of community is an essential part of the customer journey. It’s no longer enough for a brand to just have a community feature — the concept of community should be ingrained into each business decision. It’s not enough to have a community. Behaving like an authentic, accessible community, as so many of our customers are doing today, helps brands to stand out from the increasingly crowded and distracted marketplace — and earn customers for life.
Brands will Own Their Customer Interactions
2018 shined a light on the importance of data privacy, and how brands need to think about ownership of their sensitive customer information. Customers are eager to interact with their favorite brands on the platform of their choice, placing the onus on brands to find a way to do this safely, and securely. Companies that are ahead of the curve in 2019 have found ways to be where their customers are, engage with them, and then bring that engagement on to their own platform. We’ll see more companies focus even deeper on building out their owned platforms, where they can closely manage risk while maintaining control over crucial insights from customer data. The Democratization of Influence
Communities, whether they’re brand-owned or living on social networks, are the driving force that builds brands into cultural icons. Consumers crave authenticity and brands must deliver on this if they hope to create real, meaningful relationships with customers. In 2019, brands will use the strength of their communities to turn their superfans into micro-influencers. Empowering trusted influencers to help solve another customer’s problem is a prime example of how brands can be doing this today. By building and promoting places for superfans to create content, share stories, and shout brand love, companies will secure brand loyalty from the ground floor.
You Have to Give to Get
The Holy Grail of customer engagement is when your customers are your best advocates, helping drive sales, answer questions, and act on the brand’s behalf in times of crisis. But today’s savvy customer won’t just advocate on your behalf without a brand experience that stands out — one where value is delivered and expectations exceeded. That exchange of value — or connective capital — is the currency that is unlocked when customers and brands connect in meaningful ways. Just as greater amounts of economic capital can lead to more opportunities, higher amounts of connective capital can lead to a more significant impact on a brand’s audience. One of our Lithium-Spredfast customers saw a 20% higher conversion-to-purchase rate for those customers who spent time in their community before coming into the store. This brand invested in a robust, engaging community where customers were learning about products and preferences from their fellow consumers, and then coming into stores with goodwill and intent to buy. When a brand has more connective capital, its community members are more likely to express brand loyalty and promote brand awareness, creating long-term customer relationships.
Craving more predictions? Take a look at all of the Spredfast + Lithium executive team predictions here. And hear from some of our customers on what they’re thinking the new year holds for marketers. What trends do you think will surface in 2019?