Last updated: Marketing trends 2023: The future of customer obsession

Marketing trends 2023: The future of customer obsession


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Predictions can be tricky – often it’s tempting to focus on what we can achieve in the here and now rather than looking too far into the future. That being said, enabling brands to be truly omnichannel by building the individual stories of all the people (and businesses) who make up their customer base means making the best use of consumer data available to them – which is why we need a realistic vision for the year ahead and marketing trends in 2023.

That means asking ourselves:

  • What are the things that marketers can do to make their campaigns more effective?
  • What challenges should we expect to face?
  • And what is it that customers want from us that we can honestly deliver in the next 12 months?

5 marketing trends for 2023

The marketing trends for 2023 aren’t things that you should hope to one day do in future; they’re tangible actions that every marketer should take now.

With that in mind, I talk to a lot of customers and believe I’ve got a solid view on how marketers can thrive during the next four business quarters.

Following are the top 5 marketing trends for 2023:

  1. Hard times will mean hard facts for marketers
  2. Customer obsession will prove the winning formula
  3. Focus on quality data for customer personalization
  4. Finding the right channel mix
  5. Rethinking the martech stack

1. A shaky economy means doubling down on customer satisfaction

While Bank of America has downplayed fears of a global recession, talk of economic uncertainty has become hard to ignore. From Goldman Sachs to JPMorgan, financial advisors are warning brands to prepare for hard times ahead.

For marketers, economic uncertainty has typically meant budget cuts and tightened belts.

In a global survey of brands by Sapio Research, half anticipated cutting discretionary marketing spending to prepare for the year ahead.

So, what does this mean for marketers and CX professionals?

It means we need to focus on the things we know add value — the things that not only allow us to reach consumers, but also keep them coming back for more. That means putting customer satisfaction first.

2. In 2023, customer obsession becomes a top marketing trend

If brands are going to use their marketing budgets wisely, they need to find ways to satisfy their customers and keep them long term.

The cost of acquiring a new customer is five times more than retaining an existing one. That makes customer satisfaction not just a ‘nice to have’ but a key driver of ROI.

This is where customer obsession comes in. Research has shown that customer obsession improves satisfaction by double digits.

By focusing on building a customer-obsessed brand and creating unified goals to make that obsession a reality, marketers can develop a winning strategy for success.

Emarsys commissioned Forrester to speak to more than 600 senior marketers to find out where their businesses were on this customer obsession journey. It found that — despite the clear benefits of being customer obsessed — only 15% of businesses could be described in those terms.

As we look ahead to 2023, marketers need to refocus on their customers, but to be customer obsessed first means understanding who your customers are as people.

3. Customer understanding: The cornerstone of obsession

We all know the value of good insight, but in 2023 it’ll be more important than ever to place good quality data at the foundation of marketing campaigns.

And it’s not just about having that data, it’s about using it wisely. In the Forrester study, 62% percent of respondents from customer-obsessed companies said they’re focused on improving customer data quality compared to 35% of respondents that aren’t customer focused.

As it stands, a third of marketers can’t reach their goals because they’re unable to act on the customer data they already have. At the same time, many can’t deal with new customer data because it’s stuck in siloes.

If brands are going to become customer obsessed, they must get unstuck from this unsorted web of data holding their marketing back and must also be able to understand their customers on a personal level, in a privacy-conscious way.

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But this doesn’t mean building a perfect, flawless data system – too many organizations get hooked on the idea that they need to have it all, but it’s far more important to be able to act in the here and now.

The secret to omnichannel success is making sure marketers can leverage the data they have access to. It also means looking at the channels they know are working while having the insights to quickly roll out and trial new ideas, meeting shoppers wherever they want to be met.

4. Marketing trend: Finding the right channel mix in 2023

Today’s marketers are faced with more channels than ever before, and with more channels inevitably comes greater complexity. As a result, it’s become far too hard for marketers to truly know customers and understand what’s needed to turn them from “once-in-a-while shoppers” into lifelong loyalists.

To overcome this, marketers in 2023 will need to find a happy medium between the disjointed martech stacks of the past and the mythical “killer” solution that we’re all still waiting on.

Marketers need a way to engage anywhere, reaching anyone on the channels where they want to communicate. This doesn’t just mean email; it can include anything from social media to private channels like WhatsApp.

Forrester’s study found that mature firms use a wide variety of channels:
  • Online video/audio (64%)
  • Social media (43%)
  • Mobile (38%)

Others include email, in-store ads, and paid search.

But rather than bombarding all of these channels with content, marketers need to focus exclusively on the solutions that can help them create their own channel mix.

Unfortunately, when it comes to unlocking this channel mix, many marketers have become hamstrung by a huge technological burden.

5. Rethinking martech and breaking down silos

What’s the No. 1 thing that marketers should spend their time doing? Being creative? Reaching out to prospects? Building campaigns? Getting to know their audiences? Sadly, the reality for most marketers is far less grand.

According to an Emarsys survey, the No. 1 task that commerce marketers spend their time on is “preparing and segmenting data.” Why? Because the systems they use are either totally disjointed or are not powerful, intelligent, or automated enough to manage this task.

A recent prospect told me that it requires 12 different systems for them to build a single campaign. Another told me that every time their marketing department wants to add a new feature, they have to launch a new project with IT.

In a time of cutbacks (and businesses laser-focused on ROI) that simply can’t go on. Marketers need to rethink their technology stacks, breaking down the siloes between data and overcoming the multi-system maze.

This doesn’t need to be a painful process. It should be viewed as an opportunity to start afresh, with a new arsenal, custom-built for the times ahead, and ready to take on the challenges of 2023.

2023: Time to give power back to the marketer

Whatever happens in global economy, the need to build loyalty, engagement, and repeat purchases through customer obsession will be essential. To do that requires data and the right technology to turn that data into insights – fast.

Now’s the time to rethink our marketing strategies and to ask ourselves if this is really the best that we can do.

The problems won’t go away. We’re on a never-ending journey where channels and data will keep being added into the mix — both generationally and regionally. That’s never going to change. All we do can do is change how we prepare for and manage that reality.

Most important of all, nothing will be achieved by simply adding more platforms to already disjointed technology stacks. Marketers now need sophisticated, unified solutions to empower them with more time, more understanding, and ultimately a greater business impact.

2023 is the year of customer obsession – and those that invest in the right data, insights, and technologies will be best placed to thrive in the year ahead.

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