Over the past years we've seen many long-predicted trends become reality, thanks to the work of innovative companies and passionate communities in making technology solutions reachable, usable and relevant. This also means that, in 2017, many more technical barriers will have gone down and the opportunities for digital marketers to deliver digital customer experiences will grow on a massive scale: mobile, social, omnichannel, predictive analytics, personalization – these are just a few of the key ingredients that digital marketers can use to cook up the perfect recipe.
With (technical) barriers crumbling, companies now face the challenge of forging a path through the digital landscape towards an ever-moving target. The challenge for 2017 will be to take steps in the right direction while ensuring that the basic fundamentals of your digital experience practice are solid and flexible enough to allow your route to be adjusted when necessary and move forward without losing pace.
Adjusting a digital marketing approach is only possible when the organization, the technical platform and connected third parties allow for it. Companies will need to have this agility 'built-in' when they define new initiatives. Sometimes this also means that companies will need to get rid of certain legacy systems in order to fix the basics and have a foundation which is ready to embrace the future.
2. Define experience
While everybody agrees that the customer experience is increased once we are able to deliver contextual and personalized communication to them, it also seems to be very hard for companies to define the right scenarios for effective personalization. I expect to see increasingly clever scenarios which will really showcase the effective combination of content and data. The challenge –and this is even more so the case in the B2B context – will be to define scenarios where clear results and ROI can be demonstrated and learned from.
3. Content velocity
Digital experiences require content. The more personalized you want your communication to be and the more campaigns you want to launch for different target audiences, the more you will be facing the organizational challenge of getting things done.
Having a content strategy is crucial, but having an operational model in order to produce, buy, review, approve, translate and publish content-rich experiences is equally important. I strongly suggest that you have a chat with your colleagues from the marketing operations teams, and ask them how they get things done. Start brainstorming ideas on how organizational elements can be supported in order to keep up with the velocity of content creation that is expected in the coming years.
4. Breaking silos
Digital experience is not delivered in individual packages or organized per company department. It's integrated. Driven by the wave of digital transformation, companies will have to pursue their efforts in delivering integrated experiences. This will involve connecting Marketing to Customer Service, Customer Service to Sales, Marketing to Production and Production to Shipping – in other words, connecting the corporate world to the customer’s world to deliver the results they expect. It will take time. So it's definitely still on the agenda of many companies for 2017.
5. Change of plans
I mentioned agility earlier. Here's a good example of something that may challenge your ability to react to external factors which might influence your digital marketing approaches. Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), coming into force in 2018, will need your attention in 2017. Your action plan to comply with it will demonstrate how ready you are to face other possible 'changes of plans' in the future.
Companies can rely on mature technology to carry out their future digital marketing and digital experience plans, but will still be challenged by organizational changes that will need to be implemented. In order to prepare for the future and advance towards an ever-moving target, they will need to invest in fixing the basics, breaking internal silos and designing their future initiatives with agility ‘built-in’.