Permanent Shifts in Customer Experience: Lessons for Brands on Staying Relevant

Digital leaders share their thoughts on how brands should adapt their digital experience strategy to reach customers post-2020.

interactive digital experience

With 2020 soon coming to a close, it’s safe to say that there’s never been a year like this one. Every industry had to shift course in an instant, and digital transformation went from a goal on the horizon to an immediate and critical effort for businesses. It’s clear this digital acceleration wasn’t just a short-term trend that’ll fade as the world works to get back to “normal.” Customers now expect more from digital experiences, and these new strategies and digital investments are here to stay. 

At our Experience Acquia virtual event in December, we explored the biggest customer experience (CX) trends that brands should remain focused on for the future. Plus, we brought together industry leaders to share their advice on how brands can stay relevant and engage customers without letting the changes knock them off course. The full Experience Acquia recording is available for you to watch right now, but here are some of the biggest digital experience insights you can apply to your own 2021 planning efforts and beyond.  

New Trends and Permanent Shifts in Customer Experience

Acquia CMO Lynne Capozzi spoke to attendees about significant shifts in the way customers today prefer to interact with brands and what marketing leaders should prioritize to earn and hold onto customer loyalty in the new marketplace. These insights were gathered from Acquia’s annual Customer Experience Trends Report, which surveyed more than 8,000 consumers and 800+ marketers from around the globe on how their expectations for brands have changed in a post-COVID landscape. 

Some notable findings from the CX survey were that 84% of consumers used digital channels more in 2020 than they had in 2019. The channels they’re using to reach brands are diversifying, with an increased use of video streaming, email communications and social media. This uptick in the use of digital services is expected to continue, introducing new challenges for organizations who need to deliver faster, more unified digital experiences that surpass the competition. 

We believe the only way to get CX right is for marketers to take control of their data. Collecting, unifying, understanding and activating data is what will increase revenue and improve the long-term health of businesses. Even as the surrounding market continues to change, those companies that invest wisely in data-driven marketing technology can be confident they’ve fulfilled the most important step. Once you’ve got a complete view of the customer backed by valuable data, marketing teams can build their strategy around tactics that pay off with customers: personalization, reliability and fulfilling brand promises. 

Driving Relevant CX with a Customer Data Platform

Going deeper into the theme of valuable customer data and the desire for marketers to free their data from siloed systems, Acquia’s Director of Product Marketing, Karen Wood spoke on creating connected customer experiences with a foundation of clean and unified data provided by a customer data platform (CDP). 

A huge focus of Experience Acquia was helping brands move past limited, old-school solutions and embrace open and future-ready digital transformation strategies. Karen highlighted that while other popular data solutions like data lakes, DMPs and CRMS all work to address one part of the data problem, they fall short when it comes to connecting all sources of data and forming a single, complete source of truth.  

The push to get out of data silos has reached a tipping point, causing widespread adoption of CDPs in the last few years. Currently, the highest CDP adoption rate is happening in mid-sized companies across every vertical from manufacturing to media and publishing to healthcare and beyond. For marketers, a CDP delivers real-time data insights and the power to activate data across all channels and improve revenue. 

One Acquia customer that improved their loyalty efforts and customer lifetime value with the help of a CDP is global retailer, Lids. Lids relied on an exceptional number of channels and interactions to gather data on their customers. Using a customer data platform equipped with identity resolution allowed Lids to unify, store, email, loyalty and e-commerce data into a cleansed, deduped single customer view. This helped Lids stay focused on the best customers to target for their win-back campaign efforts. Overall, they were able to generate $250K in revenue off just a single campaign! Clearly, results like those speak for themselves when it comes to the value of a CDP. And that’s just one of many digital success stories spotlighted at Experience Acquia. 

Digital Experience Customer Panel with AMD and MDG

Following Karen’s presentation, we also heard from Aqif Hassen, Head of Digital Strategy & Operations, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Ben McRae, Senior Director of Web Strategy, MDG on our customer panel, led by presenter Mark Jeffries. 

Aqif and Ben discussed their work to design and deliver a strong digital strategy despite unexpected obstacles. “Event-focused brands need to pivot toward a more always-on, 365-days-a-year digital experience strategy rather than relying on a few big in-person shows and conferences for brand engagement,” said Ben. MDG has been working with their clients to implement a new strategy based on two key principles: 

  1. Digital publishing - boosting efforts for content production, curation and content distribution 
  2. Online community - focusing on interactive, customer-led experiences from roundtables, live Q&As, streaming demos, etc.

As many brands look for a starting point to fast-tracking their digital transformation efforts, the key takeaways from both AMD and MDG was to get back to basics with efforts like personalization, drawing from customer data you already have. “You don’t need to have the resources of an Amazon or Netflix to do true, good personalization,” said Ben. He cited the personalized marketing capabilities of a tool like Acquia Campaign Studio to help marketers easily create unique segment lists to customize the offers and content they send out. “Anyone can do personalization if they can make customers feel like a brand is talking specifically to them, rather than to anyone who will listen,” he said.

Aqif also had some words of wisdom for the first steps brands should take when beginning their digital transformation journeys. “We’d recommend brands start with identifying what problems they’re trying to solve before they look for platforms and solutions they need,” said Aqif. When a company understands the channels, audiences and KPIs that are most influential in helping them grow the business, the technology becomes the support to accomplish these goals. That’s why our panelists believed in building flexibility and change into your technical ecosystem with solutions that aren’t purpose-built for only one kind of marketing function or phase in the customer journey.

If we had to sum up Experience Acquia in a single lesson, it’s that brands should embrace change, not be scared of it. The new behaviors and shifts in customer expectations we’ve all seen this year will have a lasting influence on which businesses stay relevant for years to come. 

We’re excited to keep the conversation going with more Experience Acquia events coming in 2021 and we want you to join in the discussion by sending your questions to @Acquia with the hashtag #ExperienceAcquia

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