As marketers, we know that trends are often fleeting, and that buzz doesn’t equal longevity. While this is true for consumer culture, this statement is equally true for marketers. When it comes to marketing trends, buzzwords gain so much traction that it becomes difficult to gauge the concept’s true value.
Still, even buzzwords get it right sometimes, and occasionally, hype turns out to be very much deserved. Here are three marketing trends that definitely live up to the hype — and one that still falls short:
Worth it: Lifecycle Marketing
Lifecycle marketing consists of marketing campaigns geared specifically for each stage of the consumer-brand relationship, from initial contact to last purchase. As the name suggests, the theory is that each consumer-brand relationship is cyclical, with stages that describe each level of engagement.
Thanks to consumers’ evolving priorities, there is a much bigger emphasis on building trust and long-term relationships to fuel engagement over just low prices and discount amounts. Lifecycle marketing is a crucial response to that kind of change: batch-and-blast campaigns of years past have long stopped having any discernible impact on customers besides disinterest and annoyance.
Lifecycle marketing is worth the hype because it enables marketers to understand why different touchpoints are crucial at different times of a customer’s engagement with the brand.
Worth it: Retention Marketing
It’s no surprise that we at Retention Science are big advocates of customer retention, but it should also be no surprise that it’s an area worth investing in. Research shows that effective customer retention translates into significant revenue, both by increasing profits and decreasing costs. According to Bain & Company, increasing retention rates by just 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. 82% of companies agree that retention is cheaper to execute than acquisition.
Lifecycle marketing is taken to the next level with customer retention as a priority. Effective retention strategies lengthen the period of active engagement in the customer lifecycle, which makes for longer — and more profitable — customer-brand relationships.
Retention Marketing is only recently gaining traction as a buzzy term, but it’s one trend that will last. Marketers should prioritize their strategies to make sure retention stays on the top of the list.
Worth it: Big Data
Big data is still the buzziest of marketing trends just based on how often the term gets thrown around. The idea that eCommerce companies can know the best product to recommend, the best time to send an email, and the best offer to send to each customer, all engineered to maximize conversion, makes for a lot of buzz.
What makes it worth the hype is that it’s all true.
What the buzz neglects to cover is that all this data is there, but collecting, interpreting, and using that data requires help, whether through an in-house team of data scientists or a third-party service. Done correctly, data-driven marketing gives companies an invaluable edge when it comes to long-term customer engagement. In conjunction with retention and lifecycle marketing strategies, big data helps marketers better understand their customers.
Falls short: Marketing Automation
In theory, marketing automation is what ties all the above trends together for maximum efficiency by automating the marketing process. Data helps you understand how to personalize your marketing for each individual customer; retention-focused lifecycle marketing campaigns provide the guidelines on what kinds of touchpoints each customer should receive.
As it’s currently advertised, marketing automation makes personalized engagement possible at large scale on multiple channels, by automating processes such as segmentation, data integration, and campaign management. Marketing automation platforms free up marketers’ time and increase efficiency, thereby increasing revenue.
Today, however, marketing automation falls short of the hype. While current automation platforms help with large-scale campaign organization, much of the “automated” processes are not truly automated, but rather trigger-based. A customer receiving a series of emails based on their actions is considered automated, but marketers still must do all the setup legwork. This includes segmenting the customers, developing campaigns based on those segments, and setting up triggers for each interaction.
Put simply, the current standard for automation is not truly automated. While the concept is worth the hype, reality doesn’t quite measure up. In the coming weeks, we’ll take a deeper dive into what marketing automation is, why it’s important, and where it’s headed.