Blog Entry

Top Six 2020 Marketing Trends to Improve the Customer Experience and Drive Commercial Value

What a week it was at Oracle Open World London #OOWLON February 12-13. I was honored to be on stage and sharing exclusively with our customers and partners the Top Six 2020 Marketing Trends that every marketer needs to be thinking about in 2020 if they want to be successful in the Experience Economy through improving customer experience and driving commercial value. 

The “Experience Economy” is an abstraction, a metaphor that is useful in describing the shift in power from the brand to the consumer, but some organizations have gone further, faster, and are aligning their investments, processes and human structures around the idea that they are trading not in products or services, but in the experiences of their customers.

The Experience Economy, as defined by Time, Me and Emotion: 

  • Time: Customer experience is a battle against time – to be not too early  but not too late (REAL-TIME) in the Experience Economy. Customers expect answers in milliseconds ( i.e. taxi’s in minutes and packages in hours). 

  • Me: It is about personalization and segment of one.

  • Emotions: People buy any product due to functional need or emotional desire (with emotional desire you can charge more and supports loyal customers).

The Experience Economy is hitting every industry too:

  • In sports football clubs, like Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United are not competing against each other’s, or other teams in other leagues or sports like NBA or NFL, but they are competing with Netflix, Amazon Video, and Facebook.  To be successful in the Experience Economy, sports clubs need to be an entertainment brands. 

  • In Financial Services, traditional banks need to be an adaptive bank—one that is intelligent, agile, and integral to our lives and businesses

  • For Telecoms, they need to move away from being a commodity and become a household or business total connectivity provider 

What defines a Top Performer v. a Mainstream brand?

The six trends, below come from key findings from the research Oracle did with Econsultancy, interviewing 500 CMOs and marketing leaders.  The findings were split between Top Performers (18%) who exceeded their business goals and they represent 18%, and the Mainstream ( 82%)  who missed or met their objectives. 

Trend #1: Data Strategy Is Core to the Experience Economy

To be successful in Customer Experience, having a Data Strategy is a must – and it must play a key role across the customer lifecycle, balancing privacy with personalization. The common dominator of successful brands in the Experience Economy is data. Uber is not a taxi company. Deliveroo is not food delivery company. AirBnB is not a hotel chain. They are all data companies. They are all examples of businesses re-shaping traditional industries through mastering the opportunities created by their data and creating innovative approaches to product and services. Those who master their data will be able to deliver to their customers the experience they expect and deliver on their promise with every customer engagement. Every business needs a data strategy if they want to deliver innovation, personalization, targeting, scalability, orchestration, attribution and, most of all, on building a data-driven culture. 

47% of mainstream respondents report that their customer data management investment is paying off, well behind the mainstream at 62%.

Trend #2 Embracing AI & Innovation in Marketing

People, not brands, are driving transformation and innovation. 

Acquisition will focus on utilizing Artificial Intelligence to model next best action, next best channel, profitability, loyalty, and product affinity to increase relevance, engagement and conversion. Customer experience is already being redefined by introducing AI driven Chatbots, Conversational Search and Voice Assistants, so Acquisition is the next step. 

In the era of Digital Downturn, we expect to be seeing companies utilize AI to manage costs, drive efficiency and generate scalability through automation and data. AI will become an essential weapon in cost-reduction and effectiveness in modern marketing.

No wonder 90% of the business world is in transformation. 

Trend #3: The Digital Content Renaissance

Communicating brand-led stories and engaging new and existing customers has never been more challenging. 

The two drivers of cross-channel proliferation, reducing attention span and customer expectations around personalization, drive an ever more challenging situation for marketers. 

The focus should be on identifying and targeting those micro-moments with relevant content to help customers achieve specific needs based on their requirements. 

Data strategy will be required to drive strategic positioning and a testing program to shape micro-moment led content strategy. Content strategies also consider content amplification and the rise of influencers and the safety of your brand in terms of publishing.

Customer journey is a process that’s made up of critical moments of interaction and influence, yet only 36% of the mainstream is targeting micro-moments in the customer journey, in comparison with 52% of top performers. 

Trend # 4: B2Me

Traditionally marketing was categorized as either B2B or B2C, but things have changed; B2ME is here. B2Me is marketing to an individual based on the desires of that individual. 

It’s not just about closing a sale, it’s about delivering an engaging, relevant, and effortless customer experience. 

Today’s customer are more informed, socially connected, mobile, technologically empowered, personal data aware, and in control of the sales cycle. 

B2Me applies whether the individual is buying for personal use or on behalf of their employer. We are talking about hyper- personalization at scale across the customer lifecycle, the importance of blending online and offline channels and the need for critical foundational components such as data-driven personas, active experience personalization while respecting customers privacy and agile omni-channel orchestration. It is your ABM strategy where you target organizations. 

The biggest difference in the CMO research concerning personalization were in three areas; 

1) Personalize across online and offline 

2) Personalizing the mobile experience 

3) Real-time personalization 

Trend #5: Developing a Customer-Centric Martech Ecosystem

With the proliferation of marketing, sales, and service technology, it is important to put the customer at the heart of what you do. 

A Customer-Centric Martech ecosystem is a paradigm shift. You need to first design your end-to-end customer experience at visionary level and then build, and your MarTech ecosystem will help you deliver on this

And don’t forget with every new piece of technology you buy you need to think about the data and data normalization, segmentation and activation. 

Sometimes it very tempting to go buy niche solutions to solve specific area with the customer journey, but be careful as you may be creating a data silo if you are not able to integrate the data with the rest of your MarTech and AdTech landscape. 

76% of mainstream CMOs believe that organization does not have the skills required to make most of MarTech – compared to 46% of top performers.

Trend #6: Moving Toward a SMART Agile Organization

The modern marketing organization is changing. Rigid hierarchies and structures are old news, with business shaping teams based on goals, functions, and the customer. 

There is a need to cut across the silos of CRM, digital, performance marketing, and brand teams that we see too often and move towards a joined-up approach with cross-functional leaders that are accountable for integrated strategy execution. In the age of the customer, there is an imperative to improve speed, predictability, transparency, and adaptability of marketing.

Where skill gaps exist, the right mix of hiring, outsourcing, and training needs to be planned ahead to ensure that businesses keep pace with the evolving marketplace and deal with any potential skill gaps.

Further to negatively impacting the customer experience, the lack of organizational agility often leads to inefficiency, increased risk and consequently increased costs for the business. 

I remember my previous role as Head of Acquisition was focused on bringing in new customers but no necessarily on what happens after they sign up. In a newer and more modern organization, my role  has changed to that of a Head of Growth.The difference is the Head of Growth is a P&L owner and cares about the cost to serve the customer acquired. The Head of Growth in Marketing has responsibility in product development, services, sales, and marketing.

Perhaps it is no surprise that marketing has more alignment with Sales and eCommerce. The biggest misalignment in the research is between Marketing, products, and Service.

The most insightful questions from our CMO research was, “How would you describe the optimal customer experience?” 

In response, they didn’t say the most innovative or valuable. No they instead said that an optimal customer experience was ‘effortless, ’ which we at Oracle aim to help our customers deliver.

Download the full CMO research here

Special thanks to Econsultancy and my colleagues; Nick Fleetwood, Andy Fisher and Abdul Hamid Ebrahim Jassat for working together to define the trends. 


For insights into digital marketing trends and what is driving them, visit Oracle CX Marketing.