These trends will shape digital marketing in 2022

Customer data, measurability and loyalty – these are what marketers should look out for this year

Frankfurt/Geneva, 1 February 2022 – How can companies use digital marketing and unique customer experiences to stand out from the competition in a challenging business environment? Merkle – a dentsu company, a data-driven full-service customer experience management (CXM) agency, has identified the three most important marketing trends for 2022. Luís Nunes, Chief Service Officer at Merkle, focuses on the importance of customer data, the potential of measurement data and emotional customer loyalty. 

"Irrespective of size or industry, today all brands are direct-to-consumer. Establishing deeper and more rewarding relationships with customers is a necessity for any business to achieve its goals,” explains Nunes. Merkle has therefore identified three central trends in its Customer Experience Imperatives 2022, which companies can use to build and strengthen long-term customer relationships.

Luis Nunes

“This year's Customer Experience Imperatives push brand leaders to think differently about their business approach and set a path to success based on creating long-lasting relationships built on a deeper common understanding and shared values. For years, we have heard that the currency of the future is identification and trust. We are clearly entering that future now," says Nunes.

Trend 1: Changing the perspective on customer data  

For long-term successful marketing, the focus should not be on selling the product or service as quickly as possible, but on a lived customer relationship. For this, it is crucial to know your customers and what they value. What are their needs, passions and motivations? This information is essential for a customer-oriented sales strategy. The more knowledge you have about your customers, the quicker you can build a personal relationship with them and the better your offer meets their demand.    

Consumers today expect brands to respond to them personally. At the same time, they are increasingly aware of their data and make sure that it is in good hands before making a purchase. Mastering this balancing act is the core task for sustainable customer-oriented marketing. It is not just a matter of collecting vast amounts of data, but of concentrating the data strategy on important core issues. More is not always better.   

"Companies need to rethink and execute now to stay ahead. Our top priority going forward is what is future-proof: the valuable first-party data," says Nunes. "We recommend that providers have real-time and two-way conversations with their target audiences and integrated cloud solutions. Both enable the fastest dialogue possible and shape the future use of data in marketing."   


Trend 2: Measuring the right things  

This may sound obvious, but companies nowadays often remain stuck in outdated measurement approaches: they measure what they can and not what they should. But only what is directly related to the company's success should be measured. Those who focus on the wrong key figures often work past their business goals. To avoid this, the entire company must pursue a consistent strategy that offers customers real added value. It is crucial to communicate a common goal to teams and to break down data silos to achieve this.   

"We advise that the first step is to set long-term goals and assess their achievability," explains Nunes. "All goals and intermediate targets should be defined as concretely as possible. For example, if a company wants to retain 80 per cent of its active customer base, it must improve product quality, service quality and brand perception. The 4-phase approach is particularly suitable here: align, evaluate, analyse and further develop." 


Trend 3: Fostering loyalty that is driven by emotion  

In the early years of the digital transformation, convenience mattered most. Technologies were supposed to make everyday life easier and individualized. In the new era of customer loyalty, it is about much more than bonus points and rewards: in the future, the focus will be on long-term relationships and loyalty. Today's consumers expect much more than mere convenience – they demand exciting, entertaining experiences. They want to know who is behind the brand and whether its values are compatible with theirs.  

The only way to achieve these long-term relationships is through comprehensively optimised customer experiences. The most important success factors here include reliability, willingness to engage in dialogue, creativity, transparency, service mentality and authenticity. Discounts, free products and personalised offers are primarily aimed at the mind. However, this approach is no longer sufficient for customer retention. Companies must aim at creating emotional connections with their customers and advocate for what is important to them. Only then will the additional offers become relevant in long term brand loyalty.  

"Research shows emotionally bound customers have a 300 per cent higher customer lifetime value than 'only' satisfied customers. Designing for the head and for the heart in equal measure sets a new paradigm on delivering the next-generation loyalty," says Nunes.  


A detailed overview of these trends are available for free download in the e-book "Customer Experience Imperatives 2022" by Merkle.   

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