The new year is an opportunity for a torrent of predictions of what will happen in the days to come. There’s no shortage of opinions, but most look a lot more like trends than solid prognostications. That’s because trends are easier to get in front of than predictions that may or may not come true.
I like the idea of trends because spotting them early offers a chance to move more quickly than a competitor. With that in mind, here are the trends you can capitalize on in 2014:
- Most customer data will go unused, even as marketers work to increase relevance and engage more with customers. IDC predicts this number to be as high as 80% and bases that on “immature enterprise data ‘value chains.’” The lack of maturity in managing data is very common and costly to the brand that wants to build brand awareness, increase sales, and create customer loyalty.
- Despite the immaturity of the data value chain, marketing will become even more data-driven, requiring integration of data silos within marketing applications as well as across the enterprise information technology landscape. Managing marketing data effectively will involve the use of platforms that have integration capabilities built in. As reported in Forbes, “Tearing down silos isn’t easy.” It will take a strategy and cooperation with other parts of the organization, especially IT.
- Analytics will be a highly sought-after skill on the CMO’s team. Data discovery, developing hypothesis, and test and learn approaches will become crucial to compete with a broad array of brands gradually increasing their data management capabilities. CMO’s will actively recruit analytics talent and will increasingly look for marketing platforms with business-friendly analytics in the mix.
- Data sources will continue to increase. Even more smartphones, more tablets, and the Internet of Things means brands will increasingly be able to directly find consumers and deliver highly relevant, situational, and personalized messages. This is the very near-term future for customer engagement management.
- Loyalty will be the increasingly important target of engaging customers. The high cost of customer acquisition, and the trend toward analytics and data-driven marketing, make loyalty an over-arching trend of marketing for 2014.
As with any trend, you have the option of waiting it out and seeing how the marketplace develops. For these trends, however, smart marketers realize the importance of staying ahead.
This post was first published on the Loyalty Lab Blog and has been lightly edited.