Navigate uncertainty by leveraging these 7 customer engagement trends.
March 21, 2023
Marketers are worried in 2023.
Economic worries and disruption in online advertising mean previously reliable strategies and playbooks aren’t delivering results. Navigating these trends will be challenging! Charting your path forward is much easier when you know the significant trends impacting online marketing and advertising.
Multiple companies are reporting falling spending on online advertising over the past few months. eMarketer recently cut its forecast for US digital ad spending by $5 billion, down to $278 billion. The pullback on spending is hitting Google, which reported falling advertising spending in several segments at the end of Q4 2022.
Cutting advertising spending is a common strategy whenever there’s economic uncertainty. It happened last in early 2020 when the pandemic rocked the world.
At the same time, the need to drive growth and get more customers isn’t going anywhere. To retain your advertising budgets and stretch them further, get proactive on efficiency and engagement.
Brand-building advertising is powerful for growing a company in the long term. However, it can take a lot of work to show immediate results with that style of advertising. In the short term, consider shifting more resources toward direct marketing to harvest more results.
Online advertising channels and strategies vary in how easy they are to measure. Now is the time to look at your campaigns and see which ones are bringing in results. Consider pausing campaigns with more steps and moving parts since these efforts are more challenging to track.
Anonymous website visitors represent a significant opportunity for brands and publishers. They have discovered you. Much of the hard work of acquisition and awareness building is done. The next step is to get to know your audience better.
The way forward is to focus more on offering value to anonymous website visitors. Don’t overlook classic strategies like discounts, buy one get one, and the like. Such strategies have worked for decades for consumer brands.
For publishers and B2B companies, there may be better choices than discounts to convert anonymous users. Instead, look at ways to package premium experiences available only to registered users. Online events remain one of the most cost-effective ways to draw audiences in.
It’s true that enjoying food and drinks with your customers in person offers a powerful way to build relationships. However, traditional events also require significant investment. Spending $20,000 or $100,000 on traditional events or conference participation might not go forward this year.
The alternative to high-cost traditional events is to run more online events. Since online events don’t require venue booking and other elements, they are often much faster to run. Offering your registered users exclusive access to your online events is one compelling way to convert more browsers into customers.
To make the most of your online events, ensure you give your audience a way to connect and share feedback. Arena Live Chat makes it easy for users to ask questions, share thoughts and meet others.
The digital marketing world is complex. There are thousands of apps, many certifications, and skill sets to learn! Budget to hire additional staff, agencies and other support may get more challenging to access. Yet, marketing teams are still responsible for delivering growth within those constraints.
Developing multi-disciplinary marketers is the way to thrive through this uncertainty. This means identifying skills, strategies, and technical skills you lack today and working to develop them. One approach is to pair a traditional evergreen skillset like copywriting with a digital marketing skill like search engine optimization (SEO).
While growing new skills is valuable, keeping this growth focused on your goals is essential. For example, connect your drive to improve SEO skills with a tactical goal to get more conversions on your top 5 pages.
This trend is similar to the first trend - pressure on advertising budgets - but it has some nuances. The pressure on marketing teams to deliver better customer engagement results will take a few forms. Marketers may only be able to hire talent or retain some of the technology they had planned for.
It’s not just a question of marketing budgets facing greater scrutiny either. Sales and management teams may demand more support to deliver growth this quarter. The good news is that there are multiple tactics to deliver greater results in a short period.
Reengaging past customers is one of the best ways to grow on a budget. You probably have their details and permission to communicate with them. Make sure you use thoughtful targeting for the best results (more on this front in the next section).
Take a hard look at your current marketing technology stack, especially the older and more expensive apps. These assets may have delivered value once, but that may no longer be true if your strategies and target market have evolved.
Marketers usually focus their efforts on customers. As internal pressure increases, you must keep engaging your internal stakeholders. For example, aim to create a simple marketing dashboard that emphasizes the most significant wins of the month.
Don’t assume that other departments, like sales or executives, will automatically see the value of marketing. Taking a few hours a month to communicate marketing wins (e.g., “we increased order value by 10% compared to the previous month!”) is a vital way to maintain trust in marketing.
You have registered users, email list subscribers, and others engaged with your brand. The old playbook of sending the same promotion to everybody is less likely to work today. Launch more targeted engagement campaigns using the first party you have from your users, like the pages they’ve visited and emails they open.
Here are a few ways to design more tightly focused engagement campaigns:
Instead of asking for the sale immediately, ask yourself this question: what’s the most common next step people make after registering on our website? The answer could be attending a software demo. Or you might find that users tend to consume several pieces of long-form content. The objective is to go small - look for the next logical micro step in engagement and focus your efforts there.
Coming up with new and engaging ideas to inspire your online audience gets tiring. Fortunately, you don’t have to be the one with all the great ideas. Instead, develop 2-3 high-level content ideas and send them to your audience. Ask your audience which idea sounds most promising!
For an in-depth exploration of leveraging customer questions and surveys in your marketing, see the book “Ask: The Counterintuitive Online Method to Discover Exactly What Your Customers Want to Buy” by Ryan Levesque.
Review your customer data platform to identify highly engaged prospects who have yet to buy. For example, create a segment of users engaged with your brand across two or three channels. In this case, smaller is better! Inviting 50-100 carefully selected people to an online event tightly connected to their interests.
As economic uncertainty hits marketers and their budgets, there’s a greater demand to emphasize proven strategies. Growth may be challenging, so keeping current customers will become even more critical. The following steps can help you design better loyalty and retention campaigns.
Find out the top three reasons why your customers are leaving so that you can create campaigns to address those issues. For example, customers on an annual plan may feel surprised by an unexpected charge. To reduce this cause of churn, identify customers who are 1-2 months away from renewal and offer them additional payment options.
In 2023, Starbucks announced changes to its loyalty program that devalued loyalty program points. In the past, airlines have made similar changes. Such changes make it harder to retain loyal customers. Also, such changes generate negative publicity that makes engagement far more complex.
Find out if your organization plans changes like these and see if you can pause or defer implementation to lift retention.
Growing an audience from scratch takes time and effort. Growing your website audience toward conversion. Find out how Arena can help lift engagement today.