The explosion of digital engagement since 2020 has inspired a new approach to doing business. We’re naturally curious at Twilio, so every year we conduct a global survey to gauge the state of customer engagement and identify changes to expect looking ahead. The conclusion in 2022 is clear: With an average top-line revenue growth of 70%, businesses that embraced digital customer engagement came out better than those that didn’t.
We surveyed 3,400 B2C businesses and 4,500 customers from around the world to get more insight into the trends, perceptions, and practices that drove digital engagement success over the past two years. Our findings revealed where companies’ efforts are meeting consumer engagement expectations and where they can expect to face challenges in the future.
In the previous two articles in this blog series, we talked about what our report findings mean for customer experience leaders and retailers. Now we turn our attention to what the surveys revealed about marketing in a consumer-centric digital marketplace, and the exciting opportunities that await businesses that are willing to go where the trends are pointing.
Digital marketing in 2022
Consumer attention today is divided between brand messages on nearly every channel. With companies worldwide expecting a 21% increase in digital customer engagement over the next three years, the deluge of brand messaging doesn’t appear to be slowing down.
This exposes a harsh truth for marketers: Breaking through the digital noise won’t be as easy as having a catchy slogan or inserting names into email salutations. If marketers want to craft messaging that truly resonates with customers, they’ll have to strategize their way around some of the roadblocks our surveys uncovered that could hinder their success.
Marketers will need the right tools for the job
Some of the most pressing challenges at the forefront of companies’ minds are the technical requirements of this increased level of digital engagement. When asked about the biggest challenges in their customer engagement strategies, 39% of businesses reported lacking in-house skill and talent. Thirty-eight percent said they had too many tools for tracking customer engagement in their marketing tech stack, which can easily complicate workflows, bloat costs, and eventually become counterproductive.
Essentially, many businesses find their marketing teams both under-equipped with talent and oversaturated with technology options, making it difficult to strategize successful digital customer engagement campaigns. To protect themselves from this complication, a third of businesses are planning to make software adoption a key component of their future customer engagement strategy. When asked which strategy would be most important to their business success in the next three years, 37% cited investment in customer engagement software, including CRM and marketing platforms. Companies with software adoption plans in mind should remember, however, that when it comes to tech tools, quality is more productive and cost-effective than quantity.
Marketers must invest in personalized customer engagement
Companies that personalize the customer journey by accurately tailoring marketing content and providing on-point recommendations fare much better than competitors who throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. Eighty-eight percent of companies agreed that personalization is important to their customer engagement strategy, and an ambitious 84% reported always or often personalizing their engagement touchpoints with consumers.
However, only half of surveyed consumers said their interactions were always or often personalized. Worse, 61% stated that they would stop using a brand that didn’t offer a personalized experience at all, making those impersonal interactions even more damaging. Those personal interactions and details can have a real meaningful impact on the consumer experience and how they spend their money. B2C companies reported consumers spending 46% more on average at their businesses when engagement was personalized.
For marketers, the findings are clear: Personalization can be pushed further, and consumers are ready for it. Some businesses have already seen success with personalization tools, which create totally unique buyer experiences with a brand while also giving marketers more visibility into what really makes their target buyers tick. This visibility will be invaluable looking forward as marketers get ready to face a significant shift in how they gather data from their audience.
Prepare to go “cookieless”
The digital diet is changing, and cookies are on the chopping block. It’s a fast-approaching shift, yet our surveys showed that most businesses haven’t yet prepared themselves to market in a “cookieless” landscape:
- Of the 2,400+ B2C companies surveyed, 81% still have complete or substantial dependency on third-party data.
- 35% of companies say they mostly or completely rely on third-party data for their marketing strategies.
- Only 4% currently use first-party data exclusively, gathering customer information from direct interactions via website activity, support calls, email engagement, loyalty programs, and other shared touchpoints in which consumers consent to having their data collected.
- 55% of companies reported they are not at all prepared or only somewhat prepared to go cookieless.
Third-party cookies opened huge opportunities for marketers, but public opinion is inspiring an abrupt shift. Already, Firefox and Safari have blocked access to third-party cookies, and Google Chrome will be following suit in 2023. Businesses fear that the repercussions of going cookieless look bleak, with 42% believing that cutting off third-party cookies will result in a lower ROI on ad spending, and 37% claiming it will lessen their ability to gain new customers.
Rather than bracing for impact, marketers should get ahead of the cutoff and strategize new methods for collecting first-party data by using server-side data collection sources like Twilio Segment’s Node.js platform. These server-side tracking tools allow for data to be sent and received directly from a visitor’s browser to the company’s web server, rather than being transferred through an additional layer, which allows for higher data quality and more data enrichment opportunities.
Take a deeper dive
Want to know more about how customer engagement trends could impact your marketing goals in the future? Download the full Twilio 2022 State of Customer Engagement Report.
Amy is a data-obsessed, award-winning, strategic content marketing leader with over a decade of experience managing high-performing content marketing, community, influencer, and social teams. She loves creating strategic approaches that attract, engage, inspire, and help educate audiences throughout their complete buying journey. When she’s not online, she enjoys crafting jewelry, hiking the tallest mountain, or diving the deep blue sea. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.