Brands are entering 2022 more confident than ever about their cross-channel customer engagement strategies, as they further hone the craft of orchestrating relevant, personalised messaging in real time.
The Braze 2022 Global Customer Engagement Review reveals 94% of brands now rate their customer engagement practices as excellent or good, compared to 88% a year ago. This improvement shows a stark correlation to these brands’ bottom lines, with clear indications that high performers in this area exceed their revenue goals. Conversely, of those that didn’t rate themselves highly, only 65% reached or exceeded their financial targets.
The review shows that brands understand they need to orchestrate conversations with consumers across multiple channels, resulting in a corresponding drop in the proportion of organisations using only a single channel to communicate with consumers. While top-of-funnel brand messages will always remain important, the focus of cross-channel conversations with users is increasingly centred on retention, with 30% more brands intending to allocate 51% to 75% of their budget on retention in the year ahead, compared to last year.
There are also new challenges raised for forward-thinking companies in the looming world of cookieless digital marketing, in parallel with the growing need to understand customers better and ensure that communications are relevant. This is prompting them to invest in improving their capabilities to manage zero-party and first-party data (that shared by users, and that gathered with their consent) as they open up new channels.
According to the review, being able to act on first-party data is crucial. In fact, 57% of new users in 2021 were ‘anonymous’ users, who took action on apps or websites without logging in, opted to interact as a ‘guest’ user, or weren’t given an official identifier; 80% of brands did not attempt any form of communication with them. However, when brands messaged anonymous users on even just a single channel, they increased the chances that recipients made a purchase by over five times.
With the pressing need to up their game on anticipating user needs, even for those that are not logged in, nearly all brands (96%) reveal marketing budgets are being increased in 2022. Additionally, the review surfaces the three top concerns for brands, which are: how they collect, integrate and manage data; how they then apply learnings to make better business decisions; and how to enable cross-team access to relevant data in a timely fashion.
There are big rewards for ‘ace’ performers
Across the board, marketer’s efforts are paying off, with brands revealing huge gains when they move beyond a single-channel approach and orchestrate relevant, data-driven, real-time engagement over multiple channels. A user is more than three times as likely to buy from a brand taking a cross-channel approach compared to one operating in a single channel – up from twice as likely to convert just a year ago. In fact, each channel that is added – whether it be email, push notifications or in-app messages, for example – leads to a more than a fourfold rise in purchases per user each year compared to a single-channel strategy.
These top success stories are true of the companies that have moved through the ‘activate’ and ‘accelerate’ stages identified by Braze to achieve the top-performing ‘ace’ status in their customer engagement strategies and delivery. When brands are at the top of their game, they have done more than simply move on from a single-channel approach to embrace multiple channels. They will also have progressed from occasional to continuous collaboration and experimentation between cross-departmental teams, which are guided by performance metrics that measure the impact on both the top and bottom line.
Going into 2022, the review reveals the two areas where ‘ace’ brands have most improved are segmenting audiences and personalising messaging in real time. However, brands have taken their eye off the ball a little in the areas of measuring the performance of their messaging campaigns and orchestrating messaging across multiple channels. There’s a very real danger this could result in frustrating customer experiences, which underlines why brands have identified better data capabilities as their key challenge for the year ahead.
EMEA brands’ strategies have room for improvement
When broken down by region, EMEA consumers are shaking off the perception of being slower adopters of digital commerce. The review suggests this process of catching up with desktop and mobile commerce rates in the US and APAC is almost certainly down to restrictions brought in during the pandemic, which prompted citizens to turn to digital channels. In the UK, a third of shoppers now buy fashion online, compared to one in five a year ago, and more than a third of German shoppers are now making purchases on their smartphone each week.
For brands that embrace cross-channel engagement in EMEA, the good news is that simply opening up a second customer communication channel leads to a 54% improvement in the likelihood a person will buy. For brands that then orchestrate real-time engagement across multiple channels, the likelihood of securing a sale can be quadrupled with the top-performing combination of channels.
The EMEA region is further identified in the review as leading the US and APAC on the culture required to bring teams together, and on setting objectives that campaigns can be measured against. However, digital marketers in EMEA are still behind the US and APAC on personalisation. With that said, the biggest room for improvement lies in engagement strategies, where APAC takes the global lead in front of the US, with EMEA lagging behind.
Although nearly a fifth of EMEA brands fall into the top ‘ace’ category, a little over half fall into ‘accelerate’. Therefore progress is certainly being made, but there is still some way to go.
The road ahead for all brands is summed up as moving away from communicating with customers on a single channel to adopting an orchestrated, cross-channel strategy that presents the right message in front of the right person at the right time. But in order to get there, organisations must move on from cookies to fully invest in collecting and understanding first- and zero-party data.
The brands that get this right, the review concludes, will be those who use the best technology to deliver personalised engagement, via cross-departmental teams who share the same goals because they are completely aligned on strategy.