In marketing, nothing lasts forever. As technology and consumer behavior evolve, the strategies that served you well yesterday may start to falter today.
That might seem like bad news at first, but it’s actually a big opportunity to identify the trends influencing the market — and take advantage of them before your competitors do. To help you accomplish just that, we’ve surveyed consumers and businesses alike to identify some of the biggest trends shaping this year. Read on for a taste of what’s heading your way — and tips on how to prepare.
The biggest concern for 2023? Nope, it’s not the economy.
If you were to try to guess what business leaders are most worried about heading into this year, “the economy” might be your top answer.
A solid guess — small-business owners in particular are concerned about the possibility of a recession, rising inflation, supply chain disruptions, and other factors that could indicate a turbulent year ahead.
Yet for all that, the economy isn’t actually their biggest concern. When we surveyed business owners, we were surprised to discover that economic factors took a back seat to worries about customer experience and effective customer communication.
In fact, effective communication was cited as the No. 1 concern by the business leaders we surveyed.
Perhaps that’s not so surprising after all. With more communication channels available than ever before, many business owners are deeply confused about how to get the best return for their marketing dollar.
To answer that question requires understanding where your customers are, and how they want to be reached.
Get the latest on consumer preference in our 2023 business messaging report.
Customers care about the experience your business creates
Why are businesses so preoccupied with effective customer communication?
Because it’s all about the experience.
As such, in 2023, relationship marketing should be an essential part of your strategy.
But it’s not enough to automate a few emails and call it a day. You must be mindful of the clear distinction between “good communication” and “pestering.”
Achieving this goal requires empathy. Instead of thinking about what channels you find most efficient, your focus should be on those your customers prefer. How do they want to hear from you? How often would they like you to reach out? Those customer preferences should be your signposts. (Not sure what those preferences are? Our 2023 Trends Guide can get you started in the right direction. Click the link or text TRENDS to 31853 to get your copy.)
Remember, it’s not about you: You’re communicating to create an experience, to build a relationship, and to show your customers how your products and services solve a problem they’re having.
And for that, some channels are better than others.
Be smart about tools that promise better efficiency
Creating a great customer experience is the byproduct of a lot of time, energy, and planning. For small-business owners already pulled in a hundred directions at once, it can be difficult to find the resources or wherewithal to pull it off.
In fact, when it comes to customer communication, our research identified “efficiency” as one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing a channel. No wonder there has been so much interest in the proliferation of new tools like artificial intelligence, which promise to help business owners do more work faster than ever.
But while these tools might be popular, they’re no magic bullet.
While tools like AI and automation promise to allow you to do more with less, it’s important to balance those considerations against what your customers want — and as we’ve noted, your customers have strong preferences around how (and how often) you communicate with them.
In other words, “efficiency” shouldn’t mean flipping a switch and flooding your customers with communications they don’t want, didn’t ask for … and won’t appreciate.
You may even find you can get by with less messaging effort, just by choosing the right channel and being responsive to your customer’s needs.
Good communication begins with knowing your customer
As we settle into the rest of 2023, small business owners are facing some real economic headwinds.
That’s likely why they’re so concerned with improving efficiency and improving the way they communicate. After all, one of the best ways to navigate an uncertain economy is simply to strengthen relationships with the people you serve.
Our research has shown that your customers do want to hear from you. They also want you to be responsive to their needs and concerns without becoming intrusive.
How should you do it? It all begins by knowing your customers. When you put their preferences first and align their experience with their expectations along all touchpoints, you’ll find a receptive — and even enthusiastic — audience to your messages.