Customer Experience (CX) is the overall perception customers have of a brand, shaped by every interaction they have with it, from first contact to post-purchase service.

But, why does customer experience matter? Because it directly influences customer loyalty, satisfaction, and advocacy, ultimately impacting a business's reputation, customer retention, and profitability.

A clear customer journey driven by data and content is essential to engage customers consistently. Moreover, digital experiences must prioritize human factors such as accessibility, usability, and safety to maintain trust in the brand.

To gain insight into these subjects, a survey was conducted by Vanson Bourne with 3,000 consumers and 300 marketers from Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States in September 2023. This article will look at the main findings from the 2024 Acquia CX Report.

Elevating Marketing Standards in a Changing Landscape

Marketers are adopting innovative strategies and approaches to differentiate themselves and make a lasting impression on both customers and prospects. 

Key elements of this elevation include:

  • Delivering unique marketing content: Marketers are focusing on creating and delivering content that stands out. This involves not just the quality of the content but also its uniqueness and relevance to the target audience. 
  • Leveraging data and insights: To ensure that their content resonates, marketers are increasingly relying on data and insights to understand customer behaviors, preferences, and trends. 
  • Incorporating technology and innovation: The use of advanced technologies like AI, machine learning, and analytics tools helps marketers create more efficient and effective marketing strategies. 
  • Seamless omnichannel experiences: Marketers aim to provide a cohesive and consistent experience across all channels – be it online, offline, social media, or email. This seamless integration ensures that the brand message is uniform and impactful, regardless of how or where the customer interacts with the brand.

Content Creators' Focus: Impactful Capabilities for Customer Experience

In the constantly changing world of digital marketing, it's important for content creators to know what affects customer experience. 

Let’s look at what marketers think is most important and what tools they use to improve digital customer experiences.

Marketers were asked about the most important factor affecting digital CX in the past 18 months.

  • 35% of respondents stated that the ability to collect sufficient data on consumer preferences is vital for creating effective digital experiences.
  • 24% of respondents indicated that the ability to create personalized content for customers is important.
  • 21% of respondents mentioned the importance of being able to transition smoothly between providing online and in-person experiences.
  • 19% of respondents stated that there is an increasing demand for higher-quality online experiences. 

Marketers require appropriate tools in their martech or digital experience platform (DXP) to effectively achieve their objectives, and many are not dependent on IT to select solutions for them.

According to the data, a majority (69%) of decision-makers are located within the marketing department, while a smaller percentage (21%) are situated in IT. It seems that these technology-related decisions are yielding positive results.

A majority of marketers (98%) have reported an improvement in their organization's return on investment for martech tools in 2023. Among the technologies, AI for content creation, including generative AI like OpenAI's ChatGPT, is highlighted by nearly half (45%) of marketers as one of the top technologies positively impacting customer experience.

Marketers are finding value in their content management systems (CMSs) as these tools store, manage, and publish various content types across an organization's website and digital channels.

Unlocking the Potential of Transformative Technology

For marketers, traditional AI has been a valuable tool for many years. Customer data platforms (CDPs) powered by AI, for instance, provide users with the ability to comprehend the wants and preferences of numerous individuals on a personalized level. 

Marketers find the latest form of AI intriguing as it transforms how they create digital experiences, and many are already embracing this transformative shift.

  • 96% of respondents reported a high return on investment for their organization's AI technology.
  • 96% of individuals are currently utilizing generative AI for content creation.
  • 96%, have a positive outlook on the potential for efficiency gains.
  • 97% of people hold a positive outlook on the ability to achieve gains in creativity.
  • Approximately 97% express optimism about the potential of AI to enhance customer service through faster interactions with chatbots and improved content generated by AI. 

However, despite the excitement, many marketers are aware that there is still much they do not understand about AI.

39% of individuals cite "understanding how to use AI" as one of their major martech or digital experience challenges. Furthermore, 88% express concerns about the potential effects on privacy or security when employing AI in marketing.

Another obstacle that needs to be addressed is getting consumers to embrace AI-powered CX. It is worth noting that only 48% of consumers express a preference for using a chatbot on a brand's website to find answers to their queries.

Consumer attitudes towards this technology seem to differ somewhat based on age. Among Gen Z respondents, 62% express a liking for AI chatbots, while the percentage steadily declines to 57% for Millennials, 42% for Gen X, and even lower for Baby Boomers, at 29%.

AI tools offer the potential to increase content creation efficiency and deliver new digital experiences. It is important for marketers to ensure that the content and experiences align with the brand's essence and maintain a carefully coordinated user experience.

Balancing Successes and Challenges in Customer Journey Creation

In marketing technology (Martech) and digital experiences, organizations face challenges and successes. A significant challenge for 43% of marketers is collaborating effectively with other internal teams to create these digital experiences. This issue underscores the complexity and cross-functional nature of digital marketing efforts.

On the success front, a striking 98% of businesses report their ability to deliver a consistent customer experience across various channels, such as websites, mobile sites, call centers, and emails. This consistency is crucial, as 79% of consumers expect brands to maintain a uniform message and appearance across all digital platforms.

There's also positive progress in the autonomy of marketers in creating digital customer experiences.

 Currently, 37% of marketers can create digital CX without heavily relying on IT support, a notable increase from 25% in 2022. This shift is likely due to the adoption of low-code or no-code tools, which offer easy-to-use interfaces for building campaigns and updating websites, thereby streamlining these tasks.

Despite these advancements, there are still hurdles in content production. Much like the previous year, 78% of marketers face challenges in creating content that can be effectively disseminated across all their digital platforms simultaneously. This issue highlights a persistent gap in content strategy and distribution within digital marketing.

Human-Centric Digital Experiences: Prioritizing Needs and Preferences

Only 63% of companies with revenues exceeding $500 million prioritize accessibility.

Creating digital experiences that are designed for everyone to use, regardless of their abilities, is essential both for meeting standards and compliance requirements and for adding tangible business value.

According to the World Health Organization, in 2023, approximately 16% of the global population is estimated to live with a disability. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that at least one million people are blind. Designing inclusive experiences can enhance brand interactions and contribute to improvements in conversions and engagement.

Marketers may have varying opinions on their ability to create digital experiences for all users. According to a survey, 68% of marketers in the U.S., 64% in Australia, and 40% in the U.K. consider accessibility a top priority. The remaining respondents aim to make their experiences accessible whenever possible, suggesting a potential approach for marketers to engage with customers and users.

Building Trust for Efficient Digital Experiences

Should we expect the full elimination of third-party cookies in 2024?

Consumers, who spend an average of three hours a day browsing websites, seem to be ready to say goodbye to browsing websites for months instead of years. 76% of individuals anticipate that their data will become more private when web browsers no longer track users with third-party cookies. Furthermore, 66% of consumers express frustration when brands appear suddenly and market towards them based on their online search activity for similar or related brands.

Marketers recognize the growing importance of first-party data in creating a personalized customer experience. It is widely accepted that this owned data can offer valuable insights to enhance understanding. Target audiences can be defined by their specific interests, preferred channels, and previous purchases.

93% of marketers believe that collecting first-party data has become increasingly important for their organization compared to two years ago. There is an ongoing debate about whether personalization is widely accepted. According to a survey, only 58% of consumers report enjoying when brands show knowledge of their interests or preferences.

Consumers also express concerns regarding the security of the personal data they share. A survey found that only 17% of respondents trust that their data is "very secure" when inputting it into organizations' digital platforms.

Marketers maintain a positive outlook on their responsibility to protect data. Approximately 84% believe that their customers have increased trust in their organization's handling of personal data compared to last year. This finding has remained relatively stable since 2021.

However, consumers have consistently expressed a lack of trust in brands' ability to handle their personal data, with only 56% stating that they trust all brands to do so properly. This lack of trust is not a recent development, as this finding has remained consistent since 2021.

Summary and Takeaways

Currently, there is a wide range of tools and platforms accessible to CX professionals. Many marketers continue to face challenges in delivering efficient digital experiences that maintain brand consistency and appropriate data governance, especially in today's dynamic environment.

Maximizing the value of your martech stack can be achieved through consolidation and integration. Integration of connected solutions can enhance the customer journey, and it is recommended to seek open, interoperable platforms for the best results from all solutions.

Consider the following in relation to:

  • Does your organization have a strategic alignment that aligns business outcomes and digital experience goals with the necessary talent to effectively deliver a productive customer journey?
  • Can you use relevant data to make informed decisions, attribute outcomes, improve discoverability, and track performance in a compliant digital environment?
  • Have you established brand governance by implementing an omnichannel content strategy, structure, and lifecycle to facilitate the development and management of the digital experience?
  • Have you identified the necessary martech capabilities for an optimized, accessible, and secure digital experience?
  • Do you have a set of procedures and operations that can be repeated to ensure each stage of an experience lifecycle is realized?

 

Photo credit: Unsplash

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