2020 in review: From hype cycle to lifecycle

Did you know that we launched four major platform releases this year? We've put a lot of work into the development of our platform, delivering more value for all our customers. In case 2020 feels like a blur, here’s what you need to know…

Well, it’s been quite the year. And one that probably needs no introduction as I’m sure we’ll all gladly wave ‘Goodbye’ to 2020 and ‘Hello’ to a more hopeful 2021. 

Whilst there are a lot of things about this year we’d rather forget, there are some things that are worth highlighting. 

Year of digital converts

2020 is the year that the ‘late majority’ became fully-fledged digital converts. With many countries asking their citizens to stay at home or minimize their travel, consumers who previously shopped in store or preferred to access services in person, found they had little choice but to give the internet a go. All age groups have seen an increase in the frequency with which they shop online, too. This increase is strongest with the under 35s, of which 62% now shop online once a week or more, versus 48% last year. 

With our places of interest shifting online, so have our expectations and habits. Google reports that ‘live chat’ and ‘online classes’, amongst many other service related terms, have seen an increased search interest across the world. So, many businesses and organisations delivering events and services have found themselves testing fresh creative formats.

From a MarTech standpoint, it’s been a very interesting year too. Many marketing terms that you’d have seen in a game of buzzword bingo last year are now displaying adulting behavior, and have made their way into our day-to-day conversations and actions. Of course, I’m talking about terms like actionable analytics, CX (customer experience), machine learning, retention marketing, scalability, and so many more. 

Still sound fluffy? Let me try to unpick my top three and explain how our customers have used some of the latest and greatest features in dotdigital Engagement Cloud to accelerate their way up the (here’s another for you!) digital maturity curve.

Actionable analytics

Since its initial launch in 2019, Commerce Intelligence and RFM persona modelling in dotdigital Engagement Cloud has surfaced a wealth of online purchases and persona insights. Grouping different customers into meaningful personas means you can send messages and offers that will help them graduate to the next level of loyalty. 

Earlier this year, we made it easier to create segments directly from these dashboards, as and when you spot a cohort of customers you want to retarget with a particular campaign, for example. Bringing these personas into segment builder lets you overlay other attributes and create incredibly refined target groups. What’s more, persona groups are mutually exclusive, so you don’t have to worry if some of last month’s customers that needed nurturing are now high potentials and ready for a different message. 

In addition to this, we’ve introduced a dedicated dashboard where you can track what’s happening with your abandoned carts. Learning from your shoppers behavior and fine-tuning your tactics accordingly can have a huge impact on your bottom line. We analyzed 9.2 million carts and found that cart abandonment campaigns recovered $245 million in otherwise lost revenue this year alone; you can read the full report here


Artificial Intelligence

AI, machine learning, deep learning, predictive analytics. This topic corners an entire space in the ‘buzzword’ lexicon on its own! But not for long… Econsultancy concurs that some of the greatest challenges businesses have with AI implementation for marketing include: having access to the right data; not knowing what AI can do for your business in real terms; and (this one’s based on market feedback we’ve received) a worry that there is no control over AI output or no visibility of what that output even is. 

If you’re already using our predictive recommendations (now accessible via a shiny UI that helps you match the right product recommendation type to the appropriate stage of the customer lifecycle), you’ll know that you can use ‘best next’ and overlay it with rules in segment builder. ‘Best next’ uses what is called collaborative filtering to, based on order behavior of similar shoppers, predict which products that individual is likely to purchase next. This is great, but sometimes you want additional control to exclude products from particular brands or categories in support of your latest campaign, for example. Many customers using predictive recommendations were asking us “How can I understand it?” and “What’s the AI doing?”, to help with this we launched affinity scores in October this year. You can find out more in this Q&A with Principle Product Manager Ian Pollard and resident Data Scientist Sam Crawley.

CX

As mentioned above, Google reports that ‘live chat’ and ‘online classes’, amongst many other service related terms, have seen an increased search interest across the world. In an increasingly digital and remote world, consumers are seeking and expecting more personal experiences with the brands they love.

Live chat is traditionally a great way to handle after-sales and support queries, but we believe there is more in store for marketers and consumers alike, too. This year we’ve upgraded dotdigital Engagement Cloud Chat in more ways than one, so brands can be as helpful pre-sale as they would be after one. This includes things like:

  • Multi-team support
  • Agent insights including browse behavior history
  • Forms in chat for easier acquisition
  • Translation support and enhanced email and browser notifictions

Another great way to deliver experiences that stand out from the inbox this year is with interactive email, powered by AMP. It’s a major update to a much-loved channel that’s close to our hearts. Our Head of Product Management, Michael Duxbury, explains more in his blog post

Is that it?

From all-new program reporting to SMS enhancements, a better way with transactional emails and upgrades to our Dynamics 365 CRM integration, there’s a ton more that we’ve delivered that I couldn’t possibly cover in one blog post alone. To ensure you always receive updates about our platform, make sure your preferences are up to date by signing up to product updates here.

And don’t worry if you don’t feel you’re quite up to speed with any of the above just yet. Our incredible customer success and support teams are on-hand to deliver the five-star experience we hope you have come to expect of us. So, do reach out if you want any more information on any of the above.

Next year is jam-packed with more platform enhancements and features that even the most seasoned of marketers should get excited about. For a sneak peak, remember you can always check out our roadmap here

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