2016 was a momentous year to say the least. Worldwide, we witnessed events like Brexit that will go down in history books, we saw game-changing technologies finally enter the mainstream and we experienced shifts in how we do everything from communicate with one another to make purchases. And while these are all things that happened in 2016, we won’t see the full impact of them until we move deeper into 2017.

EMEA Market Trends: How 2016 Will Impact Expectations in 2017

The EMEA market is a perfect microcosm for how the notable events of 2016 will impact expectations in the year ahead. There are three market trends, in particular, that we can expect to see in both the B2B and B2C markets:

  1. Customer experience & personalization: The quality of the overall customer experience has become increasingly important over the past year, and this trend will continue into 2017. Additionally, customers will expect more and more personalization, which puts pressure on businesses to get more targeted, connected and data-oriented.
  2. Brand selection: In the year ahead, customers will become more selective about which brands they choose to engage. Specifically, as customers look for meaningful experiences, they’ll demonstrate preferences toward brands with a purpose as well as those that have proven themselves trustworthy. This trend makes it imperative for businesses to deliver unique and transparent content.
  3. Need fulfillment: Finally, we’ll see the “on demand” environment permeate all industries, with customers expecting more and better on demand fulfillment of their needs. To meet this expectation, businesses will have to know their customers, including their past, current and likely future needs as well as their preferences, more intimately than ever before.

Rising to the Occasion: 6 Ways EMEA Marketers Can Respond

As we look ahead to what 2017 has in store, it’s clear that we marketers have our work cut out for us. To respond to these growing demands for quality, personalized customer experiences, trustworthy, purposeful brands and on demand need fulfillment, marketers will need to:

  1. Recognize technology is everywhere: In 2017, new technology doesn’t just mean new developments in mobile or social, it means entirely new categories like artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR). And these new technologies, along with improvements to existing ones like mobile, have brought us to a point where technology is literally everywhere and embedded in everything we do. This ubiquity presents marketers with the opportunity to engage in more places and engage more often. However, to succeed in this new world, we need to make sure we use each channel in the right way and ensure connectivity across all of them to create a seamless experience.
  2. Know your customers better: The ubiquity of technology also gives us an opportunity to know our customers better, and this is an opportunity no marketer can afford to miss. In order to deliver the level of personalization customers now demand, we need to know our customers like the backs of our hands. This is where new categories of technology like AI and chatbots become tools for more than just customer engagement. These new technologies can also learn about customer needs and preferences and feed this information into marketing automation platforms to put together a more complete picture of our customers.
  3. Get more targeted: Just when you think you can’t get any more targeted, try again. From the rise of programmatic ads that make cross-device advertising and targeting possible to the use of deep learning technology in a variety of platforms, the opportunities to get uber-specific with individual customers are endless. Even social media presents new opportunities to get targeted, as this now “old” channel is reinventing itself from a brand megaphone to a home for one-to-one engagements.
  4. Be original with content: When we talk about content in 2017, we don’t just mean a blog post or a customer success story. To stand out among the deluge of information, you need to push the envelope with both the type of content you create and how you deliver it. For instance, consider how you can get creative and captivating with channel-exclusive content, videos and user-generated content. Additionally, it’s increasingly important that you pay attention to the overarching story your brand tells throughout its content, as the need to demonstrate purpose and trustworthiness has never been higher. The bottom line is, content is your chance to get truly creative, but you also need to make sure you balance that creativity with transparency, quality and scalability.
  5. Work smarter, not harder: Between tapping new channels, getting more targeted, creating more unique content and everything else, you’ll certainly have a full docket and then some. But the key in 2017 will be to work smarter, not harder. That’s because none of these new initiatives will succeed if you can’t put any automation or intelligence behind them. Specifically, you need to be able to track efforts across channels to maintain consistency, use automation to trigger real-time responses and review data to understand customer preferences and determine what’s working. To achieve this goal, you need a marketing automation platform that can keep up with your changing needs, and you need to make sure you’re using that platform properly to maximize its value.
  6. Make data your best friend: As creative as marketers need to be in 2017, we also need to rely on data. Going forward, data about our customers, our campaigns, our market, etc. must flow through everything we do. It’s this data, and with it the ability to automate activities, that will allow us to satisfy demands for increased personalization and on demand need fulfillment by providing the necessary intelligence to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time in the right place.

Bring on 2017

Trends for EMEA marketers

Yes, 2017 has high expectations. But with the right tools in your belt and the right strategy behind them, you can dive head first into the new year knowing full well that you can tackle anything it might throw your way.