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Customer Experience & Digital Experience

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Customer Experience & Digital Experience


Marketers will be engaging with more customers in three-dimensional virtual spaces next year. As the virtual ecosystem evolves, it won’t be limited to a single technology or walled garden. The rush to produce 3D experiences for consumers is already underway and set to mature in the coming year.

Shubham A. Mishra, CEO and Co-Founder of codeless AI infrastructure tech company Pyxis One, calls out VR and AR as “next big things.”

“We are witnessing an increased pace of acquisitions of VR and AR startups, so it’s going to be interesting to see if, and how, brands incorporate AR into their marketing strategy,” Mishra said.

In 2021, the parent company formerly known as Facebook put all its weight behind a virtual reality experience for relationship building and customer engagement. They also rebranded their consumer Oculus VR headsets as Meta Quest

All the while, marketers who were well aware of the skyrocketing advertising rates on Facebook (Meta’s flagship social network) could see history repeating itself, as bricks were being laid for another walled garden, a virtual one which, instead of “metaverse,” could be more accurately described as a “Zuckerverse” after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

But what if the Facebook people don’t get to monopolize the VR ecosystem? What if, instead of one metaverse, there are many connected metaverses? This is how Tony Zhao, Co-Founder and CEO of video developer platform Agora, sees the virtual-scape shaping up next year.

“The way current metaverses are set up isolates each on their own digital island,” said Zhao. “But next year, real-time engagement technology will enable connectivity between metaverses and create a more connected and engaging experience for users. It will also reduce the barrier to entry by simplifying access to the metaverse to something as ubiquitous as a web browser.

Real-time engagement

Virtual and hybrid conferences are here to stay. What will keep virtual attendees connected in both virtual and real-world environments is real-time engagement (RTE).

Zhao sees RTE applying to a growing number of metaverses, gaming experiences and data transmissions.

“These industries will embrace RTE and extend its capabilities well into the future,” he said, adding that “early adopters of live and interactive video and audio are app developers and digital-first companies.”

As we saw in other areas of marketing technology in the last year, RTE is likely to get a boost from the low-code and no-code movement.

“In 2022, we will see more and more traditional enterprises adopting real-time engagement technology, thanks to the rise of no-code and low-code tooling,” said Zhao. “No-code and low-code tooling will empower enterprise agility, quicker development turnaround times, and accelerate business outcomes.

Virtual and in-person conference experiences

The Omicron variant that emerged at the end of 2021 indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a concern for in-person events, calling on digital solutions to keep customers engaged.

“As the pandemic continues, we will transform how events are consumed both in-person and virtually,” said Zhao.

He added, “More and more robots will traverse the conference floors providing ‘on-the-ground’ information and visuals to viewers around the world. Drones will stream information from above audiences, offering even greater real-time experiences, sending streams from above and on the floor to people all over the world who will participate with greater human-to-human connections than we’ve ever seen.”

Micro-communities

Human-to-human connections also proliferate in digital communities, and this has been the case since the earliest days of the web. Brands are discovering that smaller groups can make a bigger impact on individual consumers and build stronger engagements among micro-communities. This community building at the micro-level will grow stronger next year.

“Expect to see more brands build micro-communities around their products to offer consumers genuine and meaningful experiences in the virtual and real world,” said Philip Smolin, Chief Platform Officer for 100.co, a new AI-powered marketing platform focused on CPG brands. “This will foster a collaborative relationship between brands and customers. So, instead of spying on consumers through cookies, brands can simply ask consumers for feedback and offer them recommendations based on their likes and dislikes.”

According to Smolin, brands use digital engagement not just to provide easier discovery and buying options since they’re not just selling a product. “They’re successfully building a community of like-minded consumers…[and] this can even segue into the real world, where post-Covid consumers will crave more experiential events at stores and malls,” he explained.

A key feature of the new year’s customer engagement is that it won’t matter whether it’s online or out in the real world. The successful customer journey will always be underpinned by some kind of digital architecture.

Hard turn to mobile and text

For retail brands, digital technology increasingly will be used to unlock value from a brand’s physical store footprint.

“Don’t give up on brick-and-mortar just yet,” said Michael Osborne, President of messaging and notification engine Wunderkind. “Physical locations support online shopping habits by giving consumers the chance to touch products in real life. This can drive overall sales, even if stores themselves are not producing revenue.”

When shoppers are in-store, they still have their phones on them, and that’s where the mobile strategy becomes even more relevant to the customer experience.

“A mobile strategy has been proven to be more popular with consumers, to give immediate opportunity to pursue action (e.g., sending a product link via text),” Osborne said. “The accessibility to consumers while they are on-the-go is key to being able to market amidst active and busy consumer behaviors.”

He calls personalized texts and emails, which can be accessed by a shopper in-store or at-home, “the difference between a modern vs. a traditional marketing approach.”

Relevant messaging that uses the first-party data customers are sharing with a brand through purchases and other channels can boost ROI when they get a truly useful and personalized text. These mobile and SMS communications will only increase next year.

“Data based on consumer shopping habits and patterns help create tailored messaging for meaningful consumer-retailer engagement,” Osborne explained. “The need and use of tangible marketing metrics and measurable ROI to boost revenue pinpoint the categories consumers are more fond of, for individualized messaging.”

Changing of the guard

Marketers were working long hours last year in an effort to boost their SMS strategies. This sets the stage for a takeover in 2022, as digital non-native consumers have transformed their habits to digital and mobile-first.

“There is no doubt the pandemic accelerated digital adoption,” said Chris Bauserman, Vice President of Marketing for cloud-based experience platform NICE CXone. “In almost two years, non-digital natives have become more digitally fluent. And as such, demand for more digital customer service touchpoints that help these consumers and their specific needs has increased.”

Bauserman contends that in 2022, digital transformation will become generation-less.

“With more digital savvy consumers within all generational groupings, brands will be able to usher in a much larger digital component with both mobile and self-service finally able to take precedence,” Bauserman said.

About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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Native video tops social media in brand awareness study

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Native video tops social media in brand awareness study


Native video ads have a greater impact than video ads on social and video platforms, a new study from Kantar reported. The Multichannel Brand Impact study measured video ad effectiveness for brand goals in native environments against other environments.

Favorability. Participants in the study gave a favorable rating 59% of the time when exposed to a native video ad. That number dropped to 50% on social platforms and 51% in a video platform environment.

Source: Kantar Context Lab/Taboola.

Awareness. 33% of participants displayed top-of-mind awareness about a brand when shown a native video ad. This displayed a marked improvement over the control group, which only had 14% top-of-mind awareness.

When native video was combined with social video ads, the awareness climbed to 49%.

Impact of native ads. Taboola, which sells content discovery and native advertising products, sponsored the study.

“With industry estimates indicating that video advertising in the U.S. will reach nearly $50B this year, brands have a lot of opportunities to influence customers, as long as they’re choosing the right platforms and mix of platforms to relay their messages,” said Taboola CEO and founder Adam Singolda, in a company release.

Read next: Taboola acquires Connexity

Why we care. Social media is where consumers receive word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends. Still a potent source of brand impact for marketers. But social is also a highly contentious space for politics and other turnoffs. It’s not the ace in the hole it once was, and should be complemented with other native environments in a digital video campaign.


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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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Worsening economy has more shoppers getting online info before making in-store purchases

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Worsening economy has more shoppers getting online info before making in-store purchases


Summer’s here and the shoppers are wary. Consumer spending increased in May, but only by 0.2%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This explains why 76% of U.S. shoppers are searching online for reviews and better prices before buying in store, according to a new Adobe Commerce study of sentiment among over 1,000 U.S. consumers. Also, when they’re in a store 60% are using their phone to look for better prices elsewhere.

Another sign of the slowing economy: 24% say they won’t be able to take advantage of big summer holiday sales because they have less discretionary money to spend due to inflation and the higher cost of goods. 

Read next: Adobe: Online prices were up only 2% in May

On the good news side: 76% of those planning to participate in summer sales say they’ll spend more or the same amount as last year. And the motivation varies — more than half (56%) of consumers say they save money by shopping on Prime Day and other sales events, while others want to get ahead of their seasonal holiday (32%) and back-to-school shopping (23%).

However, most of those who intend to buy don’t believe big retailers’ promises of deeper discounts because of overstocking. Almost 65% expect discounts to be smaller than last year. 

Other findings:

  • 61% said receiving personalized promotions or recommendations will make them more likely to make a purchase.
  • 43% said they are more likely to purchase from a retailer that offers buy now, pay later.
  • 72% want the online purchases delivered the same day or via two-day shipping.
  • 50% are now more likely to make retail purchases on their phones, 26% prefer in-store shopping and 24% prefer shopping via their computer
  • 57% search for and buy products online if they can’t find them in stores.
Categories for which consumers report using buy now, purchase later.

Why we care. Inflation and higher interest rates are, as expected, taking an increased toll on consumer spending. That makes marketing more important than ever, via activities like personalization and customer experience. That should also include offering payment options like buy now, pay later. People are used to putting everything on a credit card, but interest rates are making that less attractive to them.


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About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.



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Getting Started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Building a Marketing Backlog

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Freeing agile marketing from its software development roots


We recently introduced you to Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers in the article A new way to navigate agile marketing. The navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation. In recent articles, we covered the pieces in the first stop of the navigator, the Collaborative Planning Workshop.

Now we’re going to dive into the next stop on your agile marketing journey — the Launch Cycle. The Launch Cycle is a repeatable cadence for delivering valuable marketing experiences early and often. Within the Launch Cycle there are five key components — Marketing Backlog, Cycle Planning, Daily Huddle, Team Showcase and Team Improvement. If you’re familiar with the Scrum framework, there are a lot of similarities here — with a few different nuances to make it more applicable to marketers.

Building and managing an effective Marketing Backlog

Now, let’s dive into the Marketing Backlog and some tips and tricks for marketers to be most effective. 

The Marketing Backlog is an ordered list of prioritized work that the agile team will pull from to work on in their Launch Cycle. The backlog is emergent, not static, and changes as new information is learned. 

This part of the framework is incredibly important and can have a major impact on how marketers work. First of all, there’s one shared place where all work lives. This avoids work happening “behind the scenes” that no one knows about.

In fact, one client that I worked with took all of the work that was already assigned to stakeholders, put it in a single backlog and realized that it would take five years to deliver! It’s with this level of transparency that teams and leaders can begin to visualize everything the team is doing and start to really understand what’s important and what may just be someone’s pet project.

There are many tools for managing your marketing backlog and they all have their pros and cons. The main thing to watch out for is ensuring that everyone on the team, as well as stakeholders have access. We want to build a transparent system.

If you’ve started with the Collaborative Planning Workshop, you’ve already begun to build out the Marketing Backlog. The items in your Minimally Viable Launch will go near the top, and other items will fall below. Work is never guaranteed until the team starts working on it, and even then sound business reasons could cause them to pivot, although that shouldn’t be the norm.

Prioritizing the backlog is one of the key responsibilities of the Marketing Owner. While they don’t do this in a vacuum and conversations with stakeholders are imperative, this role has the ultimate authority to decide what order the team will work on and which items won’t be considered (there are always way more good ideas than time).

The role of the Marketing Owner

The Marketing Owner needs to really understand the business value that each idea brings. Each marketing backlog should be thought of in terms of:

  • Level of effort it will take the team to complete (let’s face it — all things aren’t created equal. Building a Tesla may take longer than a base model Honda, so think through marketing ideas as well).
  • What value does it bring to customers? Joy? Satisfaction? Solves a problem? Addresses a cause?
  • What will the business gain from this idea, and how does it tie to business goals, KPIs and revenue?

Stakeholders, customers and team members should all be thinking about new ideas all of the time and everyone is invited to submit ideas to the backlog. However, it’s at the Marketing Owner’s discretion to decide which ideas will be worked on by the team and when.


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Work should never be directly assigned to a team member in agile marketing. It should be submitted to the backlog or discussed with the marketing owner as it needs to be visible and prioritized among everything else.

In agile marketing, backlog items should be used to test and learn and are thought of as micro-experiments, rather than large campaign blasts. 

While a backlog item may be for a post on Facebook, the team should be thinking in terms of testing elements, such as content. If the content is successful, similar content pieces would be on the backlog. However, if the content doesn’t perform well, the team would want to think of new backlog items with different content.


agile marketing workflow

Catch up on the Agile Marketing Navigator series!


The backlog may contain some business as usual items to keep the lights on, but the majority of items should be small, testable experiments that can quickly get to customers for real-time feedback.

If you haven’t started a marketing backlog yet, what are you waiting for?


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”



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