The new customer experience includes the metaverse: what brands need to know

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Mastering the capabilities to deliver a superior customer experience online and in-app has always been essential. But in a world impacted by lockdowns, global events and rapid changes — plus a marketplace where identifiers are disappearing as a result of Apple’s iOS 14 and Google’s imminent removal of third-party cookies — you’ve got a perfect storm of conditions for a paradigm shift in personalization.

Personalization becomes individualization, marketing and messaging become a value exchange, and everything is highly customer-centric.

Against this backdrop, brands and businesses need to deliver marketing and messaging that is personal, relevant and helpful every step of the customer journey. To complicate matters, there is not just one customer journey. There are multitudes, and they are defined by nuances in how and where customers enter the funnel.

Making that match requires marketing expertise and marketing automation. Now it asks for much more than that. Not only do marketers need to make that match accurately, but they also need to do it in real time, and in a reality where the definition of omnichannel now encompasses the metaverse. Marketers must be daring and willing to literally push the boundaries. Why? Because they have to do more with less in a world without borders.

The current marketing landscape is fenced off by privacy regulations and limited third-party data. Marketers must forgo what little third-party data they have while complying with the GDPR and CCPA. Without identifiers and tracking, performance marketing is flawed.

It costs more to acquire customers, which is why retaining them is more valuable than ever. It’s a new dynamic that is pushing retention marketing to the top of the business agenda, especially as consumer expectations of personalization are always high. Recent research from McKinsey shows that 71% of consumers expect companies to provide personalized experiences. When brands don’t do this, the majority of consumers get frustrated.

Customer frustration in the next normal period is a serious threat, as a majority of shoppers have switched brands or products during the pandemic – and plan to maintain that shopping behavior (and loss of loyalty) into the future. With this unprecedented shift in brand loyalty, customer retention is imperative.

To make matters worse, marketers must find their voice and place in the experience economy and architectural strategies to excel in a new playing field: the metaverse. From mobile-digital online lifestyle events and esports tournaments that attract millions of consumers and billions of interactions to groundbreaking brand partnerships that deliver a new kind of experience, the signs of a seismic shift are everywhere.

The metaverse is a new marketplace where retention marketers excel. It’s here that “manipulated serendipity” and the ability to interact with customers separates the leaders from the losers.

Engineered serendipity is the concept that the ultimate ‘macro’ result – be it luck, innovation or conversions – is the result of thousands of micro-actions. In marketing terms, it’s all about spotting those micro opportunities and acting on them at the right time, with the right content, to create a happily unexpected macro experience that makes users happy. These are the experiences that keep customers and lead to better brand perception, profit and engagement.

These experiences make customers feel that a company “understands” them, increasing the likelihood that they will say “yes” to suggested content and products later. Positive customer experiences increase customer satisfaction by 20% and conversion rates by 10% to 15%, while also reducing sales and marketing costs by 10% to 20%. Overall, a 5% increase in customer retention leads to a 25% to 95% increase in profits.

Engineered serendipity thrives in the metaverse as long as marketers seize the moment. It’s here that marketers should encourage discovery and put customers in charge of their experiences. Marketers need to be able to view and act on customer data in real time, and with the right technology, they can.

Four keys to success

As the metaverse becomes ubiquitous, brands and marketers must deliver hyper-personalization without data. Experiences must be driven by insights into individual behavior, allowing manipulated serendipity to take place on a large scale. It is no longer enough to react to the behavior of many in the past; brands must respond to an individual’s behavior in this moment, in the present moment.

For retention marketers to succeed, winning requires:

The ability to view and act on customer data in real-time. With the right technology, brands can transform data collection from basic storage to actionable intelligence. An intelligent data layer enables brands to see customer activity and demographics in real time: what they buy, what they do, where they are and what device they are using. This enables brands to not only respond to an individual user in real time, but also build smart user characters and content in the future. The ability to capture and maintain customer interest. Detailed and real-time segmentation and personalization enable marketers to individualize experiences that closely reflect what customers value at a given moment. Platforms that combine real-time analytics, segmentation, and engagement functionality enable marketers to adapt to minute changes in customer preferences at any time, rather than hindsight. The ability to be genuine, authentic and helpful. To paraphrase Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar: marketing is serving, not just selling. It is about individualized engagement, informed by data and enhanced with humanity and empathy. For example, last summer Reebok launched a new mobile app that allowed kids sitting at home to set up large-scale basketball courts in their neighborhood, thanks to the power of augmented reality. The ability to turn the absence of identifiers into an opportunity for deeper engagement. To raise awareness of data privacy, marketers need to show and tell customers what is being done with their data. Fortunately, two-thirds of consumers are happy to share their data in exchange for something of value, be it discounts or a more customized experience. Savvy marketers will see Data Relationship Management (DRM) as an opportunity to deepen trust, rather than simply achieve compliance. Consent requests will evolve from dry legal language to language that is visible, understandable and recognizable. Brands can use videos to clearly articulate the value proposition of sharing personal data, building trust, reducing hesitation and encouraging customers to share the essential data that enables retention.

When you connect the dots, it becomes clear that the exact same trends that marked the demise of performance marketing are ushering in a new era in retention marketing. Real-time discovery and engineered serendipity enable marketers to deliver personalized experiences that are one:one, not one:many. Instead of making educated guesses and creating an experience based on macro-segmentation, micro-segmentation can make a customer feel uniquely understood – building the loyalty that drives retention and revenue

Abhishek Gupta is the CCO at CleverTap.

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