New research from customer engagement platform Braze unveils macro trends within customer engagement that emerged in 2021, how customer engagement has evolved over the past year, and opportunities for improvement and growth for 2022.
“The events of the past two years have fundamentally altered the way customers approach brand relationships. The bar for consumer expectations is at an all-time high,” said Bill Magnuson, cofounder and CEO of Braze, in a news release. “For brands to rise to the occasion, they must focus on establishing a personal connection through customer engagement, and provide seamless communication across their preferred channels and platforms. Companies that fail to provide coordinated, cross-channel customer engagement strategies risk falling behind on business outcomes and revenue goals.”
The firm’s second annual Customer Engagement Review also breaks down findings across five different industries—financial services, health and wellness, media and entertainment, QSR and delivery, and retail and ecommerce—as well as regional breakouts for APAC, EMEA and the US. Each industry and regional breakout also features a case study from a leading Braze customer, including Public.com, PureGym, Peacock, The Coffee Club, Mercari, LinkAja, FREE NOW, and BEES.
The firm also released its latest Customer Engagement Index, a framework assessing brands in 12 competencies across two key axes—technology and teams—to put forward a model for best-in-class customer engagement. Each brand is then indexed on these factors and distributed across three maturity stages—Activate, Accelerate, and Ace. The index revealed overall positive momentum from last year, with many companies increasing their maturity and sophistication across all 12 customer engagement competencies.
Notable findings include:
Continued shift toward zero- and first-party data
Changes in the data landscape have forced brands to abandon third-party data, and to focus on creating impactful, relevant experiences through other means. To accommodate these changes, 96 percent of brands plan to increase their marketing budgets, 42 percent plan to boost how many channels they use, and 38 percent of companies plan to place a heavier emphasis on zero-party and first-party data in order to continue to target and engage audiences.
Data management becomes a top challenge
An increase in digital touchpoints provides businesses with valuable insights, but results in companies generating even more data as customers interact with new and varied touchpoints. While this data is integral to meeting customers’ wants and needs, our report found that it has become overwhelming for brands to manage, with 32 percent of brands ranking collecting, integrating, and managing data as its top concern for 2022. In fact, three of the four top concerns for brands this year are all about data and how to leverage it effectively.
Brand confidence in customer engagement abilities is growing, and it’s paying off
We have seen an increase in company confidence for customer engagement, with 94 percent of companies ranking their customer engagement as “excellent/good” vs. only 88 percent last year. There continues to be a correlation between the level of customer engagement a brand provides and revenue. Of the companies that ranked their customer engagement as “excellent/good,” 98 percent exceeded their revenue targets. Of those that didn’t, only 65 percent met their revenue goals.
The Braze Customer Engagement Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,500 Marketing Executives in markets with a minimum title of VP, working at B2C companies with an annual revenue of $10m+ across 14 countries: Australia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, UAE/Dubai, United Kingdom and the United States. The survey was conducted between October 27th and November 8th, 2021, using an email invitation and an online survey.