We're already two months into 2018, so this isn't one of those new year crystal ball prediction blogs. Let's all agree to leave those in the rearview for at least another 10 months! Even still, there's a steady stream of buzz-worthy content on game-changing mega tech trends with exponentially increasing rates of adoption (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality). Just as we witnessed with the ubiquity of Moneyball data-driven management philosophies, tech-enabled business strategies have gradually become absorbed beyond Fortune 500 boardrooms and into the mainstream business economy.

Chief among these in 2018 is the "Customer Experience", a holistic 360-degree understanding of customers' interactions (customer call logs, chats, email, surveys, social). Via Salesforce, below are a few compelling findings from recently published surveys of marketing industry professionals:      

  • 91% of respondents feel that customer journeys connected across all touchpoints and channels positively impact customer loyalty. 89% feel that positively impacts on revenue growth
  • 92% of professional marketers will use marketing analytics by 2019, and…
  • 91% will use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system

'Customer Experience' Search Term Trending: 2013-Present

(Data above represents search interest relative to highest point over the time range, measuring peak popularity via Google Trends)

While all of this customer obsession has been pursued relentlessly, evangelized, and perfected by kingpins like Amazon, it has also perpetuated two giant myths:

  1. Customer analytics is really only for large enterprise companies
  2. Any investment in proper analytics requires resources that smaller businesses just can't afford: People, expertise, budget, and, most of all, time

Many small business owners have convinced themselves that these myths are absolute truths, and that advanced analytics are out of reach. And, maybe equally troubling, these myths have taken hold among builders of analytics, who tend to focus their products on enterprise needs rather than the small business user. However, the truth is that data-driven culture is spreading across the entire business landscape and SMBs proved to be the fastest growing segment of analytics adopters in 2017, three times faster than large enterprise businesses.

Usage of ThriveHive's Guided Marketing Platform features and analytics has seen similar growth among its small business user segment. Since 2015, the number of customers using email marketing has increased by about 50% and the average number of recipients for those emails has doubled. The platform offers a suite of analytics on the results of these email campaigns, which may be the reason for higher open rates than industry standards.  Other services offered by the platform have also seen increased adoption among our small business population and each channel is associated with increased customer engagement.  

There are definite challenges to overcome in terms of time and resources. Many small business owners are very busy running the day-to-day of their business and may feel overwhelmed by the challenges of marketing and analysis. But, tools like the Guided Marketing Platform are able to surface some of the insights they'd otherwise need extensive time and resources to leverage. And, when these insights are available, small business owners do act on them and do find increased engagement through improved Customer Experience.