The world is changing and with it, consumers’ expectations of experiences and communication from brands. The paradigm for customer engagement is shifting from large, monolithic experiences that serve everyone to smaller, more contextual experiences served to consumers in just the moment they need them. Marketers must adopt the right strategy, operational best practices and technology to win, serve and retain customers in this new environment.

Brands aren’t equipped to meet customers’ expectations today. Emerging technologies and shifting cultural norms fuel consumers’ escalating expectations of experiences and interactions with brands. On one hand the number of devices or touchpoints brands have with consumers is proliferating. On the other, the notion of channels is increasingly irrelevant because consumers expect seamless and intuitive access to content, communications, and services across these touchpoints. At the same time, a handful of large companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are tightening their chokehold on consumers’ moments as measured by both time and data which limits brands’ access to their own customers.

The battleground for customers today is in their moments, but most brands will fall short. What challenges do brands face today? The list is long, but here is a start. Brands are inhibited by structural limitations (i.e., they treat mobile as a channel, fail to treat mobile with the urgency or importance it demands), still target large groups of customers based on demographic information and past purchases – not real time context, and do not leverage enough data or insights. Moreover, if brands don’t use technology to automate, they will fail. As a result, they are falling further and further behind in the race to keep pace with customer expectations.

Experiences are evolving along five core dimensions:

  1. Channel – the vehicle used to deliver the experience or content
  2. Context – the sum of everything a brand knows about a customer
  3. Construction – how experiences are built
  4. Consumer – who brands target
  5. Content – the payload or what service or content is offered to customers

Brands can get started on modernizing their marketing stack by focusing on notifications. Forrester believes that future digital or mobile experiences will assemble content or services dynamically, based on real time context, and push them out to consumers in the appropriate channel, location and device. Today, notifications right-size experiences and push them out proactively when a customer needs them in his or her moments. Mastering notifications will help you start your journey towards modernizing all your digital experiences.

New strategies alone will fail. Brands must also adopt operational best practices. Among other things, they must dedicate product managers to mobile messaging, use agile practices to test and learn, orchestrate communication across and among channels and use customer-centric KPIs to steer programs towards experiences that customers will find convenient.

And finally they will need to modernize their marketing stack. Marketers cannot continue to bolt on new tech silos with each new technology or channel. There will simply be too many. Marketers can’t buy everything they need today, but they should begin transforming their architecture in tandem with firms’ strategic and operational maturity in four phases married to the development of moments. These include a contextual data foundation, unified orchestration, marketing within every customer interaction, and atomized contextual marketing.

Ready to to tackle the challenge head-on? Our latest report offers a deep dive into channel-specific marketing tech stacks available to marketers and how they can begin to evolve their marketing strategy and technology to serve customers in their defining moments.