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Continuing with our exploration of the top digital marketing trends for 2016, today we’ll be focusing on the concept of customer experience. As I share in this year’s report, customer experience is becoming increasingly important to online business. The focus on customer experience is becoming increasingly dimensional, with more and more retailers attempting to create 360 degree interactive experiences in their marketing.

For large brands, this trend focuses on “webrooming”- the idea of creating an online experience similar to a live showroom- where the customer can interact with the product and feel what it would be like to have this product in their daily life. A lot of money is being spent on creating “as if” experiences for customers.

For smaller brands and smaller businesses, our goal in creating high value customer experience will run more along the lines of providing relevant and specific value, and seeking to build relationships before we ask for the sale.

The modern consumer is savvy, skeptical, and good at research. They are slower to spend money, in general, and more likely to search multiple sources before making a purchase. So the idea, now, is not necessarily to move someone to a sale right away (though if you can, responsibly, then, of course, do that), but the idea now is more to create the the next talking point- to have a “right” to continue the conversation.

In 2016, the goal will be to have as many ongoing and deepening client conversations as you can, with more focus on keeping the dialogue open and flowing. The most assertive marketers will forego the initial, early sale in order to build higher degrees of relationship and satisfaction before moving to financial transactions.

For the small business owner, this is a good time to review our marketing approaches and see how we can make better use of marketing automation and available technologies to create high touch, high value interactions with more and more specificity. The goal of our marketing will move towards increasingly specific, targeted conversations, and technology can help us manage these conversations thoughtfully and with greater ease.

This is an excellent time to review our client conversational flows and adjust them to create greater value, greater relevancy, and even more specificity as we proceed. Look for ways to increase client contact and delight, consistently and thoughtfully.

While new client acquisition is important, client retention remains one of the most profitable areas for all small businesses to focus on in 2016. So delight all your customers, and do what you can to retain them over the long term.

Get the full report with all 9 digital marketing trends for 2016: