As emerging innovations continue to change the way brands engage with and build relationships with their customers, it’s critical to stay  at the forefront of these trends. Early adoption and application can be a differentiator for brands looking to gain the competitive advantage.

As we head further into 2017, many businesses are evaluating which new technologies will be the best investments and aid in attaining their goals for the year. Whether you’re marketing one local business, or hundreds, you’ll be able to adapt some of these trends in a way that adds value to both your customers and your bottom line.

Download the Full Report: 2017 Trends Playbook

2017 Trend #1: Evolving Customer Lifecycle

The first of the five biggest trends we’re expecting this year for local marketing is understanding and finding new opportunities in the evolving customer lifecycle. In the digital age, the marketing funnel is expanding across multiple touchpoints to move prospects to a transaction.

With a majority prospective customers conducting online research and reading reviews on artificial intelligence trendspopular sites like Yelp, HomeAdvisor, and Google, due diligence is being performed more frequently prior to purchasing than in the past. Utilizing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy is the key to keeping leads engaged across these necessary touchpoints via email, text messages, social media, direct mail, review sites, directories and more.

And the task of ensuring they remain engaged and your business is top-of-mind continues, even after you’ve converted a new customer. Consumers have become disenchanted with traditional loyalty programs as well. While this (in tandem with other consumer trends, such as showrooming) have caused some alarmists to declare the death of customer loyalty, altogether, we maintain that the approach to such initiatives must also be reconfigured for the modern consumer.

Instead of tired punch cards and small rewards, customers are in search of a brand who will make them feel like a VIP. From added convenience and an increase in perceived value, getting creative in your loyalty program will yield great returns. Remember that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to sell to an existing, and that a bulk of your revenue comes from an existing customer base. Additionally, 87% of consumers report wanting a loyalty program, and still others refuse to be loyal to a brand if they lack a program to reward them. With Starbucks and Sephora as popular examples of bar raisers, use these innovative models as templates when leveling up in 2017.

For the full playbook, including data on customer acquisition, engagement and retention, as well as ideas for businesses of any size to put these trends into action, download the free playbook, now!