Customer behavior around the world has changed at an unprecedented pace. Digitisation has empowered consumers more than before. Device interconnectedness has enabled better customer interaction with businesses—online or offline, on the go, or at home. Today, the buyer dominates the seller. With more customers shopping online, e-commerce sales are expected to reach a whopping $3.5 trillion within the next five years globally.
Customers today are adopting the digital platform at a pace faster than businesses. The buying process has morphed from “push” to “pull,” and it is imperative that marketers find new ways to reach buyers and get noticed over the clutter without being intrusive. It is equally important that business delivers a consistent and effective message to customers across different platforms—newspaper, billboard, chat, email, and digital—before the competition does.
Connect with customers on social media The availability of more effective digital platforms has opened up opportunities for businesses. Organisations have to deliver the message consistently across different platforms at a pace the customers demand. Also, an important factor that helps businesses position themselves across platforms is content. For instance, a blog or a product video has more scope to attract customers than newspaper ads or hoardings. A huge 2.35 billion users worldwide spend an average of two hours daily on the social media.
Social media helps businesses to connect with and support customers, along with building their brand identity in a unique and impactful manner. In simple terms, customers are engaged on the social media for more than research and entertainment. Twitter and Facebook offer customers a direct feedback mechanism that assist businesses in customizing their offerings and provide a much larger reach at lower costs. For businesses, their website and social media engagements are the hub of their marketing strategies and showcase their digital presence.
But does this engagement work for or against the business? Is this process helping to drive visitors to the website? Are they becoming prospects for leads? Here, the importance of the message, coupled with its focus, becomes paramount, apart from how enhanced and efficient is the website. The aim should be to have real-time, effective, and responsive engagement with customers on the social media.
Deploy analytics for the right engagement
A digital platform is highly effective in terms of reach, and can also be managed using advanced analytics to track customer activity at each step of the sales process. They can also be effectively managed using advanced analytical such as machine learning, customer sentiment analysis, and customer cross-channel interaction analytics.
Digital platforms help in understanding customer requirements, their buying behavior and preferred channels, the placement of content, and in tracking and measuring sales conversion metrics. Real-time analytics helps businesses track and predict customers’ purchasing behavior consistently. But the question is, how do organizations use analytics to know customer preferences?
Cross-channel analytics or a 360-degree view of customer interactions provides information on what transaction is performed over what channel by different customer segments. An obvious example is that Gen Y prefers to buy online, while the baby boomers prefer a retail store. Therefore, information about customer interactions obtained through machine learning enables organizations to provide relevant content in the preferred channel at an appropriate time to enable customers make wiser, faster decisions.
Develop right messaging to nurture leads
The challenge for an organization is to remove any existing silos across businesses and drive a digital strategy at the organizational level. Attracting customers with the right content through websites, social networks, and blogs helps to nurture and convert them to be your brand ambassadors. Today’s CMOs are looking to increase the quality of leads their marketing programs generate. Businesses spend on outbound marketing on their websites and social sites, but the challenge is to convert traffic into leads.
This is where lead nurturing becomes key to business. To enhance lead generation, organisations can measure close rate of the leads generated and the number of iterations it takes to close them. Analyzing these data points provide insights on customer buying behavior and customer preference and customer sentiments by customer segments. Lead nurturing increases lead-to-opportunity conversion rate, drives revenue, and shortens sales cycles—it is about finding the right buyers at the right time.
It is therefore imperative to develop a relationship to cut through the noise. Not all leads that go to sales are ready to buy, so organizations should have an effective lead nurturing strategy to build awareness and affinity for your brand, while your prospect is self-educating on the digital channel. Businesses should analyze negative responses versus positive, and manage the feedback in a structured manner to make use of social media effectively.
Organizations with the first-mover advantage over competitors and a cutting-edge digital strategy deploy analytics to understand the demographics and preference of the customers to drive sales. The key to success lies in ensuring that businesses, while conveying their messages to customers, do not place roadblocks on key opportunities. Nothing is more satisfying for businesses than to have a potential customer find them, review their product offering, convert leads into revenue, and become a satisfied customer eventually.
The traditional methods of sales are no longer appropriate. Companies that transform at the earliest by adopting and implementing marketing strategies through digital channels will be well-positioned for the future; else they are bound to lose their market share quickly. Driving the digital strategy is no longer a luxury, but an inevitability that businesses cannot afford to overlook.
- By Pichappan Pethachi, Senior Director, Digital Services
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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