- With customer interactions pushed to digital channels, marketers need to adapt.
- In-person customer experiences carry an unparalleled level of personalization and engagement that marketers are striving to replicate over digital channels.
- A company’s digital transformation plan needs to be unified and keep customers in mind at each step.
- By focusing on engagement and rethinking digital experiences, marketers can successfully and seamlessly pivot their organizations to digital channels without skipping a beat.
For years, marketers have worked to build best-in-class customer experiences based on the most effective channels for their unique brand and audience. But now that most customer interactions have been pushed to the web and mobile, marketers are scrambling to translate in-person experiences to crowded digital channels where competition has heightened.
The digital adoption curve is steep, pushing marketers to adapt or risk losing customers.
But simply going digital isn’t enough: Marketers must mirror the levels of personalization provided in physical locations across digital devices — seamlessly and efficiently.
On top of that, true transformation requires more than a change in appearance. Marketers must embrace a holistic digital mindset, both externally and internally, by deploying virtual branches of business.
Pivoting the customer journey
In industries from banking to retail, today’s customers expect highly engaging buyer experiences — whether they’re at home or in a store.
Expectations have shifted so much that marketers must now re-examine and update the entire customer journey and explore every touchpoint in the customer experience, adapting each one to mimic the high-touch engagement of in-person interactions.
Major retailers like Target were not only better digitally prepared for COVID-19 than most, they also successfully pivoted strategies during the pandemic. A major key to Target’s success is its customer app, which effectively aligns with consumer behavior, enabling continuous engagement throughout the customer journey.
The app integrates naturally into a user’s daily life, making it almost addictive to return for additional purchases. Target carries this effortless experience throughout the customer journey with multiple options to receive products, from delivery to buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) — all in one app.
Combined with a strong personalized loyalty program and mobile strategy, Target was already well-positioned to provide critical digital experiences at the outset of the pandemic.
But the retailer didn’t stop there. After the coronavirus outbreak, Target shifted their in-store experiences to digital, setting up employees to fulfill online orders.
This strategy enabled Target to maintain sales during the pandemic — and even achieve sales targets they didn’t expect to hit for another three years. As a result, the company established itself as a top brand in the age of COVID-19.
These positive, seamless experiences with customers earn Target more brand consciousness — the familiarity and value consumers place in your brand. It includes everything from your first touch (likely your name and logo) to your last (hopefully a seamless purchase and delivery).
The more customers engage with your brand identity, the more likely they are to associate positive experiences with your brand. And the more digital channels you activate, the wider your reach and the greater your brand consciousness.
Increasing brand consciousness encourages consumers to be more active participants in the shopping experience, but also requires you to deliver a compelling digital channel that keeps their attention and responds to their needs.
While Target’s success might feel intimidating, brands just now entering e-commerce can follow their lead by implementing consumer-first applications that accurately match natural human behavior. But remember: External apps are just one component of successful digital transformation. Too often, these initiatives fail without holistic changes to internal processes.
Translating in-store experiences to digital landscapes
While the consumer-facing component of your business’s digital arm is critical, it must be part of a broader ecosystem of tools that enable cross-team collaboration, management and productivity. By equipping your whole team with powerful, all-in-one platforms, you improve the employee experience and help them perform better, translating to more sales.
Effective digital transformation requires holistic, integrated change across your entire organization.
- Engage with customers with comprehensive digital channels. When customers need to toggle between multiple apps to engage with your business, they’re often engaging in a frustrating and disjointed experience. By housing all capabilities in one secure location, you distinguish the customer experience as a branded one, building recognition for your logos, voice and offerings. Users should be able to access the full organization from anywhere, across all digital channels.
- Leverage personalization in the digital experience. Whether online or in-person, customers expect to be treated as individuals with names, preferences and a purchase history. Use the digital landscape to translate in-store brand experiences to a virtual platform. For example, give product recommendations via email based on customers’ unique buying behavior and the changing seasons. Rely on data and insights to display dynamic calls-to-action with language tailored to each customer’s preferences and motivations. In short, look for opportunities to spark an emotional connection with buyers that makes them more likely to click — and convert.
- Establish clear communications with your team. Owned and branded digital messaging channels, allow teams to communicate on-demand effectively and securely, both internally and with customers. Centralized platforms allow swift communication company-wide. In addition, they enable businesses to tailor permissions for internal discussions.
- Enable effective management. Your digital capabilities should include a management portal for insight into internal activity and visibility on external communications. With all customer and employee interactions organized within a single secure platform, businesses can gather and store data, creating important audit and e-paper trails. This data can also be used to track and analyze performance related to key business goals, then optimize areas that are lacking.
As digital expectations continue to soar and consumers look to seamless brand experiences for their services, marketers play a critical role in merging digital resiliency with the brand experience.
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