Whatever marketers were doing before the pandemic is likely no longer relevant, or at the very least needs to be reevaluated. The coronavirus changed everything in the last two years, and so everything from commitment to content should be assessed for applicability in the emergent digitalized customer journey.
What does this journey look like?
Digital touchpoints matter more than ever, and are happening more often over mobile devices. While shelter-in-place executive orders no longer dominate news cycles, the spiking omicron variant has many consumers still wary of venturing into crowed restaurants and stores, airports and hotels. Widespread work-at-home policies reinforce the always-on, digital-first lifestyle. All of this adds to the entrenchment of online buying behaviors.
Specifically, we’re talking about the infusion of digital at every step of the customer journey. Key moments may be brand awareness through social media, self-service online research at product review sites, in-store supply and price comparisons over mobile devices, and e-commerce. It’s not just retail, either. Complex B2B sales tap into powerful configure-price-quote engines on vendor websites. Is your digital CX delivering in these moments?
After years of isolation, consumers care about personalization and purpose. People want to feel relevant and special again. More than 70% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, McKinsey says, and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen. (For more, check out Business Is Personal.) Content needs to be about people and reflect their values, not just selling products. Is your marketing content hitting this mark?
“In 2022, businesses should focus on thoughtful, authentic content,” says Chip House, CMO at Insightly, a customer relationship management vendor. “Customers want to know the personality behind the brand and forge a relationship.”
In the digital world, speed and timing win the engagement. Marketers need to deliver the right content at the right moment in the customer journey. This requires real-time automation and analytics powered by AI and machine learning. McKinsey advises marketers to lean into data and analytics, invest in rapid activation capabilities, invest in fit-for-purpose MarTech and data, commit to an agile operating model, and invest in talent and training. Are you doing this?
It’s not just on marketing to make this work, either. Every customer-facing department within an enterprise needs to embrace change. Given so many digital touchpoints and the self-service nature of the new customer journey, the traditional sales model has been upended. Sales is now a team sport involving marketing, sales and customer service. All must be committed to their new roles. Is everyone on board?
“The integration of sales and marketing should be seamless at every touchpoint to ensure a consistent, holistic experience for the customer,” House says.
For instance, sales chatbots and inside sales reps who work in near real-time with marketing’s digital leads are emerging as important sales converters. Inside sales reps now rely on new-fangled sales engagement tools that look similar to tools used by customer service reps. More and more sales are flowing through them. (For more, check out Save Digital Assets, Cut the Frontline.)
Digital marketers have a greater role, too. The new customer journey puts the spotlight on the top of the funnel. It’s where many digitally empowered, self-service customers make purchasing decisions before ever speaking to a salesperson. They run into brands on their social feeds, engage with messages that align with their personal beliefs, research products on websites they trust, and buy over a slick e-commerce experience.
Much depends on marketing’s ability to create brand awareness and personalized messaging, not to mention nurturing brand advocates, in all the right places and online channels and at the right moments in the digitalized customer journey. It’s going to require new ways of thinking and quite possibly a marketing makeover.
This article first appeared in www.cmocouncil.org
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