Digital transformation efforts are often siloed in IT departments, but marketers should play a critical role in their companies' moves toward digital maturity.
Online sales soared in 2020, and as digital channels become more crowded, brands must differentiate themselves while pivoting their customer journeys.
Face-to-face relationships are at a halt and in-person events are canceled for the near future, so B2B marketers must find new ways to relate to and engage with their customers. Hyper-personalized B2C engagement tactics are seeping into the B2B realm, as social media and email marketing are no longer enough to deliver compelling user experiences.
Buyers now expect highly interactive, human exchanges—whether in-person or digital—across every touchpoint.
Methods of engagement may look different across industries. For example, companies that rely on intensive paper trails, such as banks and law firms, should look for platforms that enable document collaboration and secure transfers. But no matter your industry, one thing is clear: The companies that offer the most immersive, creative experiences will build brand consciousness and capture long-term loyalty.
The Importance of a Marketing Mindset
B2B businesses often lack self-awareness about their brand image, which is why a marketing mindset is critical to digital transformation. Marketers have deep knowledge of their customers' motivations and behaviors, but too often the wrong tools and processes prevent companies from tapping into those insights. The mismatch is especially worrisome now that traditional customer engagement methods have become largely virtual.
Without intervention, the lack of in-person interaction could result in lost loyalty and decreased brand awareness. Capturing the essence of an in-person client experience on a branded, virtual platform allows customers to continue to engage with your company. Seamless, high-quality tools also build awareness by creating a space to display your name, logo, and other components of your brand. As you activate more digital channels and engage with new and potential customers, you spread your reach—and, as a result, awareness.
A customer-centric approach helps businesses retain their clients and appeal to new ones, and employing a strong digital strategy—with the tools to match it—is necessary for today's customer-centric experience.
In many organizations, however, digital tools are vetted and chosen by the IT department without marketers' input. When those teams aren't working in tandem, customers can be left with a fractured digital experience.
Brand Consciousness Through Seamless Customer Experiences
A unified marketing and IT strategy is critical to achieving customer-centric digital transformation. Failing to focus on customer satisfaction as you build more comprehensive digital experiences will affect your bottom line, and clients will turn to more memorable brands.
All companies, from banks to manufacturers, can take steps to build loyalty with each customer interaction by enacting holistic change, both internally and externally:
- Focus on education. Customers are looking to build relationships. As a result, the buyer journey may look different and take longer. Education and thought leadership about your brand and the perks of using your platform provide an inroad for customers to begin engaging with your business.
For many users, a smooth digital experience could mark the end of physical trips to retail branches as they begin to prefer the convenience of buying digital from their pocket. When you work to build trust and understanding of your business and processes, prospects are more likely to choose you when they're ready to convert.
- Deliver an enhanced digital experience. Housing all your organization's capabilities in a single platform provides customers with a unified, seamless experience across devices. Clients don't want to toggle between apps to engage, and you can differentiate your business by creating channels that streamline customer communication.
Your digital transformation strategy should establish a virtual branch of your business that provides all the same offerings as a physical branch, but remains accessible anywhere, at any time.
- Integrate internal and external communications platforms. Most businesses regularly update and improve websites, and more recently they have created new avenues to engage with customers. But websites often fall short in enabling interactivity between users and associates. Company representatives therefore use third-party systems to communicate with team members and customers, which reduces efficiency and security.
Work with your IT team to identify a platform that provides both an end-to-end business experience for clients and a centralized communication hub that gives employees tools to perform their jobs better.
* * *
In an age of rapid digital transformation, your clients and competition are rapidly expanding their digital offerings in tandem with your business. Internal misalignment will leave you several steps behind. Your marketing and IT teams must think like your audience and work collaboratively to implement tools that meet users' individual needs.
Responding to those needs requires a one-stop user experience that brings the benefits of in-person engagement to prospects' back pockets.