Why You Should Be Delivering a Continuous Digital Experience

ExperienceHub

Are you delivering a consistent, continuous digital experience for your customers as they interact with your brand? Is that experience continuous as they move from mobile device, to desktop website, to eCommerce platform, or even a physical interaction? Remember that your customer’s digital experience is the sum of the perception of each interaction they have with your brand, and any single below par interaction can diminish that experience.

Today most customers are engaged with brands through a variety of digital means. The digital world is driving a disrupt-or-die transformation. Allied with these trends is an increasing shift for as many physical and virtual assets in the value chain to become digitized, intelligent, and incorporated into the end-to-end business process. One way to address this need to transform is to look across the organization for opportunities to infuse great digital experiences into mission critical processes.

Managing the way you engage with your customers ensures better customer experiences and helps build ongoing relationships. The customer is at the center of every business transaction and keeping the customer engaged has never been more vital than it is now in a digital world.

Traditionally, a new customer initiates a relationship at the recommend or awareness stage and cycles through defining a need, researching a product, evaluation, making a purchase, taking delivery, using and maintaining a product. More and more of this type of behavior and interaction is happening online with the customer only choosing to engage with a business late in the sales cycle, if at all. If the customer has had little, or no follow-up from the company they purchased from, or had a bad customer experience, they will generally move on to a new supplier for any subsequent purchase and the opportunity for additional revenue has been lost.

Investment in a strong customer engagement strategy and technology will result in a customer becoming a brand and product advocate who will recommend the product or brand to others, as well as wishing to continue to build on the existing relationship through additional purchases and interactions. Instead of leaving the sales cycle, the engaged customer loops back into it.

Positive customer experience is all about removing the friction from the process. The easier something is to do, the better the experience. Customers increasingly expect these transactions to seamlessly transition from one digital platform to another while retaining a consistent personalized experience, with data, information, and assets moving seamlessly from one environment to another.

It is tempting to try to address this by breaking down as many operational and siloed business and technology platforms as possible. This is often an impractical approach that leads to mismanaged expectations, delays, and higher than expected costs. It is better to bridge the silos in a way that allows data to flow between them and to build on a suite that can work with tools.

Instead of trying to break down silos, bridge them into irrelevancy by delivering a Customer Experience Management solution that focuses on delivering high impact content (usually visual), strong transactional integration, interactive customer communications, and allows you to conduct meaningful analytical analysis to continuously refine the experience.

With an exceptional digital experience in place, it is not only the customer, but also your supply chain, distributors, and your employees, who will benefit.

[Note: This post originally appeared on the OpenText blog.]

You Are Now A Media Company (If you’re not – you should be!)

I love podcasts. In fact I’d say I’m something of a podcast junkie. Each time I get in the car I listen to one, be it on my commute to the office, or a business trip. I listen to them on plane rides. And when I go for my evening walks in the park. Podcasts are easily the most updated audio app on my phone, as I download several new episodes of my favorite ones. As I write this I have twenty-two different podcast channels lined up each with new content waiting for me to listen to on a variety of subjects such as history, motor sports, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, movie reviews, creative writing, industry news, and Content Marketing.

My two favorite Content Marketing podcasts both come from my friends at the Content Marketing Institute; “Content Inc”. from Joe Pulizzi gives short (about 5 minutes) tips and ideas – just enough to spark some thought for the day; while “PNR: This Old Marketing” is a weekly hour long discussion between Joe and his CMI cohort, Robert Rose on the latest trends in Content Marketing. Both are highly recommended.

The fine folks at CMI also popped up on my Amazon Prime streaming feed at home with their just release documentary “The Story of Content.” The latest issue of their magazine CCO sits on my desk, and I follow CMI on Twitter each day. – In fact I’m something of a CMI brand advocate. They are one of the best models of how to build a business through content.

What makes CMI stand out is that while they are selling consulting, training, and events they don’t act like a traditional consulting house, instead they act like a media company. They use content to position themselves as industry thought leaders, and they tailor that content to the different channels they use to engage with their audience. (Note I said audience, not customers.)

For many years I’ve being delivering the message that all companies should think and act like publishers. Well that is no longer enough – You need to act like a media company.

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It isn’t enough to continue to just produce print-based collateral such as brochures and press releases and try and slice it and dice it to fit onto different digital platforms.

So how do you approach being a media company?

Take a look at this business plan by arguably the most successful media company on the planet.

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This was Disney in 1957 – almost 60 years ago – yet every channel was designed to use content to build the business.

Think about the following and apply it to your business.

  1. What’s the core activity that you want to build an audience for?
  2. What channels can drive that engagement?
  3. What value can each channel add?
  4. Who is the audience for that channel?
  5. What content type works best on that channel?
  6. How can we create the right content for that channel with connections that engages the audience enough to be drawn back to the core activity?
  7. How do we connect that content to present an overall brand experience and consistent story no matter which channel the audience engages with first?

Is B2B a Myth?

“Business-to-Business is a myth. Business is all about personal interactions.”

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A few words I added to a retweet of a CMO.com article that was headlined, “Don’t hide behind a logo. Companies need to be represented by real people.”

That editorial addition of mine generated some interesting responses, but most were along the lines of “B2B is about where the customer isn’t the end user, while in B2C they were the same.” These are reasonable definitions, but they don’t address the central point I was making that whether they are buying something on behalf of a business, or for your own use, the customer is still a living, breathing, person. ( I hope).

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying office supplies or companies, it comes down to personal relationships and experiences.

Earlier this week I was listening to a business podcast where they were discussing a multi-billion dollar acquisition. Among the usual factors such as a strong order book and good margins one of the top reasons given for the deal going ahead was that the prime investor “knew the CEO and the management team and how they operated.” – They had built a personal relationship that was driving perhaps the most quintessential of business-to-business transactions.

Running out for new pens for your small business, which office supply store will you go to? Most likely the one where you had the best experience last time you shopped there. The one where someone helped you look for what you needed, the one where the person on the register smiled, the one where they actually know your name and what your business does? – The one that knows you as a person. Or maybe you get your pens from a catalog that your employer says you should use. Why did that office supply company become the corporate approved supplier? Because their sales person got to know the people in your purchasing department so he could make a competitive bid at the right time.

The B2B/B2C distinction has always bothered me. Outside of work we are all consumers, yet there seems to be an underlying assumption that when we are buying on behalf of someone else our behavior and expectations change the moment we walk through the office door. That the way we act in a work environment is different than we do at home. – I don’t believe that.

Marketing content isn’t (or shouldn’t be) aimed at an organization, it’s aimed at people within that organization. Good business marketing is about giving people the information to help them do their jobs better, or make their lives easier. It’s about reaching decision makers – i.e. the people who can make a difference. – See, “people,” again.

I have a Content Marketing best practices list pinned up in my office and on that list is “Think human-to-human not B2B or B2C.” – I couldn’t agree more.

I did start another detailed blog post on what I believe to be the “Myth of B2B” that quickly grew long enough to be a chapter (or chapters) of what might be a whole book one day. But I wanted to get other people’s thoughts beyond just those few responses on Twitter.

Do you believe that “B2B is a Myth”?

A World Record Weekend for Brand Marketing – Almost.

Over the weekend my wife and I drove the nine hours from Central Illinois up to the top of Lake Michigan to help try and break a world record. The event was labelled as “MINI on the Mack” and the aim was to get a record number of cars of a single make across the spectacular suspension bridge that links Mackinaw City with St. Ignace, MI.

We love our MINIs and over the years have owned a variety of different model types and configurations. The Roadster and the sporty Cooper S that currently reside in our garage are our ninth and tenth MINIs. Although we’ve owned many other makes and models of cars over the years, we always seem to come back to MINI. I guess you could say we are brand loyal.

mini1319At the event this weekend someone said that what makes the MINI so much fun is that it’s the only car that comes with friends as standard. Well we met up with over 1,300 such friends (as you can see above), and had a great time.

But of course I had to also take a look at the event with my marketing glasses on. The official corporate MINI involvement was low-key. Of course there was MINI branding visible, and MINI goodies for sale, but this wasn’t an overt sales pitch, it was about the MINI owners – usually referred to as either “MINIacs” or “motorers.”  This was brand activism at its most visible.

The convoy of MINIs was impressive providing an almost two-hour long rolling billboard for the brand highlighting the different models and the fact that thanks to the multiple creative options available no two MINIs are alike. Every car is a reflection of its owner’s personality.

MINIviewThe town’s people got behind the event lining the roads and waving to participants; other motorists got into the spirit too with waves, horns, and even a few pulling over to take photos and video. After the event when we were walking around town still wearing the MINI on the Mack t-shirts we were constantly thanked for being there and asked about the event. And about the cars.

All weekend the MINI spirit was pervasive, associating the brand with fun, and friendly people.

But did it help MINI with driving revenue? If my experience is anything to go by, it certainly did. After seeing photos and notes of the event on my personal FaceBook page I had two friends message me asking advice about purchasing MINIs. – If even a fraction of our fellow 1,300 MINIacs had the same experience I’d say the event definitely helped move the needle for a few MINI dealerships around the country.

So did we get the World Record? – Unfortunately no. We needed 1,452 cars present to snatch that title, but the 1,319 who turned up was enough to set the American record for the largest collection of MINIs assembled. – There is already talk of trying again in 2017.