However, this lower bar of entry also makes it more difficult to create an effective marketing campaign that is seen by the right audiences, let alone engaging them enough to elicit a response.
While some major brands struggle to find footing in this ever-changing digital landscape, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) face similar challenges without the scale or resources of their larger competitors. Digital transformation is simultaneously leveling the playing field and creating greater disparity between brands.
The value of experience
The digitalization of sales and marketing has led to the development of the “experience economy” – where consumers are empowered enough to voice opinions, and technology is ubiquitous enough to give their voices influence.
Today, customers have a great deal of control over their buying experience; from the wealth of choices and information available to them to the power of public opinion via social media.
With a more competitive market and the potential for any review to make or break a brand, customer loyalty has never been capricious. The key for businesses to build and maintain customer loyalty in this age is to create trust among consumers. Within the experience economy, this means heightening the consumer experience and, for many businesses, content creation is a vital means of establishing industry authority, demonstrating value to the market, and solving commonly held challenges your audience faces.
As the experience economy shifts businesses towards greater efficiency and more customer-centric practices, I’d like to offer five simple tips for building customer loyalty while embracing digital change.
Tip one: Highlight benefits instead of features
Focus on the value your service adds or the solution it offers to customers. Understanding the bells and whistles of a product is far less impactful than knowing how those bells and whistles solve common problems your customers face. Listing off the key features of a product isn’t going to entice customers in the same way as a strong narrative. Real marketing is about storytelling – putting audiences into a relatable tale that can be resolved with your product or service.
Tip two: Content creation helps establish authority and instill trust
If your brand is generating content that demonstrates value to audiences as being informative and/or entertaining, then half the battle is already won. There’s no point in writing blogs simply to voice your opinions; your content should solve common problems your consumers face while reflecting your brand’s unique identity and value proposition.
If your content is well regarded, then your brand will be viewed as an industry leader, which helps create consumer trust and transforms customers into brand advocates. A strong content strategy will also help build your brand’s reputation among other industry players, opening potential avenues for partnerships.
Tip three: Collaboration is critical to understanding
In this age of intelligent ERP and cloud-based solutions, the traditional barriers within businesses and across industries are falling. Cross-department communication is vital to understanding your customers’ expectations and pain points. There needs to be cohesion between your marketing, sales, and service teams because they represent the three stages of a customer’s journey respectively: attraction, engagement, retention.
Tip four: Listen to your people and customers
When your organization is operating in collaborative manner, this creates opportunities for sharing insights and solutions across the business. Your marketing team may understand what your customers expect, but your service team is much more familiar with common consumer complaints and questions. Your sales team likely hears frequently asked questions that should have been answered by your marketing team. This lack of communication across departments creates dissonance, both internally with staff and externally with customers.
From an external perspective, listening to your audience could be as simple as reading Google reviews of your industry’s top brands or doing keyword research specific to your sector. Your team can even go one further and connect directly with audiences, conducting customer research through surveys and polls via email or social media. Never before have consumers’ voices been so instrumental in how businesses operate.
Tip five: Don’t let technology dictate your goals
The rapid rate of technological development can seem daunting, especially for SMBs that may not have the resources or architecture necessary to embrace change. However, a common pitfall that businesses fall into is implementing intelligent technology without understanding how or why it will improve performance. Digital technology offers very clear and measurable results through data, so businesses need to have a clear purpose for digital transformation and understand the key metrics for success.
There are a host of technological solutions that can help your business become more attuned to customers’ needs, work more collaboratively across departments, and highlight areas of improvement. However, digital transformation is only part of the mosaic – at the heart of everything is the drive to become more efficient, more interconnected, and more customer-centric.
Discover how midsize companies are moving to become more customer-centric businesses. Listen to an excerpt from our webinar “Winning in the 2020s: Six Trends Every Midsize Needs to Know,” with Timo Elliott, Global Innovation Evangelist from SAP and guest speaker Shari Lava, Research Director Small and Medium Business at IDC.