The digital revolution has improved consumers’ lives in many ways. For many businesses, the same revolution (including mobile, social media, cloud, artificial intelligence and analytics) has created fierce competition.
But the news is not all doom and gloom. At CSS Corp, we help companies leverage digital technologies to increase their top line — turning the digital revolution “enemy” into an ally.
Building The Brand Around Digital Customer Engagement
Research by Harvard Business Review shows that customers who are emotionally connected to a brand are twice as valuable in the long run. Today’s digital natives appreciate brands they can interact with on their own terms. Sure, some companies will need to rethink their entire business model to survive (Toys R Us and Blockbuster failed here and were eventually overrun by the successes of companies like Amazon and Netflix). But many companies simply need to use digital channels to connect with their core audiences.
Burberry has worked for more than 10 years to transform its historic luxury brand into a digital experience. The brand developed an advanced platform and emphasized integrations with Twitter and Facebook. It collaborated with leading fashion photographers and encouraged customers to upload pictures of themselves wearing Burberry’s signature products. The work paid off, and the company’s impressive revenue growth has been attributed to the digital brand experience.
Digital customer engagement starts with identifying target audiences and segments and understanding their existing digital footprints. Choosing the right channels is an early decision with long-term impacts. While Facebook and YouTube dominate as social media channels (about 68% of adults use Facebook), other social media platforms can attract more specific audiences (Pinterest, for instance, is used much more by women than men).
Finding The Next Customer With Advanced Analytics And Targeting
Traditional marketing uses a combination of historical data, marketer’s experience and informed guesswork to create buyer personas and to choose the right methods to reach them. Today, AI-based tools automatically evaluate what is working and what isn’t, and autonomously adjusts marketing to reach the right potential buyers.
Tools that once required enormous investments and overhead to implement are becoming easier and less expensive. They don’t require data scientists; with SaaS models and pay-as-you-go pricing, they can be used by almost any business.
Harley-Davidson of New York City uses an AI-driven marketing platform to identify the customers most likely to buy and then looks further to identify additional people “in the wild” with similar attributes. The new leads are automatically targeted with the marketing campaigns proven most effective. The system works: The company found itself with a 2,930% increase in sales leads.
Of course, not all AI systems achieve such impressive results right away — they can take time. It’s important to remember that the difference between traditional analytics and AI-based systems is in their abilities to autonomously improve. The volume of transactions and data will influence the model more than the passage of time, as the system has more reference points to learn from.
Who, Where And When: Increasing Sales Through Location-Based Analytics
Insights gained from analyzing location-based business data can be collected from cameras, sensors, mobile devices and social media channels. The results can help make strategic business decisions as well as guide immediate operational decisions.
Starbucks uses location-based analytics in numerous ways. The company uses a customized geographical information system to accurately project foot traffic and average customer spend, helping it to place stores where they will be most successful. The system is also used to create targeted promotions such as launching a Frappuccino promotion to coincide with a heat wave. This enables Starbucks to capture value that competitors missed out on.
Location-based analytics close the gap between social media and the physical world, turning online interactions into real-world revenue. Personalized marketers have long focused on who, what, when and how — matching the right lead and the right content, at right time and in the right channel. Location-based analytics lets them add the where component.
Technologies such as location-based sensors and beaconing services enable targeted offers to appear when your customers are in close proximity. Location-aware apps can gather information on the travel patterns of potential customers. In-store customer tracking offers deep insights into browsing patterns and lets you adjust store layouts and product displays to maximize sales.
Closing The Deal With Next-Best-Action Marketing
We are all familiar with traditional product-centric sales approaches, with their impersonal feel (“Do you want fries with that?”). The digital era has ushered in marketing and customer support techniques that offer highly personalized and contextual offers and services.
By using next-best-action (NBA) calculations, you can provide recommendations that are most likely to result in positive outcomes based on the unique customer and the specific situation. Advanced customer relationship manager (CRM) systems born out of the digital era enable real-time analytics and machine learning on the fly and help enable NBA. By eliminating bothersome and redundant offers across channels and focusing in on what the customer was most likely to respond to, NBA shifts the relevance, quality and frequency of customer contact.
It’s important to keep in mind that NBA is more than a complicated version of upselling and cross-selling. NBA requires contextual information about your customers and the situations. Big data sources of structured and unstructured data — including external data that you might not otherwise use in operations — can give the system important clues about a customer, their mindset and their likely reactions. Artificial intelligence solutions can mine this data in a way that sales or support representatives, who have only seconds to respond to a customer, cannot match.
The Bottom Line: How To Grow The Top Line
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, once said, “Companies that get confused, that think their goal is revenue or stock price or something. You have to focus on the things that lead to those.”
There are innumerable ways that digital technologies can grow your top line — building your brand, finding your customers and closing the deal. You just have to choose the right strategies and technologies for your organization.
EVP & Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at CSS Corp, responsible for driving business growth and proving strategic leadership.