10 Tactics For A Digital Business Strategy
Of the many new possibilities of social media, the most valuable -- or threatening -- to businesses is the ability to know in real-time what's going on in the minds of customers. No focus groups or surveys to design; simply choose a social media monitoring tool and find out. For example, Dell used Radian6 to understand what features their customers wanted before the launch of their Inspiron laptop PCs.
2. Learn how customers are using your products
Related to capturing inputs for new products is gaining feedback on today's products. What are customers struggling with? It may not be the product itself. Maybe it's the in-store experience. Finding these insights requires sifting through volumes of service call logs and user community sites. Use a tool like Clarabridge to analyze the text of customer's concerns and spot patterns, trends and opportunities for improvement.
3. Dazzle your customers with great customer service
Digital tactics for improving customer service have emerged over the years and continue to be a fertile ground for innovation. Research proves that retaining customers is a cost-effective form of marketing. As Zappos has shown, great customer service is a mindset, but it also requires incorporating new tools, such as advances in speech recognition from Nuance or mobile content delivery using Velti.
4. Proactively service your customers using rules and alerts
In the past, marketers have used "campaign management" software to target customers with messages when the brand wants to be heard. Even if done well, this is intrusive. Customers appreciate a proactive brand, but they want to hear it on their own terms. Digital tools like StrongMail's event-triggered email solution allow a brand to deliver relevant content when the customer will appreciate it. Here again, Clarabridge analysis can be helpful to spot a pattern of interest among your customers.
5. Dialog with your customers through multiple touchpoints
Research such as Razorfish's Liminal Report has shown that customers prefer different touchpoints and different times or situations. Sometimes receiving a text message is valuable; at other times, it's resented. Some messages break through on TV or video, and others through search engine marketing. Two success factors are: 1) deploy the right Content Management System (CMS), and 2) use analytics to learn what works and what doesn't for your customers across their experiences with your brand.
6. Nurture multiple communities of interest across multiple stakeholder groups
Your best customers will find or form "hangouts" where they cluster with other users or buyers to compare notes on you. Whether you participate in such forums, or host and facilitate online communities, the "network effects" of the community can amplify your success.
7. Keep a close eye on your competition
Keep your customers close and your competition closer. As McKinsey notes, this is the age of Big Data, so digital monitoring and analytics has to be wielded as a competitive weapon.
8. Collaborate with suppliers to test and fine-tune new offerings
An example from Cerner (health information systems) shows that digital innovation sometimes involves looking across your supply chain. Cerner's uCern social network connected isolated knowledge across its ecosystem of payers, providers and patients, utilizing Jive Software.
9. Make it easier for customers to buy your products
Going from online to retail is the "final mile" of digital, where smartphones, tablets and in-store devices are digitizing the purchase experience. Shoppers expect new conveniences, relevant info and deals at the point of sale.
For example, RedLaser lets customers scan barcodes with their smartphones for instant product lookup. The recent $200 million infusion for Coupons.com is another indicator of digital trends affecting retailers and CPB brands.
10. Make it possible to give away your products (sometimes)
No force is as withering to the competition as a free offer. That's why in the past, the practice has sometimes been deemed illegal (predatory pricing). In the brave digital world, free (ad-sponsored) and freemium are accepted business models. iPhone apps are the most emblematic of this tactic of "giving away to gain loyalty."