Understanding How it Impacts Everything from Customer Acquisition to Back-office Operations
Industries are shifting, whether that’s a demand for goods and services, the way we deliver those goods and services, or new emergences in the way we do business. This is true for every business, including grocers.
Let’s take a look at some of the drivers shifting industry standards and how we can leverage one specific driver to create better opportunities for grocers.
Three Drivers of Retail
1. Shifts in Consumer Expectation
There’s perhaps nothing that changes more constantly than consumer expectation, and in the era of home delivery and subscription meal prep services, consumer demands are varied, and quite frankly, challenging.
Consumers expect the ability to buy anything, anytime, and from anywhere. Finding ways to cater to these new expectations is a major driver of business for grocers.
2. Stiff Competition and the Emergence of Ecosystems
An even more pronounced trend is the sheer level of competition that’s out there. Grocery chains are collapsing under the pressure of large-scale competition and the emergence of ecosystems. A great example is Amazon purchasing Whole Foods and using the Amazon infrastructure to fold Whole Foods operations into its business model.
The last driver for grocer-specific retail is technology. As technology advances, it opens doors to help grocers better compete for the attention of consumers. With the introduction of AI, advance analytics, and IoT, grocers have more capability than ever to analyze and connect with consumers.
Technology, more than any of the other three drivers above, can stand out as a primary factor in operational effectiveness with the ability to reduce overall cost in the value chain.
This is particularly true in the realms of customer acquisition, customer engagement, commercial effectiveness, and warehouse/back-office operations.
Customer Acquisition and Engagement
When it comes to technology’s role in customer acquisition and engagement, the benefits are obvious. Better analytics leads to better targeted messaging across multiple delivery vehicles, such as digital ads.
Technology is also crucial to creating highly targeted and hyper-personalized offerings, enabling grocers to connect with consumers on a more specific level, resulting in better customer acquisition, engagement, and loyalty.
Another area of advertising where technology plays a crucial role is in enhancing digital direct marketing properties, like the addition of promotional QR codes attached to emails or digital coupons.
Technology can also help grocers maximize their commercial effectiveness by using advanced analytics to make better choices. These choices can include everything from the products grocers carry to the way they’re priced.
It can also help in making decisions related to promotional initiatives, helping to take the guesswork out of what promotional offers to run.
One of the most appealing aspects of heavy technological integration within grocer systems is the potential for higher efficiency in day-to-day operations. Technology opens the door to automating warehouse functions, as well as in-store and back-office operations.
Why it Matters
If there’s nothing else to take away from this article, let it be this: technology allows you to compete for business in a market driven by choice, increasing existing customer loyalty, and driving customers to physical stores instead of online ordering sites.
These three benefits make it imperative that grocers embrace technological solutions for many of their day-to-day operations and needs. In an era so heavily dependent on technology for communication and promotion, without it, grocers will fall behind.
Interested in learning more about the role of technology in the value chain for grocers? We have the tools that can help ensure your tech is where it needs to be.
Whether that means operational efficiency with an MRM system or acquiring new customers with our SmartMove, new mover program, contact us to see what Strata can do for you.
Understanding the Ins and Outs
MarTech – we throw around the term as if it’s universally understood, but plenty of people aren’t entirely sure what it is, exactly.
Don’t panic. That’s normal.
We don’t have to tell you that technology is playing an increasingly larger role in all businesses, and MarTech (Marketing Technology) is simply an extension of that — it’s a catch-all term referring to any piece of software designed to make marketing easier.
Here are some quick examples:
- Software tracking promotional use of coupons
- Automated email campaign software
- Social media automation
The answer to “What is MarTech?” essentially boils down to this: MarTech is any piece of software that executes a marketing process so you don’t have to.
The Progression of MarTech
Think of the progression in the same way we experienced the evolution of apps for our smartphones. What started as a few hokey, low function tools exploded into everything from day trading platforms to photographic check deposits and real-time delivery tracking.
In much the same way, MarTech has boomed and currently offers a precise solution for nearly every need of the modern marketer.
MarTech’s Role Today and Tomorrow
A hallmark characteristic of the most successful marketer is their willingness to embrace and utilize new technology.
Smart marketers embraced MarTech early, and since its inception, MarTech solutions have become an absolute industry standard. These types of MarTech have typically been focused on a few core functionalities, like automating emails and processing the data into easily digestible reports.
While many MarTech tools, like MailChimp or Hootsuite, have asserted themselves as a consistent presence in the marketer’s toolbox, a new era of MarTech is on the horizon. Technological enhancements, like AI and machine learning, are honing the cutting edge of MarTech capabilities.
This incorporation of advanced tech means powerful new tools, like AI-fueled CX marketing, more adaptive lifecycle marketing solutions, better conversational marketing, and more precise data-driven marketing. These are all tools to market like never before, redefining what it means to be a marketing professional and deeply, inseparably linking our jobs with MarTech.
Exploring Our Options
One advantage of modern times is the seemingly limitless options we are presented every day, whether that be shopping on Amazon or unlimited streaming packages. We’re simply spoiled by choice, and MarTech is no different.
Over a diverse range of needs, like CRM MarTech, Web Analytics MarTech or SEO MarTech, there are literally thousands of (7,040 to be exact) MarTech solutions geared towards each and every niche of the marketing spectrum.
There are so many options, it can even be a little intimidating.
To simplify our choices, we can look at this handy Periodic Table of MarTech. It outlines 24 main subcategories of MarTech software and services providers within those categories. So, if you’re trying to decide what MarTech is right for you, this is a great place to start.
Benefits of MarTech
The primary reason MarTech has become an industry standard is simple: MarTech gets results.
Let’s look at an Ascend2 report on MarTech’s performance in the workplace.
Ascend2’s surveys suggest that 87 percent of marketers believe that MarTech is improving performance in their organization. In the same report, 67 percent of marketers thought that their organization could benefit from introducing more MarTech. This shows that MarTech is an advancement welcome across the board and the level of integration into the day-to-day workflow will only increase.
What’s Right for Me?
The simple answer is that your demands will dictate the right MarTech for you — identify useful tools and ignore ones without obvious practical application.
What is really important — and what we want to stress here — is what not to buy, and that is anything that does not have a proven functionality within your organization. MarTech can be expensive and with so many good options available, there’s no reason not to invest in anything less than ideal solutions.
That said, there is something out there that’s right for you — MarTech is one of the most exciting things to happen to business in a long time, it’s proven and it’s here to stay.
The only question is how you’ll embrace it.
Are you interested in creating or adding to your existing MarTech stack? Contact us to see if our cloud-based MarCom solutions are the right fit for you.
The Important Trend that Today’s Successful Marketers are Embracing
Marketers are always looking for best practices to maximize their marketing efforts, and there may be no better strategy than that of an integrated marketing approach.
An integrated approach to marketing is one that aligns and coordinates all marketing efforts across multiple departments to deliver a brand-consistent, customer-focused content experience as seamlessly as possible across all channels.
In this blog, we’ll detail the four reasons why marketers need an integrated approach, while also touching on the important role MarTech solutions play in these coordinated efforts.
Reason 1: Improve Operational Effectiveness
With time constantly at a premium and campaign launches always looming in the not-so-distant future, as marketers, time truly is money and there’s no greater waste than a loss of time due to inefficiency.
One of the greatest assets of an integrated approach to marketing has little to do with the customer, but rather how it encourages internal communication between departments. This is particularly true when it comes to the sharing of data to better understand your customer base.
In short, an integrated approach to marketing necessitates communication by default, giving you a better picture of the complete scope and results of your marketing efforts.
Reason 2: Brand Unification
Speaking of collaboration, integrated marketing is a great way to bring everyone on board to deliver one cohesive message, no matter what medium that message is delivered in.
An integrated approach to marketing encourages the breaking down of silos — the tendency to view marketing departments as self-contained islands, rather than collaborative partners — and often brings out the best in companies, encouraging collaboration.
This level of collaborative efforts ensures a fundamental internalization of your brand’s ethos across all marketing departments, resulting in a clearly defined message reaching your consumers.
Reason 3: Content as a Positionable Asset
An integrated approach to marketing has the unique ability to take generic content and work it into platform-specific content that will resonate best within its medium of delivery.
This means that your content becomes an asset, positionable like any other business IP and deliverable in different forms for different channels. It allows you to nail down your approach for blog content while positioning that same content differently for social media.
This flexibility allows you to take stock of all assets and tailor them to fit perfectly within an expansive, diverse campaign.
Reason 4: Creates a Seamless and Consistent Customer Experience
We all know that the name of the game is CX when it comes to modern marketing. We’re always looking to provide better, more convenient ways for our customers to interface with us in their chosen medium.
Whether that’s being more available via social media, sending direct mail with digital components, or simply reaching out with promotional emails, integrated marketing approaches all aspects of a diverse campaign with the same end goal — a fluid, intuitive customer experience facilitating communication and fostering brand/consumer relationships.
MarTech for Integrated Marketing
The right MarTech is important in making the most of an integrated approach to marketing, but it’s up to you to define your needs and select the appropriate technology to support your campaign.
There are many excellent automation platforms, which can be particularly helpful when it comes to MarTech for communications in a campaign utilizing an integrated marketing approach.
The Pay Off
So why shift to an integrated approach? The payoff is huge.
Amplifying a consistent message drives value. According to Kantar Millward Brown, integrated campaigns are 31 percent more effective at building brands than their single-channel counterparts, as it showcases a consistent brand over multiple channels, giving the audience a more complete view of the brand in different lights.
Even better? According to research by Gartner, integrated marketing campaigns that spread their efforts over four or more channels outperformed single or dual-channel campaigns by 300 percent.
Want to plan your integrated marketing campaign with the best tools available? Contact us to see what we can do for you.
Are We Really Listening to Our Customers?
Whether your company is B2C or B2B, listening to customers’ feedback is critically important. Whether it’s praise for a job well done or a critique of user pain points, your customers want to help you – because ultimately, helping you is helping them.
So how does one effectively listen to their customers?
Don’t Be Guilty of Superficial Listening
Let’s start with a personal story about an international organization we’ll call Company X.
Some background: I really like the core concept of Company X, which provides a service rather than a product.
Unfortunately, there’s a growing movement against the realities of Company X’s business model. The objection is simple. Company X relies on local artists, whom they pay poorly while making a large profit off their talent. Patrons and artists have told Company X that this was a problem many, many times.
Yesterday, I received an email with an attached “five-minute” survey to help them “identify the problem”. I found it to be maddening because the problem is so clear. But Company X doesn’t want to hear it.
I’ve decided to stop doing business with this company, as have many others I know. At the root of my decision is one basic principle — Company X is guilty of superficial listening. They hear their customers but are only pretending to listen.
What Makes a Good Listener?
It’s a lesson we all learned back in kindergarten. Yet few have mastered the nuance of being a truly good listener.
A good listener does not simply nod and avoid talking over their conversational partner, but rather actively asks questions that both convey and advance their understanding. They work to have a constructive conversation.
A good listener doesn’t put unnecessary barriers between themselves and their conversational partner. If a customer comes directly to you, you would be better served to hear them out instead of directing them to an online feedback form, for example. This shows you care about their input enough to honor it with your time, and (more importantly) you might learn something valuable.
A good listener is also able to listen. This sounds obvious, but too many people aren’t really listening, but rather drawing up solutions and rebuttals while they should be actively focusing on what the speaker is saying. At best, the speaker will know you only half-way listened, at worst, you’ll miss a crucial point and your counter will be irrelevant by the time it’s your turn to speak.
Technologies for Better (and Worse) Listening
As we so often discuss, there are many instances where MarTech can scale our capabilities to a growing customer base. A particularly strong advantage we gain by employing MarTech is the ability to solicit input from customers on a much larger scale than would be possible in a one-to-one customer/agent interaction.
Technology like chatbots can create a barrier between you and your customer base by taking the human element out of the equation in the name of quick, cost-effective solutions. There are also less obvious technologies, like social media management, that can negatively impact your ability to participate in customer engagement. It’s important to be aware of this and to understand how to leverage technology to actively listen.
Company X as an Example of What Not to Do
Going back to the anecdote at the beginning of this article, let’s look at the ways Company X failed.
First, Company X simply didn’t listen to direct, actionable and unsolicited feedback from their customers. Failure to participate in the conversation on the human level in which their customers were attempting to communicate has been (and continues to be) a major point of contention between the business and their audience.
Another way Company X failed was in its inappropriate implementation of technology. They decided they did not want to have an actual conversation and actively removed themselves from it by opting for a mass email and a survey. It sent a message that said, “We value your business, but not enough to have an actual interface with you.”
Another frustration was the survey. It created distance instead of acknowledging the issue. It made an objectively obvious thing appear to be abstract. Company X was trying to avoid a difficult, but important and honest conversation.
It’s Not that Hard
At the end of the day, being a good listener is a skill, but not a difficult one to develop. It relies mostly on one core quality: humility.
If a listener has the humility not to assert their ideas or time as superior to those they speak with, they may be surprised at what they learn.
If you’ve been listening to your clients and looking for a way to use this information to enhance your marketing strategies, contact us to see how we can help.
How Human Interface and MarCom Create the Ideal Customer Experience
Whether a business is B2B or B2C, excellent customer experience lies at the core. All activities along the customer journey — from acquisition to retention to referrals – begins and ends with quality customer experience.
So how should your company approach customer service to bring it to the next level?
Troubleshooting the Customer Experience
The most valuable asset to a customer is their time, and identifying where you can save your customers’ time is crucial to a quality customer experience.
In some instances, technological solutions are the most efficient path to a quality customer experience. In others, a direct line to a human agent will save your customer the frustration of dialing through automated systems. There are also times where one approach is a helpful lead into the other.
The key is defining which approach (human, technology-based or both) is ideal for the situation.
Utilizing a Tech Forward Approach
Various MarTech products focus on this – whether it’s gauging customer satisfaction or preferred outreach methods.
Automation, for example, can significantly increase the quality of the customer experience. It allows customers to complete simple tasks quickly and efficiently while also freeing up agents to tackle more complex tasks that demand human interaction. Automated services are reliable, efficient and extremely cost-effective.
Another strength is constant availability. Although ideal, most companies cannot have real people available to their customers 24/7. There are plenty of MarTech solutions to help your customers when employees are unavailable. Automated chatbots can be valuable tools to help customers troubleshoot problems for customers who may need guided help after hours.
In outbound customer service, using MarTech suites to reach your customers with special offers and exclusive deals based upon prior purchase history is another great way to enhance the customer experience. These promotions show that your business values the repeat customer and ultimately builds the relationship between you and them.
MarTech also shines in its ability to deliver targeted, relevant advertisements to your customers based on previous interactions. In today’s world of automated marketing processes, this is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Use it.
Utilizing a Human Approach
It should be noted that a business should not hide behind its automation. While efficiency is crucial, it should not come at the expense of human interaction.
The human element of customer service starts not with how your business treats its customers, but how your business treats its employees. Building a corporate culture of patience and appreciation is perhaps the best thing you can do for your customer service in the long run. Those same core philosophies will translate to interactions between customers and agents.
It’s important to note that certain standards of customer service need to be understood business-wide. All departments that interface with customers should have the same basic understanding of the way your business treats all customers, regardless of their level of business dealings.
Different departments should also understand that they’re expected to make themselves available to customers without exception and prioritize a high level of attentiveness to the customer experience.
It’s crucially important that these ideals of customer service are implemented business-wide, and consistently. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and quality customer service across the board can easily be negated by one bad customer service in any one department.
MarTech – like organizational suites centralizing customer inbound requests to make for easier, team-wide response – are great tools to increase your ability to efficiently process customer input.
This should be a focus of your MarTech strategies.
There are a host of MarTech products that allow your customers to interface with real people through technology, like the increasingly popular use of web chat windows. These are ideal because they’re instant, proactive solutions to enhance your customer experience.
There is also data aggregation MarTech that can help you constructively organize and distill customer feedback to pinpoint your company’s strengths and weaknesses throughout a customer’s experience.
The beauty of this type of communication lies in the way it initiates contact with the customer in an era of endless automation. It says your business wants to connect with the customer instead of simply being tolerant of them.
The Future of Customer Service
It’s true — we’re careening towards a new era of customer service.
To succeed in the realm of customer service, it’s important to focus on company-wide policies that put the customer first in a way that’s human and efficient while providing them with actionable resources when agents may not be available.
With today’s tech and the right corporate culture, a motivated business can create a great customer experience with ease, and that might just be the deciding factor in customer retention.
If you’re interested in earning more about how our smart marketing solutions can help enhance your customer experience, contact us.
Tailoring Your Marketing Strategy for Each Customer
We know that marketing is always evolving, but occasionally we overlook the root cause of that change — the customer.
As marketing professionals, it’s our job to understand our customers, their wants and their needs. We need to be equal parts psychologist and salesperson.
Outdated Industry Standards
In the past, our standards for marketing outreach would make most modern marketing professionals balk.
Industry standards were founded on the belief that a “one size fits all” approach to marketing was sufficient for most campaigns.
Later, when personalization became a marketing norm, it was still only surface-level — putting a customer’s name here, adding a relevant detail there — and left little impression on the customers.
Setting New Standards
The marketing of today is setting new standards for the customer experience, particularly in the realm of personalization. We’ve shifted our focus from selling the product to selling value to the customer, and we haven’t stopped there.
Lately, marketers have been getting closer to true one-to-one marketing.
This customer-centric approach (coupled with the goal of true one-to-one marketing) is the impetus of modern-day hyper-personalization as the new standard.
Hyper-personalization is the sum of our data collecting abilities applied to personalized marketing. Using data points such as online purchases, browsing history, location discovery via geofencing, etc., hyper-personalization capitalizes on a fully realized image of the customer to inform high-yield marketing efforts.
These marketing efforts are often manifested as digital advertisements, although hyper-personalization is often used in advanced direct mail campaigns, such as targeting high-value prospects with dimensional mailers.
This granular understanding of a customer not only helps you market directly to the individual in real-time, but also helps inform more general marketing efforts, such as persona-based segmented marketing.
In short, across the board, hyper-personalization is one of the most powerful tools available to marketers today.
Translating to the Customer Experience
It’s important to remember that, although this level of customer understanding is a great tool for sales, it’s an equally valuable tool further down the funnel when it comes to the customer experience.
As we’ll discuss later in this series (The Future of Marketing: The Era of Data), data points can inform the choices we make when it comes to providing customers with things like customized portals, access to our properties via intuitive apps, mobile platforms, and web design.
Interpreting customer data and translating it into the ideal customer experience can be hugely important for more meaningful interactions with our customers, more thoughtful communications, and ultimately, higher levels of customer satisfaction — perhaps the most important component to long-term customer retention.
In Our Evolving Market, the Customer is Always Right
There’s nothing wrong with embracing trends when it comes to business, but when it comes down to it, a successful trend is rooted in the understanding of what a customer wants. Using our technologies to map our customers and segment on a granular level is the future of direct marketing.
You’ll hear it over and over in this series — marketing is evolving and will continue to do so. The market of today is as unforgiving as it is appreciative, embracing the useful and discarding anything less.
The major difference between market evolution now and years past lies in the timing: Where that process used to take months, thanks to our abilities to gather data, we can see the reception of our efforts in real-time.
But fear not: although virtually every aspect of marketing lives and dies by the opinions of our customers, if you listen, the customer will tell you what they want, and as the old adage goes, “the customer is always right”.
Looking to make sure your marketing technology is up to date and on trend? Contact us to see how we can help.
The Technological Trend Affecting Consumers in Every Industry
In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, it’s imperative that companies constantly evolve and understand what resonates with consumers – and right now that’s custom-tailored experiences. Gone are the days of generalized mass-marketing tactics. Today, hyper-personalization and communications designed around individual preferences reign supreme – and for good reason.
What Exactly is Hyper-Personalization?
Typical personalization methods stem from utilizing generic customer characteristics such as name, location, or even title. While effective, marketers can take this personalization strategy to the next level using technological advances such as big data, AI, and machine learning.
This technology allows marketers to collect data on the behavior of their customers. They can quantify all kinds of variables in real-time, as well as relate them to each other to deliver the most personalized experience possible.
Why It’s Becoming a Marketing Mainstay
1. Increases Customer Loyalty and Goodwill
Brands need to show their customers that they care about their wants and needs. That’s why “Recommended Picks” when shopping or browsing are becoming standard practice as it demonstrates a level of anticipation that consumers appreciate.
Hyper-personalization makes this process easier, which goes a long way in increasing customer loyalty and goodwill.
2. Higher Conversions
Whether it’s a website, call-to-action, emails or ads, the data from these channels is clear—personalization is effective at raising conversion rates.
- 40% of U.S. consumers say they’ve purchased something more expensive than they originally planned
- 53% of shoppers value personalized experiences when shopping online
- A personalized CTA has been found to increase conversions by 78.5%
- The Economist found that personalized ads led to an increase in consumer awareness by 64%
Top companies such as Amazon, Starbucks and Netflix have been leveraging hyper-personalization into their offerings for years, yielding impressive results. Raising conversions is a goal for every company, and hyper-personalization is a great way to do it.
3. It’s Becoming Expected
According to a Salesforce study, 51% of customers expect that companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they even make contact. As time goes on, personalized offers will become the norm, and consumers will slowly become too accustomed to accept anything less.
How It Can Set You Apart from the Competition
Hyper-personalization is basically about getting up close and personal with your customers and prospects. Consider the following: Your competitor uses standard, everyday personalization methods. They send an email to a prospect with his/her name in the subject line and a mention of his/her company name and location in the opening line. Then they go on to introduce their new product and how it’s a perfect fit for the company.
You, on the other hand, embrace hyper-personalization. Your data shows that the same prospect that your competitor is emailing has spent 30 minutes on your site researching a specific product. Your hyper-personalized campaign sends an email to that prospect the same day, that includes the standard personalization mentioned above but it also highlights the exact product they’ve been researching and an invitation to an upcoming webinar relating to that product.
It’s easy to see the difference between these two examples and which one would stand out amongst a sea of generalization.
Capitalize on It
At the end of the day, hyper-personalization is all about understanding your targets on the highest of levels and using that knowledge and data to enhance the customer experience. Experts predict that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product selection as the key brand differentiator. And, if 81% of consumers currently want companies to understand them better, let’s give them what they want.
Looking to make sure your marketing strategy is up to date on the latest trends? Contact us to see how we can help.
Utilizing a multitouch approach to connect with your top prospects
Take a moment and consider all of the tools you have at your disposal to connect with someone. Phones, text messaging, email, traditional mail, apps – the list goes on and on. So why does it seem like it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to actually connect with someone?
If you’re reading this, you can probably relate to this scenario. You’ve come across the right prospect for your product or service and you send an initial email making an introduction but on the other end all you hear is crickets. Rather than using all of the tools in your communication toolbox, you abandon the prospect just because he/she didn’t respond after your first attempt. Think of all of the missed opportunities.
But if you’re open to persistence, there’s a solution. Multiple touches make prospects feel special and you unforgettable. And in today’s increasingly crowded and competitive business environment they aren’t optional, they’re mandatory. Think about it – if you’re not actively connecting with them, someone else is.
So, how do you do this without being overbearing and for lack of a better word “pushy”?
Figuring Out the Magic Number
Surveys show that when it comes to products and services, 72% of consumers prefer an integrated, multitouch marketing approach. Think of this as starting with an email, followed up by a phone call, next an invitation to a webinar, and then a dimension mail swag box that links to a branded landing page. It may seem like a lot, but studies show that a typical customer accesses as many as 23 touch points before he/she is even ready to talk. Yes, TWENTY-THREE!
So, while timing between touches is key, don’t hold back when it comes to multiple touches. They may just be assessing your product and comparing it to your competitors.
However, keep in mind that the customer journey doesn’t stop after those initial touch points and the first conversation. As every good sales professional and marketer knows, after that first conversation it’s about presenting your value, engaging, nudging, closing, and then ultimately retaining. Try doing all of that with a one-touch and done approach – it’s impossible. And yet, there are still so many professionals using a single-touch approach.
This needs to change.
A Customized, Tailored Approach is Key
Every campaign, no matter the size, has influence, so consistency is key and an integrated, multitouch campaign can help. Each prospect that you’re trying to convert is different, meaning each campaign needs to be tailored accordingly. It’s important to take into account your messaging, what you’re sending, when you’re sending it, and how you’re following up. Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes and go from there.
Then, you can select touch points and channels that will have maximum impact, utilize resources and services that will help you execute on the highest levels, and track your ROI.
At the end of the day, it’s about using all of your marketing tools to take someone on a journey that’s compelling, authentic, and resonates.
Are you interested in utilizing a multitouch approach but unsure how to go about it? Contact us today to see how we can help you get started.
How to Apply the Latest in eCommerce Functionality and UX Design to Increase Adoption
Digital capabilities and payment technologies have changed the way consumers shop; your colleagues are no different. Yet many businesses struggle to keep current internal marketing portals (also commonly referred to as “marketing stores”) that offer some form of ordering/purchasing features. Legacy marketing store systems were often built without scalability in mind, and thus many remain in a form where orders still have to feed through to purchasing departments or internal marketing teams for approval and fulfillment. Not providing a fully self-serve, user-friendly environment makes it harder for marketers to leverage all of the assets they’ve produced, and low self-sufficiency slows down customer-facing functions.
The lack of investment in these systems is understandable; they don’t directly correlate to the bottom line. But if you take the long view, they’re invaluable when it comes to brand and sales enablement. Customer-facing teams are among your best channels for promoting your brand. And with marketing increasingly being held accountable for justifying every expense, it’s critical that what you produce is visible and accessible to stakeholders.
The good news is that big hitters like Amazon and Zappos continue to update and perfect eCommerce, so companies wishing to upgrade internally-facing purchasing systems can capitalize on what is already in existence.
User Experience Is Top Priority
Research is increasingly confirming that one of the most critical determiners of the success of a web application is the user experience.
User Experience (UX) comprises a site’s look and feel, architecture, overall ease of use, shopping cart experience, and more.
You can leverage these very same principles to optimize efficiencies in your brand merchandise and marketing content ordering and purchasing portals. The superior UX and secure, controlled online purchasing available via your favorite websites can now be safely – and more easily – applied to better serve business stakeholders such as sales teams, distributors, and field marketers.
A UX-optimized marketing portal can accelerate many basic sales and marketing functions:
- Increasing adoption and transparency: Pricing and inventory are readily visible and can be updated in real time. Purchasers are better informed, reducing the risk of order changes.
- Improving internal perception of the marketing team: Providing excellent customer service always makes a good impression.
- Speeding up purchasing, fulfillment, and billing: Put merch within users’ reach with features such as frequently purchased items and smart content: similar to what you see in eCommerce sites that feature product recommendations and related products.
- Expediting order submissions and processing: Whether you need to change a ship-to on the fly or quick-ship 50 different pieces of merchandise to 50 different clients, those options are easy to access and process.
One aspect of customer experience that seamless eCommerce functionality does well is convenience. Users want to find what they’re looking for quickly, receive it hassle-free, and pay with their preferred method. While many older systems take in static requests that have to be routed to marketing teams for approval and fulfillment, a more streamlined portal enables automation that empowers users to take care of these processes themselves – easily and quickly.
And importantly, today’s best eCommerce-centric online marketing stores let users upload mailing lists to attach to their orders, rather than offering only a few predefined ship-to address options.
The Personalized Shop…
The level of personalization and ease of use that an eCommerce-style corporate marketing portal provides does well for internal brand perception. Consumers still highly value relationship – strong customer relationships boost loyalty, improve net promoter scores, reduce acquisition costs, and increase the likelihood of conversion, upsells, and expansion. Again, your colleagues are no different. When your tech can support them in every step of their tasks, you are building internal loyalty and teamwork.
Further, because eCommerce is primed to handle large amounts of data with minimal risk, it’s the ideal space to deliver personalized content and services and test new strategies.
If you integrate your internal corporate marketing portal with a robust content management system, you can take your online ordering and purchasing well beyond a more dated inventory library. You can deliver engaging content based on user activity and other data points.
You can also use personalization to move the relationship across channels conversational (chatbot-based) ordering and other purchase-based trigger communications. Such technologies make processes seamless, hassle-free, and scalable into the future.
Ready to talk about taking the best in UX and eCommerce to your online marketing store? Contact us to learn more.