The shift of power in the digital marketplace: from brands to consumers

by | Jul 19, 2017 | Personal Insights

Increasingly, the power in the digital marketplace is moving from the brand to a combination of the brand and the consumer. Traditional advertising saw brand-to-consumer marketing messages dominating. However, in the digital marketplace, the traditional marketing model faces tough competition, and digital transformation for businesses is essential.

 

The shift of power: from brands to consumers

Companies are now using social media to deliver messaging with greater impact. Is this possible? Well, it’s happening right in front of your own eyes! Direct brand messages that have narrative structures are increasing persuasion and brand connections in both old and new media. And as consumer-to-consumer storytelling becomes more and more prevalent on social media, previous notions of direct brand influence are being replaced by more nuanced notions of brand-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer marketing. According to Hubspot, consumers are 71% more likely to buy a product based on social media referrals. This, of course, is assuming that the referrals are positive…

 

%

More Likely to Purchase Based on Social Media Referrals

 

Because brands are aware of this, they foster a relationship in which they become more ‘personable’, creating content and sharing content for and by consumers. This allows for complex combinations in which consumers share creative content with companies and then both the company and the brand users share that content further on social media. The customer experience is what is driving the new-age successful digital company. Simply put: successful digital brands get the customer. And more importantly, what the customer wants at a moment in time. If a brand isn’t getting this right, the MIT Sloan Management Review article states that there are 3 pillars & 7 building blocks for Digital Transformation and these center around how to transform the customer experience.

 

3 pillars to transform the customer experience:

  1. Improve your Customer Understanding with Analytics.

    • Really focus on customer behaviour and segmentation. For example, what is your open-rate with your email campaigns? If you have an especially low open-rate, you need to consider why that could be the case. Is your Copyrighter terrible at writing compelling headlines? Here’s a few fresh ideas, if that’s the case.
  2. Make your Customer Experience mobile friendly – at all costs!

    • In other words, enhance Top-Line Growth with digital products like smartphones, tablets, etc. It’s relatively easy to do this if you are building your social media experience with the right, simple-to-use tools.
  3. Use digitized Customer Touch Points.

    • For example, utilize social media to answer complaints as well as thank those who praise you – make communication transparent and easy.
    • In addition, making self service available via Apps allows for increased multi-channel usage and faster customer service. Gone are the days when having a call center to support customer service was sufficient.
    • Today, in a world of mobile, instant gratification, we have the opportunity to align all customer touch points seamlessly and cohesively. However, it is critical to understand the importance of digital transformation, including the integration of ‘old functional silos’. Inherently, a self-service App needs to integrate with all of the appropriate ‘old functional silos’ to create one platform in which all customer needs can be met. For example, a system which allows a customer to check their billing and make more purchases, as well as make queries into the service or product, would allow the integration of previously separated, ‘old functional silos’: “Sales” and “Customer Service” departments.

Ultimately, these transformations cannot take place without first reviewing the structure of your business model and operational processes. These will affect the customer experience. We discuss the increasing importance of customer insights and how this has affected the contemporary Marketing Team business model in our article “The disruption of the Marketing Team Structure in the Digital Age”.

 

 

6 building blocks for Digital Transformation

Crucial to the digital transformation of the customer experience is a review of the operational and business models that exist within your business. You can’t transform customer experience without acknowledging the role that ‘old functional silos’ play in the operational processes within the business (these ultimately affect the customer experience). These ‘building blocks’ of transformation have been sorted by MIT Sloan into two categories: the first category is concerned with transforming the operational processes, while the second category concerns transforming the existing business model.

  1. Transform Operational Processes

While there are a multitude of companies and academic institutions providing their thoughts on digital transformation, we like these simple building blocks highlighted by MIT Sloan:

 

  • Process Digitization with automation, adding new features.

    Listed first here, this is probably one of the most difficult areas in our opinion. It involves new ways of doing things. Processes are learnt over time and not that easy to change. It usually also involves some downtime as the transition is made (the less downtime the better) and this is a contentious area. Typically, there could be potential revenue loss during the transition period. But forward-thinking CEOs realise that the cost of NOT digitizing the process far outweighs any possible downtime. The opportunity is to reduce the risk duiring the transition.

 

  • Allow Worker Enablement with collaboration & virtualization.

    Individual-level work has been virtualized — separating the work process from the location of the work. Knowledge sharing has become the de facto standard and offices are being redesigned to allow for greater collaboration. Given that projects change constantly (and evolve or mature), different skills are required at different stages. Virtual work areas facilitate this requirement for flexibility and ensure collaboration.

 

  • Prioritise Performance Management.

    With digital transformation, do not underestimate the need to completely reassess how you measure employee performance. Analytical systems are now more than ever before providing a level of detail which ultimately narrows down to the employee. The old saying of “what you measure, gets done”, applies. In addition, the whole process of strategic decision making is being reconsidered. CEOs are now using existing collaboration tools to extend strategic planning sessions from a small number to a broader spectrum across the organization. Very often some of the best insights within a business can be gathered from the most unexpected of areas. And remember, a better input into the process and a better input into the decisions ensures that the uptake of the vision is smoother.

 

  1. Transforming Business Models

Companies are not only changing how their functions work; they are redefining how functions interact. MIT Sloan suggest that three building blocks of this transformation are digital modifications, the creation of new digital businesses, and digital globalization.

 

  • Digitally Modified Businesses – stay ahead of the competition & go digital.

    We all know by now that if you don’t transform the way you do business, you’re probably in trouble. Have you considered how you can begin to generate revnue streams online? Very often we are told that your customers don’t even use the internet! This is no reason to continue in a non-digital world. While you’re not focused on digitally transforming your business, your competitors are doing just that to their own businesses. And your customers will sooner or later head over to the better offer. Take for example my nearly 70 year old Mom. 3 years ago, she believed that technology was too intimidating, and should be reserved for the younger generation. Today, with iPad, laptop and cell phone in hand, she is arguably an untapped possible customer. Technology no longer scares her and she is quite vocal about how she is able to find anything she wants on Google! Now is the time to digitally modify your business. Opportunity is everywhere.

 

  • New Digital Businesses – complimenting existing offers with new offers.

    Product introduction is fast becoming a hot topic. Finding innovative new products to complement existing products is a wonderful way to explore new digital businesses. The sky is the limit in each and every business – it’s your propensity to welcome the new world which will define the winners from the not-so-successful going forward. With conversion tracking, it is so easy these days to increase sales by offering a complimentary product at checkout, based on what the consumer has added to their basket. To bring the topic closer to home, here’s a little example that we experienced ourselves. Even though we are a digital brand, communications and marketing company, we have also been affected by digital transformation. Inundated with requests to educate small to medium sized businesses on digital transformation, we’ve recently adjusted our product offering to include digital training. This was not on our horizon when we started Infinipod!

 

  • Digital Globalization 

    Today, more than ever before, you can become a truly global company. As MIT Sloan suggest, ‘digital technology coupled with integrated information is allowing businesses to gain global synergies while remaining locally responsive.’ Using the Infinipod example, today our customers come from all over the world and it no longer matters where we are based. We are living proof that digital transformation is here and it’s happening now.

 

Courage as the recipe for success

Like anything else, to be successful, digital transformation requires strong leadership to drive change. Most of all it’s about your vision, your dream (sometimes unimagined) and your attitude! But it also requires courage, out-the-box thinking and a realization that the sky is the limit. The speed at which you can take new products to market, measure success and quickly adapt is unprecedented. So whether it’s how your employees work and collaborate, how your business processes are executed or in the way a company understands and serves customers, digital technology provides a wealth of opportunity.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau

 

 

Infinipod Team Digital Marketing Mikayla Humphries Portrait

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