"Who was finally responsible for kickstarting the company's digital transformation – the CEO, CMO, CIO or COVID-19?"

 

There was a post floating around recently that asked: “Who was finally responsible for kickstarting the company’s digital transformation – the CEO, CMO, CIO or COVID-19?”. Well, the latter has undoubtedly played a part in forcing the hand of many companies to implement a digitally-focused customer experience.

The companies that had already laid some foundations, or adapted quickly, have benefitted in the forever changing (and challenging) environment of 2020. These changes helped them navigate Lockdown 1.0, and those same companies continue to benefit today, as people become used to and even enjoy the benefits of working and shopping from home. This is especially relevant as Auckland battles through Lockdown 2.0. 

Faced with reduced budgets, economic uncertainty and overworked teams, having digital capability has become a lifesaver for many marketing teams. For new businesses, this may be continuing to innovate their offerings to drive conversion from their social pages, or more established companies taking their first steps to develop a robust digital strategy and customer experience. 

Embracing future-thinking has never been more relevant than it is today. Consumers are facing the second “worst recession of our lifetime”, according to The Atlantic, and it doesn’t look like COVID-19 is slowing down anytime soon. So, how do you develop a digital strategy for this ever-changing new world? Here are four things you should be considering right now:

 

01.  How do you connect with people in a way that feels intuitive online?

Consider how you want your communication to be received. For example, think about Jacinda’s Instagram live stories – she knew that when people were escaping to Instagram, they were still bombarded with overwhelming news articles. So she decided to cut through the corona news clutter to comfort people. Another example is Les Mills, which had to close their doors entirely and embrace their digital channels to continue to be connected to their fitness-loving members. How? By offering their members free online subscriptions to Les Mills OnDemand (a platform they had already spent time developing) and using Instagram live to host daily classes. A strategy that they were able to implement again during Auckland’s Lockdown 2.0.

 

02.  How do you help people make decisions?

With less money and more job uncertainty, the pandemic not only changed consumers’ buying methods but also caused them to challenge their purchasing behaviours. In response, we saw companies like Harrisons offering three years interest-free. They knew people had lots of time to work on their house but not the same cash certainty, so they provided a solution. If you look at the hospitality sector, local coffee shops quickly began offering text-to-order services and posting daily updates on their social channels of the food they had available. A simple way to ensure they maintained some ongoing custom. Going digital for many businesses was simply about understanding the new barriers customers are facing and helping them get over those hurdles – genuinely and authentically.

 

03.  Consider the whole purchase journey, and how you can use automation to keep customers informed.

As Mark Twain said, “Write what you know,” the same could be said when it comes to creating a digital consumer experience. Think about the last time you bought something online and how many tracking updates you got before your package landed on your front door. Making sure your customers are informed will reduce any online shopping anxiety they may have. A great example of digital-transparency is from Sharesies, who send you an email every time an investment goes through. That way, you always feel informed about where your money is and in turn, it ensures first-time investors that their money is safe.

 

04.  Tracking the impact effectively

One of the key benefits of digital is that you can track and measure results at speed – the trap is not knowing which measures to focus on. Consider what each metric is telling you so that you can diagnose symptoms and success accordingly. For example, if sales aren’t firing, it’s best to start with the foundations by doing a media measures check-up. Are you hitting reach goals? If so, move on to a content check-up. Are people engaging with your message? If so, perhaps look at a brand measure, and so on.

 

Critically, before you commit to your digital journey, take a step back and think about who you’re trying to help and what you want to achieve. Once you know what makes your consumers tick, you can develop a plan that will ensure they engage and interact with your business and digital experience in a meaningful way.

The key watch out here is thinking that humans are ‘rational beings.’ Therefore, when we want to buy a car, we’re going to do a lot of research, compare specs and come to a logical conclusion. That is not how it usually works. Your consumers are undoubtedly time-poor and are more likely to unconsciously act (and purchase) on gut instincts and deep-seated beliefs. To develop a brand and digital experience that interrupts this inbuilt behaviour, first, you need to embrace your curiosity and get under the skin of your consumers, developing a deep understanding of what is important to them.

To help you develop a digitally-focused customer experience that will prepare your business for a changing world, we have developed a downloadable guide to help you kick start your company’s digital transformation.

 

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