Danielle Savin, senior director of digital marketing services, and Suresh Rajappan, digital customer experience principal, at Capgemini in North America, explain why now is the time to double-down on digital transformation.
This blog was written by Danielle Savin, senior director of digital marketing services, and Suresh Rajappan, digital customer experience principal, at Capgemini in North America.
Consumer behavior has changed rapidly and drastically during the pandemic, in every industry and across all types of buyers, whether B2C or B2B. Online commerce has boomed, for instance, while in-person browsing, sales calls and events have plummeted. Customers are demanding everything from curbside delivery and contactless payments to flexible returns.
Many of these new behaviors are likely to create permanent behavior. The question is, what will the customer experience be like going forward in what is becoming the "new normal"? How will marketers engage with shoppers in a post-pandemic world?
The best answer is through an omnichannel marketing approach that is enabled by digital technologies. This means rethinking content and messaging to adapt to new customer behavior. It means shifting processes throughout the customer journey to meet new consumer expectations, from the moment a shopper sees a social media post or browses a website to supply chain and logistics to post-purchase support. It also means figuring out how to scale and connect these marketing efforts across channels and devices, to make sure a brand's omnichannel strategy is consistent and repeatable.
The current crisis has forced today's marketers to become even more nimble, flexible and digitally-focused. Many retailers, for example, have turned physical stores into warehouses, retooled their websites, offered easier delivery and payment options, as well as more flexible returns. They have reached out to their communities through engagement channels (social, mobile, ads, emails etc) to spread the word, with messaging that is tuned in to the rapid shifts in what their customers want and need.
One leading quick-serve restaurant franchise, for example, was in the middle of a digital transformation to enable their own delivery on its online ordering platform when the pandemic hit and reduced its foot traffic by 97% in one week. The chain quickly pivoted, enabling curbside delivery as well as piloting a new model offering grocery essentials such as deli meats, bread, cheese and vegetables. They also amped up their marketing messaging to focus on health, safety and convenience.
B2B companies have also been busy pivoting. For instance, more than 60,000 pharmaceutical sales reps called on healthcare providers in person pre-pandemic, while only 10% of those visits were remote. Now, more than 90% are remote and will likely stay that way as physicians become used to and see the benefits of a virtual model.
That means pharma companies need to develop the right online marketing strategies, completely reworking the way drugs are launched and promoted. Rather than calling on physicians in person to talk about what a drug can do, brands need to build online communities, host digital events, develop digital support networks and create direct-to-consumer marketing promotions.
These are three essential steps marketers need to take to connect with customers to develop lasting, loyal relationships in a shifting landscape: 1. Understand your customers. Consumer behavior is changing — possibly for good. Brands may have new kinds of customers they never had before, while others may have dropped off. Examine your marketing personas and monitor data and trends to deeply understand new buying behavior. This will allow you to create optimal customer journeys based on changed behavior and new customer segments. 2. Update your marketing messaging. Your customers may be working from home, or headed to jobs where they must take significant safety precautions, or perhaps have been laid off. That means marketing messaging needs to be sensitive, both in tone and to respond to new needs. It should also be cohesive across channels, whether on SMS, social networks or email. 3. Agile marketing is key. With everything from personas, journeys, content and channels evolving rapidly, marketers need to be ready to quickly pivot to give customers what they want and meet them where they are. If in-store shopping doesn't exist for many right now, for instance, the customer journey and related content must be reimagined online with new tactics and formats. No matter what the industry, businesses cannot sit back and wait to tackle the marketing challenges facing them as we all emerge into a "new world" and the current crisis evolves. Instead, now is the time to double-down on digital transformation. Only by tackling changes with an omnichannel marketing model, supported by digital technologies, can marketers respond successfully to provide the customer experience that today's buyers crave. Danielle Savin is senior director of digital marketing services and Suresh Rajappan is digital customer experience principal at Capgemini in North America.