The world of digital marketing as we know it is silently changing. The fundamental change that has the marketing function's undivided attention is the changing customer journeys - what customers need, how they shop, how products and services are delivered, and how customers experience each step.
Digital marketing programs need to contend with the elephant in the room. In fact, several. European Union's GDPR, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), cybersecurity, and digital compliance are the crosswinds acting on how customers find, think, and feel about an organization's brand, product, and solutions. As Google does away with third-party (3P) cookies in Chrome (the browser with 2/3 market share) and Apple does away with access to device identifiers on iOS, our 'Cookie-less' future has arrived.
Complicating these circumstances further is the pandemic(2019) effect. The traditional 4Ps across industries have transformed.
Consider how companies are optimizing their product portfolios (elastically, shrinking offering size or ramping it for affordability), shifting their pricing strategy (by resetting pricing ladders for online customers), optimizing it for virtual placements (chatbots in websites, efficient display ads, etc.), and re-thinking promotion strategy (e-tailers employing user behavior-based recommendations).
As a result, digital marketing practices that promise to create sustainable brand experiences face a flux.
Be it in identifying audience and channels, building strategy and assets, launching campaigns, optimizing performance, or leveraging insights for differentiation – each stage of customer-first marketing today is impacted.
The flight plan calls for an amendment. But before we discuss course corrections, it might be prudent to decipher how B2B journeys have changed in the new normal. And the way it ties back to digital marketing.
As most B2B seller interactions go from in-person to virtual, the digital self-serve models are unsurprisingly favored by B2B decision-makers. From the ease of scheduling to savings in travel expenses, or the added safety, belief in digital efficacy only grows stronger. The position of the 'hybrid' seller (someone who interacts over the video, phone, live chat, and apps) is now permanent.
However, this dynamic has to contend with the fresh winds blowing in from the mentioned 'cookieless future.' A slew of debates agitates the best marketing minds today. How dearly will the loss in hyper-targeting cost revenues? Will ad-frauds increase? How will campaign parameters – costs, outcomes, reporting, and efficiencies – impact digital responsibilities between sales and marketing?
In all of this, the critical question arises: What will the new B2B demand generation landscape look like?
Studied opinions suggest intersection points between buyer journeys and customer experience are increasingly twinning to represent a complete user journey. To take advantage of this shift would mean re-visiting demand generation strategies. Mainly applicable to ISVs will be the approach of either investing in new content or optimizing existing assets to leverage the 'pandemic-popular' demand generation approaches of gated content, search engine marketing, and virtual events on social media.
Understanding the new crosswinds impacting virtual demand generation yields only half the future flight plan. The more critical half is the ability to use digital marketing as a strategic tool.
For one, pandemic or not, launching, managing, and promoting brands is an expertise brewed over long passages of time, possibly decades. While processes can be borrowed overnight, acquiring mastery means building deep domain expertise. Additionally, creating differentiated marketing tactics and promotions implies developing custom tools and campaigns. Again, something that takes time (and practice)! This, in the final analysis, reduces the costs of lead acquisition and accelerates businesses.
After all, seamless customer journeys are successful on how much (and how well) an organization's digital marketing approaches can narrow down buyer messaging and reach.
And what might these approaches entail?
The approaches are as many as can be imagined
- Leverage next-gen solutions like AR/VR to deliver product experiences anytime, anywhere - by offering free live demos before purchase
- Embrace design-thinking and data-driven practices that appeal to the core human emotion - by developing apps personalizing each hotel guest's experience.
- Track and optimize online customer journeys - by integrating industry trends, real-time user insights, and intuitive report sets into a turnkey solution
Despite the strong slipstream, data-driven digital marketing will enable delightful user-centric experiences. However, as organizations commit to dynamic digital marketing to ride over ecosystem's turbulence, the make-or-break variable is future readines
What is Future-readiness?
At HARMAN, 'Future readiness', is understood not from an academic vagueness but a demonstrated competence. It is differentiated through bespoke experiences we contextually create. A quick elucidation with an example will help. Say a corporation seeks a design agency to deliver meaningful human-centric user experiences. Apart from passion and problem-solving abilities, what would you use as selection-lenses? Where is this corporation likely to find evidence of expertise?
The evidence of expertise is to be found in the intuitive customer experiences that create immersive moments, thereby satisfying an emotional necessity. To be able to do that, would mean working with a brand like HARMAN, that intimately understands (and delivers) data-driven insight, and research-backed digital marketing practices. Be it monetizing demand, creating brand awareness, or best in class digital campaigns, at HARMAN, customer is placed at the heart of the connected enterprise. Connect with us to learn more.