How to build customer value through virtual engagement
Most brands depend on their relationships with customers to build a consumer base and invest in future opportunities. They operate with the assumption that many customers aren’t just one-time buyers. In most industries, consumers are likely to become repeat buyers. This potential for future sales is often referred to as the customer value, a calculation of the lifetime potential cash flows that might come from that consumer.
It’s in a brand’s best interests to capture as much of that value as possible. Building and maintaining relationships is a cornerstone of realizing this potential, but the strategies used to do this are undergoing a rapid transformation. Instead of more traditional models, brands are implementing digital approaches that offer better forms of engagement and better data to guide these interactions. In addition, consumers now expect brands to meet them on these digital platforms, making it imperative for businesses to embrace virtual engagement.
The challenge facing enterprise marketers is figuring out which digital channels deserve the highest priority and whether to abandon traditional strategies in favor of an all-digital approach.
Mobile’s growing role in virtual engagement
Among digital engagement channels, social has skyrocketed in recent years. Various social networks offer highly engaging and diverse methods for reaching a brand’s target audience. The growing value of social comes as other digital channels such as email marketing and content creation maintain their value.
Another digital channel is adding its name to that list. Mobile is flexing its muscles as a channel for customer engagement thanks to growing smartphone and tablet usage and the rise of mobile apps. Other mobile-based solutions, such as cloud-based solutions and mobile analytics, make it easier for brands to collect and interpret consumer data to drive smarter digital campaigns. As CIO pointed out, mobile customer relationship management (CRM) is also becoming a more influential sales tool, replacing traditional strategies such as slides and PowerPoint presentations with interactive mobile experiences.
Keep in mind, too, that certain successful digital channels — such as social media — see high usage coming from mobile platforms. Brands that want to cultivate better customer relationships need to meet those customers where they’re at. Nowadays, that means building a mobile presence.
Should you abandon traditional CRM altogether?
There’s no question that digital customer engagement is essential for any business. A better question to ask is whether traditional models have any place for brands in 2017 and beyond. The problem with many of these strategies is that they take a one-sided approach. Customer service is often automated and impersonal, marketing communications are one-way and lack interaction and data isn’t collected with the intent of improving engagement.
These strategies just don’t work anymore. Traditional customer value management works by placing customers into buckets and segmenting an organization’s operations — separating sales and marketing is a prime example — but digital customer engagement depends on breaking down these silos. Sales and marketing need to work collaboratively — marketing should be experience-based and encourage a two-way dialogue, and customer service should embrace personalization and one-to-one relationships.
Given the needs of today’s consumers, traditional strategies just don’t fit. Enterprises should instead look to mobile and digital innovations as opportunities to build customer value and invest in the future.