Digital transformation remains at the top of most marketers' agendas for 2016. Yet, while many realize the inevitable need for change, marketers often convince themselves that these trends won't directly impact their strategies today. Instead, many marketers approach these matters as conversation starters, thereby neglecting opportunities to disrupt their organization and gain a competitive advantage.
As the CMO Council's recent "Brand Attraction for Increased Interaction" report reveals, brands can no longer ignore the emergence of the digital enterprise, the rise of the Internet of Things, and the advance of the API economy, for these trends are all inextricably linked to the evolution of the enriched customer interaction. Conducted in partnership with IBM Digital Experience, the study polled 268 senior marketing executives to better understand where and how digital content has become crucial to the way brands attract attention, encourage engagement, nurture relationships, increase conversions, and foster word-of-mouth. Overall, marketers still struggle to establish cohesive content strategies that promote and support brand consistency across all customer touchpoints.
The following statistics explore the challenges brands face in integrating content and commerce to increase the value of customer touchpoints, experiences, and relationships:
- Marketers admit that they're lagging when it comes to captivating and engaging their customers, partners, and employees via mobile, Web, and social channels, as only 5 percent believe they're extremely good at nurturing these interactions and digital experiences. Sixteen percent of respondents believe they're doing a very good job and 32 percent feel they're moderately good, but 6 percent say their ability varies by audience and 12 percent admit they're not doing well at all or don't know how they fare.
- As survey respondents struggle to integrate content and commerce strategies, just a small percentage of marketers claim their brands are extremely good (5 percent), very good (14 percent), or moderately good (26 percent) at creating, executing, and tailoring new multichannel, digital marketing campaigns to better reach and resonate with diverse micro-audiences worldwide. However, 37 percent hope that a cycle of steady improvement will strengthen success.
- Respondents agree that digital experiences help to shape and influence how their brand attracts, converts, monetizes, and retains customers. Digital experiences enable companies to deliver more compelling customer experiences (49 percent), heighten credibility, trust, and authority (41 percent), make it easier to consume and share content (40 percent), attract more prospects and opportunities (38 percent), and afford always-on availability and accessibility across channels (29 percent).
- Higher response and engagement rates (56 percent), more timely and relevant interactions (47 percent), greater customer affinity and word-of-mouth (44 percent), clearer and more persuasive communication (43 percent), and the conversion of more customers (43 percent) remain the top business benefits and competitive advantages gleaned from using more enriched, personalized content and digital interactions with consumers.
- Leaders and laggards view the impact of technology transformation very differently, as the two camps don't agree that the Internet of Things (89 percent vs. 28 percent, respectively), the API economy (67 percent vs. 24 percent), and digital experience (67 percent vs. 43 percent) will "very significantly" impact customer engagement, respectively.
Key takeaway: "Random acts" can no longer dictate marketing strategy, as customer communication and outreach efforts need to support the overarching brand experience. Companies need to consistently deliver relevant, targeted messaging. Content creation and delivery should advance customer conversations to enrich engagement and drive conversions. Successful companies actively embrace new digital channels and content management technologies that help them to realize the full value of rich media engagement, as higher levels of personalization and tailored interactions enable brands to gain a competitive advantage. However, while brands need to focus on implementing the right technologies to advance customer relationships, marketers also must keep their eyes toward the future and adopt and integrate new innovations, technologies, and engagement capabilities as they arise. Doing so can allow marketers to develop purposeful, intentional interactions that generate the sort of engagement that supports loyalty, satisfaction, and advocacy.