Digital transformation is racing across the business world with such vigor that it's impossible for companies not to stand up and take note.
Mega-corporations and industries around the globe are migrating to digital records with built-in client portals, constructing not just beautiful but also practical websites, and implementing automation, live chat, social outreach, and much more. Because improving client communication is key, for many the mindset is "get on board, or get left behind."
Other markets, however, seem to be less concerned.
Apparently, some niche markets are under the impression that a small social presence and a semi-decent website are enough to make digital transformation work for them. But it's not enough to have some digital assets. A truly successful transformation requires that you use those assets to engage with your customers—a practice that niche markets haven't had to embrace in bygone eras, and they are reluctant to embrace them now.
But why is that?
Unfortunately, many niche markets have chosen to cling to modern-day myths that may have once stemmed from age-old truths. Ideas that may have been relevant in the past are no longer valid in a world that is increasingly connected.
To usher in improved customer engagement strategies, you must first learn to recognize which of the antiquated ones need replacing.
Myth #1: Customer engagement works best in person. Many of the decision-makers aren't online anyway.
Fact: Purchasing decisions in the digital age are a collective effort. Purse strings are no longer limited by senior household members or executive-level staff.
As Millennials begin to earn more, and Baby Boomers exit the workforce, the cash source for B2C companies is migrating to a generation comfortable with online purchases and communications. The B2B landscape is experiencing a similar shift as more companies turn to multigenerational committees in an age where inclusion, diversity, and social consciousness must be considered with every decision.
Myth #2: I have a website, so I have an online presence. Isn't that enough?
Fact: Websites are fantastic platforms for the dissemination of information and an excellent tool to have in your arsenal, but they are just that: a tool. To work well, they need to be used properly by the person (or company) wielding them.
Effective websites have customer engagement opportunities built into them. Contact pages with the option to submit feedback online, user portals designed to put the customer in control of their relationship with information, and content pages that satisfy consumer curiosity are all useful forms of customer engagement that can reside on your company website.
Myth #3: People respond to advertising better than they respond to content.
Fact: Today, content is advertising. It just happens to be more discrete. It's also marketing, communication, and information. Consumers and customers—whether B2C or B2B—are acutely aware of what traditional advertising looks like and they don't want to be sold to. Many of them would rather be entertained. Enticed. Educated.
Content, in various formats, has proven advantageous in engaging a distracted customer base, provided the information being transmitted is both useful and relevant. Good brand content has little need to sound like an advertising piece.
Now that you are aware of the outmoded perceptions of customer engagement plaguing the niche market mindset, it'll be easier to identify and eliminate them. But then what? What do successful customer engagements look like in the age of digital transformation?
1. Ensure your content is good content
First thing you need to do: find customers that want to engage. And the best way to do that is by creating content that your ideal client wants to read. That applies when composing not only the blog posts and articles you're sharing on social media but also your web copy.
Determine what information your end-users want to know, then make sure they can easily find that information on your website. Also, navigation between the various types of content on your site should be intuitive. Well-written copy encourages users to keep reading, so it's best if your navigational content encourages them to do just that.
2. Create a community
Engagement is a two-way street, so it's critical niche markets incorporate methods that engender two-way interaction. Techniques like social listening and feedback solicitation go a long way in lending an empathetic ear to a learnedly skeptical customer base.
Create an outlet for current and potential users to talk about your brand. Keep interactions respectful, but don't prohibit bad reviews or unflattering opinions. Instead, address them promptly to let upset customers know that they've been heard.
By providing a place for constructive conversations to occur, you're effectively ensuring that your company has a direct line on what your consumers want and need from your market.
3. Measure, evaluate, and adjust
No customer engagement strategy should ever be considered completely finalized, especially in a constantly evolving digital environment.
Brainstorm ways to measure how satisfied your customers are with your engagement efforts. Your method will likely vary depending on your niche product or service. Evaluate responses objectively from both the consumer and company standpoints, and then adjust your strategy accordingly.
Fluidity is imperative if you want to keep up with customers who are used to changing their mind as soon as their device alerts them of new information. Flexibility is another way to communicate to consumers that you are just as committed to their happiness as they are.
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Digital transformation has undoubtedly changed the way businesses approach customer engagement. Mega-corporations and international conglomerates were quick to understand the implications and incorporate customer engagement strategies designed to take advantage of the changing landscape. If niche markets want to thrive in an age where customers are no longer bound by limited options or locations, it's essential they do the same.
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