“Digital Transformation” isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a core concept of my business model, and I hope by the time you’re done reading this you’ll know why it should be a core concept of your own business.
In essence, digital transformation is the process of transitioning your entire business from an old stale platform to a new digitally efficient and exciting model. There are so many different things that go into this but let’s look at how it works for sales and marketing.
Digital Transformation many times can bring your sales and marketing from the physical world of phone calls, fliers, and mailings to the Internet. These older “analog” techniques are still valid, but they are becoming much less effective over time. Why is that? E-commerce technologies have reached a point that they’re blowing physical advertising out of the water.
People are still buying things more than ever though, but where are they doing it? They’re buying on the web instead of walking into a store. Have you heard of “showrooming”? This is a term that retailers use for people who go to a store to get an experience with a physical product then search for the best price online. Best Buy in particular had this happen so much that they’ve made this part of their business model, hoping to push people to buy the product in the store through the Best Buy website. (Smart thinking Best Buy, way to digitally transform instead of continuing to fight it!)
What if you have a service business instead of a retail business? You’re still in trouble. Customers aren’t letting their fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages anymore. Instead they’re turning to Yelp and Angie’s List. Yelp and sites like it have a big advantage over older methods of service advertising. They not only can display more information, but they provide the social proof of customer reviews.
Customer reviews are the major force in demonstrating reputation in the online world. We used to call this word-of-mouth advertising, but now sites like Yelp allow a single person’s voice to reach your entire market (at least the ones who check Yelp, 132 million monthly visitors in Q1 2014 according to the site) and color other people’s perception of you for good or for ill. We like to call this “digital-mouth” advertising.
Basic Online Presence Is Not Enough
Perhaps you think you’re ahead of the curve. You have a website and some social media presence. Isn’t that enough? Sadly to say it isn’t. Many business websites don’t have much more information than a standard Yelp page. Social media is treated more like a billboard than a customer interaction platform. Worst of all, if a visitor wants to convert they have to go back to things like the telephone or basic email to get in touch with you. They violate one of my four pillars of digital transformation, the digital hook.
The mobile web has made it so easy to convert visitors that websites shouldn’t be called web sites anymore. Instead, I call them “customer acquisition engines.”
The key shift is that your online presence needs to move from a purely marketing standpoint toward both sales and marketing. Not only that, but customer data should be tracked over time to generate an ongoing relationship with an individual visitor, urging them to convert again and again until they become loyal customers.
Impossible you say? I assure you that with today’s technology it is quite possible. You may have seen some of the tactics yourself. If you use Facebook and don’t have an ad blocker on, try visiting a few business sites or talk about a topic a few times. Notice what ads you get on the side bar. Most of the time, you’re going to start seeing ads that relate to what you saw or talked about.
In fact, by merely visiting a site, companies can now start to get marketing data on you immediately. Technologies like tracking pixels can trace an individual visitor as they come and go from a site. This allows you to push ads about your business to them on other sites. When they come back, that information can be read and let the visitor pick up where they left off in the sales cycle.
Digital Transformation is Vital Now
With decreasing retail sales, more people buying online, and new sales and marketing tactics smashing competition through the digital space, the old business models can’t compete for much longer. If this article has sounded a chord of panic in you though, don’t worry because knowledge is power. Get started today and start the transformation now before you get out-transformed by your competitors!