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Notes On Digital Transformation: An Introduction

Throughout the many meetings and conversations we have had with different organizations about their digital transformation efforts, the conversations were mostly dominated by what technology or systems the business should use. As a result of that focus on the technology as the ultimate cure, we have seen many organizations fail to even kickstart their digital transformation journey. If digital transformation was only about technology and systems then it would probably be called Systems Upgrades, which is what organizations have done for decades.

So what is Digital Transformation about?

If you search the web for Digital Transformation you will no doubt find, what may seem, many definitions from different sources, but if you take a closer look at them then you will find a common thread. Here’s one from The Enterprisers Project:

“Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It’s also a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure.”

Here’s a more elaborate one from a Harvard Business Review article, “Why So Many High-Profile Digital Transformations Fail”, by Thomas H Davenport and George Westerman :

“..digital is not just a thing that you can you can buy and plug into the organization. It is multi-faceted and diffuse, and doesn’t just involve technology. Digital transformation is an ongoing process of changing the way you do business. It requires foundational investments in skills, projects, infrastructure, and, often, in cleaning up IT systems. It requires mixing people, machines, and business processes, with all of the messiness that entails.”

So we can establish a few foundational aspects of what digital transformation is:

1- It is a mix of people, technology, and business processes

2- It is not a project, it is an “ongoing process” of challenging the status quo and changing the way you do business

3- It is messy and requires certain tolerance for risks and failures

For a digital transformation journey to be proper and survive, it needs to be sponsored from the top by the different divisions heads. Unfortunately what happens most of the time is that it gets “assigned” to IT where it becomes an “IT project” instead of a business initiative.


Why is it that a lot of businesses focus mainly on technology?

Digital transformation usually falls within the realm of IT so naturally the IT team would focus on technology and systems with minimum to no consideration to business processes and internal culture. Also, technology lies at the heart of digital transformation and, from experience, it gets all the attention because it is the “cool” part of the journey and, at least on the surface, it looks easy to implement. In other words, a lot of businesses simply follow the buzz words that are trending at the moment as they don’t want to be seen behind on current trends.

That is why you see a lot of communication from businesses about what new cool technology they implemented and all the publicity they are getting. What you don’t hear is whether they actually improved their internal processes to match the new technology or more importantly whether they elevated their staff to match the technology. It is very easy to identify those gaps and all one has to do is walk into one of the stores and ask the staff about that new AI system they just implemented or the new virtual assistant that is getting all the buzz and how you, the customer, would benefit from all that, and what you would probably get is a puzzled look and an embarrassed staff.

Technology is the “cool” part of the digital transformation journey because, for the most part, it is what the outside world see (especially customers) and talk about. It is all around us from the cool world of AI, robotics, automation, machine learning, product recommendation, blockchain, virtual reality, virtual concierge etc. Customers do not talk about the culture or the processes of the businesses they interact with, those are only mentioned in business articles and academia. However, what customers “do” remember and talk about the most is the customer service and this is what a lot of businesses tend to forget and when the promised sales numbers do not materialize the first thing to be blamed is the system and IT along with it.

On the surface, technology looks easy to implement as the organization can simply turn to the company that provides the technology and rely on them for implementation with the help of consultants. However, changing the internal culture and processes can only be done from within and it is a painful endeavor. I mentioned that on the surface, technology is the easiest part of the digital transformation because that is only an illusion and sooner or later the organization will realize that digital is not a thing that you can plug into the organization and expect magic to happen. Most organizations avoid dealing with the messiness that comes with mixing technology, people, and processes and would rather focus on the technology as in the end they can simply blame the system for not taking them to the promised land.


Legacy systems bring with them legacy processes and legacy people

You cannot transform one and leave the others behind. Time and time again, we see organizations charging one team of “transforming” the business by enforcing systems and technologies on everyone within the organization and without any proper understanding of the existing business challenges and without involving the people who are supposedly expected to not only adopt the new technology but also ensure its success.

Transformation is not a sudden thing, it is not a one time project that you can assign to a team with an end date. Transformation is gradual and continual but that doesn’t mean businesses have to wait a long time to start reaping the benefits of digital transformation. By aligning everyone on what digital transformation means to the organization, by empowering the separate divisions to identify the best ways for them to embark on that journey while meeting the overall objective of the organization, and then by breaking down that journey into measurable and realistic tracks that people can learn from and adjust to, then each one of of those tracks can deliver immediate results.

This allows the organization to be cost efficient because it invests incrementally in steps rather than throwing one big investment into everything and hope for the best, it gives them room to adjust as there will be failures and learnings, and most importantly it allows their people to evolve.


The urgency of digital transformation in the era of COVID-19

It is more critical for businesses now to adopt this agile approach towards digital transformation as the COVID-19 epidemic is forcing them to accelerate their digital transformation journey which might look like a good idea at the start but if not executed properly they might find themselves in a lot worse situation from when they started. We are already seeing many businesses rushing to setup E-Commerce without the proper understanding of what it takes to do that (it is not only about selling products online) and without the proper execution. It is understandable that businesses would want to expand their sales channels but it is also important that in these tough times, the business is not wasting precious money, time, and resources on something that might not deliver the expected results.

As a business you need to:

  1. Define your challenges and objectives
  2. Prioritize your needs and the needs of your customers
  3. Identify what you need to overcome those challenges and achieve your objectives (maybe what you have can help you achieve that with minor modification)
  4. Most importantly involve your staff as you will need their commitment and ideas to get to where you want to be

Like everything else in life, a solid foundation is a recipe for success in the future. No matter what the next emerging technology is, with the right foundation that is designed and built to connect to those modern technologies, organizations would be on the right path for a successful digital transformation.

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Marketing Tips During Covid-19

Denial followed by fear and panic are the three feelings that were experienced by mostly everyone and every business during the first week. Now that it is a month plus into it, the only thing constant is change. We’re all learning to quickly adapt, both personally and professionally. But if we learned anything from previous crises (no matter how different they were), businesses that acted fast and stayed engaged with their customers ended up big-time winners.

With that in mind, we thought that it might be useful to share some general marketing, CRM and loyalty guidelines during these unusual times.

  1. Exercise Generosity with your Loyalty Program
    If you are running one, try to be more generous and extend the expiry dates. If you don’t have one, now is the time to start thinking about one.
  2. Sense-Check your Automated Marketing
    If you have any automated communication switched-on, now it is time to sense-check it and make sure that it is relevant to this period. Don’t ignore to tackle the new customer journeys that were created during this period.
  3. Review your Scheduled Marketing Campaigns
    Acknowledging that your customers (like all of us) are dealing with major disruptions, you need to review the creative and copy of your scheduled marketing campaigns and consider instead sending more empathetic and less opportunistic messages. Determine which ones to pause now, and which ones to pivot or prioritize.
  4. Switch Part of your Promotional Budget to Creating Useful Content
    Try to educate, entertain, or inspire your customers with useful content that will help them in their everyday #staying-in life. We have seen and are currently evaluating many catchy and engaging ideas with our partners, across all industries.
  5. Re-Imagine with your Customers the World Post-Covid-19
    I am sure you are spending a lot of time and energy imagining that world. Who isn’t? It might be worth it to survey your customers and include them in this thought process.  The answers might surprise you and will definitely provide you with invaluable insights for the upcoming period.
  6. Plan…plan…plan
    Remember the quarantine and lockdown won’t last forever. So start preparing for the following period thoughtfully and proactively. Make use of your partners resources to bounce ideas, brainstorm and plan; in order to be fully ready when things go back to normality.

We wish everyone health and safety during this unusual time. Don’t forget to get in touch with us here if you would like to brainstorm ideas related to your specific business.

 

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Have you had your replenishment strategy sorted?

If your brand sells consumable products in any way, then automated replenishment one-to-one campaigns should be your best friend.

Replenishment campaigns is a proven tactic to encourage customers in a highly personalized and relevant manner to re-purchase or re-order before they run out.
They drive higher engagement and therefore increased revenues from loyal customers.

 

What are the types of purchases that benefit from replenishment campaigns? 

  • Sanitizing products (especially these days 😉)
  • Cosmetics, makeup and beauty products
  • Pet food
  • Toiletries
  • Certain types of apparels that need replacements like running shoes, sports apparel, underwear
  • Office supplies
  • Household products
  • Edible products
  • Many more

Why set up automated replenishment communication?

They provide a significant lift in revenues from returning customers and offer an EXCEPTIONAL customer experience at the same time. Who hasn’t felt frustrated
upon running out of something they now need?

Replenishment campaigns keep customers loyal. They remind them to buy from your brand vs your competitor. Such automated one-to-one campaigns are part of
the post-purchase product specific journey.

 

Here are a few tips to deliver an effective replenishment automated one-to-one campaign:

  1. Send them a few days before the product needs to be replaced.
    How can you determine that period? You can start by sending them using the average purchase cycle of loyal customers, and then enhance along the way. Whatever you do, don’t leave it until the customer actually runs out. It’s best to send your replenishment campaign before your customers have a chance to buy competitors’ products.
  2. Make sure the content of your replenishment campaign is relevant and with a call-to-action (re-purchase or re-order)
    The campaign has to personalized, clear that it is for product replenishment with full details and eye-catching pictures about the product, clear links to customer support, and clearer Call-To-Action (CTA) to re-purchase or re-order.
  3. Include other related products
    Use this opportunity to cross-sell other related products or alternatives. You can personalize your campaign with dynamic content based on previous purchases.
  4. Use multi-channel campaign manager
    Multi-channel in this case has proved to be 30% more effective. You can coordinate such campaigns through SMS (with links), Emails, Web and Social to have maximum impact.

If you’re looking to increase customer retention rate, more efficiently, make sure you’ve got replenishment automated campaigns sorted. They’re the most cost-efficient way to prompt a purchase and promote loyalty.

Want to find out more on how you can initiate replenishment automated campaigns? Contact us here, and don’t forget to keep safe and healthy!

 

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Customer Lifecycle Marketing Automation
Matters More Now Than Ever Before

You may be doing your best to attain the highest ROI on your marketing efforts. As a result of this, you are successful in getting your brand name out there and increase awareness on social media channels. But may be you are still struggling – like most brands – to effectively acquire, retain customers and turn them into loyalists and brand ambassadors.

Well the good news is that’s what Customer Lifecycle Marketing Automation is there for. Even though it was proven that it is the most effective tool to increase customer engagement, customer lifetime value, long-term retention and loyalty; a recent research by DemandMetric shows that only 20% of marketers are using this strategy today.

So, what is Customer Lifecycle Marketing Automation after all?

The Customer Lifecycle Marketing Automation starts by identifying the different stages of your customer lifecycle, then follow through by recognizing the stages customers are in their journey, and finally nurture them by providing the highest value at each stage they are at, in order to achieve your ultimate objective for each stage.

Each business or brand will have its own different customer lifecycle stages. However, this is a list of the most common ones, with marketing objective and some actionable tips for each:

 

Stage 1: Lead

  • Definition: Showed interest by either visiting the store, or registered on the website, or attended an event, or clicked on your ad; but never purchased.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective is to encourage the leads to make their first purchase. This can be achieved through a series of welcoming or nurturing personalized messages, maybe with some incentives to encourage them to become customers.

Stage 2: New customer

  • Definition: Made their first purchase through one of the brand channels whether offline or online.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective here is to make those customers buy again and become loyal.
    This can be achieved through a series of personalized “thank you” messages with certain incentives and relevant product/service recommendations based on their first purchase.

Stage 3: Frequent Customer

  • Definition: Most important and valuable customers. They buy often.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective is to strengthen the relationship with these customers, make them feel special and appreciated. This can be achieved through inspirational be-spoke incentives, benefits or loyalty programs. Keep them engaged through personalized feedback.

Stage 4: At Risk Customer

  • Definition: Used to be frequent customers but have not purchased for some time.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective is not to lose them. This can be achieved through a series of re-activation campaigns to win them back. Surveys can be very useful at this stage as well.

Stage 5: Lapsed Customer

  • Definition: Lost customer who has not purchased for a very specific period of time.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective is to bring them back. This can be achieved through aggressive re-activation personalized campaigns to win them back.

Stage 6: Reactivated Customer

  • Definition: Lost customer who responded to one of the reactivation campaigns and purchased for the first time after a long time.
  • Objective & actionable tips: The main objective is similar to that of the new customer. The same tactic of the new customer stage can be used.

It is not accepted anymore to keep inundating our customers with irrelevant texts and offers. Customer Lifecycle Marketing Automation will immediately enable you to engage with your customers in a more personalized, relevant, timely, consistent and rewarding manner; which will warrant increased engagement and ultimately higher customer lifetime value.

Get started NOW and start seeing the BENEFITS immediately!

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Clienteling App for Retail? Is It Another Fad?

Do you remember shopping at your local neighborhood boutique? When the owner knew you by name, asked about your family and remembered what you bought the last time you visited? Helped you pick out something for your special occasion?

It is not enough to provide such GREAT feel online, the reality is that in-store remains a core focus for retail and will be for a long time as 85% of customers still prefer to shop in-store.

According to Boston Retail Partners, 63% of retailers are currently unable to identify their customers prior to checkout, while 20% can’t identify them until after checkout or not at all. Without being able to identify their customers, how can a retailer give the personalized service that customers still crave but has been lost?

Introducing the Clienteling app that puts personalization and GREAT feel back into in-store shopping — What if you could walk into a store now and staff greets you by name despite which mall or even country you are in? If they knew when and which channel you last visited and what you bought, your preferences and taste and can easily recommend products you may like.

“A Customizable Clienteling App gives your store staff real-time access to relevant customer information to create memorable experiences at the store”

In the current super competitive environment, such clienteling apps are no longer nice to have, they are a must have especially in the luxury and premium retailing industry. The level of information provided through the clienteling apps creates better informed in-store staff that can then upsell, offer alternatives if an item is out of stock or just use the data to make more relevant and personal recommendations. Immediate benefits include:

  • Increased customer engagement
  • Increased customer lifetime value
  • Enhanced customer in-store experience
  • Insightful customer data that will help marketers to improve their ROI and product development

But the biggest benefit of all is recreating the GREAT feel of local stores, which in turn boosts loyalty and therefore revenue. In 2017 a BCG survey found that by strengthening customer relationships through data-driven personalization can increase revenue by 6-8%.

So, what are you waiting for? To see how clienteling apps can benefit you and your customers, please request a demo here.

 

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Are you truly Omni-channel or is your Customer
Journey still breaking down?

While customers want and expect a seamless experience across all business channels and touch points including instore, call center, customer service, mobile app and online, what they are receiving instead is a fragmented inconsistent experience that creates friction and frustration.

According to research by Accenture, 65% of consumers are frustrated when they’re presented with inconsistent offers or experiences across channels. This is a concerning statistic given that cross channel shopping is now the norm with two-thirds of customers researching products online before shopping for them instore according to Retail Dive’s 2017 consumer survey. The same study showed that over half of consumers will browse instore before purchasing later instore.

How is Omni-channel different to Multi-channel?

Omni-channel has been a buzz word in every customer facing industry for some time now, and for a good reason, yet still more than 80% of retailers haven’t fully embraced it. Reasons quoted are mainly related to the common misunderstanding between Omni and Multi-channel.

‘The terms Omni and Multi-channel are commonly used interchangeably, and while both solutions bring multiple touchpoints such as online and instore to the customer, only Omni-channel connects these touchpoints to provide a consistent fulfilling experience to the customer. In other words, Multi-channel is channel based, while Omni-channel is customer based’ Urbanbuz.

Multi-channel sees each channel separately, with different goals, objectives, KPIs and with very little interaction with other channels; and usually managed by a different team. Sounds familiar?

Omni-channel brings the channels together creating a seamless and unified experience for its customers, and one unified customer lifecycle marketing automation. This has shown a major lift in the customer lifetime value, as it engages customers in a timely, relevant and personalized manner; as well as a major optimization of the marketing budget (targeting the same customer once not multiple times by channel).

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The customer journey is easy to track when a retailer is truly Omni-channel

If a truly Omni-channel strategy is implemented, a retailer should be able to know a customer is looking at a specific pair of jeans instore or at the e-com site and have the ability to push an email out with content relating to the jeans, or seeing an advert pop up for the product whilst browsing on social media – without stalking the customer. They should also be able to see if a pair of shoes was left in the cart of a retailer’s e-com site, and offer to try it instore.

According to CX Network ‘By 2020 it is expected that customer experience will be more important to customers than price or product’ highlighting just how important a successful Omni-channel strategy is. So how can it be done?

The right technology can transform a retailer from Multi-channel and Omni-channel

The key to moving from multi-channel to Omni-channel is tracking the customer across every channel. As well as online and instore purchases, this also includes any social media activity that is trackable, any interaction with the retailer’s customer service line or with a sales consultant instore. Technology can provide a way to track across all channels, and when this done, retailers can use the information they have on the customer journey to understand and interact with its customers, driving purchases and building loyalty with its customers.

Should you like to know more about how you can transfer yourself into an Omni-channel solution in a quick and a cost-efficient manner, request a demo here.

Happy Omni-channeling!!

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