(This content is a little old – we wrote a new post for digital strategy in 2019 here)
People today engage with brands across multiple platforms and devices. To effectively connect with customers in 2013, companies will need to deliver a consistent, holistic message across multiple touchpoints.
With the new year around the corner, now is the time to think about your company’s digital strategy for 2013.
1) Consider the Mobile Experience First, Scale up from There.
2013 will be known for many marketers as the year of the “Post-PC Era.” For the first time ever, total sales of personal computers have declined in 2012 from previous years, and sales of tablets and smartphones are reaching critical mass. Alongside that is the mainstream acceptance of mobile apps and cross-platform web services that many people have integrated into their daily lives and workflow.
In addition to the decline of personal computers, there has been a broader acceptance of Cloud-based services that are rapidly replacing desktop PCs as being the de facto digital hub for many people, allowing them to synchronize and access media and files across a multitude of devices and platforms.
With this context, more and more people are accessing B2B web content from mobile devices, in many instances during initial contact with your organization or brand, to get a quick download. In that scenario, it is often crucial that your web presence is on-brand and sends the right message about your company. Most important is the user experience, which dictates rank, website engagement, and SERPs.
As mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) become more prevalent, having a mobile-optimized website is critical to communicating with your audience. Roughly half of smartphone users have indicated that they’re less likely to use a business that does not have a mobile-friendly website.
2) Avoid Silo Solutions
A frequent trap for many companies is the desire to reinvent the wheel for separate divisions, initiatives, platforms, or devices. At best, it is a duplication of effort; at worst, it presents a very fragmented message (or messages) to the market. Develop a strategy that allows for the reuse of existing content.
Choose a backend system that is reusable across multiple devices and platforms. With the proliferation of iOS devices, Android devices, Blackberry and Windows smartphones and tablets, and an increasing array of standards-based browsers for people to choose from, companies will need to work harder to make sure their content is viewable and accessible when and where customers demand it.
For your online presence, invest in developing responsive + mobile websites that will work on a variety of devices and, more important, at a variety of resolutions.
3) Build Trust
In B2C, if you bought the worst car or computer on the market, you still have a decent product with a lot of consumer protection safeguarding your purchase. However, in B2B, transactions are inherently filled with risk. Careers and sometimes much more are on the line, and as a result people tend to gravitate toward companies that have the strongest brand in a particular market segment, and ultimately branding boils down to trust. “Do I trust this company? Will the company keep its promises? Will it be around 10 or 20 years from now?”
Anything your company can do to facilitate trust will be key to your digital strategy. Customer testimonials, awards, and case studies are only a small sample of proof points that you can integrate into your content mix, and don’t be shy about tooting your own horn about newsworthy accomplishments. Also engage in content marketing, where you are providing valuable and insightful information to your buyers, that will generate brand loyalty and convert prospects into customers.
This is where Social Media can play an active role in your digital strategy. Social media marketing essentially boils down to word-of-mouth communications and endorsements of your brand as well as establishing a sincere and genuine dialogue with online users.
Related: Digital Strategy for B2B Brands
4) Speak to The Right People
For B2B companies engaging with customers on web and mobile, it is crucial that your messaging is specifically crafted to speak to the right person at the right level. For many companies, their communications are often targeting discreet niche audiences in various market segments. Engineers are primarily concerned with the nuts and bolts of your products and/or services; specs, data sheets, features and benefits. Executives, on the other hand, are more concerned about ROI and proof points. Make sure that your content is speaking clearly and passionately to your intended audience.
5) Track and Monitor Conversations.
Even if your brand is not active on social media, chances are online conversations about your brand are occurring on various channels and social networks. If you are not aware of these conversations, in many ways your marketing and communication teams are operating in the dark.
Over the past several years, Twitter has evolved to become the de facto newswire and pulse for real-time conversations, if you know how to use it. Start following relevant conversations about your company and industry. Stay informed of current trends and start identifying who the online influencers are within your particular market space.
Free services from Google, SocialMention and Tweetdeck, and paid services from Radien6 and Crimson Hexagon, allow you to monitor conversations and mentions in real time.
6) Don’t Focus on Technology
Digital strategy should fall under the purview of marketing, not IT. This is a classic turf war that will oftentimes cripple your company’s digital strategy before it ever gets off the ground. As marketers, we are fascinated by new technology and approaches, and are unusually optimistic that they will work as promised. IT, on the other hand, since they are concerned first and foremost with reliability and security, are typically very conservative when it comes to the adoption of new technology, and as a result are usually a few years behind the curve in terms of what is currently the latest technology or best practices.
Focus instead on what you think are the long-term business objectives are for your brand and identify the most viable solutions that will service that end and can be adopted by others on your marketing team. Make sure that IT is on board to support that initiative.
Although these six strategies are just the tip of the iceberg and will need to evolve over time, they should provide a solid starting point for B2B and service companies to connect with audiences within a rapidly changing landscape.
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