At a high level, digital marketing refers to advertising delivered through digital channels such as search engines, websites, social media, email, and mobile apps. Using these online media channels, digital marketing is the method by which companies endorse goods, services, and brands. Consumers heavily rely on digital means to research products. For example, Think with Google marketing insights found that 48% of consumers start their inquiries on search engines, while 33% look to brand websites and 26% search within mobile applications.
While modern day digital marketing is an enormous system of channels to which marketers simply must onboard their brands, advertising online is much more complex than the channels alone. In order to achieve the true potential of digital marketing, marketers have to dig deep into today’s vast and intricate cross-channel world to discover strategies that make an impact through engagement marketing. Engagement marketing is the method of forming meaningful interactions with potential and returning customers based on the data you collect over time. By engaging customers in a digital landscape, you build brand awareness, set yourself as an industry thought leader, and place your business at the forefront when the customer is ready to buy.
Digital marketing helps you reach a larger audience than you could through traditional methods, and target the prospects who are most likely to buy your product or service. Additionally, it’s often more cost-effective than traditional advertising, and enables you to measure success on a daily basis and pivot as you see fit.
There are a few major benefits to digital marketing. Let’s dive into four of them, now.
1. You can target only the prospects most likely to purchase your product or service.
If you place an advertisement on TV, in a magazine, or on a billboard, you have limited control over who sees the ad. Of course, you can measure certain demographics — including the magazine’s typical readership, or the demographic of a certain neighborhood — but it’s still largely a shot in the dark.
Digital marketing, on the other hand, allows you to identify and target a highly-specific audience, and send that audience personalized, high-converting marketing messages.
For instance, you might take advantage of social media’s targeting features to show social media ads to a certain audience based on variables such as age, gender, location, interests, networks, or behaviors. Alternatively, you might use PPC or SEO strategies to serve ads to users who’ve shown interest in your product or service, or who’ve searched specific keywords that relate to your industry.
Ultimately, digital marketing enables you to conduct the research necessary to identify your buyer persona, and lets you refine your marketing strategy over time to ensure you’re reaching prospects most likely to buy. Best of all, digital marketing helps you market to sub-groups within your larger target audience. If you sell multiple products or services to different buyer personas, this is especially helpful.
2. It’s more cost-effective than traditional marketing methods.
Digital marketing enables you to track campaigns on a daily basis and decrease the amount of money you’re spending on a certain channel if it isn’t demonstrating high ROI. The same can’t be said for traditional forms of advertising. It doesn’t matter how your billboard performs — it still costs the same, whether or not it converts for you.
Plus, with digital marketing, you have complete control over where you choose to spend your money. Perhaps rather than paying for PPC campaigns, you choose to spend money on design software to create high-converting Instagram content. A digital marketing strategy allows you to continuously pivot, ensuring you’re never wasting money on channels that don’t perform well.
By and large, digital marketing is a more cost-effective solution, and provides you unique opportunities to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
For instance, if you work for a small business with a limited budget, you might try investing in social media, blogging, or SEO – three strategies that can give you high ROI even with minimal spend.
3. Digital marketing lets you outrank bigger players in your industry.
If you work for a small business, it’s likely difficult for you to compete with the major brands in your industry, many of which have millions of dollars to invest in television commercials or nationwide campaigns. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to outrank the big players through strategic digital marketing initiatives.
For instance, you might identify certain long-tail keywords that relate to your product or service, and create high-quality content to help you rank on search engines for those keywords. Search engines don’t care which brand is biggest — instead, search engines will prioritize content that resonates best with the target audience.
Additionally, social media enables you to reach new audiences through influencer marketing. I don’t personally follow any big brands on social media, but I do follow influencers who will occasionally showcase products or services they like — if you work for a small-to-medium sized company, this could be a good avenue to consider.
4. Digital marketing is measurable.
Digital marketing can give you a comprehensive, start-to-finish view of all the metrics that might matter to your company — including impressions, shares, views, clicks, and time on page. This is one of the biggest benefits of digital marketing. While traditional advertising can be useful for certain goals, its biggest limitation is measurability.
Unlike most offline marketing efforts, digital marketing allows marketers to see accurate results in real time. If you’ve ever put an advertisement in a newspaper, you’ll know how difficult it is to estimate how many people actually flipped to that page and paid attention to your ad. There’s no surefire way to know if that ad was responsible for any sales at all.
On the other hand, with digital marketing, you can measure the ROI of pretty much any aspect of your marketing efforts.
Here are some examples:
With digital marketing, you can see the exact number of people who have viewed your website’s homepage in real time by using digital analytics software, available in marketing platforms like HubSpot.
You can also see how many pages they visited, what device they were using, and where they came from, amongst other digital analytics data.
This intelligence helps you to prioritize which marketing channels to spend more or less time on, based on the number of people those channels are driving to your website. For example, if only 10% of your traffic is coming from organic search, you know that you probably need to spend some time on SEO to increase that percentage.
With offline marketing, it’s very difficult to tell how people are interacting with your brand before they have an interaction with a salesperson or make a purchase. With digital marketing, you can identify trends and patterns in people’s behavior before they’ve reached the final stage in their buyer’s journey, meaning you can make more informed decisions about how to attract them to your website right at the top of the marketing funnel.
Imagine you’ve created a product brochure and posted it through people’s letterboxes — that brochure is a form of content, albeit offline. The problem is that you have no idea how many people opened your brochure or how many people threw it straight into the trash.
Now imagine you had that brochure on your website instead. You can measure exactly how many people viewed the page where it’s hosted, and you can collect the contact details of those who download it by using forms. Not only can you measure how many people are engaging with your content, but you’re also generating qualified leads when people download it.
An effective digital marketing strategy combined with the right tools and technologies allows you to trace all of your sales back to a customer’s first digital touchpoint with your business.
We call this attribution modeling, and it allows you to identify trends in the way people research and buy your product, helping you to make more informed decisions about what parts of your marketing strategy deserve more attention, and what parts of your sales cycle need refining.
Connecting the dots between marketing and sales is hugely important — according to Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve a 20% annual growth rate, compared to a 4% decline in revenue for companies with poor alignment. If you can improve your customer’s’ journey through the buying cycle by using digital technologies, then it’s likely to reflect positively on your business’s bottom line.
What is the role of digital marketing to a company?
While traditional marketing might exist in print ads, phone communication, or physical marketing, digital marketing can occur electronically and online. This means that there are far more possibilities for brands to reach customers, including email, video, social media, and search engines.
At this stage, digital marketing is vital for your business and brand awareness. It seems like every other brand has a website. And if they don’t, they at least have a social media presence or digital ad strategy. Digital content and marketing is so common that consumers now expect and rely on it as a way to learn about brands.
Long story short, to be competitive as a business owner, you’ll need to embrace some aspects of digital marketing.
Because digital marketing has so many options and strategies associated with it, you can get creative and experiment with a variety of marketing tactics on a budget. With digital marketing, you can also use tools like analytics dashboards to monitor the success and ROI of your campaigns more than you could with a traditional promotional content — such as a billboard or print ad.
How does a business define digital marketing?
Digital marketing is defined by the use of numerous digital tactics and channels to connect with customers where they spend much of their time: online. From the website itself to a business’s online branding assets — digital advertising, email marketing, online brochures, and beyond — there’s a spectrum of tactics that fall under the umbrella of “digital marketing.”
The best digital marketers have a clear picture of how each digital marketing campaign supports their overarching goals. And depending on the goals of their marketing strategy, marketers can support a larger campaign through the free and paid channels at their disposal.
A content marketer, for example, can create a series of blog posts that serve to generate leads from a new ebook the business recently created. The company’s social media marketer might then help promote these blog posts through paid and organic posts on the business’s social media accounts. Perhaps the email marketer creates an email campaign to send those who download the ebook more information on the company. We’ll talk more about these specific digital marketers in a minute.
This is the process of optimizing your website to “rank” higher in search engine results pages, thereby increasing the amount of organic (or free) traffic your website receives. The channels that benefit from SEO include websites, blogs, and infographics.
There are a number of ways to approach SEO in order to generate qualified traffic to your website. These include:
On page SEO: This type of SEO focuses on all of the content that exists “on the page” when looking at a website. By researching keywords for their search volume and intent (or meaning), you can answer questions for readers and rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs) those questions produce.
Off page SEO: This type of SEO focuses on all of the activity that takes place “off the page” when looking to optimize your website. “What activity not on my own website could affect my ranking?” You might ask. The answer is inbound links, also known as backlinks. The number of publishers that link to you, and the relative “authority” of those publishers, affect how highly you rank for the keywords you care about. By networking with other publishers, writing guest posts on these websites (and linking back to your website), and generating external attention, you can earn the backlinks you need to move your website up on all the right SERPs.
Technical SEO: This type of SEO focuses on the backend of your website, and how your pages are coded. Image compression, structured data, and CSS file optimization are all forms of technical SEO that can increase your website’s loading speed — an important ranking factor in the eyes of search engines like Google.
This term denotes the creation and promotion of content assets for the purpose of generating brand awareness, traffic growth, lead generation, and customers. The channels that can play a part in your content marketing strategy include:
Blog posts: Writing and publishing articles on a company blog helps you demonstrate your industry expertise and generates organic search traffic for your business. This ultimately gives you more opportunities to convert website visitors into leads for your sales team.
Ebooks and whitepapers: Ebooks, whitepapers, and similar long-form content helps further educate website visitors. It also allows you to exchange content for a reader’s contact information, generating leads for your company and moving people through the buyer’s journey.
Infographics: Sometimes, readers want you to show, not tell. Infographics are a form of visual content that helps website visitors visualize a concept you want to help them learn.
This practice promotes your brand and your content on social media channels to increase brand awareness, drive traffic, and generate leads for your business. The channels you can use in social media marketing include:
If you’re new to social platforms, you can use tools like CRM’S to connect channels like LinkedIn and Facebook in one place. This way, you can easily schedule content for multiple channels at once, and monitor analytics from the platform as well.
On top of connecting social accounts for posting purposes, you can also integrate your social media inboxes into CRM”S, so you can get your direct messages in one place.
4. Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC is a method of driving traffic to your website by paying a publisher every time your ad is clicked. One of the most common types of PPC is Google Ads, which allows you to pay for top slots on Google’s search engine results pages at a price “per click” of the links you place. Other channels where you can use PPC include:
Paid ads on Facebook: Here, users can pay to customize a video, image post, or slideshow, which Facebook will publish to the newsfeeds of people who match your business’s audience.
Twitter Ads campaigns: Here, users can pay to place a series of posts or profile badges to the news feeds of a specific audience, all dedicated to accomplish a specific goal for your business. This goal can be website traffic, more Twitter followers, tweet engagement, or even app downloads.
Sponsored Messages on LinkedIn: Here, users can pay to send messages directly to specific LinkedIn users based on their industry and background.
5. Affiliate Marketing
This is a type of performance-based advertising where you receive commission for promoting someone else’s products or services on your website. Affiliate marketing channels include:
Posting affiliate links from your social media accounts.
6. Native Advertising
Native advertising refers to advertisements that are primarily content-led and featured on a platform alongside other, non-paid content. BuzzFeed-sponsored posts are a good example, but many people also consider social media advertising to be “native” — Facebook advertising and Instagram advertising, for example.
7. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation refers to the software that serves to automate your basic marketing operations. Many marketing departments can automate repetitive tasks they would otherwise do manually, such as:
Email newsletters: Email automation doesn’t just allow you to automatically send emails to your subscribers. It can also help you shrink and expand your contact list as needed so your newsletters are only going to the people who want to see them in their inboxes.
Social media post scheduling: If you want to grow your organization’s presence on a social network, you need to post frequently. This makes manual posting a bit of an unruly process. Social media scheduling tools push your content to your social media channels for you, so you can spend more time focusing on content strategy.
Lead-nurturing workflows: Generating leads, and converting those leads into customers, can be a long process.You can automate that process by sending leads specific emails and content once they fit certain criteria, such as when they download and open an ebook.
Campaign tracking and reporting:Marketing campaigns can include a ton of different people, emails, content, webpages, phone calls, and more. Marketing automation can help you sort everything you work on by the campaign it’s serving, and then track the performance of that campaign based on the progress all of these components make over time.
8. Email Marketing
Companies use email marketing as a way of communicating with their audiences. Email is often used to promote content, discounts and events, as well as to direct people toward the business’s website. The types of emails you might send in an email marketing campaign include:
Blog subscription newsletters.
Follow-up emails to website visitors who downloaded something.
Customer welcome emails.
Holiday promotions to loyalty program members.
Tips or similar series emails for customer nurturing.
9. Online PR
Online PR is the practice of securing earned online coverage with digital publications, blogs, and other content-based websites. It’s much like traditional PR, but in the online space. The channels you can use to maximize your PR efforts include:
Reporter outreach via social media: Talking to journalists on Twitter, for example, is a great way to develop a relationship with the press that produces earned media opportunities for your company.
Engaging online reviews of your company: When someone reviews your company online, whether that review is good or bad, your instinct might be not to touch it. On the contrary, engaging company reviews helps you humanize your brand and deliver powerful messaging that protects your reputation.
Engaging comments on your personal website or blog: Similar to the way you’d respond to reviews of your company, responding to the people who are reading your content is the best way to generate productive conversation around your industry.
10. Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing refers to a marketing methodology wherein you attract, engage, and delight customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey. You can use every digital marketing tactic listed above, throughout an inbound marketing strategy, to create a customer experience that works with the customer, not against them. Here are some classic examples of inbound marketing versus traditional marketing:
Blogging vs. pop-up ads
Video marketing vs. commercial advertising
Email contact lists vs. email spam
11. Sponsored Content
With sponsored content, you as a brand pay another company or entity to create and promote content that discusses your brand or service in some way.
One popular type of sponsored content is influencer marketing. With this type of sponsored content, a brand sponsors an influencer in its industry to publish posts or videos related to the company on social media.
Another type of sponsored content could be a blog post or article that is written to highlight a topic, service, or brand.
What is Digital Transformation? is the process of rethinking one’s business model or business process in light of the availability and affordability of digital technology. It requires coordination across the entire organization, since it applies new technologies to fundamentally change the way business is done. For many enterprises today, the driving motivation of digital transformation is the chance to gain competitive advantages by improving customer experience.
Technology Advances Created the Age of the Customer
According to Forrester, technology advances in the past five years have created the “Age of the Customer”, in which consumers choose when and how they interact with businesses. Companies today can’t fully control the experience they want to deliver to customers; instead, customers encounter businesses across many touchpoints with high expectations of consistency, ease of use and personalization.
It is up to businesses to use new technological capabilities and organizational change to create experiences that adapt to these changing needs. More and more, exceptional customer experience is a key differentiator in digital business, and the process of digital transformation should be guided by a customer-centric digital strategy.
Key Elements of Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is enabled by new technology, but successful transformation requires a reorientation that goes beyond the implementation of new technology to reach every part of the business.
MIT Sloan Management Review has identified three pillars of the transformation process for companies to focus on: customer experience, operational processes and business models. Companies also need to invest in and develop their digital capabilities, as this element enables digital transformation in each of the three main pillars.
Advances in marketing software and data-gathering capabilities allow for better customer insight and greater personalization in digital experiences. Enterprises are pursuing transformation in the following ways:
Managing personalized experiences across channels that are easy and seamless for customers to use.
Developing digital products and services for new devices, such as smart watches.
Drawing in data at every touchpoint and using that to deliver more effective personalization.
It can be tempting to think of front-end customer experience as the main focus of digital transformation, since that’s the most visible part of the process. However, using technology to redesign operational systems has just as much, if not more, impact on a company’s ability to successfully provide great experiences.
For example, a customer getting their package sooner means a more positive impression of the company, and having a representative already know what specific problems a customer is having, because the product sends diagnostic information over the internet, allows for shorter call times and faster solutions. Companies are successfully transforming operations by:
Breaking down departmental and data silos for better collaboration on digital projects, such as including both IT and Marketing on product teams so that both departments are fully informed during the process of design, strategy and development.
Automating processes through better software capabilities or with the creation of new tools, such as implementing automated purchase order systems in order to reduce paperwork and rejected orders.
Making strategic decisions based on data with increasing levels of detail. Instead of reusing or modifying a previous year’s distribution process, for instance, leaders are able to make changes based on real data, rather than assumptions.
Often, startups are able to disrupt long-standing brands because they use innovative business models that take advantage of new technology, without being weighed down by legacy systems. Established brands should look to models that offer services that wouldn’t be possible without new technology. Examples of new business models are varied, but can generally include:
Expanding the scope of current business through digital services, such as a toy company that crowdsources designs online.
Evolving with changes in customer behavior due to new technologies. For instance, when customers see a product in store, they may do an online search order to check reviews and end up purchasing it at a lower price somewhere else. Some businesses have countered this by creating an app that allows customers to scan the product and read the reviews, ensuring that they stay within the business’s platform instead of purchasing elsewhere.
Rebuilding services to be digital-first, such as banks that create mobile apps for cashing checks, paying bills, applying for loans or other services.
Where to Start
A common misconception is that digital transformation begins and ends with technology. Companies shouldn’t define digital transformation as simply an increased investment in IT. Customer experience must drive the digital strategy behind transformation if companies are to see significant gains from customer insight and engagement.
To stay competitive in digital business, enterprises should look at where they are now and determine what core elements of digital transformation they need to focus on. Your enterprise may only be able to begin with one of the three pillars mentioned above; what’s important is that you start somewhere.
Though no one has a comprehensive roadmap for digital transformation, the following best practices have emerged over the past five years:
Vision + Investment – How far your business can go depends on the reach of your vision and the level of investment you commit to.
Digital Strategy – Have a strategy that accounts for the full scope of your vision, rather than the implementation of individual technologies.
Leadership – Because digital transformation requires in-depth organizational change and coordination, it is more effective when led from the top layer of the business.
Uniting Business and IT – Breaking down the barriers between Business and IT goes hand in hand with operational change. As digital business increases software needs, it will be important for Business and IT to merge their work so there are no conflicts in adapting technology.
Third-Party Solutions – Look for partners who have specific strengths in your areas of weakness. Structure relationships as partnerships, with an expectation of knowledge sharing and frequent communication. This mitigates the risk of creating siloed information across multiple vendors and becoming dependent on a vendor’s availability or timeline.
From poor leadership to lagging engagement, there are a range of ways you can derail digital transformation. The biggest culprit is an obsession with big bang change and an unwavering focus on cutting costs.
Poor Communication – Communication is crucial. Before entering digital transformation, ensuring your company is on the same page with your goals is essential. If your team is overwhelmed with too many projects, communication will crumble and the projects will as well. Ongoing communication and change management through the many stages of digital transformation is crucial as the process is always evolving. Even leaders like Amazon are continuing to transform and adapt today.
Working in Silos – If your organisation is executing multiple digital transformation projects, it’s important to consider how it will affect the entire company in addition to the customer journey. While breaking down and rebuilding and organisation’s structure is not always easy to achieve, aligning your aims and objectives, working on communication flow and consolidating departments may increase cooperation and aid in the elimination of siloed culture.
Ignoring the Data – When carrying out digital transformation, it’s likely your organisation will collect vast amounts of data. But often organisations make the mistake of ignoring this data. Whether upper management isn’t ready to make data-backed decisions or a team leader doesn’t agree with what the data is saying, failing to make calls based on this evidence could set back the digital transformation you’re after.
Neglecting Mastery – Digital transformation is not simply installing a new software. It is an ongoing process that truly never stops. Taking an evergreen approach to transforming processes, priorities and positions can make a real difference in how your organisation continues to adapt to the digital landscape.
How the Pandemic has Shifted Digital Transformation
The Coronavirus crisis has rapidly re-shaped how companies digitally transform. For example, the employee experience has quickly become a key theme in the community as a vast majority of the workforce continues to work remotely. Digital technology has gone from “nice to have” to “absolutely necessary.”
Because of the pandemic, some areas of digital transformation have been pushed higher for organisations, such as furthering customer support services by introducing tools like chatbots, automating common processes, and cleaning out redundant and conflicting systems.
With over 5 billion unique mobile users, Mobile App Marketing Tips For Small Businesses marketing to people with smart devices can enhance the brand’s awareness and improve conversions. Some of the statistics prove the aforementioned.
Mobile ad spending accounts for 72% of the digital advertisements purchased in the U.S.
More than 90% of businesses that use an advanced personalization strategy saw revenue growth in 2020.
Mobile devices are responsible for over 40% of the transaction that people complete online.
Just making a website and its content mobile-friendly isn’t enough. Your marketing content, mobile ads, everything must be mobile be optimized.
Mobile, as well as website optimization, can enhance the conversion rate to 5% or even more. There are ways to optimize your website along, creating a responsive site design. One of the common ways of optimizing the site is mobile-specific development platforms, such as building the site in HTML5 and using an adaptive design.
Mobile optimization includes the elements of the site, inclusive of the infrastructure. Website content is entirely different from mobile devices. Using shorter sentences, engaging headers, and relevant media such s high-quality images or videos.
Most people skim through the content thus, it must be easily readable. Use engaging caption when creating and adding videos. Almost 85% play videos on Facebook without sound because captions give the message even when the audio is muted.
Use Voice Search
As smart devices grow, the search through voice has also grown. The voice capabilities in smart devices are making things much easier for people. Over half of the households in the world will have to own a voice-enabled device by 2022 and shall increase the current ownership numbers by 42%. 34% of people of the total number of people who do not own a voice-enabled device are interested in owning one.
Voice search has a great potential to drive sales. Thus keeping the common actions and keywords in mind, you can include your business for voice search in order to generate sales.
A small business can advantage from a mobile app with location-based marketing techniques such as geo fencing for marketing mobile users. This will help reach users location-wise, especially within their location, and offer local recommendations such as food delivery or travel services.
When you look into stats, you will see over 80% of marketers consider location-based marketing leads. Marketers using this technique share that this can enhance customer base by 85%, response rates by 83%, and customer engagement by 83% altogether.
Social Media Ads
Email is the most widely used technique for marketing social media undoubtedly, overpowered this method. Hence most marketers are focusing on creating a profile and Social Media Marketing Services for their business on social media platforms.
Some tests like the A/B testing are to see how the posts are performing across different platforms. Social media is a medium that encourages people to buy things from their fav brands. 76% of U.S consumers have purchased from their favorable brand on social media.
On-Site And In-App Support
Easy access to customers is the best way to improve the customer experience that every company seeks. Whether it is a live chat feature to resolve the customer’s problems or support the customer with any product or service, the in-app support feature makes it easy for the customer connects with the technical person of the brand.
Stats says that over 40% of people who visit the website expect to see a live chat feature, and the percentage increases wit 50% for mobile users.
Some of the renowned marketer and specialists offer some mobile app marketing tips for the small business to scale seamlessly. These tips will guide you through the levels of success that you have been wanting to achieve.
Tips For Mobile App Marketing To Scale Your Business
Building Up The Credibility
The marketing goals for business may vary, but they must be centered around building more and more positive reviews. It is better to invite friends and family to review your brand.
Find The Right Tools
However, websites and apps, including the app store optimization, are important to maximize the downloads. Since the number of app downloads is in millions thus optimizing the product makes it easier for the users to find.
Find The Right Platform
Different social media platforms serve different purposes. For instance, for better facilitating app downloads, you can refer to Facebook instead of choosing an outdoor advertising platform. In order to market within other applications that consumers have on their phones, one can refer to Google Ad Mob.
Measure CPI And Advertise Wisely
There is always a defined cost set for advertisement. The app downloads are measured through CPI – Cost Per Install Index. However, CPI per vertical market varies, which is rising every year, it was $2.98 per user in 2015.
Include Your App In Email
This is one of the ways to help market the app without much effort. Email communication helps you cater to information about your app and brand to the customers personally that acts as a great influencer.
Know The Competitive Edge
Before marketing your product or brand, you need to understand your target audience. Also, to outreach your ideal customer, you must discover the app’s unique selling propositions. Such as, the feature or a thing that makes your app unique and why is it better than your competitors!
Develop A Social Media Strategy
Regardless of the size of the company, every business should adopt a social media strategy or hire a Mobile App Design Company that can help you increase brand reach and draw you towards the right audience. A social media strategy can be a powerful communication tool between the app developer and end-user, helping to increase rankings and visibility.
If you want your e-commerce business to gain a competitive edge, customer service should be placed at the forefront of your growth strategy. 84% of customers say that customer service is one of the main factors helping them decide whether to buy or not from a company. According to another research, most of today’s clients make their purchasing decisions based on customer service rather than on product price so to know more about the best customer service software for e-commerce in the Caribbean, please continue reading.
Ecommerce customer service is aimed to help online buyers with everything, from online purchasing to issue resolving. When building up your ecommerce customer service strategy, I recommend giving special attention to the following best practices.
It’s necessary to measure and analyze which channels your online customers prefer. They can expect easy access to your specialists over chatbots, emails, social media, etc.
Create a knowledge base for customers
Keeping all the necessary information in the form of FAQ or discussion forums in one place is a great benefit both for customers and employees. Thus, customers can find the necessary information independently and save your agents’ time for more challenging tasks. In fact, 90% of customers use self-service capabilities to get answers to their questions.
Provide personalized customer service
70% of customers are looking for a personalized approach. As all customer interactions with your store happen online, you can easily track customer activities. So, when a customer addresses your agent next time, the necessary customer data to provide personalized service may be already available.
Dynamics 365 Customer Service allows your agents to engage with ecommerce customers across different channels (email, social media, chatbots, etc.). You can create a virtual agent via a drag-and-drop editor or a self-service portal for customers to search for information by themselves or request assistance. Moreover, a knowledge base for customers can be integrated right into the virtual agent so that it can send a fitting link helping customers address their issues.
Limitations: Limited number of integrations with third-party services.
Salesforce Service Cloud offers features to automate customer service processes and connect with customers across various communication channels. With Service Cloud, you can create and manage knowledge bases for your agents and customers. A knowledge base for customers can be integrated into a self-service portal and an AI-based Einstein bot to resolve the most common questions without human-agent interaction.
Limitations: No possibility of on-premises implementation.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers a comprehensive app suite for B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to manage sales, marketing, and customer support. For example, it helps store and access all the order-related information from creation to its fulfillment in CRM. Also, with Commerce Cloud, you can create a live chat to resolve clients’ order issues or route a client to the right agent.
Limited customization capabilities.
No possibility of on-premises implementation.
Pricing: Contact the vendor to know B2B and B2C Commerce Cloud pricing.
HubSpot CRM can be integrated with major ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify, and Magento. Once you connect your ecommerce business to HubSpot, you can sync your customers’ data, monitor and analyze your online store performance using HubSpot’s pre-built dashboards. Additionally, HubSpot enables your specialist to create live chats and chatbots to give your clients immediate support and gather customer feedback using out-of-the-box feedback tools.
Limited customization capabilities.
For Shopify integration, no possibility to create segments based on customers’ purchases.
Throughout our blog and practice, we always talk about how no two ecommerce businesses are the same and stress the importance of focusing predominantly on your business specifics and goals. Types of Ecommerce in the Caribbean Still, we admit that knowing certain similar patterns can help to launch and to manage an ecommerce business with greater success – after all, most of the failures have already been survived by someone else and now you can learn from the accumulated experience.
There is a number of criteria to classify types of ecommerce. We’ve chosen the three most important: transaction participants, goods for sale and business models.
Within this classification, six types are outlined in ecommerce: Business-to-Business (#B2B) with its subtype Business-to-Government (B2G), Business-to-Consumer (B2C), Consumer-to-Business (C2B), Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C), Government-to-Business (G2B) and Government-to-Consumer (G2C). In general, identifying and then targeting the right audience is a matter of importance. Types of Ecommerce in the Caribbean thakes a general look at the buyer side can only be the starting point, though it provides certain value as well.
Selling to consumers
Companies, where buyers are individual consumers, feature a short sales cycle, price sensitivity and a high possibility of impulse purchases. Sellers win when they bet big on consumers’ emotions:
Personalize customer communication (launching targeted marketing campaigns).
Bond with customers (telling the seller’s story, engaging in social media, responding to customer feedback, extensively using soft selling marketing techniques like valuable content).
Encourage customer loyalty (asking for customer opinion in surveys, incorporating loyalty programs).
Provide smart assistance throughout a shopping journey (offering product recommendations based on a customer’s browsing activity, a comprehensive customer profile with previous and abandoned orders, preferences and wish list, and proper customer support).
Types of Ecommerce in the Caribbean the B2C type is the most widespread in ecommerce, thus the market in each product line is really competitive. Here, focusing on smaller, yet profit-generating, target audience is business-critical. This goes without saying that in our practice we frame B2C projects around the target audience.
B2C project example
The company offers a delivery service of organic product boxes across the country. What their customers are expecting is convenience – a time-saving ordering process and no delays in delivery. On the website, we design a smooth journey – customers may vary products in the boxes, subscribe for regular delivery and reorder instantly. Also, we integrate #eCommerce with the company’s back office to organize order processing, dispatch and delivery properly.
Within the C2C type, consumers sell assets or services to other consumers online. To place sales advertisements and connect to potential buyers, individuals use a third-party business (an ecommerce website or an online marketplace). Ebay and Amazon are two prominent C2C ecommerce providers.
Online transactions can streamline communication between governmental organizations and citizens. Possible activities may include information sharing, paying fees (for education, rent, consulting services, etc.), renewing licenses and more.
G2C project example
A telecommunications company provides government-subsidized mobile networking services. They don’t need complex, heavily-customized business logic on the website as their ecommerce operations are pretty straightforward. However, they use a feature-rich ecommerce platform that is license-free, yet expensive in terms of support. We start the cooperation with the analysis of the ecommerce functionality needed to support the business. As a result, we offer and then migrate the website to an alternative platform – commercially viable and with sufficient functionality. Now, the company stays within their support budget.
Selling to businesses
Having businesses as potential buyers comes with its pros and cons. On the bright side, sellers have a larger average order value and a high chance of wholesale purchases (the two are often interconnected). On the downside, a sales cycle is generally longer and several decision-makers may be involved. Thus, the focus should be on establishing the trust-based long-term relationship with customers. Given that the purchasing process is far less emotional but rather rational, sellers’ most favored techniques include:
At first sight, it seems that the name explicitly suggests that both participants in B2B ecommerce are businesses, for example a manufacturer or a wholesale supplier selling to a retailer. However, B2B ecommerce has one more face – multi-vendor marketplaces. Though end buyers are individual consumers, a marketplace owner sells digital space to business vendors, thus conducting B2B transactions.
Tips to manage a multi-vendor marketplace effectively
Having launched a number of marketplaces, we strongly recommend – automate as much as possible and give vendors self-service tools to accelerate time-to-market. If you want to reward vendors with the highest sales – set rules to track sales activity and trigger loyalty bonuses automatically. Consider attribute-based product information management – vendors will clearly see what product characteristics they need to provide.
We mention B2G (business-to-government) companies as part of the B2B type as the core idea of this classification is to distinguish between individual and corporate ecommerce participants. Thus, we see both private and governmental organizations as a business, as opposed to an individual participant.
In the C2B model, individuals – entrepreneurs or freelancers – offer goods or services to companies. For example:
A web designer building a company’s website.
A photographer picturing product catalogs.
A caterer working on corporate events, conferences or business meetings.
As for individuals, they can (and should) employ diverse marketing channels to sell their services effectively: for example, they showcase portfolio and collect customer feedback on an ecommerce website and expand their online presence via job listings and social media.
G2B is online commercial interaction between governmental and private corporations. As a rule, a G2B model gives companies a convenient way to deal with payments and legal procedures, like document renewal, cutting down significantly on bureaucratic foot-dragging and paper work. A classic G2B example is a government website where businesses go to pay taxes.
This classification is important as the product profile in ecommerce largely defines a seller’s business plan.
Choosing to sell physical goods, online retailers compete with traditional brick-and-mortar businesses and their major competitive strength of a real-life purchasing experience where a possibility to view and try on goods leads to more informed purchasing decisions. Consequently, ecommerce businesses need to show how online shopping can be a worthy alternative – accurate images and detailed product descriptions help with the purchasing choice, prompt expert assistance and how-to guides cover the role of sales assistants, customer-friendly delivery and return terms add to customer risk-taking. Moreover, there are so many advanced technologies and approaches to power your ecommerce for superior customer experience. We took time to outline the possibilities within our custom ecommerce development offering.
In a way, selling digital goods sounds tempting: there are low overheads due to the absence of inventory costs and delivery limits. However, sellers may face tough competition with free content or software and should stress the benefits of purchasing goods rather than getting them for free. For example, when launching an image-sharing resource, entrepreneurs can bet on the high quality of provided assets and the importance to reward contributors.
From our ecommerce consulting practice, we can recall success tips that are likely to work with all kinds of services sold online. Let’s say upsell opportunities are vast as customers may only have a rough idea of how to organize the service most effectively and expect a seller to build on it. And an online calculator will provide for price transparency. Also, ecommerce companies selling services definitely need to engage phone or email communication channels to settle the details and finalize the deal with a customer.
Still, the nature of services impacts a number of business aspects. Companies offering repeat services win with a subscription-based model – for example, a cleaning business can offer customers a possibility to set a regular cleaning schedule. Besides, such a retailer should mind the geographical limits of their business.
The way online retailers organize their supply chain is a constituent of their ecommerce business model. As summarized, there are 4 possible options.
Retailers may partner with a wholesale supplier who stores the inventory and delivers ordered items directly to a customer upon the purchase. Thus, sellers save on inventory costs and don’t keep goods in stock at all. This model seems to offer a fast buck as retailers need only to be present online and serve as an intermediary between customers and a drop shipper. In fact, there are downsides including the low margin, lack of control over the supply chain and high competition. Moreover, drop shipping makes brand image building impossible.
Retailers may purchase goods from a manufacturer, manage their own warehouse and organize the delivery to customers. Undoubtedly, this requires more initial investment into product sourcing and inventory management. Full control over all business processes and flexibility in choosing the product assortment come as a bonus.
Private labeling and manufacturing
Retailers may outsource manufacturing and sell goods under their brand name. On-demand manufacturing allows retailers to have their goods designed in line with their specifications or prototypes and avoid expenditures related to managing their own production.
Retailers may purchase generic products manufactured for multiple companies and offer them under their brand name. Sellers save on the design and development of their product but still have their products communicating a brand message.
Marketing an online business can be challenging given how many competing e-commerce websites are fighting for customers’ attention. Proficiency in e-commerce marketing fundamentals plus creative thinking is a success formula. But with the abundance of techniques, reaching the best combination for your store doesn’t always go on the first try. In this article, we will share our best practices in e-commerce marketing and examples of their implementation with How to market Ecommerce in the Caribbean in a Magento online store.
Ecommerce marketing strategies in the customer lifecycle
Although marketing strategies for brick-and-mortar and online stores differ, a customer lifecycle in ecommerce is similar to that in brick-and-mortar retail. Marketing analysts Jim Sterne and Matt Cutler identify 5 steps in the customer lifecycle: reach, acquisition, conversion, retention and loyalty. Now, we will start from the best ecommerce marketing strategies for each step and then will move from theory to practice to see successful marketing campaigns in effect.
Reach and acquisition
Reaching and acquiring visitors is a starting point for every online business. There are productive and cost-effective techniques to increase the visibility of an ecommerce website and draw visitors.
SEO marketing is the most effective online marketing strategy at this first stage of the customer lifecycle. It makes search engines better see the relevance of your content to search requests of your potential customers. As a result, your online store ranks high in Google and more people find it in Google search when they search How to market Ecommerce in the Caribbean!..
SEO techniques include creating unique content and graphics, building links, adding targeted keywords and descriptive URLs, making the website mobile-friendly, improving website architecture.
By default, Magento is an SEO-friendly ecommerce platform. You can further enhance the efficiency with off-the-shelf extensions. For example, Magento 2 SEO Extension supports on-page technical and on-page content optimization and integrates external factors including social integration and Google services support.
Even if you make the primary focus on increasing organic traffic, take a look at other efficient web marketing strategies in ecommerce aimed at attracting visitors.
Social media marketing. Don’t miss a chance to reach potential customers through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Having huge audiences, they can serve as free advertising platforms.
Forum marketing. Find the best topic to promote your products, enter the conversation and sound helpful. Think of creative ways to advertise your products.
Influencer marketing. At the age when blogging is a job, you can promote your products by sending free samples to influencers with a large audience. Their review based on the personal experience will have weight.
You can evaluate the success of your customer acquisition campaign by the following KPIs: site traffic, revenue by traffic source, social shares, bounce rates.
So, you have visitors coming to your online store. Now, your aim is to help them find what they are looking for and beat your competitors with a better offer. Here are ecommerce marketing tips to encourage visitors for the first purchase.
Engage in online merchandising. While a merchandiser in a brick-and-mortar store uses shelves for a product layout, an online merchandiser works with precious online space. Attract customers with personal suggestions and best offers placed at the top positions.
Make special offers for new customers. Place a banner with coupons and discounts for first-time buyers on the home page.
Launchemail campaigns for subscribers. If a visitor has subscribed but didn’t make a purchase, return him or her by sending the announcement of new offers, seasonal sales or special discounts for new customers. You can track unopened emails and launch a repeat mailing with a new email subject in a while. This time, target only those who haven’t opened the initial email, thus increasing the number of opens while avoiding spamming with the same email.
Make your online store interactive. Add live chats and contact forms to ensure a quick response to a visitor’s request.
Magento offers some features to increase the conversion rate. For example, the Abandoned Cart Recovery option allows you to address potential customers who provided their contact information but didn’t complete the order. At the same time, Magento 2 boasts the cutting-edge elasticsearch technology that improves search functionality and enhances customer experience. The PayPal in-context checkout and saved credit cards feature offers customers to use PayPal without leaving the online store and shortens the check-out time.
Use the following KPIs at this stage of the customer life cycle: conversion rate, shopping cart abandon rate, page views per visit, newsletter subscribers, chat sessions initiated.
It’s safe to say that getting new customers is more complicated than retaining old ones. Choosing among multiple solutions, pay attention to ecommerce email marketing as a powerful tool to make customers keep up with your offers.
Your email marketing campaign can include:
Regular new product offerings.
Exclusive coupons for repeat customers.
Early access to new offerings.
Dedicated refer-a-friend prompts.
Win-back reminder emails.
Holiday and seasonal sales.
It is important to understand that people are bombarded with communication every day. Stand out and make each email worth taking your customers’ time and inbox space with a personalized message, eye-catching graphics and straightforward call-to-action. The integration of Magento and MailChimp allows identifying key customer segments and launching a targeted email marketing campaign.
The trick to getting the highest engagement is to have the right timing. But you can’t be relevant all of the time, so that is why automated email marketing campaigns do so well. The options are pretty much endless when you start to combine customer data, marketing automation and a little bit of creativity. Let’s say you can launch a weather-based campaign to catch your shoppers with suncare products when the local temperature runs high.
KPIs for the customer retention stage are email-opening rate, email-clickability rate and revenue from email visits.
We have put together four efficient ecommerce marketing solutions to make customers stay with you.
Promotional campaigns. You can encourage customers to come back to your online store by offering ongoing and time-limited discounts and informing customers about promotions by email.
Loyalty programs. The TheLoyalty Program extension allows for flexible reward systems. Instead of targeting the whole customer pool, merchants can generate various promo offers for different loyalty program steps.
Upselling. By demonstrating similar products, other versions or models on a detailed product page, you ensure that the customer leaves most satisfied with the purchase.
Cross-selling. This marketing tactic invites customers to purchase related or complementary items with you. For example, shoe care products can be cross-sold to footwear.
You don’t need to extend the functionality of Magento to add up-sell and cross-sell products: both options go out-of-the-box.
Sales rate, number of loyalty program participants, revenue from loyalty program participants, and gross margin from loyalty program participants are the KPIs to track while building customer loyalty when learning How to market Ecommerce in the Caribbean!.
Pricing as an essential part of e-commerce marketing
There are multiple approaches to price configuration. You can find the right formula for retail markup by trial and error. Or you can look through our summary of fundamental pricing principles and choose the one that suits your product offerings when looking at How to market Ecommerce in the Caribbean!..
The Cost plus pricing method implies that you add the desired margin to the first cost of the product.
If you choose to use the competitor-based pricing method, you need to research competitors’ prices for similar products and set the price somewhere in between.
The Value-based pricing method bases the price on product’s value, the benefits it can provide to consumers. As this approach is rather complicated, let us guide you through value-based pricing configuration step by step:
Determine the price of the next best alternative that customers can buy instead of yours.
Determine what sets your offering apart from this alternative and estimate the worth of these differences.
Determine what makes the competing product better than yours and estimate the worth of these differences.
Use the following formula: Price = step 1 + step 2 – step 3.
Once you have set the prices, keep tabs on the sales volume and competitors and adjust the prices accordingly. Rejecting price flexibility, you risk losing customers or working at a loss. Here are several reasons to increase or decreases prices.
Initially, you underpriced the products.
Production expenses have increased.
You want to test the market.
Initially, you overpriced the products.
Production expenses have decreased.
You are launching a promotional campaign.
Data-driven ecommerce marketing
Ecommerce marketing is a process, not an event, especially when figuring out How to market Ecommerce in the Caribbean!.. It includes setting goals, implementing strategies, and analyzing their effectiveness. That’s why conducting a marketing campaign without analytics is like walking in the dark or fishing without bait. Yes, you can arrive at the destination or catch something in the best-case scenario, but the result will be accidental.
Let’s see how data analytics helps you better understand your business and customers.
Magento customer segmentation can become a starting point for developing a personalized approach to your customers. Segmenting them by demographic, psychographic or behavioristic factors allows you to develop targeted promotional and sales campaigns.
Product performance analysis. Supplement your Magento store with Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce extension for valuable insights. The functionality of the extension includes:
Shopping behavior reporting.
Checkout behavior reporting.
Product performance reporting.
Sales performance reporting.
Order coupon reporting.
By conducting customer satisfaction analysis, you will not only get important feedback about everything from products to the buying process and support but will also win customers with the intention to meet their needs. Add product review requests and customer satisfaction surveys to see your business through the eyes of your customers.
Large online retailers running stores with 100K+ SKUs, sizeable staff and multiple suppliers can rely on business intelligence. BI consultants will get your data under professional control and provide expert insights into revenue by the customer group, coupon usage, average customer lifetime value, average spent, daily number of orders, etc.
A digital experience is an interaction between a user (customer, partner or employee) and an organization that is possible only because of digital technologies.
Digital Experiences in the Context of Digital Business
Digital experiences are that portion of technology that allows companies to go beyond digitizing paper processes in order to create services that are possible only because of the internet and other modern technologies.
They have two key components: they use digital technologies and they provide some kind of interaction between a single user and an organization, usually a company. Mobile apps, websites and smart devices all provide digital experiences to the customers, partners or employees that are using them to interact with companies.
Technology on its own doesn’t make something a digital experience. Reading a scan of a paper document, for example, isn’t a useful interaction to include within the scope of this definition because it doesn’t offer anything experientially different than reading a physical copy would.
Companies should think of digital experiences as processes that do what a physical process cannot. A scanned document can convey written information as well as a piece of paper, whereas a digitally enhanced pdf can include cross-references to other documents, right-click definitions, online collaborations, auto-translations and digital signatures.
As another example, event registration software that allows you to download a list of registrants and their information is digitizing the manual process of checking them in (i.e., instead of searching for names on a printed roster, you’re searching a spreadsheet on your computer in order to confirm registration).
Contrast that against a system in which you can enter a registrant’s name and view their registration status, process pending payments, confirm room information and check them in from a single dashboard. This takes separate physical processes and unites them with one digital solution to save time.
Digital Experience vs. Digital Customer Experience
Digital experience is a broad category that encompasses the many digital channels that businesses need to manage today. However, digital experience is not the same thing as digital customer experience. Digital experiences are single interactions, whereas digital customer experience is the sum of all digital interactions that a person has with an organization.
When companies discuss improving digital customer experience, they are concerned with improving user interface, mobile responsiveness and design, communication methods, delivering real time data, etc. across all interactions, rather than individual touchpoints.
The distinction between digital experience and digital customer experience is generally only a concern to companies themselves. Customers have shown that they don’t care about the idea of an “experience”. They are simply focused on getting what they want in the most convenient way available.
When businesses are speaking about digital customer experience, they’re usually also making an effort to put themselves into the shoes of the customer and trying to understand the impact and importance of digital channels from that viewpoint.
The performance and availability of the company’s applications are critical to maintaining uninterrupted business processes, and even small performance issues can entail rather costly consequences. For example, in customer-facing solutions, slow system response is very likely to influence SEO and conversion rate negatively and consequently result in hindered revenue and even damaged brand loyalty. According to the Akamai research, a 100-millisecond delay in website load time can hurt conversion rates by 7 percent.
Modern applications – large, often distributed and asynchronous – are especially vulnerable to failures and slowdowns and thus require a notably holistic approach to their health and availability maintenance. As there exists little guidance for helping companies in ensuring thorough care of the application performance in large IT environments, we present the following application performance management 101.
As an application management provider, we’ve often seen misinterpreting of the relatively new concept “application performance management.” Mostly, people mistake it for application monitoring and use the terms interchangeably, but application monitoring is only a way to reveal in details how the system behaves over time. Despite all of its substantive input, pure monitoring is not enough for the needs and requirements of complex modern applications and is only a supportive activity for performance management. Application performancemanagement is a much wider term that comprises, apart from monitoring, problem resolution, problem prevention, and continuous application improvement.
The good about proper application performance doesn’t end with improved conversion rates and investing in brand loyalty. The benefits of application performance management in practice for the organization include:
Increased business efficiency
Properly administered application performance management makes badly performing business applications a thing of the past. In particular, it helps to deal with delays in overloaded processes, downtimes, and disruptions that can significantly hinder employees’ performance and almost double the time required for this or that task.
Reduced application TCO
Minimized costs for further improvements. Application changes become less expensive due to the ability to identify and solve code integration problems before an application goes in production.
Lowered support costs. The data received in the course of application performance management improves the efficiency of the support staff. Support engineers can address performance and availability issues faster and solve more problems over time.
Well-planned cloud capacity. The reduced time of request processing will hardly make a big difference to your users, but it can add up to your spending significantly. Continuous application performance management will let you estimate your optimal needs in cloud capacity and come up with more effective computing resource utilization or the introduction of dynamic consumption for the clouds.
SLA monitoring and reporting
Application performance management data helps to bring transparency into collaboration with third-party vendors (be a SaaS provider or a provider of application development and management outsourcing services) and ensure that the quality of service is maintained at the level your business expects. Application performance metrics can be turned into such KPIs as average page load time, the number of services unavailability cases, and more.
Application performance management starts with anomaly detection and localization. For that, the responsible team applies a wide set of techniques.
Application component monitoring
Component monitoring implies tracking performance metrics and availability of all application tiers and components – servers, OS, services, integration components, third-party APIs, databases.
Business transaction monitoring
Business transaction monitoring involves tracking critical business transactions across the entire application infrastructure. By that, we mean ensuring the transactions are complete, their timing is acceptable, as well as identifying weak points in the request’s journey. Transaction health monitoring is particularly relevant for complex distributed transactions across internal or external systems when the message loss is crucial.
Real user monitoring
Real user monitoring (as Google Analytics) is a passive collection of data about the performance of the application services that clients can access directly. It allows getting insights about real traffic and errors on the server and in the frontend, identifying the most popular sets of functionality and differences in performance when the application is accessed from different devices, browsers or parts of the world.
For synthetic monitoring, developers create special scripts that systematically simulate user actions in the application. This allows for finding flaws in the application work before real users are affected.
Metrics can only tell that something is wrong. To indicate the real source of a problem, we turn to logs. The application performance management team can either manually scroll log data or use specific tools for log analysis (as Logstash, Graylog, Logmatic, Splunk). To keep the log processing effective and allow for advanced log analysis methods, it’s a good practice to require developers to keep the logs structured, properly described and follow standards, e.g., ISO 8601 for date and time info.
The tools used for application performance management can be roughly grouped into several segments, each having favorable and unfavorable aspects for a certain monitoring case. Two of the key differences are the origin of the tools and the way they are implemented.
Custom or off-the-shelf tools
You can either choose from the variety available on the market (AppDynamics, Stackify, Dynatrace, etc.) or use homegrown software. The latter is increasingly popular among the companies with complex and developed IT infrastructures who know exactly where their performance soft points are and want to tackle them in a more targeted way.
Agent-based or agentless tools
Agent-based tools imply that a part of the tool is installed directly on the server or service and collects insider data. It provides more detailed info about how software performs but may require the tangible number of server resources and slow down the component performance.
Agentless tools assess software state remotely. They are easier and faster to deploy but have a limited metric tracing coverage.
It’s not the tools that are critical in application performance management but the measures you take based on the data received from them. Mature performance management runs as follows:
Two stages from above deserve special mention. Alerting should address only the relevant stakeholders and concern only serious issues to be truly effective. Reporting about the detected problems, the way they were solved and the influence they had, shouldn’t be ignored. In the long term, proper reporting allows choosing a better application development path and coming up with the right decisions on the application evolution.
The main supporter of application performance management varies from company to company. This can be a responsibility of a performance engineer, a DevOps team, or a part of the responsibility for the technical support that is inherently accountable for application health and availability. A designated responsible person or a small group of stakeholders should own application performance management as a process within the company to ensure its efficiency, consistency and focused effort.
However, none of them can have full responsibility (and required skills) for the maintenance and management of the overall application performance as the sources of performance degradation can be spread across all software layers and components. They may reside in:
Spikes in traffic.
Slow web pages.
Overloaded transaction / incomplete transactions.
Tangled code structures.
Slow SQL queries / too many database queries.
Inefficient usage of an app’s memory.
Slow or unreliable third-party entities, failure of external HTTP web service calls.
And yet the list is not complete. Thus, for application performance management success, the first big step should be bringing together all stakeholders across the application life cycle. A full application performance management team require a part-time involvement of at least:
The major costs of application performance management reside in:
Review of the current IT infrastructure state. This will include such activities as a code health check, identification of primary candidates for application performance management and creation of a backlog, initial sizing of a future monitoring solution.
Monitoring tools development,purchase of product licenses (annual/monthly fees) and monitoring solution setup and maintenance.
A specifically assigned monitoring team. They’ll manage the monitoring solutions, interpret the monitoring metrics for the whole application management team as well as watch the database that stores them.
Where application performance management will have the greatest impact
If you want to experience the most significant improvements and get a larger ROI from application performance management investments:
Start with business-critical applications that directly influence the company’s revenue (critical business processes) or influence the availability of the company’s services for the clients. The examples of such applications include content management systems, customer and self-service portals, ecommerce solutions and order processing modules.
Cover high-loaded business transactions and external interfaces.
Lastly, let’s see what problems are associated with application performance management.
When opting for SaaS or PaaS, it’s very important to monitor response time, errors and availability of the cloud services (e.g., the cloud storage service). Though you can’t identify where exactly the problem is, the data collected can be used to formulate a request for a provider’s service desk and monitor SLA compliance.
Again, you don’t have access to the source code, so big changes to improve application performance are unavailable. However, application performance management is still worthwhile. At least, you’ll be able to quickly identify performance problems, detect flaws caused by recent customizations, scale up resources or optimize its database.
IoT, big data
The problem of application performance management for IoT and big data solutions is in the abundance of monitoring data. To mitigate the issue, make sure that only needed data is collected, gets combined into batches and longer intervals between transmissions are set.
By the end of 2020, Gartner predicts that 85% of all customer service interactions will start with self-service. In fact, many businesses are expecting to implement self-service portals within the next year.
But is self-service just a marketing hype? No. If digital self-service isn’t in the plan for improving customer experience, then business leaders will find themselves behind the curve.
Why Use a Self-Service Portal?
Self-service is the first step toward excellent digital customer experiences. Not only is self-service foundational for serving modern customer needs, but it is also key to decreasing cost-to-serve. Additionally, times of crisis expedite the need for digital and self-service capabilities in order to quickly meet the shifting needs of customers.
The benefits of successfully implementing a portal with self-service elements include:
Decrease in number of support calls. Customers can easily find the answers they are looking for online, thus lowering the number of calls coming in.
Decrease in response time. Since customers can quickly search and surface the information they need to, customer service reps can quickly handle more complicated interactions and questions instead of spending their time repeatedly answering the same questions.
Decrease in total support costs. Maintaining self-service channels is cheaper than managing live support channels.
Increase in total support volume handled. Self-service enables more customers to be served in a shorter time span.
Increase in traffic. Having self-service establishes brand credibility and trust, so customers will view the portal as a useful tool and visit more frequently.
Increase in customer satisfaction. By providing self-service, customers are able to select how they interact with the customers, thereby building an experience that they prefer.
Examples of Effective Self-Service Portals
Leaders around the world recognize the benefit of delivering self-service not only to lower the cost of customer service operations, but also to provide an engaging experience with customers that empowers and serves them in the way they prefer. Here are a few examples of how businesses have been leveraging their modern self-service portals.
Decreasing Support Calls: EATEL EATEL, a US-based communications company that provides internet and phone services, built a responsive self-service customer portal to better support the needs of its residential and business customers. The launch of the new portal brought reduced customer service calls, improved accessibility through responsive design, decreased billing issues, and increased customer satisfaction. More than 50% of calls coming into the residential call center were payment related. The user-guided self-service account management portal simplified interactions reduced these calls by 30%. Business customers love the control that they now have over contacts, permissions and more from their own login instead of calling in with each request.
Empowering Customers: VMware As an industry leader in cloud infrastructure and IT solutions, VMware needed a user-friendly customer portal. Using Liferay, the new MyVMware is an integrated, account-based portal that allows customers to manage product license keys and support. Millions of users can search for information quicker, access self-service downloads and evaluations and enter multiple sites through a single account. The launch of the new portal has led to a decrease in the number of support calls and increase in satisfaction scores, due to enhanced usability and efficiency.
Providing Better Customer Experiences: Spire Spire, the fifth largest publicly traded gas utility in the U.S., needed to integrate its two separate online account management websites to a single platform solution to improve their customer service experience. The self-service portal they launched successfully integrates with existing ERP systems, two payment processing systems, and two mobile workforce management systems. It also displays gas usage charts, enables online bill payment, and provides self-service tools for enrolling in payment arrangements, such as paperless billing. The My Account site is easy to use and responsive for all devices. After receiving this positive feedback from customers, Spire plans to introduce cutting-edge features such as real-time technician tracking and smart device integration in the near future. These leaders are leveraging self-service to bring value to not only their customers but also to optimize their business operations.
Smoothly functioning customer support is particularly important for big companies that already have a solid reputation and don’t want to undermine it. At the same time, the larger the company is and the more clients and locations it has, the more challenging it is to make customer support run like a Swiss watch. Below, I describe some typical challenges that big enterprises experience with customer support and share tips to handle them.
Challenge 1 – Disjointed case management
Most problems with case management stem from an inefficient collaboration between customer support of different departments or branches. There is neither a unified case management hub with automated case assignment and case escalation processes nor visibility into the whole case management pipeline.
Tip – Consolidated case management with reliable software
You can coordinate disjointed case management with reliable customer support software. The customer support application will help divide a case life cycle into stages, starting from a customer’s inquiry to closing a case. Support team members will be able to track all the cases seeing how and when they are solved.
Challenge 2 – A lot of recurring issues
Customer support teams in enterprises are daily loaded with hundreds of incoming tickets from customers. A great number of these tickets are similar and quite easy to resolve, but by addressing them over and over again, agents delay tackling more challenging issues.
Tip – A knowledge base for customers’ self-support
Identify the most common issues your clients experience with your products or services and prepare comprehensive and easy-to-digest materials for customers’ self-support. Creating a knowledge base for clients will reduce the number of repetitive questions your agents receive and save their time for resolving more advanced technical problems. Furthermore, it will boost the satisfaction level of the customers who prefer solving issues independently instead of contacting the support team.
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Challenge 3 – Lack of consistency across multiple communication channels
For the convenience of their customers, enterprises offer support through multiple communication channels – from phone to social media. But the more communication channels a company uses, the more management difficulties it faces.
Tip – Consolidated communication channels
Customer service software enables funneling all your communication channels into one place. As a result, you can provide omni-channel communication convenient both to your customers and support agents. It will facilitate ticket assignment and escalation and help agents track and answer customers’ questions faster.
Challenge 4 – Unhappy customers take French leave
Clients dissatisfied with the level of support you provide tend to switch to a competitor rather than wait for you to take action and make amends. And even if you think everything goes smoothly with your customer support, chances are you are missing some flaws that make your customers leave with no explanation.
Tip – Feedback from customers
Let your customers speak up by asking them for feedback after an issue is resolved. I recommend you to conduct surveys to collect customer feedback. You can choose between short surveys that pop up on your website and help you target specific issues, or longer, traditional ones that include more questions.
Go for advanced enterprise customer support for a solid reputation
Big businesses put their reputation first, and customer support largely determines a company’s image. The tips described above will help enterprises tackle customer support challenges and, as a result, grow a base of happy and loyal customers.