There’s no need to repeat the fact the world changed in 2020, and we are currently in an entirely new world. If you are familiar with history, you will know that changes like the one that started in 2020 affect every aspect of life, including marketing and commerce. That’s because businesses feel the impact and try to adapt to the new dynamic to stay afloat. And consumers learn new ways to get their needs, and they often acquire new needs.
In this article, we will talk about why CEOs need to move with the tides and adopt a digital marketing mindset going forward.
Consumer Behavior Has Changed
According to Vistage research, 78% of CEOs say there are dramatic shifts in buyer behavior due to the impacts of COVID as a result of these four main factors:
Shit towards digital shopping: in the last two years, for the first time in history, more shopping happened online than on-site in stores, with buyers doing thorough research by themselves before purchase.
Virtual selling replaces in-person: remote culture is no longer a mere alternative, it’s more like the main stuff now. Customers now prefer shopping remotely and would rather have a virtual meeting to discuss details of products/services and finalize transactions virtually than meet in person with the brand.
Slow sales cycle: when the pandemic started, many consumers panic-bought essential items, but after a while of experiencing a pandemic, consumers became calm and more cautious in making purchase decisions. As a result, the sale cycle is no longer as fast as it used to be.
Covid-influenced market dynamics: since the pandemic started, the market processes and operations have changed. We now have almost no trade shows, increased inflation, and supply chain issues, which all influence the buying and selling experience.
Of course, we can expect that inflation and supply chain challenges will reduce in the future. However, buyers have realized that shopping online is more convenient, and that will probably remain so forever.
Adapting Your Marketing and Sales Strategies to The New Dynamics
First, you should always have a mindset that the customer journey from awareness to purchase stages must be smooth and convenient for your customer. So, it doesn’t matter whether the customer journey happens online or offline in-store. Make it a goal to create a customer experience that centers the customer.
Here are some of the practices you can adopt and improve upon to create a smooth digital experience for your customers, which will invariably help your business to keep up with the tides.
Improved Website Functionality
Before the pandemic, many buyers were satisfied with shopping online, going to a few websites, looking around, and adding items to their carts for home delivery. Now, buyers have more expectations for what a website, especially an eCommerce website, should do beyond listing available products.
As a CEO, you should invest in your website and equip it with the necessary features and functionalities to provide customers with an in-depth digital shopping experience. Your website should provide an engaging virtual experience throughout the purchase journey, from the research stage, even up till after the delivery.
Customers don’t necessarily need human supervision or clarification during the purchase journey because they can do everything by themselves now, but only as far as your website functionality allows them. For example, when a potential buyer needs demonstrative information about how an item works, they expect the website to provide it, otherwise, they will go to another website with better customer engagement.
Social Media Platforms as Customer Touch Points
You need more than a well-optimized website to create a digital experience for your customers. You also need to take advantage of social media (marketing) and other touchpoints. You need to maintain a relationship with your target audience in the current congested eCommerce industry. Your customers should be able to reach you outside of sales. Having an active social media presence will build trust with your customers, create awareness for your brand, projects, and products, and increase sales.
There are other touchpoints you can use to reach and engage potential customers. You can create a mobile app for your business, set up a profile on Google My Business, run email campaigns, run paid adverts on search engines, and set up a virtual help desk. Ensure that your brand personality is the same across all your touchpoints.
Holistic Customer Service
While customers always prefer to go through their purchase journey without needing to reach out to the customer service team for clarifications, sometimes they have to. As a CEO, make sure your brand provides holistic customer service on all fronts so that sales and marketing provide similar responses to customers. Your customer service team should have more than generic answers to give inquiring customers; they should have in-depth knowledge about your product and services.
Customers often push meeting the sales team until they are almost ready to buy, so ensure that your staff act in alignment, providing relevant detailed answers that give your customers real value.
Virtual Buying/Selling Processes
We mentioned above that customer behavior has shifted towards virtual experiences, and it will remain so for a long time, if not forever. Customers experienced the convenience of shopping without meeting salespeople in person during the pandemic, and everything went smoothly. Although we can expect that some types of buying/selling will still require meeting in person, shopping will never go back to predominantly in-person and on-site.
In fact, the world is moving towards a digital era like never before; Mark Zuckerberg is championing the introduction of the metaverse, increased use of VR/MR/AR, etc. As a CEO, you need to get familiar with digital innovations to keep up with the trends.
Over To You
It’s been a long time coming for digital to take over buying/selling and influencing consumer behavior. It was always going to happen, but we can admit that the pandemic of 2020 accelerated the progress. As a CEO, you should know that there are always immense opportunities for early adopters of new innovations. Putting your customers first is the way to go, and customers are saying loud and clear that they want self-serve digital shopping experiences.