In Part 1 of our discussion of marketing to the Connected Customer, we showed how customers are increasingly relying on the Internet and mobile communication to aid purchase decisions. This evolution of customer behavior is requiring nearly all marketers to adjust their marketing strategy to appeal to their changing customers.
In Part 1, we discussed 5 reasons why adjustments are needed. In Part 2, we continue this discussion by offering 5 additional reasons.
6. Permits Customized Product Offerings
Companies know they can develop loyal customers when goods and services are designed to satisfy individual needs. This has led many marketers to implement a micro marketing strategy offering Connected Customers options for configuring their goods or services. The interactive nature of the Internet and mobile technologies makes “build-your-own” a relatively easy to implement purchasing option. An empowered customer base, that feels a company will deliver exactly what they want, is primed to remain loyal for long period of time.
7. Takes Prospects Right to the Sale
No other form of communication comes close to turning exposure to promotion into immediate customer action in the way the Internet and mobile technologies do. These technologies enable Connected Customers to make purchases immediately after experiencing a promotion. Prior to today’s technologies, the most productive call-to-action was through television infomercials that encourage viewers to call toll-free phone numbers. However, moving customers from a non-active state (i.e., watching television) to an active state (i.e., picking up the phone to call the number) is not nearly as effective as getting people to click on an ad while they are actively using the Internet or their mobile device. Today’s marketers must understand that technology leads customers to making quicker decisions. While encouraging quick decisions may not be ideal for all product purchases, for many marketers this evolution in customer purchasing must be accepted and made available.
8. Conveys Perception of Being a Full-Service Provider
For distributors and retailers, the Internet and mobile technologies make it easy to be a comprehensive supplier. Unlike brick-and-mortar suppliers, who are often judged by the inventory that is actually on hand or services provided at a store, Internet websites and mobile commerce companies can give the illusion of having depth and breadth of inventory and service offerings. This can be accomplished by placing goods and services information on the company’s website or within an app so these are viewable customers. However, behind the scenes certain orders are fulfilled by outside suppliers via shipping and service agreements. With such arrangements, customers may feel they are dealing with providers offering full-service, when in reality a certain percentage of the goods and service are obtained from other sources.
9. Lowers Costs and Provides Better Service
Internet and mobile technologies are replacing more expensive methods for delivering goods and services, and for handling customer information needs. Cost savings can certainly be seen with products deliverable in digital form (e.g., music, publications, graphic design, etc.), where production and shipping expenses are essentially removed from the cost equation. Cost savings may also be seen in other marketing areas including customer service where the volume of customer phone calls may be reduced as companies provide online access to product information. Field salespeople may also see benefits by encouraging prospects to obtain product information online prior to a face-to-face meeting. This may help reduce the time devoted to explaining basic company and product information, and leave more time for understanding and offering solutions to customers’ problems. As these examples suggest, the Internet and mobile technologies may lower administrative and operational costs while offering greater value to customers.
10. Creates a Worldwide Presence
The Internet and mobile networks are communication and distribution channels offering global accessibility to a company’s goods and services. Through a website or wireless application, a local marketer can quickly become a global marketer and, by doing so, expand its potential target market to many times its current size. Unlike the days before electronic commerce, when marketing internationally was a time-consuming and expensive undertaking, the uploading of files to establish a website is all that is needed to create a worldwide presence. While developing mobile apps takes somewhat more effort than creating a website, and establishing a website or app does not guarantee international sales (there is a lot more marketing work needed for the site to be viable internationally), the Internet and mobile networks provide a gigantic leap into global business compared to pre-Internet and wireless devices days.
Image by Giorgio Montersino