A recent Salesforce.com report, Customer Expectations Hit All-Time Highs, uncovers how “Modern customers have much higher expectations, such as proactive services, personalized interactions, and connected experiences across channels.” This message is resonating across all retailers, from big-box stores to mom-and-pop shops, as online commerce solutions become more sophisticated in delivering these personalized interactions and optimizing the buyer’s journey. There's no doubt consumers feel they're entitled to proactive, personalized and connected experiences, and the pressure is on to deliver to these digital expectations. Furthermore, these high-demand expectations are in a constant state of change. Retailers must develop a cohesive digital strategy to better engage with modern customers. After all, your bottom line is at stake.
When boiled down to the fundamentals of what the consumer is seeking, you can categorize it into three “C’s” — content, channel, CMS. Content must be infinite, allowing visitors to research and dive deep to obtain the level of satisfaction they need to proceed onto the next conversion point. These days content isn't limited to text. Rich media — a combination of text, imagery, video, infographics, etc. — is often used to augment text. Take video, for example. Product videos have a 66 percent to 85 percent conversion-to-sale rate, according to BigCommerce. Engagement with consumers using various media appeals to their demand for a modern digital experience.
Along with rich media content, today’s customers demand personalization. Many retailers believe personalization is digitally knowing everything there is to know about an individual. While this hyperpersonalization is the goal, there are different degrees of personalization which are much simpler to deploy and still effective. In a study conducted by Salesforce, 88 percent of retailers say personalization has improved their marketing effectiveness. And Marketing Dive states, “48 percent of e-commerce shoppers have left a website AND made purchases from a competitor because of a poorly personalized experience." Your marketing efforts need personalization to drive shoppers to your stores, and your customers need personalization to keep them there. This is a topic which cannot be ignored. Your content must be both rich and personalized.
Content should not only reside on your domain. This brings us to our second “C,” channel. According to the Harvard Business Review, 73 percent of customers use multiple channels to shop. This should be no surprise to anyone, looking back at the Salesforce.com report where customers expect connected experiences across channels. It’s one thing to engage with customers across several channels, and it’s quite another to connect those experiences. Customers expect your social media, web, web apps, e-commerce, customer services apps, etc., all to connect seamlessly. If a customer is interested in one of your products he/she saw on Instagram, they expect a smooth, seamless transition to the product experience on your website. Retailers that get this right may see a 67 percent lift in consumer spending.
Let’s look at our final “C” to bring this all together, a modern CMS. Content management systems (CMS) have been around since the dawn of the internet, or since we stopped asking our children’s high school geek to create websites for us. Modern CMSs offer a dizzying variety of technology options; however, the challenge is to understand which provide the most value. When looking into a modern CMS, retailers should first look toward content distribution across channels as the primary feature, then content distribution throughout your e-commerce experience. As we outlined earlier, content has evolved from “content is king” to “content is foundational.” Nearly all CMSs can add content to your website; the difference is how many different channels and devices they can manage.
The second feature you need in a modern CMS is limited IT support. Let's face it, our IT teams are stretched too thin and are asked to manage anything that plugs into the wall or shows up on your screen. Consider a CMS which empowers your marketing team to create, manage and deliver both content and digital experiences without IT involvement, getting your message into the market faster — not to mention staying in front of your competition. Keep IT focused on mission-critical applications and allow your marketing team to create and deliver the experiences your customers demand.
Last, ensure your CMS is the core of a digital experience platform (DXP) strategy. DXP is the technology which creates digital experiences. According to an IDC report, successful DXP strategies will provide a 24 percent increase in revenue, 18 percent reduction in operations costs, 19 percent faster time to market, and 19 percent better brand consistency. A CMS is the first step to create this successful digital strategy and opens the door to more profit and competitive advantages.
Whatever the specific digital challenges you're trying to solve, and wherever you are on your digital maturity scale, these three “Cs” must be at its core. Each technology step you take must extend a great customer experience across all destinations and devices — an experience which delights customers and brings together pre- and post-conversion in a unified way. Your diligence will be rewarded.
Gregg Shupe is the digital experience thought leader at Progress, a global software company that has a mission to simplify and enable the development, management and deployment of business applications on premises, in any Cloud, on any platform and on any mobile device.
Gregg Shupe is the Digital Experience Thought Leader at Progress, a global software company whose mission is to simplify and enable the development, management and deployment of business applications on premises, in any Cloud, on any platform and on any mobile device.
Gregg Shupe has nearly 20 years of professional marketing experience across a broad range of industries including enterprise IT, consumer electronics and telecommunications. While focused on delivering digital experience strategies, Shupe has a proven track record of helping companies and business partners digitally transform their organizations into the modern era.