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Master the New Buyer Journey with a Digital-First Strategy

Every company will have its own road to recovery where they will be at a crossroads, either accelerating to success or fighting for survival. This will be linked to digital investment that can deliver outcomes in the years to come.

Today’s customers’ expectations and behaviors reflect those of business-to-customer (B2C) buyers. And they expect the owners and company founders to understand and provide value-based solutions to their challenges, jobs to be done, and business outcomes they want to unleash for their companies. The current linear sales model fails in customer centricity. Adapting the strategy is imperative to successfully engage the customers and grow. 

Though the customer journey encompasses what happens after the purchase, the buyer’s journey is a unique path that consumers take to purchase a product or service. With the change in generations, the digital-first approach will be primarily used in B2B and high technology marketing.

According to a HubSpot report, 73% of Gen Xers prefer to purchase products in-store, but when they do shop online, 53% favor big-box retailers like Amazon. Overall, about one in four Gen X shoppers like to go directly through a company’s website, and just 13% prefer to purchase products through social media apps.

Digital First: A New Strategy for Today’s Buyer Journey

As the world transitions into a more digital economy, businesses must adapt to meet the needs of their customers. Digital leaders are recognizing the importance of a digital-first strategy in today’s buyer journey. This approach puts the customer’s digital experience at the forefront, with all other channels supporting and enhancing that experience.

A digital-first strategy means thinking about how customers interact with your brand online before anything else. It involves creating a seamless user experience across all digital touchpoints, from social media to your website and everything in between.

Model 1 Calls for An Audit Before Anything Else

The first model calls for an in-depth audit of your existing data points from online to offline engagement. These are the most known 7 steps to build a new digital-first consumer journey. It is the same for B2C and B2B audiences:

  1. Set a clear objective for the map.
  2. Define your personas and highlight target customers.
  3. Define stages and identify goals for each.
  4. List out touchpoints.
  5. Gather data and customer feedback.
  6. Determine pain points and points of friction.
  7. Identify areas for improvement.

The first buyer’s journey stage is all about the potential customer’s pain points. In the awareness stage, the buyer knows they have a problem that needs a solution. The consumer knows they have a problem, but they don’t know about your company or your products or services. This is when the search intent and content grouping come in. Most marketing organizations don’t analyze this data when auditing.

As people research solutions to their pain points, they begin to see their options. This is when they enter the consideration stage. This stage also aligns with search intent and a variety of keywords the website is found for as well as content the buyer may visit on a web or a social media page. When considering, the buyer will have clearly defined and given a name to their problem. They are encouraged to continue researching and better understand the available solutions.

At the decision stage, the buyer has decided on their solution strategy, method, or approach. Their goal now is to review solutions or products from a list of vendors and make a final purchase decision.

On the other side of the equation, what data leaders are trying to do is to look at the end-to-end journey of data and to build compelling, powerful capabilities and services at each stop and knit all that together with data governance. But there is just too much data for humans to handle. In comes artificial intelligence (AI).

If marketing organizations could seamlessly integrate all dynamics within today’s channel framework from channel service configuration, perceived value, cross-buying intention, omnichannel integration quality,  assurance quality, and process consistency to content consistency, there may not have been a need for AI. 

Model 2: Artificial Intelligence to Do the Knitting of Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service Data

With the rise of digital channels, buyers are now able to access information about products and services from a variety of sources such as websites, social media platforms, chat forums, emails, and account profiles.

By understanding how customers interact with your brand across different touchpoints in the buyer journey, you can identify areas where you can improve your strategy and provide a more personalized experience. Whether it’s optimizing your website for mobile devices or leveraging social media platforms for targeted advertising campaigns, adapting your strategy is crucial in mastering the new buyer journey.

I can offer the following suggestions for an AI-centric marketing strategy targeting the digital-first audience:

  1. Behavioral targeting: AI tech can be used to track the online behavior of customers, analyze their preferences, and offer personalized content and product recommendations.
  2. Automated customer service: Chatbots and voice assistants powered by AI can help automate customer service, providing instant responses to queries and resolving complaints faster.
  3. Predictive analytics: AI algorithms can help businesses make predictive analytics of customer needs, identify trends, and forecast customer behaviors, thus enabling businesses to communicate relevant offers and promotions.
  4. Content optimization: AI can be used to optimize website content, making it more engaging, relevant, and interactive for the target audience.
  5. Virtual reality and augmented reality: AI technologies such as VR and AR can help businesses create immersive experiences for customers, letting them visualize products and services before purchase.
  6. Sentiment analysis: AI can assist businesses in analyzing online conversations and customer feedback to identify negative trends and take quick action to resolve issues.
  7. Creative tagging: AI-assisted keyword tagging, and meta-tagging on promotional images can provide an opportunity for smart content delivery and multi-dimensional data interpretation.

These are just a few recommendations tailored to the AI-specific marketing landscape for businesses targeting the digital-first audience today.

Businesses must ensure that they have a strong online presence across all these channels to provide a seamless experience for their customers. This means creating engaging content that speaks directly to their target audience and using data analytics tools to track customer behavior.

By embracing a digital-first approach, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and provide their customers with a modern and convenient way to engage with their products or services. This section will explore how companies can successfully transition to a digital-first strategy and why it’s essential in today’s fast-paced business landscape.

What are the pros and cons of the digital-first approach for different generations? 

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