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BizReport : Internet : August 26, 2020

SMBs: How to digitally transform your business to engage consumers

From publishers to apparel brands, there are very few businesses that aren't in the middle of some kind of digital transformation as they try to reach consumers who are no longer going out to restaurants, shopping malls, or businesses. We asked an expert where the focus needs to be for marketers to come out of their digital transformation ahead of the game.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: How can a digital transformation help a small business?  

Jason VandeBoom, CEO, ActiveCampaign: Digital transformation was already becoming an imperative, but the pandemic has made this an even more critical competency for businesses. Going digital allows businesses to be where their customers are, on email, SMS, social channels and more, and to gain more data about their buyers so they can provide better, more personalized experiences, which has many benefits. Not only are digital interactions easier to measure, but when businesses apply AI and automation to the customer lifecycle, it's like getting an extra employee. This equates to savings, efficiency and the ability to drive better results and stronger customer relationships. 
Kristina: What kinds of changes should be top-of-line, in August 2020, for digital transformation?  

Jason: As we approach the holiday season, there is no better time for businesses to put the right technology and process in place to have an impact on holiday sales. Too many brands wait for the last minute to connect with customers and end up over-messaging in an attempt to play "catchup," and that leads to a bad experience. Businesses should be working now to get their customer data streamlined into a unified view so they can begin understanding who buyers are, what they like, and how to best engage, and move from stale batch campaign tactics into more highly personalized programs that will drive results for the holiday season.  
Kristina: Are SMBs, with revenues down from the pandemic, in a place to begin digital transformation plans at this point?  

Jason: Improving your ability to attract, engage, and learn from customers online is even more critical in a down economy - so there is no real reason to wait. During this time, we have seen a big shift in people seeking out brands directly, and SMBs that are able to transform and let their authenticity and uniqueness shine can build loyal advocates during this time in a way they never have been able to before.  
Kristina: What are your top 4 tips for marketers to undertake a digital transformation? 

Jason: ·         Don't over automate. Automation drives incredible efficiencies, but businesses need to find ways to maintain that personal, human interaction -- which is something the consumer wants -- through the digital experience. 
·         Go beyond email. Digital transformation isn't just about automating email sends, it's about transforming the entire customer experience. True digital transformation considers sales calls, SMS reminders, help desk conversations, calendar invites and newsletters, so the entire experience can benefit. Customer Experience Automation solutions are specifically designed for this. They allow businesses to orchestrate across the sales and marketing tools they already have and connect all their pre-existing customer communication channels to better serve customers. 
·         Remember the unique benefits of digital. Digital opens up new opportunities beyond the physical world, with the ability to gain a much deeper understanding of buyer behavior, enable more personalized and automated responses and operate more efficiently, with a centralized record of the buyer and the added intelligence and support of automation. Be sure to leverage these insights and learning to inform a more effective engagement strategy.  
·         Don't do it all at once. Don't feel you need to have your entire plan figured out. Start with the most important touchpoints and channels, knowing your needs may change with your business. Start with a solution like Customer Experience Automation, which connects to the channels you already use, and as you learn how your buyers prefer to engage online, you may find you expand your strategy to new channels and technologies.  

Tags: ActiveCampaign, digital transformation, ecommerce, mobile marketing, Small Business, SMB tips, SMB trends

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