By Simon Knowles.
Gartner’s recent CEO survey shows that digital marketing, closely followed by customer experience management, will be the most important areas of technology investment to improve performance over the next 5 years. Now why is that? Well, it’s because we are experiencing a seismic shift in the way B2B buyers are using Internet and mobile technology to become educated, engage and buy. A phenomenal amount can be learnt about firms – and not just from the companies themselves. Industry commentators, staff, and most powerfully, other customers can be commanding influencers.
In the B2B market, research from Corporate Executive Research shows that on average 57% of the buyer’s journey now happens online before prospects even talk to a salesperson! – This represents an incredible shift in the buyer’s journey from offline to online. It is especially significant as research into buyer behavior shows that customers are 5 times more likely to tell someone of a bad experience than that of a positive one – and of course the Internet makes this very easy. That’s why we are seeing a significant rise in the investment in the digital marketing, marketing automation and customer experience arenas as these enabling capabilities help firms educate, engage and nurture prospects through the buying cycle. Not only that, these technologies help marketing departments track the investment made in marketing right the way through to revenue and ROI – so no wonder CEOs and CFOs are starting to take note. Marketing is coming of age and can now justifiably argue that it should move away from being perceived by many executives as a cost centre to that of a profit centre.
As Scott Binker from MarTech says, “people not only judge your company by what is online, but by the quality of their experiences when they interact and engage with your company.” If you want a great company, you need to deliver and track great experiences at every stage along the buyer’s journey — from the very first touchpoint through to customer acquisition and retention. Customer experience, now more than ever, is now your brand.