I wrote a post recently about the five domains of digital transformation, with customer behaviour being one of the five domains of strategy that is changing because of digital technology. In this post, which you can read, I spoke about how digital technology is changing how we connect and create value for customers. Traditionally customers were seen as mass markets; we made one communication message and sent it out to a broad cross-section of people. There was no level of differentiation; however, in the digital era, we are moving away from mass marketing to customer networks.
The Customer Is The Network
Today, the customer is not just the individual we are targeting. The customer is the network these individuals are a part of, which is vital to understand when targeting users online. Customers are dynamically connected, and their interactions change and influence each other’s relationships with businesses and brands. That interaction between customers has the potential to transform brands and business reputations forever. Customer networks shape how customers react to your marketing funnels at each stage of the Marketing Funnel. This applies to customers of a product or service and areas such as Politics. The voter is not just the individual. The voter is the network of interactions that influences people about how to vote. So, the voter is the network.
After extensive research, Professor David Rogers from Columbia University and the Digital Transformation Playbook author found five fundamental behaviours of customer network in our digital lives. The first is that customer networks aspire to access their information and data more efficiently, flexibly, and straightforwardly. Anything that makes accessing my information easier will always be more attractive to me. Think about the smartphones that gave access to things like emails much easier back in the day. The second of these behaviours is that customer networks seek to engage with content relevant to their lives. Whether educational content, entertaining content etc. Customers are always looking to engage with content.
The third customer behaviour is customer networks look to customize our experience. Above, I mentioned that customers seek relevant content, but they are not all seeking the same content; they are looking for different types of content. That’s why platforms like YouTube have algorithms that will customize your experience and recommend some videos for you that they would not recommend to me. We should never create one size fits all experiences in the digital age. The fourth behaviour of digital customer networks is the desire to connect with others. We are all social animals; that’s why it is called “SOCIAL” Media. We want to connect, find our tribe, and create communities to share our thoughts, feedback, and ideas on different topics. Are you building an avenue for customers to connect? And for the fifth behaviour, customers want to go beyond just connecting; they want to collaborate. They want to work together with others towards shared goals.
I will break down each digital customer behaviour a little more to better understand each one and how we can apply it in our business.
Like I said above, the first customer behaviour is the desire for access, and when we look at access as a strategy, we need to look at how we can be faster, be simpler, be everywhere and always on for our customers. Customers are always connected, always-on, and access to information should behave the same way. We need to start looking at how we can create an “On Demand” model for our business. I remember when I began hosting my Social Media Marketing Masterclass, I did it in person. Therefore, people were only able to get access to the class whenever I was physically teaching it. I realize people wanted access to this masterclass on their own time, on their terms and whenever they wanted. Therefore, I decided to digitize my masterclass. Now customers can access this class anytime, anywhere, and however, they want. I know I had to rethink the experience for customers with this new desire and implement this access strategy, making my course accessible to customers on their terms.
The second customer behaviour, as mentioned above, is the desire of customers to engage with relevant content. Therefore, the strategy here is how you can become a source of relevant content for your customers. We are no longer in the days when you can only consume content on a TV, for example, if you had a favourite show and it showed on Monday nights at 8 pm, you had to be there at that time to watch it if you missed it then it was gone, there was no Netflix, no YouTube etc. This was the golden age of appointment viewing.
Today, customers do not have this problem. Today we can consume content on-demand when we want; we have Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Spotify, this blog, and a host of different ways that customers can consume content. That, while it’s a good thing, creates another problem though, it means customers’ attention is now fragmented and divided, so it becomes more challenging to reach them and engage them with advertising. It isn’t easy to put your ads in front of a piece of content and know they will have to consume it if they want to consume that content. We can skip ads on YouTube, and when I watch a show on Amazon Prime or Netflix, there are no ads.
I am not saying advertising is dead because it isn’t, but now, in addition to doing some advertising, customers need to think like a media company. How will you create content that people want to watch, listen to, read, and share with others? This all centers around storytelling; how can you tell your story in a very engaging way? Remember, your content doesn’t have to appeal to everyone; it can appeal to a narrow niche audience. Just be relevant to that audience.
The subsequent digital customer behaviour is the desire to customize the experience for the user. How can businesses create experiences tailored to their customers and the easiest way to do this is to customize media. Platforms like YouTube and Netflix do this, where you go there to watch a video and end up watching videos recommended to them by the platform. However, they are not recommending the same thing to everyone; those recommendations are very customized. Even online shopping on a platform like Amazon, I recently went looking for a camera and bought a tripod, vlogging kit etc., all because they were recommended to me based on what I was purchasing.
The next customer behaviour of digital customers is a desire to connect with each other. Customers are using a host of different tools today to connect. The strategy for businesses is to become a part of the digital conversations that customers are having. They need to add to and gain value from that conversation and connections that are happening. Businesses need to use social media platforms to engage with their customers. The focus needs to be on the platform their customers are on, not just joining social media platforms just for the heck of it. There is no one way to use social media to build and maintain a relationship with your customers; it will depend on their goals. Businesses can also develop their communities to solicit feedback from customers or have customers interact with each other.
The final behaviour is customers’ desire to collaborate, and the question is for businesses is how you tap into that behaviour to help build your business. Think about Wikipedia, where anyone can start or edit an article there. So how can we allow customers to contribute to developing our businesses and build something of value? Some companies have open-source software’s that anyone can contribute and add value to. Even the IOS and Android ecosystem does this where they allow users to create apps for their customers. The Appstore makes these platforms valuable.
Which of these five strategies are you using in your business to engage the digital customer?
I recently launched my complete social media masterclass. People can learn everything about social media, from content creation to running ads. You can find more about the social media masterclass here- Social Media Masterclass