In mar­ket­ing, we aren’t rewarded for cut­ting cor­ners or shav­ing a few bucks off oper­a­tional costs like our con­stituents. Growth is all mar­keters (and their bosses) care about. It’s one of the most impor­tant vari­ables in today’s global busi­ness. The pri­mary direc­tives for mar­ket­ing are to gen­er­ate demand, increase prof­its, and expand mar­ket share.

To increase prof­its and pro­mote global growth, mar­keters must get their prod­uct to the mar­ket in a way that poten­tial cus­tomers will want to buy it. It is marketing’s job to know its cus­tomers and to make sure that each user expe­ri­ence is per­son­al­ized. Tools are now avail­able in the dig­i­tal world that let you cater to each customer’s indi­vid­ual preferences.

Imag­ine you own a sport­ing goods store and a cus­tomer who is inter­ested in a pair of run­ning shoes arrives at your site. The cus­tomer expects to be able to choose the color, size, and style that he or she likes and “see” exactly what’s being ordered. Our cus­tomers demand to inter­act with our dig­i­tal busi­nesses in real time, and our dig­i­tal assets play a key role when match­ing prod­ucts to cus­tomers’ indi­vid­ual pref­er­ences. Con­sider Room and Board, for exam­ple. The com­pany increased its online rev­enue 152 per­cent by allow­ing cus­tomers to cus­tomize its prod­ucts and visu­al­ize their cre­ations, giv­ing them greater con­fi­dence and sat­is­fac­tion in their purchases.

Here are three steps to mak­ing dig­i­tal assets a key part of your growth story:

  1. Get your dig­i­tal house in order.
  2. Know and inter­act with your customer.
  3. Deliver across mul­ti­ple chan­nels and devices.

In today’s dig­i­tal world, we have to pro­vide a per­son­al­ized in-store expe­ri­ence, scaled to what­ever medium the cus­tomer is using. Engag­ing cus­tomers with a per­son­al­ized shop­ping expe­ri­ence will both increase your sales and build cus­tomer loy­alty. Cus­tomer loy­alty earns refer­rals and return customers.

Step 1. Get Your Dig­i­tal House in Order

The first step in grow­ing your global busi­ness is to orga­nize your dig­i­tal assets: images, video, and rich media. Think of a fast food restau­rant that sells tacos. Each ingre­di­ent is stored in an eas­ily acces­si­ble, labeled con­tainer to make build­ing a taco a quick and seam­less process. All of your dig­i­tal assets need to be labeled, orga­nized, and prop­erly tagged within the dig­i­tal asset man­age­ment sys­tem so you can quickly find the dig­i­tal image and videos to present to the cus­tomer in real time.

Step 2. Know and Inter­act with Your Customer

Cus­tomers demand cus­tomiza­tion when they shop. Gone are the days when they will spend time search­ing your web­site for the prod­ucts they need. Now they expect to arrive at a site and have options pre­sented to them, based on their loca­tions and shop­ping inter­ests. As a mar­keter, you must under­stand the cus­tomer. If a seg­ment of your cus­tomers con­sists of retirees who enjoy shop­ping after church on Sun­day and they typ­i­cally buy stock­ings, you’ll want to adver­tise the prod­uct they are look­ing in a way that they will see it imme­di­ately when they walk into your store. You must lever­age data from all sources—customer rela­tion­ship man­age­ment (CRM) data, cus­tomer pro­files, ana­lyt­ics, devices, and geographies—and present your cus­tomers with rel­e­vant and unique dig­i­tal experiences—at scale.

Inter­ac­tive online visu­als are key to per­son­al­iz­ing the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Imag­ine walk­ing into a car deal­er­ship. You are greeted at the door by a sales­per­son with the keys to a car that fits your needs. The sales­per­son learns through your inter­ac­tions that you need a fam­ily car with room for bags and sport­ing gear, hands-free dial­ing, and Blue­tooth capa­bil­i­ties. Mar­keters need to cre­ate the same level of inter­ac­tiv­ity on their dig­i­tal prop­er­ties. Audi, for exam­ple, lever­aged respon­sive design to increase cus­tomer engage­ment. The company’s web­site lets cus­tomers select any model car, cus­tomize the options, and zoom into any image to see the details of their selec­tion. They can then view avail­able inven­tory and con­tact the dealer to arrange a test drive.

Step 3. Deliver across Mul­ti­ple Chan­nels and Devices

The mobile phone is the most per­sonal device that you have, and you take it every­where you go. When you shop, you expect your shop­ping expe­ri­ence to be con­sis­tent with the mobile expe­ri­ence: per­sonal and highly engaging.

Design­ing for mobile isn’t an option for mar­keters, it’s a must. A recent study showed that tablet users who vis­ited e-commerce sites in 2011 spent 54 per­cent more per pur­chase than smart­phone vis­i­tors, and 21 per­cent more than desk­top or lap­top vis­i­tors. The mar­ket data shows that tablet users expect more from their e-commerce expe­ri­ence and also spend more.

The les­son is this: The dig­i­tal shop­ping expe­ri­ence must work seam­lessly on every screen and espe­cially well on mobile devices. Images and videos need to be scaled to the device and across all dig­i­tal channels.

Growth is crit­i­cal if a mar­ket­ing orga­ni­za­tion is to stay ahead in the global busi­ness world. By get­ting your dig­i­tal house in order, know­ing your cus­tomer, and deliv­er­ing a per­son­al­ized shop­ping expe­ri­ence across mul­ti­ple chan­nels and devices, you will grow your mar­ket share and pro­vide your cus­tomers with a per­son­al­ized shop­ping expe­ri­ence.

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