Many luxury brands have recognized the importance of digital media and have placed it at the core of their business, using social experiences, web sites, video and other interactive media to enhance their brand image and increase consumer engagement. Digital marketing strategies are largely consumer-focused, as they are often designed specifically to enable brands to become more high-touch with multifaceted consumers.
The Value of Customer Experience
According to Gartner, 64% of people believe customer experience is more important than price in their choice of a brand. By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. When a brand is dependent on a reseller or distribution channel for part (or all) of their sales process, the customer experience becomes more challenging to manage. Brands have a great opportunity to shape the customer experience through their channel and impact the many customer touch points involved with products that require installation, support and service by an external channel partner. Because in some cases the entire sales experience is placed in the hands of distributors or dealers, brands must get creative in finding ways to help these resources successfully communicate the desired messaging and brand story throughout an extended sales process.
There are significant opportunities for brands to leverage digital media to support and engage their channel and, in turn, create a more meaningful buying experience for the end consumer. If you are relying on external teams to sell, install and support luxury products, you are also relying on these parties to create a superior product experience for your customers. Consider the following elements of an effective digital marketing strategy to ensure that the channel is following your lead.
Does your organization have dedicated trade and consumer marketing teams – and if so, are they working in alignment? Digital marketing strategies that cohesively and strategically address both consumer and trade needs are more effective in building customer loyalty than strategies that are developed independently. If your organization has a single marketing team, be sure to broaden the scope of your strategy to encompass all relevant audiences.
Brands should consider developing trade-specific digital tools to support the purchase experience for affluent consumers, with dedicated budget and resources for ongoing maintenance. Different types of content are valuable to different channel partners, so be sure to develop a varied approach, including training materials, co-branded sales collateral, interactive digital tools like 360° product video and configuration applications, or sales support applications. For example, InSinkErator recognized the need for their installers to complete an online video training program to understand the value of their high-end disposals and learn how best to support them. Rather than putting out bland, basic training videos, the organization invested in creating an innovative, engaging training program hosted by “Mythbusters.”
When developing trade tools, be sure to consider how and where they will be used. If your installers and service people would benefit from on-the-go access to tools and the ability to access them offline or on site, mobile apps or responsive portals must be part of your strategy. It is also important to consider what types of digital media will have the most impact on your channel. For complex products, video training housed in an online learning management system (LMS) could be the most effective way for installers to learn valuable skills and achieve certification designations to better support the whole customer experience.
What percentage of your digital marketing budget is devoted to channel development? Don’t allow trade or channel marketing to be a complete afterthought, or to attempt to repurpose existing content as sales tools. Dedicated resources will bring greater results. I recommend budgeting at least 10-20 percent of your overall marketing budget toward the development of specific tools and training for your channel, independent of any co-op advertising programs available to partners. This budget can not only support the creation and development of sales collateral, online advertising, training materials, digital sales resources and lead qualification systems, but also specific platforms to support asset management and distribution.
Today’s marketing team pays more attention to analytics now than ever before – but is your team paying the same amount of attention to channel results? By tracking engagement, you can identify areas of improvement and prioritize ongoing investments in channel marketing. Some savvy luxury electronics brands use systems like Revenew, a through-channel marketing automation platform, to manage channel advertising and brand and campaign assets while streamlining the co-op funding and reporting process. These systems enable partners to access digital resources and co-marketing materials through an online portal. Tools like Revenew make it easy to close the loop on channel engagement, improve communication between brand and partner, and create a strong differentiator with distributors who may also deal in competitive products.
A Mutually Beneficial Digital Marketing Investment
Your investment in digital channel marketing will ultimately benefit the consumer, regardless of whether they are aware your channel marketing program or tools. Digital media can help streamline the sales, installation and repair process, which in turn improves the quality of the customer experience. Tools like Sub-Zero and Wolf’s product configurator support the channel as they execute their part of the customer experience. For Sub-Zero and Wolf, the installation process in high-end kitchens was slowed by a cumbersome reliance on CAD drawings. Installers who used the product configurator were able to automate the specification process, accelerate delivery and installation, and reduces errors. This frees internal brand support resources to focus on more complex issues and has improved overall client satisfaction.
The bottom line? The easier you make it for your channel to sell and support your product, the more engaged they will become – and you’ll see a boost in customer satisfaction.