Having a digital marketing strategy is key to the success of modern business. A competent, long term digital strategy will help companies connect with their customers, reinforce or create brand loyalty, and increase sales revenue. Today’s marketers have a plethora of tools at their disposal to fulfill their digital strategies such as: eVouchers and coupons, QR codes, social media, NFC (near field communication) and the digital wallet. These are a few of the most widely used and efficient digital tools that companies can utilize to increase their digital footprint and margins.
eVouchers and Coupons
Retailers and other organizations are benefiting from the re-imagining of an old favorite – the coupon. The use of vouchers and online coupons have accelerated because customers enjoy the convenience of online coupons, and the proliferation of deals and discounts found throughout the internet. In order to enjoy the benefits of online coupons and vouchers, consumers only need access to a printer to print the coupons and use them in their local store. Companies with a more sophisticated marketing strategy create apps for mobile phones that disseminate vouchers and coupons so that consumers only need to present their phones at POS to receive special offers.
The debate over whether or not QR codes are an effective marketing tool still wages on, but proponents of QR codes believe that, if utilized correctly, QR codes will exponentially increase company profits by connecting real world products to online messages. This bridge created by QR codes gives it a distinct advantage over other types of digital marketing tools, as it connects online and offline advertising. Tragically, QR codes have been overused and abused by marketers to the point where many consumers are suspicious of them. Still creative brands have found ways to make QR codes work for them. For example, cosmetics giant L’Oreal placed QR codes in NYC cabs during New York Fashion Week, that allowed consumers to browse and shop during cab rides. As a result, the company saw a 7% conversion rate and an 80% increase in app downloads.
Social media has long been a buzz word for marketers. But it is only in recent years that the power of social media has been fully recognized and used effectively in merchant digital strategies. Social media spaces like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler, Youtube, and now Vine have connected businesses to their customers in new and unimaginable ways. Now customers expect for companies to have an online presence, to be able to message representatives and receive answers within hours, or for companies to provide live chat opportunities. Consumers check company media pages for updates, news, discounts, and deals religiously. Companies who place social media in the middle of their digital strategies generally have above average customer loyalty, and their customers have a more positive view of them. Loyalty plus trust and optimism leads to more sales.
NFC and the Digital Wallet
Near field communication (NFC) is an old technology being used in new and innovative ways via the creation of the digital wallet. NFC is a form of short range contactless communication. NFC enabled devices can relay information between two objects without touch and has now been integrated with devices such as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s via ApplePay, a payment platform created by Apple to allow consumers to pay for items by only holding their phone to NFC enabled merchant terminals. ApplePay is one of a few platforms created to promote the use of the “digital wallet.”
Digital wallets give consumers the ability to pay for merchandise without using cash, credit/debit cards, or account numbers in general. Instead consumers use virtual currency like bitcoins, or rely on payment platforms like ApplePay to encrypt their account information so that personal account numbers are no longer shared directly with merchant devices, thus effectively eliminating the need to carry an actual wallet. How NFC and the digital wallets can be integrated into powerful digital strategies are currently being tested by first movers like Apple. Many bank officials speculate that the success of digital wallet platforms could encourage major banks to invest in the technology, thus allowing their customers to integrate their accounts with payment platforms making the physical presence of a credit card unnecessary, and the purchase process faster and simpler than ever before.
The 21st century is a new and interesting time for business. Now companies must invest heavily in finding digital solutions that work for their teams and customers in order to stay relevant and competitive. The previously mentioned digital tools are only a handful of emerging and established technologies that companies can exploit to increase customer connectivity, interactivity, responsiveness, and sales.