6 Critical Components of a Great Digital Platform
Many companies are seeking to take their current business models and transform them onto a digital-native platform. As both B2C and B2B interactions become more digital, this seems like a prudent step, especially if you are fearing disruption from a digital-native competitor. Many companies, however, are getting digital platform development wrong. There are six critical components to developing a digital-native platform that will live up to your expectations; however, most platforms reflect two or three of these components, at best.
- Have Relevant and Novel Positioning: It is critical to make the digital experience more than an extension of your current customer experience. Many companies still treat their digital platforms as an alternate channel to conduct the same transaction they have always done. While this strategy may offer some convenience for the customer, this will rarely transform the way your customers interact with you or provide immunity from digital disruption. Rather, companies should rethink their platform’s proposition to address unmet needs that can be better served through their digital assets, such as data-driven services, personalization and real-time interactions.
- Develop a Digital Brand Presence: If you build it they may come, but very slowly. Considering the investment you will have made on infrastructure, this will probably not be acceptable. Building better digital engagements with your customers outside of your corporate website, such as on social channels and partner channels, will accelerate the returns on your platform investment. This includes a clear strategy on developing earned media (Likes, shares, reposts, etc.) that is consistent with the owned media brand strategy.
- Communication/Visual Expression: Develop visual consistency and messaging that relates at a human level and reinforces the platform’s novel positioning. Many companies make the mistake of thinking the digital platform is about empowering the customer with better information (product specs, related products and reviews). While this is true, it is also important to remember that there is a human consuming the information and making a buying decision. Helping consumers process information and guiding them on the next steps should not be an afterthought. This includes content strategy that is responsive to customer intent and relevant to the buying stage.
- Develop a Low-Friction Experience: Provide a website experience that is easy to use and navigate. This includes a measurement strategy to properly capture intended customer behaviors and a tagging strategy that supports good sales development. Having a digitally native platform also means having the ability to receive and address common customer issues through existing digital channels, such as text, Web, mobile and chat. I am amazed at how many websites still provide real-time issue resolution though the phone only. Remember the customer chose the digital platform to interact with you and it is the vehicle through which they are building brand trust; especially your younger customers. If that platform is unable to resolve common issues, then it becomes a front-end rather than a valued stand-alone solution.
- Have a Digital Sales Development Process: Have a clearly mapped digital sales development process that correctly identifies the buying stage of the prospect, responds with appropriate content and nurtures leads through sales automation. This includes integration of cross-sell algorithms and product recommendation engines. When done wrong, this can feel pushy and “salesy.” When done well, however, it will be an integral part of long-term customer relationship development.
- Foundational Technology and Capabilities: While most platform projects begin here, I recommend clients end here, instead. This is where the greatest investment and costliest decisions will be made. Critical elements of a good foundational system include real-time decision-making, having a single customer view and delivering personalized Web experiences and targeting based on great data and analytics. However, having the vision and roadmap for the platform is even more critical. Knowing what will make your platform relevant, feel digitally native and drive customer engagement should drive your technology decisions — not the other way around.
Shiv Gupta is a principal at Quantum Sight LLC. He helps clients develop data, analytics and digital technology strategies to drive compelling relationships with customers. In this blog, he'll discuss ways in which marketing organizations can regain their strategic bearings and leverage their tech stack for both short-term and long-term gains. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.