Digital Channel – Shift in Metrics
We are sure that most of you would have worked on building websites for your customers to market /sell their products and services. In this “Age of the customer”, any Brand building towards a product / service needs careful Design thinking since competitors are getting wiser and customers have become smarter. The Digital channel has matured into the most happening channel of communication and revenue generation. The way we measure the success or define success has changed since the advent of the New age social networks.
Earlier websites used to measure the success of their online presence by counting the numbers as below:
- Of hits to the website
- Of page views
- Of Unique visitors
- Of form submissions etc.
However, these metrics are mere numbers that make little / no sense in this age of Digital Socialism. The success of an online channel is not only about the short-lived popularity but how it can prove to be successful in the long run. Gone are the days when the website owners were churning out heaps of content and expect the customers to endorse them. Yes, this is the age of Trust and no matter how good a product is there is a heavy chance to lose the customer base as the competition is growing every day to make better quality products.
So, what is it that makes a difference when it comes to building a sustainable online business model? Is it about the speed of churning out new content? Is it about the variety of products that a company sells online? Or is it about the advertising genius of the ad agency working on the website? To my surprise, I found that the answer is an astounding “NO” to all of these questions. What matters at the end of the day is the way a community is built around a good product which helps achieve a level of customer advocacy. Customer advocacy is the trust that the customer has that whatever product / service is being offered is absolutely based on his / her needs and that the company does what is best for the customer and the society as a whole (sometimes).
Let us take an example. When you visit Vim.ca, a detergent manufacturer and found an image of a detergent bottle with a loud scream that Vim is the best detergent and it helps clean everything under the sun. Well we do not deny the fact that yes, Vim could be a good product but the Brand message is all about screaming aloud. This is obviously the 80’s way of selling a product / service. Obviously, the ancient metrics are the ones that would be used on such websites. Now let us focus our attention onto a similar product manufacturer called Seventh generation. The hero banner on the Home page screams, “Join us in Nurturing the Health of next seven generations”.Take a look at the difference between this and Vim.ca. Here the message is very clear. “We invite you to join this initiative to make a better planet for you and the upcoming generations”. Look at the kind of connect that is brought out by this website. It tempts one to really look up to their products because of the Customer advocacy that it creates. One would really love to buy this product and would definitely recommend this website to all my near and dear ones simply because of the opportunity it creates to share my views, complaints, recommendations and many more. The site is connected to all the major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and YouTube. In addition, it makes us much more comfortable that the company is very open to my views and helps choose a product that I think is best for your home and the larger society. There is no compulsion on your part to buy the product now and I am at comfort that at the end of the day it is your call whether you need to buy this product or not. Probably as a short term, this could mean ROI is delayed. However, eventually ROI would become 3-5 times more than what a competitor can get in a period of 6 months-1 year. Now look the paradigm shift in metrics when it comes to measuring the online success of this website:
- Of re-tweets on twitter (Engagement potential)
- Of followers on twitter and Facebook (Popularity)
- Ratio of incoming messages per outbound message (Conversational ability)
- Net promoter score (Loyalty index)
Nowhere in these metrics, there is just mere volume sans Digital Socialism. And of course, Online Sales are the last of the metrics that will be the effect of all the causes tracked via these new age metrics. Therefore, as we can see, the Online channel has become the face of the company and it is more appropriate to provide the right Brand image online rather than spending millions on Offline Branding that is fast becoming extinct and costlier.
In addition, it is all about Mature Branding Online by focusing on the Brand strategy and Key product features rather than on mere screaming that is increasingly becoming irritant to the ordinary buyer who has moved up the Maslow’s hierarchy towards Self-actualization and wants instant gratification of his recognition needs.
Executive Director – India Operations