In 1993, NetApp — a young enterprise storage solution provider — shipped their first data storage system to an administrator at Tandem Computers. The network appliance was simple, yet incredibly effective. Unlike its competitors, NetApp’s system could reboot in 30 seconds instead of hours — thereby decreasing downtime and giving Tandem a competitive edge.
In the more than 20 years since that first shipment, NetApp has gone on to power some of the world’s most notable businesses, universities, and scientific achievements — helping organizations worldwide manage and store their data. The angle that keeps this high-tech company on top is its ability to deliver innovation that positions their customers ahead of the curve. At the center of this customer-focused strategy is a solid foundation of digital technology.
For stand-out high-tech businesses today, being strategic and forward-thinking with digital initiatives is mission critical. Eighty-nine percent of companies expect to compete on customer experience in 2017 and 81 percent said digital helped them improve their customer experience. Yet, pressure from disruptive technologies and competitors looking to out-innovate is fierce, causing tech brands to become reactive, instead of proactive — thereby becoming followers instead of industry leaders.
According to research conducted by Ovum, smart businesses are evolving. A full 62 percent of high-tech companies have invested in a digital marketing platform, and a full 78 percent are working to create a unified approach to digital. Because 81 percent of tech companies expect competition conditions to be extreme, they’re planning their digital foundations now, so they’ll be more prepared to scale and stay ahead of fast-moving competitors.
NetApp Prepares for the Future
Like many brands interested in maturing their digital strategy, NetApp first decided to get a sense of their current digital environment before taking next steps. By working with Adobe Professional Services, they discovered they weren’t as far along as they thought in regard to having the right assets in place. Rather than start from scratch, they chose to re-align their resources to build a better digital foundation, with capabilities that could grow and be integrated as digital programs matured.
With the help of Adobe Marketing Cloud, NetApp gained improved insight into their customer base and audience segments, increased conversions by 13 percent, and added scalability and new digital capabilities. Today, they’re more prepared to meet their customers’ needs, innovate quickly, and develop more consistent, value-driven relationships with their customers.
They’re ready for the Experience Era.
Here’s how they did it — and how you can follow suite to build intelligent digital initiatives that will keep your business bulletproof into the future.
Transform Data. Build Intelligent Digital Programs.
“The more data we can capture about a customer throughout the long deal cycle, the better,” says Zann Aeck, director of digital experience at NetApp. Like many companies today, NetApp realized that to improve online experiences, they needed to better understand their customers’ behaviors and preferences throughout their journey with the brand. Sure, they collected fragmented information on customers — how often they visit the site, what pages they’re viewing, and what devices they’re using. But, to truly understand their customers, they needed more visibility into the entire journey and new ways to capture, measure, and leverage data. And, they sought to employ advanced testing to boost conversion, engagement, forms completion, and other KPIs.
With the help of Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target, NetApp was able to jump-start customer journey testing, analytics, and reporting. This insight helped them make interactions more engaging. By providing information to customers in more relevant ways, they encouraged higher form-completion rates, and better supported sales. They built intelligent digital programs and transformed data into actionable insights that could drive optimization.
Like NetApp, a digital platform into which you can integrate testing, analytics, and targeting capabilities lends to gaining a 360-degree view of customers and their needs. As such, brands gain actionable insights that will lend to delivering a cohesive and great customer experience to meet customers’ ever-changing needs.
Answer the Questions that Drive Optimization. Make Better Marketing Decisions.
With new digital programs in place, NetApp’s next step was to get answers to the questions that could help them know what to improve. Using their digital foundation — including integrated testing and personalization capabilities — NetApp marketers discovered that more than 90 percent of their visitors arrive on the site during business hours from desktop computers. This informed the decision to take a desktop-first development strategy.
However, by looking more deeply into customer segments, they also found that up to 30 percent of customers responding to campaign content were using a smartphone — a segment that was experiencing a six percent overall annual growth. This prompted the company to adopt responsive design elements within its strategy to optimize mobile experiences.
Overall, testing with Adobe Target helped answer the right questions — leading to better decisions. Insight supported the company’s complete site redesign, creating a 170 percent increase in click-through rates and a 13 percent lift in engagement — all without developing new content.
With testing that reveals optimization opportunities, brands can work to continually improve on their cohesive customer experience. In turn, they better reach their key-performance-indicator (KPI) goals and customers are delighted with cutting-edge experiences that meet their immediate and long-term needs.
Get Strategic with Your Value Proposition.
With customers expecting compelling experiences instead of just products, pressure to rise above the competition is reaching a fever pitch. Sadly, many companies are reacting to competitors instead of becoming the competitor to beat:
- 75 percent of respondents claimed to have lowered their prices because of competition.
- 67 percent said they rushed into new markets because of competitor pressures.
Instead, leading tech companies prepare themselves to take advantage of every opportunity that comes their way. They do so by understanding their customers and the value proposition of their brand that makes them uniquely valuable. Then, via testing, they gain insights regarding how to relay and deliver their value to individual customers in a timely and relevant way. In turn, as they forge a new value proposition in the industry and deliver it on a one-to-one basis in a relevant way, their standing as a leader no longer relies on beating the competition. Think about Uber’s ability to render a taxi’s value proposition obsolete.
Deliver Value Where Your Customers Are. Create a Competitive Experience.
To articulate and then deliver their value, top tech companies ensure their lead-to-revenue management is aligned throughout, allowing for a consistent message across all touch points and through the entire customer journey. Lead-to-Revenue Management — sales and marketing methods that focus on generating revenue throughout the customer life cycle — is one area where tech leaders can use a digital foundation to respond to opportunities more quickly. Look how the sales funnel has evolved: today, it’s a complicated web of customer touch points across multiple devices, and marketing and sales teams must work together for success.
NetApp transformed their marketing and sales teams into a collaborative business group by communicating online interactions to offline conversations with sales teams. As organizational silos were dismantled, cross-functional teams were able to have timely and contextually-relevant interactions with customers.
“We don’t just want our digital properties to broadcast information to customers,” says Aeck. “They’re powerful tools for starting valuable conversations and keeping them going. To have better conversations, we need more visibility into the full journey.”
With full visibility of both online and offline interactions with customers, brands can ensure customers not only join the conversation, but continue it through to conversion with their sales teams — regardless of whether that conversation flows online or off throughout the journey.
In Sum — Stop Reacting to Competition. Start Delivering Value to Beat.
By 2018, nearly 75 percent of all high-tech companies will use a digital marketing platform. Future growth revenue won’t be coming from hardware, but from services or platforms. When done right, the investment in digital can help you communicate more consistently with your customers and better understand how to deliver value across the board and on a 1:1 customer basis. This is more than simply responding to opportunities. This is making them.
Changing customer expectations and extreme competition are likely to be long-term realities of the high-tech industry. Rather than responding by rushing into new markets, lowering prices, or tinkering with new products, as many companies do when faced with uncertainties, innovate the way you understand and interact with your customers to create a customer-experience competitive edge.
Like NetApp, the tech brands that lead, the ones that rise above the competition, are likely to be the ones that understand the value of building their future on a solid digital foundation. This makes it possible to create opportunities to deliver what tomorrow’s customers really want.
To learn more about how tech companies can rise above their competition with a solid digital foundation, download our white paper.
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