How digitalization has changed the relationship between customers and suppliers.

Many moons ago my own digital transformation journey started as a photographer when all of a sudden, well it wasn’t that quick but it felt like it at the time, the digital camera was an affordable mechanism for everyday people. Along with it came the difficult realization that the customer and I as the supplier of great photography ceased to exist as most decided that they could take the pictures themselves and save on costs. It was only 15 years or so later that people realized that you did actually have to have some sort of eye for it. I had by then moved on from my lack of ROI freelance photography business to the digitalization of things.

After a stint at web mastery both in programming and design, learning the backend of the Internet of things was a great start on the journey to online sales and marketing. The year was 2005 the dot com crash had taken its offers, and few companies were left to pick up the pieces and start on a new road on customer digitization.

The next era was from 2005 to 2010 and I worked at a new startup software as a Service (SAAS) company. We realized that technology and the market were always linked to each other in some way and marketing campaigns were targeted to generate leads, push & pull was the terminology of the day and online sales started to happen slowly but surely, not huge sales, but enough to deem it interesting. The launch of YouTube, Twitter and split testing email campaigns were in. 

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Also, at that time many other technology companies started up, Spotify, Groupon, Tumblr, and then big ol’ Google launches for real-time search engine results. In the marketing team, we had to learn a whole new way of thinking it was not just the design and content anymore but you had to have some sort of mathematical intuition to understand how to calculate the results and follow up on the leads to generate the custom.

The online sales side of the internet was still young, and it wasn’t until I tried a start-up of my own, which wasn’t very successful, that I decided to take on a real job again at an IT training company in 2010. Customers had now become tech savvy and their digital expectations much higher than previously. Most purchasers started their online purchase process with a query on a search engine, then used a social activity as a next step in the process this enabled us to gain the edge on our competitors.

The Social media strategy was on, integrations with other technologies to align leads to the sales team were vital so they could act on the call to action. We used Google SEO & PPC AdWords, new software from a Norwegian (Finch) was in place to help us with the PPC. A banner company, a technology start-up in Sweden (Vendemore) which coined the phrase “Rubberband banners”, enabled the return of the customer by reminding them of us on various web pages. On the social media channels, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube we added the product reviews, blog posts as a brand strategy and to initiate the final purchase. It was certainly a success; online sales went from 20% to 80% in a year.

New ideas and channels are evolving, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented reality and Neuromarketing are on their way in are we ready for the future of online sales & marketing?

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CC: Benoit Rochon [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

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