Using Technology to Better Connect with Customers
Digital Marketing is about finding new ways to connect with your customers. The digital part requires expertise in the technology, while the marketing part requires an understanding of people and what influences their decisions. Some of the best strategies come from breaking down the barriers between the two sides, and product configurators are a good example of what you get when you do.
The funeral stationery company Messenger came to Aptera looking to build a web application client companies could use to create designs using their products. The app, called Make It Personal, lets funeral directors design personalized remembrances—prayer cards, candle wraps, photobooks—for their services. But it also allows these funeral homes to provide a helpful service to their own clientele.
I recently sat down with Messenger’s Ecommerce Manager Barrie Fleetwood and Director of Marketing Heather Garman to discuss the project, along with the role the design app plays for their company. You can follow the link to read about the project in more detail and hear what Barrie and Heather had to say. But Messenger’s design app is also a useful illustration of some fundamental principles underlying effective Digital Marketing strategies.
Whoever's Software They're Using Is Whose Products They're Buying
A B2B company like Messenger knows that their success depends on their ability to help the clients they serve provide better experiences for their own customers. Fleetwood explains this by pointing to a hypothetical funeral director designing personalized stationery products. “Whoever’s software he’s using,” Fleetwood points out, “he’s probably going to use their paper.”
That means for Messenger to stay ahead of other stationery companies they need to continue to offer the best design application. If a funeral director finds some software he or she likes better—i.e. if it helps that director better serve his or her own clients—then Messenger loses that customer. Likewise, if a director uses Messenger’s app and likes it better than the one the funeral home is currently using, then Messenger likely acquires some new business.
Boosting Sales by Simplifying the Buying Process
The new Make It Personal app built by Aptera’s software development team includes a feature called Fast Track, which allows the user to personalize a paper product in four basic steps. If funeral directors then need to go back to do more fine-tuning of the content, they can open an advanced designer and avail themselves of a toolset similar to Photoshop’s. When Fleetwood gave the new app to one of Messenger’s clients to take for a test run, he reported back that Fast Track was already saving him an hour every day.
Marketing isn’t just about broadcasting your brand message anymore. Technology has opened the way for engagement on an altogether new set of dimensions. That’s why marketing and technology are becoming much more difficult to separate. And it’s not just about letting everyone know you offer a quality product at a competitive price; it’s about giving your customers a new and better way to shop.
Why Configurators Are Blowing up Right Now
Messenger’s design app fits within the larger category of product configurators. These are web tools that let users customize the products as they’re deciding whether to make a purchase. Configurators are excellent tools for engaging website visitors and increasing sales, especially for companies whose products offer customers a mode of self-expression. Some of the most popular configuration tools are for cars and shoes.
But configurators—or their close cousins Configure, Price, Quote, or CPQ apps—can be helpful to clients even in B2B contexts. Along with Messenger, Aptera has also developed online configurators for building parts manufacturers that have drastically changed the way construction companies buy from them. What the manufacturers then discover is that if you can transform the way people buy from you, making it a quicker and more enjoyable process, then you’ll likely attract a great deal more business. And if you’re first to market with a tool like this, then you can lock in a pretty significant lead.
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