The current COVID-19 crisis and the shift to working from home have forced many businesses to review and adjust the processes and technology used in their business operations. While many have resisted business automation systems in the past, due to fear of cost overruns and lengthy implementation plans, we’re all being forced to have another look.

Many operators have quickly realized that processes and platforms are key in a time of transition. Thankfully, there are many new solutions to improve your digital marketing efforts, internal and client communication, online transactions, and more.

Despite major financial concerns and an uncertain economic climate, it is integral to address these operational gaps to remain successful. While it may appear ‘safer’ to cut costs and discretionary spending, successful businesses will embrace the challenge and pivot into new processes, platforms and technologies.

While North American business challenges are plentiful and diverse, Rocket Digital has identified the following trends and key focus areas:

  • Internal Communication
  • E-Commerce and Ordering
  • Digital Sales Funnel
  • Client Communication and Automation

Internal Communication:

Starting in March 2020, many organizations quickly shifted to remote work environments. Statistics Canada reported that roughly 39% of Canadians worked remotely in the final week of March. Unfortunately, many organizations were not prepared to make such a fundamental shift – lacking the processes, resources, and platforms to ensure a seamless transition.

While many operators have viewed working from home as a temporary challenge, Rocket Digital projects a long-term, fundamental shift in the professional work landscape. In addition to workplace safety and childcare concerns limiting a short-term resumption to regular office attendance, many employees have reported a preference to work remotely.

  • In a survey completed by AirTasker, survey respondents indicated an increase in work volume when working remotely (an increase of roughly 1.4 workdays per month).
  • In a survey completed by Buffer, over 95% survey respondents indicated a preference to work remotely (at least a few days per week)
  • In the same Buffer survey, 37% of respondents indicated they would take a 10% pay cut to continue working from home.

While it may seem daunting, Rocket Digital recommends being progressive. Through the implementation of a thoughtful remote working policy, organizations can improve profitability, production, employee satisfaction and improve talent recruitment.

At Rocket Digital, we recommend that each organization take a deep dive into their current assets, platforms and processes. By focusing on staff satisfaction, communication gaps and data collection/redundancy, organizations can start to identify fundamental challenges and opportunities within their current remote working framework.

Armed with the audit finding and staff needs/preferences, operators can select the platforms and tools that can help them craft an effective solution. From intranets to project and workflow tracking platforms like Asana or Monday to collaboration tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams, there are a variety of tools and platforms that can help businesses operate more effectively. Rocket Digital is platform-agnostic – helping clients select the platforms, processes and integration points that best fit their business, needs and budget.

E-Commerce and Ordering:

For years, many small to midsize businesses relied on in-store and more intimate communication to drive transaction and brand relevance, leaving online ordering and e-commerce to marketplace juggernauts and more specialized brands.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis did not discriminate, often hitting unprepared store-front businesses or businesses with less-sophisticated ordering systems the hardest. While these organizations have been hit particularly hard, there is an opportunity to pivot and reinvent the way they go to market.

Since early March 2020, the average North American consumer has fundamentally changed their online behaviour. Faced with economic uncertainty and a plethora of negative or stressful messaging, we’ve witnessed a fundamental change to purchase behaviour. In addition to a change in device usage and preferred platforms (for news/information), users have become more distracted. If the user cannot find the information they are looking for or complete an online purchase quickly, they are far more likely to abandon their purchase journey. This is evidenced by a decrease in time-on-site and pages-per-session, coupled with an increase in exit rates.

As a result, Rocket Digital strongly recommends a holistic audit of all online sales and delivery processes and platforms. By documenting and focusing on major barriers, operators can quickly improve short-term performance and boost long-term brand affinity.

If you have an existing ordering or e-commerce platform, focus on performance gaps and funnel leakage. By digging through performance metrics, you can ascertain fundamental challenges and abandonment phases. Armed with this knowledge, operators can change platforms, processes and workflows to ensure maximal convenience and performance. Rocket Digital can help identify the platforms, plugins and custom changes that can help to fortify your ordering funnel. If you do not have an existing e-commerce or ordering platform, there is a wide volume of platforms that can help operators quickly adapt to the new environment. Starting with your existing content management system (CMS), Rocket Digital can help operators understand and implement platforms that fit their needs and budgets.

Platform Examples: Shopify, WooCommerce, etc.

Digital Sales Funnel:

Many organizations continue to rely upon outdated processes, point of sale (POS) and customer relationship management systems (CRM). While these platforms and processes inhibit growth, in-office communication has masked the communication gap and lack of documented data.

Perhaps the most intimidating of all digital infrastructure projects, POS and CRM tools have long struck fear into marketers and operators. Fearing complications and massive project costs, these projects have too often been pushed into ‘long-term goal’ folders.

But, following a sudden shift to working remotely, sales and customer data has begun to fall through the cracks. And, with many employees preferring to work remotely and additional waves of COVID-19 potentially on the horizon, it is integral to develop a long-term strategy regarding data collection and sales funnel optimization.

As the process of revamping and fortifying your custom sales funnel can be daunting, Rocket Digital recommends focusing on the following:

  • Budget: Historically, POS or CRM projects were cost prohibitive with a few select, high-cost providers dominating the landscape. But, more recently, many new, cost-effective options have been released into the marketplace. As such, it is important to have a strong understanding of your budget range up-front.
  • Stakeholder/Administrator Needs: During the discovery phase, it is important to map the day-to-day responsibilities, needs and actions of internal stakeholders and administrators as these employees will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the platform. By documenting unique behaviour, preferences and current processes, operators can select the platform(s) that best suit their needs.
  • Customer Touchpoints: To maximize the performance of any marketing initiative, it is integral to proactively map user personas and decision journeys. If this process has not been undertaken, Rocket Digital recommends formalizing his process before engaging in a CRM or POS project. If personas and journeys have been mapped, we recommend updating these personas with COVID-related projections
  • Integration Points: In addition to understanding internal user and customer behaviour, it is also integral to understand platforms and processes that are currently used by your organization. In this phase, operators can quickly understand possible integration points, replacement software or redundant steps in their current sales funnel.

Through connecting a CRM to top-of-funnel outreach, operators and marketers can benefit from significantly improved funnel performance, using past performance and predictive analysis to better understand user intent signal and digital body language.

Rocket Digital has had the opportunity to work with many clients to implement, integrate and optimize a wide variety of CRM platforms. From Microsoft Dynamics to Insightly CRM to Zoho, there are a wide variety of platforms that are both powerful and beneficial. Rocket Digital can help clients understand the platforms and processes that work best for their business.

Client Communication and Automation:

Operators, marketers, and sales staff all understand that detailed and accurate data is integral in the development of any marketing campaign or optimized sales funnel. The COVID-19 crisis has increased the importance of delivering the right message at the right time. During this crisis, clients are demanding more relevancy, timeliness, and personalization.

In a 2019 study conducted by Evergage and Researchscape, 90% of respondents indicated that personalization and hyper-targeting had a significant impact on marketing and sales performance. Due to the added noise, stress and messaging bombarding users during the COVID-19 crisis, personalization and hyper-targeting will become even more important in 2020 and beyond.

Google ads, Facebook and other programmatic platforms have taken great strides in their ability to hyper-target and isolate users at each stage of their decision journey, adding artificial intelligence to help expedite the effectiveness of their targeting strategies. But top-of-funnel tactics are only half of the battle. As referenced in the previous section, it is integral to mitigate funnel leakage and close the loop between sales and marketing.

To do this, Rocket Digital recommends exploring marketing automation platforms. Like other digital infrastructure projects, marketing and email automation platforms have felt out of reach for many businesses. Operators believed these platforms were too expensive, too difficult to implement and required too many resourcing changes. But, over the last several years, these platforms have become much more cost-effective and easier to use.

Marketing and email automation brings a lot to the table:

  • Time/Resource Optimization: Automation tools have a wide variety of multi-platform scheduling tools that allow brands to quickly schedule the deployment of multiple assets across multiple locations and platforms.
  • Maximize ROI: In addition to housing a wide range of tools and tactics in one-place, automation tools are focused on nurturing customer relationships through personalized messaging and content. Automation tools dramatically decrease cost per acquisition and improve the speed of which relationships are formed.
  • Behavioural Insight and Tracking: Automation tools help marketers better understand user behaviour, intent and digital body language. When connected with top-of-funnel platforms and CRM tools, brands can identify opportunities and work towards end-to-end funnel optimization.
  • Personalization: Utilizing behavioural insights, automation platforms allow brands to intercept prospects and customers with timely, personalized messaging. In 2019, over 90% of brands implemented personalized messaging campaigns. Brands that tailor messaging and content to user needs and decision phase will experience a major performance boost in 2020 and beyond.
  • Brand/Campaign Consistency: Cross-market consistency is a major concern for brands. This is heightened across dealer and franchise networks, as individual operators are tasked with local store marketing efforts. Platforms like Zift Solutions offer channel marketing management platforms to optimize cross-market consistency while delivering messages to and through local partners.
  • Multiple Platform Delivery: Originally, automation platforms were solely focused on email, using drip campaigns to nurture and convert prospects and re-sell customers. Now, brands can use automation platforms to schedule and deploy content across a large-volume of delivery platforms, ensuring whole funnel management and administrative ease.

Despite the daunting nature of digital marketing infrastructure projects and the uncertain nature of the current economic climate, Rocket Digital recommends that clients use this time to embrace the future. Use the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to stop, evaluate and action against major opportunities for your business.

To investigate how business automation systems can help your business remain successful, we’d love to chat.