Today’s customers are more aggressive, informed, opinionated and very conscious about the standards of service available to them. This new breed of consumers demands greater involvement from suppliers even after they purchase their product or service. Marketing management, therefore, needs to transform their static, product-focused and structured marketing plans into more flexible customer-oriented plans. Digital marketing offers marketers the opportunity to achieve this end. Besides, the increased pressure on organizations to improve their productivity, diversity and technology applicability necessitates the transformation into customer-centric marketing. According to Sheth, Sisodia, and Sharma (2000), customer-centric marketing refers to marketing strategies focused on meeting the needs and resources of specific customers rather than concentrating on entire market segments. Putting the customer at the center of an organization’s marketing strategy creates and extracts customer value (Vision Edge Marketing, 2017).
Digital marketing refers to the promotion of products and services by using digital channels such as mobile and social media marketing to interact with customers (SAS, 2013). Marketing management selects different channels depending on the type of client-company relationship (Heinonen & Michelsson, 2010). This kind of marketing is changing marketing management’s perception and planning as regards customer-centric marketing because it lays great emphasis on customer relationships. In today’s tentative economic environment, the only hope for marketers, lies in moving away from old-fashioned planning methods towards measurable and justifiable means of advertising.
According to Osborne and Ballantyne (2012), the firm-centric value creation approach entrenched in marketing perspectives overpowers marketing management’s customer-centric objectives. Digital marketing helps to overcome this challenge by offering qualities such as measurability, and traceability. Besides, it makes good use of available resources while at the same time providing the best customer experiences. The customer will always be the most important aspect of strategic success. Digital marketing offers marketing management the opportunity to understand the organization’s clients (SAS, 2013). Recognizing the consumer’s problems, their opportunities and the environments within which they operate allows marketers to develop strategies tailored to their specific client base.
Marketing management in today’s digital age should also endeavour to align the organization’s marketing strategy with the customer’s product involvement life cycle (SAS, 2013). Customers at the acquisition stage should be treated differently from those at the retention, win-back or on-boarding stages.
Rowley (2016) posits that influencers, content, the community and advocacy are critical aspects of marketing strategy success. Digital marketing helps in the advancement of all these four aspects. Through digital platforms such as mobile and social media, marketing management can reach out to those people capable of influencing customer choices. Consumers are also increasingly using digital content to inform their purchasing choices. As stated in Digital Relationship Marketing (2016), content is crucial in relationship marketing, one of the aspects of customer-centric marketing. Quality and relevant content forms a basis for the creation of valuable client relationships. Marketing management, therefore, has to be conscious about the digital content that is available about their product or service.
Rowley (2016) also emphasises the need to connect different customers so as to promote a sense of collectivism. When customers are part of a community, it helps to build the brand reputation as well as customer trust which promotes both customer loyalty and customer relationship management (Ballard, 2008). Digital marketing also promotes advocacy (Rowley, 2016). Advocacy in this context refers to using your customers as salespeople. When clients get satisfied with your business they are more inclined to tell others about it (Salandra, 2016). Marketing management these days can use digital channels such as social media as opposed to using reference programs to gain credibility and grow the company’s customer base.
Additionally, in today’s world, digital marketing offers marketing management a way to keep up with the competition. To succeed while still keeping the customer at the centre of the organization’s marketing strategy, marketers need to be quick in their customer responses. Customers appreciate responsiveness (SAS, 2013). Marketing management should therefore make marketing plans that locate and attract customers’ attention so as to engage them in the buying process. When the organization knows its specific customers, they can then identify the appropriate digital channels through which to reach specific customers and stand out among the many marketers trying to get information to customers (Newman, 2015).
Marketing management also needs to concentrate on interacting with customers as opposed to concentrating on sales. Data available through digital channels helps marketing management in predicting customer inclinations and preferences so the organization. This information helps in customer relationship management by engaging with customers at all stages. Marketing management can then tailor messages to specific clients depending on their goals, their location, and their stage in the customer life cycle and also provide ways or customers to give feedback on their experiences.
Customers are becoming interested in organizations’ inclination towards social responsibility. As a result, organizations that do not stand for any cause are likely to lose their client base. It is, therefore, important for marketers to incorporate cause marketing into the organization’s overall marketing strategy. According to Villette (2016), organizations whose marketing strategy incorporates cause-related programs, and who also maintain communication channels with their customers, have a greater chance of resonating with customers than organizations that do not focus on cause-related marketing. The best way to reach potential clients with a cause-based message is through digital platforms.
In conclusion, marketing is growing increasingly difficult especially with the proliferation of digital technology. However, with clear goals and the right digital expertise, any organization can survive in the economic ecosystem. Digital marketing greatly impacts customer-centric marketing in aspects such as relationship marketing, customer relationship management, customer knowledge management, cause-related marketing and behavioral branding (Serpico et al., 2017). Digital customer-centric marketing give emphasis to customer satisfaction which in turn expedites customer loyalty and retention (Mohsan et al., 2011). Loyalty and retention gives the organization a strategic advantage which is the first step towards succeeding in today’s competitive business world. It is, therefore pertinent that marketing management puts great emphasis on customer-centric marketing strategies, if organizations are to succeed in the digital business environment.
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