What the Best Digital Brands Do Differently

March 14, 2023

Contributor: Jordan Turner

Learn from them how to optimize your digital marketing performance.

Despite constantly changing customer sentiment and strong economic headwinds, best-in-class digital brands power through and set the standard for excellence. “Understanding what these brands collectively do better than their peers can help CMOs develop roadmaps and leverage best practices to improve their own brands’ digital maturity," says Matt Moorut, Director Analyst at Gartner.

The 3 key factors that set leading digital brands apart

Each year, Gartner uses the Digital IQ Index to measure brands’ digital marketing performance to quantify aptitude and maturity relative to peers. Out of 1,402 brands indexed, only 3% ranked as “Genius.” This year’s Genius Brands provide a roadmap for other brands aiming to win.

No. 1: They know when to work fast — and when not to

Instead of purely following a nimble, ad-led approach to gain visibility — or a slow-changing, long-term content strategy — Genius Brands understand when to do both. Note two critical strategies: 

  • Speed is key to success for Google search advertising and other media campaigns. It’s imperative to unearth trending interests and align ads accordingly before competitors have a chance to. This enables efficiency; Geniuses achieved a higher level of traffic per ad impression served than their industry peers.

  • Top brands divide their content strategies, building teams and processes that support slow and fast content generation. This helps them gain visibility on trending topics while also building longer-term credibility.

No. 2: They prioritize customer data acquisition

Organizations that strongly prioritize first-party data capture retain more customers than those that don't. Press ahead of peers by developing smart value exchanges with customers to capture first-party data in return for a better overall experience. 

  • Clearly articulate how you will use a customer’s data to their benefit. Customers are most likely to share data when it helps them accomplish a specific task or they are given a reasonable explanation of how it will help them in the future.

  • Produce high-value gated content that makes sharing personal details worth it.

  • Make strong investments in and develop interactive tools, such as product visualizers or pricing calculators, to help address common issues. These enable customers to understand how to accomplish their goals.

No. 3: They orchestrate customer journeys for key segments

Sixty-seven percent of marketing leaders agree that managing customer journeys is harder than it was a few years ago. To be successful, focus your efforts on the most important touchpoints along the purchase journey. 

  • Curate journeys that map to audience needs. Some visitors may only be information gathering, while others are comparing products or trying to purchase. Create distinguished moments in each journey to help them complete tasks or provide additional information. 

  • Provide next steps with a variety of links across a range of different pages and channels to streamline the customer journey. For example, the best B2B brands provide self-serve information to prospects to support the increasing number of buyers who prefer a rep-free experience.

  • Support customer tasks, such as goal-setting or problem identification, by implementing “course changers'' within the customer journey. Virtual reality tools, virtual appointment bookers, real-time advisor support and interactive diagnostics are useful tools.

Matt Moorut is a Director Analyst for Gartner for Marketers. He supports clients in the retail industry with insights and guidance on various marketing topics, ranging from strategy to digital trends to marketing channel best practices.

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