Virtual communication has been the name of the game recently, and B2B marketers are doing more digital outreach than ever before.

However, the heavy reliance on digital channels raises questions: Are we delivering a great customer experience? Are we doing everything we can to effectively execute digital strategies?

Companies must communicate with prospects and customers in a compelling way that delivers a great Customer Experience, else they risk getting lost in the digital mix. But you might be struggling to figure out how to do that, since opportunities for personal connection, such as tradeshows, are no longer available. Or you may be wondering how you can help your customers make that adjustment.

Here are five actions critical for a successful digital communication process.

1. Understand that automation does not mean loss of control

A human element is what makes automation a successful tactic. With the right tools, you define the strategy, and technology handles the execution. You're able to allocate more time and energy to prospecting, while automation is there to manage your pipelines and make meaningful connections with your customers.

You make the rules: If the customer does X, the response is Y. The system gathers data and applies what it learns. A single human (or team) can't analyze each signal and respond to every request, but automation allows for that and scales up your ability to deliver a great customer experience.

2. Speak to customers where they are in their journey

Personalization is no longer optional; it's critical. You have to know who your customers are and what they need; but, more than that, you have to speak to where they are on their buying journey. If your communication is out of sync—if you send an email about buying a product they've just purchased, for example—your company loses credibility.

One of the most overlooked opportunities is post-sale engagement. "The way you treat customers once they buy is how they will remember you. So, it is very important to maintain positive engagement post-sale," explained ActiveCampaign CEO Jason VandeBoom in a recent E-Commerce Times article.

I recently had a negative post-sale experience after purchasing a murder mystery game online for my wife. Not 10 seconds after I had placed my order, the company sent a request asking me to review a product I hadn't yet received. That let me know I was dealing with faulty automation; it undermined trust, and it ensured the company wouldn't get the post-purchase data it was seeking from me. Lose-lose!

It may sound like a no-brainer, but deliberate action is necessary for good digital communication. If a sales team sends an email tailored for marketing managers out to its entire database, including Fortune 100 CEOs, it shows the team wasn't deliberate in its targeting and so creates a negative impression.

Avoid such cringeworthy mistakes by knowing your audience and precisely tailoring your personalization.

3. Take your customers' level of expertise into account

Another key to achieving great CX is understanding your customers' skill set. The way customers use your product (or the features they're interested in) can tell you a lot about them.

If you're selling martech, for example, some customers will know everything about it, whereas others will still be learning and will need help along the way.

How you approach setting your customers up for success depends on where they are on their journey, and data can help you pinpoint their location.

4. Be sensitive to the business environment

At the moment, the pandemic is the primary factor driving business change. Already, over 100,000 small businesses have permanently closed. Those still standing are turning to digital channels to reach out to customers, which creates demand for more help in that area.

That's especially true if you sell products that help B2B customers manage digital outreach. Anyone who wasn't using digital channels prior to the pandemic has had to quickly adapt and digitally transform in order to survive. Those customers are counting on you to provide guidance, so your communication has to be relevant, effective, and thoughtful.

5. Drop the marketing speak and get to the point

Don't make the mistake of approaching digital communication like a product evangelist, focusing only on how great your product is and emphasizing all its cool features and capabilities.

It's important to believe in what you're selling, of course, but customers don't care about your product per se—they care about solving their problems and doing their jobs more effectively. Your job is to connect the dots for them and speak their language—to sell your product as the solution to their problem or the thing that improves their productivity.

Fitbit's commercials provide an excellent example of how to connect the dots for consumers by showing them how to reach a big-picture goal—managing stress, staying fit—through the features of the product. Immediate purchase value is created.

High-quality copywriting is often overlooked, but it needs to be top priority in crafting your messaging. Mark Twain once said, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead," underscoring the importance of great editing, too.

In digital communication, respect readers' time—aim to grab their attention quickly and be brief—and move and inspire them by speaking their language and focusing on their problems.

* * *

The pandemic has increased reliance on digital communication, but it's not a new exercise for marketing and sales teams.

Right now is the perfect opportunity to reflect on your digital strategy and optimize the customer experience. With personalization, automation, and the right attitude, you can virtually connect with customers in a more meaningful, positive way.

More Resources on Digital Communication

How to Communicate With the Most Tech-Savvy Generation Yet

Planning Your COVID-Related Communications: A Flowchart [Infographic]

How Creative Collaboration Has Evolved [Infographic]

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image of Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson is the senior vice-president of sales and customer success at ActiveCampaign, where he scales the sales and customer success organization to deliver growth and engage with customers.

LinkedIn: Adam Johnson

Twitter: @aajohns22