Platform Of Dreams: If You Build It, Will They Come?

November 7, 2018

Blockbuster buffs will recall the 1989 baseball fantasy-drama Field of Dreams.

A farmer from Iowa (Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice urging him to turn his cornfield into a baseball diamond.

“If you build it, he will come. If you build it, he will come!”

Costner plows the corn, builds a diamond, and legendary ghosts of baseball players past show up to play. Not only does Costner make amends with his deceased father, but he also charges people to come to watch the game and makes a profit.

The end.

Unfortunately, organizations that embark on digital transformation usually come to find that building a commerce platform of dreams isn’t this easy. This leaves business leaders with the unsettling question, “If you build it, will they come?”

Companies that invest in a commerce platform often put the launch date on a pedestal. The site is live, stable, and the business is ready to start generating revenue. Finally, there is something to show for all of the research, investment, and collaboration it took to get to this point. But the reality is that launch is only the beginning…

How will you attract prospects?

Will all of the, “If you build it, he will come,” whispers, Field of Dreams fans may have forgotten that another voice urged him to, “Go the distance.”

Go the distance by asking yourself, how will prospects know your commerce site is live?

In order to appeal to the largest audience your organization could potentially reach, you need an omnichannel marketing strategy. From online (website experience, SEO/SEM, social media) to offline (in-store visits, customer service calls), a cohesive plan with clear objectives is instrumental for driving traffic to your commerce platform.

How will you get conversions?

Your commerce site is live and therefore ready to go. If you’ve been marketing to your target audience, you may be driving significant traffic to the site as well – perfect. But wait a minute. Where are the conversions?

There are many metrics that indicate bouncing, browsing, and buying behaviors. Evaluating trends can help you develop buyer personas and personalized campaign tracks to keep user groups engaged. Intelligent product recommendations and retargeting campaigns for cart abandoners are some examples of conversion campaigns.

How will you retain customers?

As you increase your customer base, building their loyalty is the next step. Reward programs that incent return visits and purchases is one way to generate retention. But my favorite way to retain customers is to listen to them and give them what they ask for.

Open customer feedback channels – both online and offline. When a new feature or functionality is released, ask customers what they think. If they’re willing to have a conversation, jump on a call. Interviewing customers allows them to be heard, plus it’s a great way for you to get insight into new demands and the competitive landscape. These insights can inform future platform changes that satisfy your customers.

How will you keep up with new demands?

Businesses don’t have finish lines. Amazon isn’t Amazon because they had a great idea, brought it to market, and called it a day. They are successful because they are constantly iterating their offering, responding to demand, and anticipating new needs. Just how agile is Amazon? Well, every 11.6 seconds, Amazon deploys code.

This dovetails with a concept that I live by: continuous delivery. Through building speed and agility into the development process, continuous delivery is based on the idea of ongoing releases. This methodology allows organizations to bring an MVP to market quicker while reacting faster to customer demands via iterative changes. Organizations that utilize the continuous delivery method become their own version of Amazon. They constantly release new features and functionality, get customer feedback, and make updates. The result: better experience and higher profitability.

When it comes to your commerce platform of dreams, if you build it, they may come. But if you’re looking for a box office hit, then you must build it, market it, and iterate on it so that the platform aligns with your customers’ demands. This way, your audience will come, stay, buy, and return again.

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