With the arrival of the Internet, the world of business has changed dramatically. This change has been dictated mostly by the birth of a virtual consumer who has created a new world of interactions responsible for redefining the way people buy products and services today.
This week, we will discuss the crucial role that digital marketing plays in the business world. The following tips are based on a recent article written by Aaron Shapiro for McKinsey Quarterly in which the author highlights the importance of implementing an effective software layer. We believe these are useful insights the spa industry needs to consider in order to adapt their business model to successfully compete in the new digital age.
Defining the “software layer”
We live in an age where transactions are no longer subject to location and where pricing is more transparent. Whether we like it or not, companies today operate as two businesses: the core that sells products and services as usual, and the software layer, which includes the digital media and technology people use to interact with our company.
The software layer involves for example, our corporate website, presence on social networks, digital ads, e-mail sent to customers and mobile applications. In simple terms, “any way someone or something uses technology to interact with your company is part of your software layer”. However, the important thing to understand here is that running a software layer is not merely about running technology but rather about doing business in a new and totally different way. According to Shapiro, “the need for companies to have a software layer has been driven, not by the digital revolution itself, but by the changes in consumer behavior that it has enabled. More and more people prefer to do business with companies online.” Furthermore, in order to compete successfully, companies “must run the core business and the software layer with equal rigor”, and as rigorously as possible.
Running an effective software layer
The main goal of an effective software layer is that of allowing people and organizations to interact with our company in a “more automated and efficient way”. Being successful at that guarantees a good level of engagement, which usually boosts the general performance of the whole business.
There are three important variables to keep in mind in order to implement and run an effective software layer. According to Aaron Shapiro, “successful software layer operations require a mix of centralization, user focus, and integration”.
Ideally, the software layer’s management must be in the hands of a central technology group capable of understanding the needs of your business. This group must have the ability to integrate various features and content in order to create a standard experience for your company.
Likewise, it is essential to understand the needs and preferences of the consumer. Different companies may have different approaches. However, a combination of research, market analysis and intuition is usually the best way for companies to identify and target consumer needs.
Finally, it is also important that the people in charge of managing the software layer are capable of integrating it with the core part of your business. As stated by Shapiro on his article, the integration of these two channels means “building an effective experience for people who use digital media and technology to interact with your company, investing to make such interactions a reality, and adopting a product, marketing, and sales approach that integrates the core business and the software layer into one compelling offer”.
Lessons for the spa industry
Although the spa industry has been notorious for not marketing themselves well at the digital level, things are slowly changing. The most important ‘take home” tip from this article for modern spas and wellness centres is to understand that the need to implement an effective “software layer” is not just something extra to add to their operations but rather a must-have that should be properly incorporated into the whole business.
The spa industry needs to get better at digital marketing. We believe the insights we have shared here are useful tips to start thinking about the most effective way to integrate the core services that our industry provides with a software layer capable of satisfying the increasing needs of today’s virtual customer. A big chunk of our general performance depends on doing this in the right way.