Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog

Millennials. Baby boomers. Generation X’ers. These labels, says Ray Wang, analyst for Constellation Research, are not applicable to how people communicate online. “There are very digitally proficient baby boomers,” Wang says in a recent webinar, Disrupting Digital Business: The Customer Experience Initiative. “And there are millennials who aren’t proficient whatsoever.”

Providing customer experiences that deliver on brand promises—the cornerstone of Ray Wang’s webinar—means recognizing that different sets of people can be reached in different ways. It’s not multichannel, or even omnichannel, Wang says. It’s simply knowing how and where people want to be reached.

If you aren’t speaking to people where they are, how they want, you’re wasting time because no one hears what you’re saying.

If you aren’t speaking to people where they are, how they want, you’re wasting time because no one hears what you’re saying.

Rather than group these people by age, Wang has outlined five levels of digital proficiency, each with its own set of channels and comfort zones. And your approach may be different for every group.

  1. Digital Natives. These people, who grew up online, “are comfortable in every digital channel,” Wang says. He adds that this does not mean they use every channel: in fact, digital natives can be some of the choosiest people online. They’re the ones upvoting on Imgur or using Snapchat like a boss. “They may only be on Imgur, Twitter, or Snapchat,” Wang explains, so if you’re using only one of those channels, you may be missing a huge audience.
  2. Digital Immigrants. They may not have grown up with the Internet, but digital immigrants are still online in vast numbers. “They will often pick a channel and stick with it, and will be hesitant to try a new one,” Wang offers. They’re the ones sharing recycled memes from local radio stations on Facebook.
  3. Digital Voyeurs. Some people just like to watch. The voyeurs may not actively participate online, but they’re definitely reading—emails, banner ads, customer reviews, and more. What may have once been categorized as the “silent majority” is still a powerful group, and may be reachable by channels through which the first two groups are not, such as direct email or banner ads.
  4. Digital Holdouts. This group, Wang says, is the hardest to reach online because they actively avoid being there. The Internet, to this group, is a series of tubes, and it’s best avoided unless absolutely necessary. Reach them through email—or even better, offline.
  5. Digitally Disengaged. What happens when someone understands how digital communication works—but turns away and avoids it? This group, Wang says, uses ad blockers and avoids social media, and if they’re online at all, attempt to disappear as much as possible, typically for privacy reasons. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still reading and you can’t still reach them. You just need data on where they do choose to engage—something that a robust CRM system can provide.

The move toward delivering on brand promises by providing data-based experiences requires meeting these audiences where they are, on their terms. A CRM solution can help. To learn more about the importance of using data to fulfill your brand’s promises, check out Ray Wang’s webinar.

Watch Ray’s webinar now

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