Your customers need to enhance their abilities to engage with consumers and create positive user experiences online. Additionally, they need to be able to utilize technology to improve internal business processes. Consumers are no longer limited by proximity or selection at a local store, as they can purchase any product from anywhere via ecommerce channels. Therefore, to compete in these arenas, SMBs need a strong online presence that allows them to engage consumers in a positive way.

Today’s organizations aim to create personalized, well-timed messaging, a strong customer service presence, and loyalty programs that cut through the noise to increase brand awareness and earn long-term loyal customers. To do this, there are several strategies and tools they rely on in order to drive engagements.

However, they need to be careful to consider how deploying these tools within their networks can impact security infrastructure, especially when dealing with sensitive customer data.

Your Customers’ Strategies to Drive Digital Engagements

In order to offer enhanced experiences and drive digital engagements, your customers have turned to a myriad of tools and strategies. Leveraging these tactics, many of which are cloud-based, enables smaller organizations to scale to meet modern demands without heavy upfront investments in infrastructure.

Some of the most popular tactics include:

  • Personalized offers with analytics: Businesses are leveraging analytics-as-a-service platforms to better understand consumer preferences based on past engagements and purchases, as well as channel and device preferences.
  • Constant customer support via chatbots: Chatbot solutions allow your customers to offer 24/7 customer service, quickly answer customer questions, and save money. This is a crucial investment in ensuring a positive customer experience and building loyalty amongst consumers.
  • Offering rewards and loyalty programs through applications: Many businesses are building mobile apps for their repeat customers to track rewards and points redeemed through loyalty programs. This is especially important as 70% of shoppers are more likely to participate in a loyalty program if they can easily access rewards from their mobile device.
  • Location-based marketing: Businesses are turning to location-based marketing tactics to hit consumers with targeted ads based on their geography (for example, proximity to a store or a competitor’s store). This is something consumers must generally opt into, meaning organizations must prove trustworthy to handle their data.
  • Leverage email marketing and CRMs: A popular digital engagement tool is a customer relationship management platform (CRM) or email marketing platform. Businesses are using CRMs and email marketing tools to reach consumers with targeted content and manage consumer data and the relationship in the long term.

What Digital Engagements Mean for Cybersecurity

While all of these tactics are centered around creating a positive customer experience, there is one thing that can make it all go south: a data breach. Think about this: 69% of consumers say businesses are responsible for protecting this data and 64% are unlikely to do business with an organization that loses their personal information. Beyond consumer retention, there are also compliance issues to contend with when storing personally identifiable data.

These digital engagement strategies are wrought with cyber risks that could be extremely detrimental to business success for a myriad of reasons:

  • Increased network complexity: As more solutions and tools are added to the network, visibility is reduced. These complex network infrastructures increase the likelihood of gaps in security architecture and challenges in determining where data is stored and how it is being used – which can lead to security and compliance issues.
  • Multi-cloud environments: Many of these tools will be SaaS solutions running on different cloud providers. Each cloud provider has different security standards and offerings, but most often they leverage a shared security model. This means that your customers will largely be responsible for securing all the data they store within the cloud. SMBs will have to ensure they are centralizing all of this security and meeting the requirements of each CSP, as well as compliance regulations. This will require organizations to stretch security controls beyond their traditional networks into the cloud.
  • Limited resources: Finally, once all of these digital engagement tools are deployed, SMBs often do not have the resources to ensure they are effectively secured and integrated into existing systems. Deploying these tools within existing security parameters and deploying new security controls where there is a lack of sufficient protections is resource intensive in itself. However, organizations then need to have the manpower and expertise to monitor these tools to detect and respond to security incidents in a timely manner. This challenge is exacerbated by the cybersecurity skills gap.

How Partners Can Assist Through Services Offerings  

Digitally engaging with consumers is essential in today’s consumer environment, however, your customers must ensure they do so in a way that does not compromise consumer trust. That said, digital engagement tactics and cybersecurity strategy must go hand in hand.

Partners can help to mitigate security challenges, enabling SMBs to increase digital engagements by shifting to a service-oriented business model. Fortinet offers customizable services that reduce the strain on SMB resources and personnel, with an expert understanding of threat trends, how to reduce network complexity, and how to effectively secure multi-cloud environments.

Our Security Services are presided over by FortiGuard Labs, our dedicated in-house threat-research team. Through these services, organizations get enterprise-grade security regardless of their size.

Security services reduce the strain placed on your customers with up to the minute threat intelligence to stop attacks in real time and provide insight into any new avenues that can be used to exploit your network. Furthermore, our global network of sensors means that your customers are getting insight into the tactics being used by cybercriminals around the world, in addition to activity detected in their local network. This combination of global and local intelligence is essential for proactive cybersecurity.

SMBs can customize their service packages to cater to their specific network. For example, businesses that build mobile apps in order to connect to consumers through loyalty programs would likely want to subscribe to the Web Application Security Service. If, in addition to building their own app, your customers are using multiple SaaS applications from various vendors, our Cloud Sandboxing Services can be deployed alongside the applications services. To ensure comprehensive protection, many SMB organizations begin with the UTM Bundle, which include advanced antivirus, antispam, application control, web filtering, sandboxing, intrusion prevention, and more – which can then be augmented with additional customer services.

Leveraging security services allows your customers to get the best of both worlds: enhanced digital engagement with customers, with a focus on security in ‘order to maintain trust in the long term.

Final Thoughts

Your customers have taken to adopting new tools and strategies in order to engage with their consumers online and stay competitive. This is essential to success, as today’s consumers expect seamless and personalized service. However, this can be at odds with their other expectation: secure personal data. As your SMB customers deploy digital engagement tools, they need to ensure they have the security infrastructure in place, be it tools, processes, or manpower, to maintain data protection as their network becomes more distributed.

This can be resource intensive, causing SMBs to try to pick between the two. With advanced security services, like those from FortiGuard labs, your customers can increase their digital presence with security from an expert team that ensures reduced network complexity, real-time threat intelligence, and proactive security.