Delivering the Brand Promise

“As users interact with web sites in real time, these experiences not advertising-induced perceptions will drive brand attitudes.” Forrester Research

The Internet is transforming the way consumers interact with brands. As the number of web pages on the Internet continues to escalate at astronomical levels, marketers must learn to adapt to the interactive environment by providing more than just a web site. Marketers must learn to provide a satisfying user experience for their web site visitors. An experience begins at the customer acquisition phase when the “brand promise” is made and extends to the fulfillment phase when the promise is delivered.

Interactivity is key when defining successful initiatives on the web. When I say interactivity, I don’t mean simply hyperlinking pages together. I mean the formulation of a user’s experiences with a company, product, or brand.

These experiences have redefined traditional marketing practices and opened up the one-to-one relationship possibilities marketers are forever seeking. Interactivity, rather than passive receptivity, drives consumer behavior toward brands online. As a partner in an interactive agency with the bulk of our work coming from web-related projects, the challenge of delivering compelling online experiences continues to escalate.

Download speed, navigation, and functionality are all initial components that must be optimized. Users must have the ability to find what they are looking for in a timely fashion. If you can’t provide them with what they want, chances are your competition can.

A web presence should emphasize trust and should request and handle information provided by web site visitors in a secure fashion. Contact and customer service information should be readily available and give web site visitors the opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns.

Numerous plug-ins and above-average technical requirements can be a big no-no (e.g., boo.com), as customers who can’t view the products quickly and easily often get frustrated. Also, check to ensure functionality is at top performance and that dead links are not lingering on your web site. I often run across sites that show numerous JavaScript errors, missing images, response forms that post errors when submitted, or the dreaded 404 error. These simple mistakes can frustrate a user’s experience beyond repair.

When you’re lucky enough to have a customer engage in your products or services, you must then deliver the brand promise. Delivering the brand promise and its overall effect is based on customer expectations and will determine the difference between one-time versus repeat customers. This promise, whether it is quality goods, fast delivery, exclusive content, or the lowest prices, is what will often drive the customer to engage in your product or service to begin with. Many web-based businesses have lost touch with this point, and the lack of customer service has led many customers back toward the solid foundations of the brick-and-mortars of the world.

Failure to meet your customers’ demands will equate to nothing more than failure. From the brand interaction to delivering the promise, proper execution is needed to solidify relations with your customers.

As those in the trenches of the Internet marketing and advertising industry know, clients are demanding. They want the click-through rate to equal “such and such,” the number of site impressions to be higher than “such and such,” and for the sales to exceed “such and such” squared. But while these measurements provide a benchmark for evaluating specific initiatives, they often miss out on one important measurement: the user experience. On the Internet, it is this experience that drives attitudes toward a brand name “not advertising-induced perceptions.”

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