EMarketer estimates that nearly 76 percent of the U.S. population, or 239 million people, are online. It’s no question that online has reached mass media status, and more importantly, that consumers are not only used to, but are adept at multi-tasking across various media depending on their need and location. The adoption and growth of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have created an addiction for immediate gratification – let no trivia question go unanswered and let every price point be compared.
According to Google’s “Our Mobile Planet: United States” study done earlier this year, one in three people would rather give up their television than their smartphone. Also, when asked what other media they were simultaneously using, 52 percent indicated they were using mobile Internet while watching television. This consumer adoption across digital platforms has led to a collective acceptance that we’re beyond the necessity to “sell” digital elements in a communications plan or “fight” for budget, but rather are in a world in which they should be a cornerstone in any communications plan.
However, regardless of the growing usage by consumers and increase in overall share of media spend from brands, there’s still a lack of integrated innovation for leveraging open-platform consumer experiences. The time of looking at “screens” or “engagement” exclusively on one medium has come and gone. Today, we must focus on the customer interaction from A to Z and how we can bring them more value beyond the device. We must push forward to explore the customer relationship and ensure there’s an optimal experience across multiple touch points. After all, if consumers are digesting media across multiple platforms so readily, marketers need to acknowledge this and address key issues that have the potential to create dissatisfaction and disruption on the consumer end. Below are a few thought-starters as easy ways that digital can influence and enhance the customer experience across multiple platforms.
- Recognize you purchase funnel. It’s important to recognize where and when the majority of purchases are occurring; however, it’s also necessary to understand where all of the critical touch points are and how these consumption trends are impacting the purchase decision. For example, perhaps a majority of research occurs online, but the final purchase eventually takes place in-store. While smartphone adoption is growing, and a presence there is important, it could be beneficial to consider revamping your in-store experience as well. After all, if your in-store experience isn’t on par with the online experience, you may be driving online consumers in the store just as fast as your brick-and-mortar experience drives them out.
- Create a uniform experience. Thanks to smartphones, consumers are now better equipped to understand variances in price point and inventory online and offline. In some instances, this can create consumer confusion and extreme dissatisfaction. If there are variances, be sure to have justification rationale and transparency with customers when concerns arise.
- Listen to customers. There are so many opportunities to listen to customers through netnography; however, it’s important to recognize that these are convictions, and just one step in the process of understanding consumers. The ultimate insights for consumer behavior lie deeper than tweets or blog posts.
- Continue to test. Testing and discovering the impact of consumer response is essential in an effort to continue to change with ever-evolving consumer behavior. Just as new experiences and platforms are developed every day, consumer behavior is shifting and evolving with them. If you’re not testing and exploring new ways to interact and bring value to consumers, you will become obsolete.
- Be different. Think about a brand that you love, admire, and could not imagine your day without. Is there a parody for that brand? Probably; however, for some reason it pales in comparison. What makes your brand so much better? The quality, the price point, the customer service? Whatever it is, your beloved brand has managed to create something special and different enough to separate itself from the competition and turn you into a brand loyalist. If there is a way to break apart from the clutter and strive to be better, be different, etc., consumers will take notice and applaud you for this effort.
There’s no question that digital is an essential part of the customer experience, and who knows – maybe we’re just scratching the surface. As marketers, researchers, and consumers, we have to open our eyes beyond what we hear and see now, and think about what opportunities lay ahead. Digital is shifting the paradigm from not just being an exclusive experience, but becoming part of every experience.
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