No matter where you look, brands are all trying to crack the code of having a two-way conversation with their customers wherever they are – be it in-store, online, on a smartphone, on a tablet or on social media. It’s a constant struggle for brands to make themselves be seen and heard above all the noise that’s out there, especially when their “prime” consumers have minimal attention spans and are far less forgiving of faulty, uninspired experiences with brands.
However, brand loyalty online can be much more fleeting than it is offline. Stop and think about some of the online brands that have your devoted loyalty (no matter what sins they may occasionally commit). What Google, Amazon and Facebook all have in common is that they’ve built their entire customer experience across all devices and all channels around customers’ trust and respect. For many of us (myself included), it would take a lot to sway my trust, respect and loyalty away from these three online giants.
When brands commit customer experience sins such as excessively slow page loads, page flickers, and irrelevant messages and offers, the cost can be more than just how consumers feel about and speak of your brand. It can actually decrease their likeliness to click through a brand’s website or mobile site, and lead to a willingness to go to a competitor’s site. That is what we saw in the “Mobilizing the Retail Shopping Experience” research study. One of the most important findings of the study revealed that 39 percent of consumers would leave and visit a competitor’s mobile site if their customer experience expectations were not met. Meanwhile, another 23 percent would return less often if the mobile experience were deemed poor. If that’s just the scenario on mobile retail sites, just think about all of the e-commerce sites and brands that rely on the Internet to drive traffic, click throughs, newsletter sign-ups and purchases. Here are three secrets to help brands have a two-way conversation with their customers online.
Don’t treat every customer the same.
Smart marketers realize that painting their entire web and mobile audience with the same brush is no longer a valid strategy. With so much data available about a visitor’s digital behavior and preferences, it’s unfortunate that there are still brands out there with one-size-fits-all customer experiences. Say a visitor is sitting in front of their laptop on a Sunday night and while searching Google for Prada heels, this visitor is served up an ad with multiple fashion sites with a variety of shoe options that will make this visitor swoon. When this same visitor returns to one of the fashion sites, wouldn’t it be more effective to personalize and differentiate the messages and offers she sees? That’s the power of personalization: It not only gets a first-time visitor to click on a home page and navigate through product pages to the final “buy now” purchase moment, but it also gets returning visitors to come back repeatedly for multiple purchases.
Show and tell customers why you’re better and right for them.
While consumers may have been to your site before, they are not experts in every single product that your brand makes and what differentiates those products/prices from competitors. How is it that Amazon can offer millions of products, yet it makes customers feel like it knows the certain products that they may want either by showing products to others like myself who have already purchased, or similar products typically sold alongside the items I just added to my shopping cart? It’s all about being smart and attentive to the customers’ needs and preferences.
Stop talking and listen to your customers.
In this “Age of the Digital Customer,” everything consumers like and don’t like is being tracked socially on places such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. But for brands, the real opportunity lies in the data obtained from consumer interactions on these social media sites. By incorporating Facebook data into the entire digital experience, brands can develop richer, more relevant customer profiles and, in turn, be more personal and targeted in the messaging and offers shown to these consumers. That means the experience becomes more than just a social experience. It becomes authentic, meaningful and sustainable.