‘Fast, enthralling and for me’ – 3 trends in digital customer experience unpicked

2018 looks set to see no stemming of the tide of hype around new digital trends. In his recent article in Marketing Week Mark Ritson gives a great rundown of the latest buzzwords and points up how hard it is for brands to keep pace. It seems that just as chat about chatbots subsides, talk of the next big tech story builds; be it AI, Augmented Reality or the next big thing. This blog cuts through this noise and, using ABA’s 5Drivers model of the emotions behind consumer behaviour, reveals some ways companies can adapt and gain advantage.

Upwardly mobile – why giving users #Control is vital as demands escalate

Brands will continue to obsess about optimising mobile given how much it’s driving growth in sales – particularly in Fashion retail. Consumers have less and less patience for slow, confusing mobile sites and will desert to rivals in an instant. Common gripes we hear include poor loading speed, search, filter functionality and image quality/zoom. Some mobile sites do offer great user experiences. AO.com regularly comes top in our research with a clear, simple design that makes complex electrical products easy to find, compare and buy. However, many others have serious flaws. For example, Dunelm is often judged weak on speed of scrolling, filtering accuracy, quality of visuals and zoom capability.

Many sites lack truly helpful web chats and instead feature robotic, frustrating chat bots, time-consuming contact forms or ‘email me when in stock’ options that never quite get back to you. Zara’s ‘check stock in stores’ function sounds amazing but simply finds your closest store and leaves it up to you to check if the item is available! In future, brands that flourish in the mobile arena will be those which are alive to the growing demand for quick and empathic responses to user needs. Well-targeted customer experience measurement, which gains feedback on the nuances that make or break an experience, will be vital.

Breaking the barriers – how #Immersion is cementing loyalty

Large-scale, striking photography can bring to life the very best of a brand and is often a fast-track to emotional connection. Apple’s website for iPhone X uses borderless design and animation to immerse shoppers in the product. Missguided overlays high-level navigation onto immersive visuals so conversion isn’t dented. Smaller independent travel sites excel in this arena – just take a look at Babington House or Marriott’s Beach House websites to see how they draw shoppers into their brand and product!

Of course, video and animation are natural tools for drawing audiences into the world of your brand, either through editorial content or the products themselves. Zara has taken this to a new level by experimenting with a more disruptive approach – interrupting product browsing with short video captions that bring trends to life. Quantas provides 360-degree video tours of experiences that sweep viewers up in the thrill of witnessing unique, flora, fauna and landscapes.

You know me so well – how creating #Belonging just got cleverer

Inevitably, another important ability that brands will have to cultivate if they are to succeed in this territory is making sure their sites’ product content and messages are ever-more tailored to the individual. They will have to find more accurate and relevant ways of using customer data to personalise and predict. American discounter, Target Corporation has taken this to whole new, some would say controversial level. Their data analysis of purchasing patterns allows them to identify customers who’ve become pregnant and even which month they are due! They noticed that women in the first 20 weeks were buying a lot of magnesium, zinc and calcium and that those close to full term were stocking up on cotton balls – ensuring the company’s subsequent communications were indeed targeted. In one case this was done so uncannily well that a father discovered his daughter was pregnant before she had mentioned the fact.

Meanwhile, beauty brand Kiehl’s predicts when a customer might run out of a product and employs a text-based reordering system to nudge them to purchase again; cutting the chance they’ll jump ship to Amazon. Sephora has recognised the power of influencers to add authenticity to its social media presence and sees the nurturing of their creative talents as being an important part of long-term strategy.