Thanks to the anytime, anywhere access of online shopping, paired with a proliferation of product choices, it’s getting harder than ever for brands to stand out. To make matters worse, consumers are becoming increasingly brand agnostic. Which means no matter how much effort you put in to building equity or trust, if your customer experience doesn’t stack up to your competition, it may not be enough. According to recent Salesforce research, 84% of customers say experience is just as important to them as a company’s products or services, up from 80% last year.
Clearly, experience is becoming a more significant factor for consumers, and as they spend more time shopping online, a better customer experience means a better digital experience. In fact, a staggering 89% of Canadians base their retail selection on the quality of their digital experience. So, what does a “better digital experience” mean? Research indicates there are a few key factors to consider—and they may be easier to achieve than you think.
Give them a personalized experience
By now, marketers are well-aware that consumers are looking for personalized experiences, and despite ongoing data breaches that have led to an increase in privacy concerns, nothing’s really changed. More than half of consumers are still willing to share their information if it leads to a more tailored experience, and an almost equal percentage of digital device users would be more likely to make a purchase as a result of a more personalized experience.
Using dynamic fields to insert names into your next email campaign won’t cut it, but hundreds of variations of creative isn’t necessary either. It’s all about providing consumers with an offer that’s relevant to their needs and the context you’re communicating in, whether it’s showing complementary products to the ones they just purchased, offering discounts to users who didn’t convert, or utilizing artificial intelligence to predict items they might be interested in based on previous purchases.
Fresh, first-party data is absolutely necessary if you want to create meaningful, personalized experiences for your customers. Data that’s collected from your own audience will always give you the best insight into their needs and interests, and when you have greater control over your data collection, you can be more confident you’re building a strategy based on accurate insights.
As the number of customer touchpoints prior to purchase grows, so does the amount of data advertisers are able to collect. Unfortunately, most don’t feel confident in their ability to glean any meaningful insights from the data they’re collecting.
The sheer volume, from an increasing number of sources, is one reason advertisers are struggling to make sense of it all. If you’re one of them, look for tools that will help integrate all of your online and offline data sources in a simple and meaningful way. There are turnkey integrations that can help collect all sources with a single API, ensuring all of your data is clean, consistent and centralized, no matter how complex your business gets, or interactions with consumers grow.
Make sure you’re easy to find
No matter where the final purchase takes place, how many times a consumer engages with your brand to get there, or through which channels, digital still plays the biggest role in product research and inspiration. A recent study by Google and Deloitte showed that more than 70 percent of Canadian and US consumers go online to research potential purchases—and the majority of those are undecided on what brand they’re going to buy with when they start—which means creating a better digital experience for your audience should include making it easier for them to find what they’re looking for.
Utilizing behavioural data to create personalized marketing strategies can help, but there’s only so much information that you can cram into a single email, ad, or post before your audience is forced to click—and that’s if you’ve managed to target them with something relevant enough to pique their interest.
You can make it easier for consumers to discover your brand and delve into various products with shoppable ads, which can bring the full eComm experience directly to users, no matter where they’re browsing. Shoppable ads come in various forms, and they’re available on nearly every platform you can think of: Instagram has shoppable posts; Pinterest offers “shop the look” pins; Google just introduced shoppable ads to their image search results; and we recently released shoppable ads with an add-to-cart functionality here at Contobox.
I’m not surprised they’re becoming such a popular solution based on the campaign data we’ve collected so far. Consumers are four-to-five times more likely to begin shopping in an ad than to click through to a brand’s site, which has resulted in a 33 percent increase in user interactions, and a 21 percent increase in time spent overall. Because these ads don’t just make your products easier to find and purchase, they offer a more seamless user experience—and that brings me to my next point.
Remove friction from every touchpoint
No matter how people are interacting with your brand—whether it’s browsing, making a final purchase, signing up for a loyalty program, or making a return—you need to provide them with a frictionless experience. Giving them the ability to browse through products within an ad and complete the check-out process with fewer clicks can’t be underestimated. Because if they do click through and they haven’t already decided on an item or pre-filled their shopping cart, there’s a much higher chance they’ll meet enough resistance to move on before checking out, or even finding the product that’s right for them.
Not only are an increasing number of people researching products online, but more are moving to mobile devices, where page-load times simply haven’t kept up with people’s expectations. A 2018 report by Google showed that more than half of consumers will abandon a mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load, and the average at the time of the report was a whopping 15 seconds.
Shoppable ads can also remove the need for registration, which is one of the most common complaints in eCommerce usability research. The need to remember a password, complete extra steps, share additional personal information—it’s enough to completely turn people off. Why risk it when shoppable ads can offer actionable consumer data, like the average number of items in a user’s cart, what was purchased, and what was abandoned.
Nobody really wants to download your app either, which is why some brands and retailers are now offering consumers special offers or rewards that can be saved to their mobile wallets through unique barcodes or links shared via email, social media, display ads, and even video.
The process is quicker and easier for consumers than downloading an app, and will become an even more appealing option in the near future, as Gen Z is expected to make up more than 40 percent of US consumers in the next year. These digital natives are more interested in digital payments than any generation before them. In fact, research from Accenture shows they want their mobile wallets to do the thinking for them, which means polite time or location-based prompts reminding them to redeem your offer won’t just be welcome among this crowd, it will be a better digital experience.