Ben ScogginsBen ScogginsSeptember 22, 2020
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5min253

When people talk about ‘the agency of the future’ they’re really pointing out what needs to change with ‘the agency of the present’. It’s particularly pertinent in times of great change, and a global pandemic is about as big a catalyst for change as we’re likely to see in our lifetimes.

So, with that in mind, what do agencies need to do to better serve clients? Here are five assertions:

The agency of the future isn’t ‘digital first’, it’s ‘human-first’

By definition, marketing is fundamentally about understanding people and satisfying their wants and needs. Too many agencies peddle clever tech solutions without much attempt to understand the consumer. What makes this especially problematic is that we live in a world where tech advances have made purchase behaviour and patterns more complicated than ever. This means that in order to better connect with audiences, clients need more help than ever to understand their consumer’s motivations and the behaviour behind the – often complex – purchase decisions that they make.

The agency of the future will be leaner

Marketing clients will continue to in-house and automate marcomms functions in order to save money and time. While some agencies (and their holding companies) will kick against it, those who embrace change will find opportunities to monetise new processes and ways of working. Smaller agencies with nimble and talented freelance networks will gain traction. Training and coaching clients (particularly in tech and performance marketing) will become a legitimate agency function. And agencies developing their own proprietary technologies to help clients work smarter will become ‘a thing’ in its own right.

The agency of the future will be faster

Perhaps more accurately, agencies will better bring energy and intensity to bear on marketing challenges. In tech companies, they call it ‘velocity’ – the idea that moving faster not only gets you there sooner but also gets a better-quality outcome as a result of more focused effort.

Agencies will find ways to deliver quality more quickly – be that through improved structures, clearer processes, the application of new technologies, or changes to how teams are motivated and incentivised.

The agency of the future will be able to better frame problems

Marketing academics and scholars lament the fact that most marketing professionals aren’t well schooled enough in the fundamentals. Whether you agree or not, you’d be hard pressed to find a marketer willing to boast that they’re a master of all facets of modern marketing – there’s just too much to know. The result is that marketing clients increasingly need more than just ‘solutions’ from their agencies – they need help to know the right questions to ask.

Agencies will therefore be expected to play an even more consultative role, providing an expert understanding of appropriate technologies within the context of consumer behaviour.

The agency of the future will double-down on creativity

As process and automation become more commonplace across all aspects of marketing, it’s the agency’s ability to creatively solve problems that will come to the fore. AI can already write poems, songs and even jokes but genuine emotional connection is difficult – it’s hard to measure, it’s hard to articulate, and it takes humanity to craft and hone.

A lot of my work involves digital transformation; helping clients to better understand and apply technology in order to create better marketing. But it’s important to remember that as agencies we are largely about emotionally engaging and connecting with people and, while that can be facilitated through technology, it’s still reliant on people and creativity to make it effective.


Lana BusignaniLana BusignaniSeptember 14, 2020
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7min709

The swift and dramatic impact of COVID-19 has created tough challenges for brands but keeping consumer relations on ice isn’t a viable solution.

As carefully laid strategies and plans continue to be derailed, brands must remember that the way they respond and interact with consumers today will affect perceptions and performance far into the future.

While the world waits to see the full impact of the pandemic on businesses, the next steps marketers take are what will separate the wheat from the chaff for brands. Being remembered for the right reasons is going to mean adopting the right set of smart and flexible tactics.

Here are four of the biggest factors they need to consider:

1. This is no time to put a stop on advertising

Even as the clouds are beginning to lift, there is still a temptation to hold off on advertising until the crisis has passed entirely. But with this approach comes a strong probability that brands will fall behind competitors.

Nielsen analysis has shown that brands typically reap almost half (47 percent) of the rewards their marketing efforts generate after one year. As a result, those cutting advertising now may face significant negative effects downstream. Alongside smaller market share, it’s likely their long absence will mean advertising messages are less impactful when they do hit the restart button, making it harder to capture attention and drive sales.

To maintain their position and place on the consumer radar, brands must resist the urge to stop all advertising spend. Instead, they should be seizing the opportunities current turbulence brings. For example, the decline in CPMs triggered by the outbreak offers a chance for brands to engage new audiences at a lower cost. The added advantage being that as well as amplifying their immediate reach across varied digital media, harnessing reduced CPMs will increase the likelihood of greater long-term returns.

2. Sudden change can create greater opportunities

The huge disruption to everyday life has fuelled massive changes in normal habits, especially media interaction. With many consumers homebound, consumption levels have soared for both online and offline media.

For brands this shift creates greater scope than ever to bolster exposure and build deeper consumer ties through meaningful advertising; particularly as a high proportion of consumers already plan to make their new behaviours permanent. But it’s also worth noting the potential to evolve standard practices.

By reassessing their usual media channels and spend allocation in line with changing viewing patterns, brands can uncover new opportunities to connect with target audiences. Put another way, they can break the cycle of ‘same as last year’ marketing and cover new ground; whether that’s moving into TV or leveraging premium video-on-demand platforms.

3. Navigating a crisis requires careful messaging

No matter what their sector, most brands have had to swiftly adjust marketing strategies and messaging in the face of COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, this has largely meant an uptick in activity based around the pandemic; according to Nielsen data, 90 percent of all Q1 ads referencing coronavirus occurred at the end of March, with the number of mentions growing particularly fast across the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

But as brands continue to re-orientate, it will be crucial to do so with care. Consumers want the ads brands deliver to not only provide much-needed stability, but also authenticity and real empathy. Broadly, this involves creating ads to fit one of five central themes: assistance for frontline workers, charitable donations, championing public health advice, promoting the benefits of the business’ digital reinvention, and supporting consumer needs.

4. Every good campaign needs a firm data basis

Guiding decisions with precise insight has never been so critical, which makes analytics an essential investment. Nielsen’s own modelling data has shown analytics platforms more than pay their way in the long run; with the right mix of reliable data, sound methodology and activation, the returns platforms produce average at seven times their initial cost.

Accurate analysis of data is particularly important in today’s unpredictable climate, which has seen the value of agility soar. Opting for analytical tools capable of rapidly evaluating diverse new data is vital to drive rapid yet well-informed pivots, if needed. Better still, implementing platforms with the ability to use custom insights will enable brands to gain even more granular insight into what the next best move is to achieve their specific goals.

The future has been permanently changed by the pandemic, with many more changes are still to come. Advertisers that strive to continue building and implementing thoughtful and effective marketing plans will maintain awareness for the right reasons, placing them in a powerful position in the long term. By understanding the opportunities of the current situation and relying on a strong data foundation, brands can weather the storm and come out the other side stronger than they were before.


Sonja KotrotsosSonja KotrotsosSeptember 8, 2020
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10min639

It is impossible to build a cutting-edge skyscraper with a hammer and a box of nails. Modern construction projects call for modern tools designed for the job. And the same is true for a content strategy.

Businesses can’t deliver the experiences that modern markets expect using tools designed for a different era. But because technology and content marketing evolve fast, businesses often face legacy tools and methods from a bygone era without even realising it. And at the enterprise scale, chances are the business is being held back by misaligned goals and knowledge silos that make it difficult to adapt.

So how can businesses create a modern content strategy that makes the best use of emerging technology?

Take stock: Find the weak spots in the current content strategy

As technology and marketing practices have evolved, so has content strategy. But there are always weak spots – typically tactics and tools that once worked, but have been kept well past their expiration date.

Meanwhile, the information that an audience wants has shifted, in large part, because technology keeps providing new ways for them to access content. As a result, businesses need a content strategy that takes advantage of emerging technology, just like those markets.

In an age of the Internet, this means going far beyond a website with necessary information and a periodically updated blog –  a business must be active across other digital platforms. An effective content marketing landscape requires much more than just being present, and target audiences — no matter who that is today — expect more.

New content formats (including video), platforms such as the IoT? and advanced content management and distribution tools allow modern content marketers to share content more widely and personalise it for each customer. To be competitive, this is just the first benchmark.

Growing up beyond the SEO years

SEO is undergoing a much-needed evolution. Search engine algorithms, led by giants like Google, are continuously updated. They can now spot, and often lower the ranking of content that stuffs keywords without adding value.

The new best practice is to create high-quality, long-form content that naturally uses relevant keywords instead of stuffing them where they don’t belong. And for those businesses looking to get ahead of the curve, all of this content needs to be optimised for the coming onslaught of voice searches.

In an era of deep content saturation, businesses are trying to maximise SEO results by doubling down on content creation — using different keyword variations, of course.

However, the top search engines have learned to spot duplicate and low-quality content, which gets penalised in search rankings. Today, search engines place more emphasis on page quality and relevance, which makes it easier for people to find the information they want.

Modern best practices emphasise high-quality content on well-designed web pages that are easy for visitors to navigate. Considering that more than 90 percent of unique website visitors are using mobile devices, today, a well-designed website is a mobile-ready website. And of course, with all things mobile, the aim is to ‘go viral’.

Overcoming the race to go viral

Marketers are now obsessed with decoding the magic behind online successes, in the hopes that they will crack the formula that will draw massive traffic to their digital platforms.

However, the conditions that cause a piece of content to go viral are mostly unpredictable, and the effects can be short-lived once people grow weary of over-the-top headlines. Even if a business hits the holy grail of huge sharing and interaction, there is no guarantee that this will attract the target audience. Trying to force it only diverts energy away from creating consistently credible content that will keep people coming back in the long term.

This commercial realism is critical as businesses embrace digital platforms as a sales opportunity. This now goes far beyond just including a call-to-action encouraging people to make a purchase.

Complete digital engagement is crucial – and the great content that drives this focuses on the customer, not on the brand. Content strategy should align with the sales cycle, which includes different tactics for engaging people at the top and the bottom of the funnel. Content marketing excels at the top of the funnel, where a business can cultivate a digital following by positioning itself as a valuable and credible source of information that helps customers solve their problems.

Forward momentum: How to modernise a content strategy

Updating content strategy isn’t rocket science. It begins the same way that processes have begun for a very long time — by documenting it. Gartner’s research shows that nearly two-thirds of the most successful marketing leaders have a documented content strategy versus only 14 percent of the least successful.

Clarifying the goals of a content strategy

Content marketers can only create compelling content if they know what the company needs that content to achieve, and the answer isn’t always obvious.

This demands in-depth discussion with internal stakeholders to learn about their priorities. Once they are clear on the overall direction that sales and leadership teams want to go, marketers can develop a content strategy that delivers.

Equally important are the buyer personas that underpin any content and this is another opportunity to consult with colleagues to ask some key questions and refine the understanding of the target demographic(s) and the associated buying habits.

This will inevitably lead to a content audit that must balance the invested energy (and money) of maximising a return on existing content, with cutting irrelevant or inaccurate material. Any inventory of content needs to include not just its topics, but also the personas they speak to, the type of content, and – critically – how well it performs.

The goal is to identify those pieces that still align with business goals and buyer personas, then emphasise this best-performing content, or look for opportunities to update older material. While revisiting and removing old content might seem counterintuitive to developing a new content strategy, editing and auditing are essential to the content lifecycle management process.

Identifying new content

Whilst businesses can often reuse old content, the chances are that an audit will reveal gaps to fill, not just in the substance, but also the type of content. This demands new content creation.

Marketers love to brainstorm new ways of delivering content and any portfolio that develops will likely include =visual assets like infographics and video, long-form content like case studies and ebooks, or even a series of email campaigns to follow up with people who purchase specific products.

Because modern consumers trust a variety of different content types, website and application analytics, social media listening, SEO research, and even discussions with customer service and sales teams can inform which topics should be covered.

Going omnichannel

The final consideration is that today’s customers expect to have a seamless experience no matter where they engage with a brand. An omnichannel distribution plan allows a business to reach the target audience wherever they prefer to be, increasing the chances of meaningful engagement.

As part of persona research, businesses must learn where a target audience spends their digital time. Using this information, the creation of tailored content for each audience on each channel is made much more simple.

Managing all this demands a modern content management solution that eliminates the need to recreate content by separating content creation and storage from how the content is published. Application programming interface (API) technology is then used to locate the right content module, run it through whatever personalisation and optimisation platforms that have integrated (such as CRM, translation, A/B testing, etc.), and then distributed to the chosen channels – no more hammers and nails.


Paul BidderPaul BidderAugust 31, 2020
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7min775

At the beginning of the year, the retail industry was focussed on providing customers with the best possible experience to entice them in-store. We saw interactive windows, smart mirrors and VR showrooms deployed to improve efficiency.

However, the pandemic put a stop to this, ushering in irreversible changes to the way we shop. In response, retailers have had to redraw their roadmaps to ensure they can drive growth post-pandemic.

Our research has revealed that Covid-19 has put the focus on digital as a key business priority. With more people shopping online than ever before, 62 percent of UK retailers have now named eCommerce as a cornerstone of future investment. Companies are now looking for ways to improve their customer engagement strategies and provide more seamless buyer journeys.

To this end, brands had previously developed new apps in a bid to supplement traditional sales channels with digital equivalents. That said, app fatigue has now arrived, and investing large sums of time and effort into app development seems counterproductive.

Progressive web apps (PWAs) could likely be the contender to succeed apps, allowing brands to take a proactive approach to customer engagement – but how can this be done?

The power of our smartphones

PWAs have the potential to be a real game-changing moment for mobile shopping, disrupting the very foundation that mobile commerce sits on. They represent an opportunity to create a better, more stable, smoother mobile shopping experience. Not only this, but they also work well on low-quality networks and have full functionality when loaded, meaning shoppers can now even checkout offline. Current mobile experiences struggle to meet ever-changing consumer expectations, and PWAs represent the next evolution in mobile-driven commerce.

But why is this so important?

We’ve reached a milestone when it comes to internet traffic across the globe, with over 50 percent now generated through mobile devices. Almost every third person now owns a smartphone, and this is set to grow by several hundred million in the next few years which will have huge implications for both PWAs and mCommerce.

Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of all retail eCommerce is expected to be generated through our mobile devices by 2021, and so it’s clear how the development of PWAs will sit at the heart of this development.

What’s more, from a business perspective, PWAs have the potential to reduce the burden of maintaining both a mobile website and a mobile app. They’re already beginning to replace standard websites since retailers have been using them to generate more conversions – with conversions seen as the lifeblood of eCommerce, this means we’ll likely see uptake rise over time. They also have the potential to cut costs compared with developing a new native app, since PWA code works across all platforms – desktop, mobile and tablets, along with every browser.

PWAs applied to business

PWAs were announced back in 2015 as “experiences that combine the best of the web and the best of apps.” While the technology is still developing and maturing, a group of early adopters has showcased the transformative change the technology stands to bring to business.

The UK clothing brand George is a shining example of what can be achieved by upgrading a website to a PWA – after making the move, the retailer saw a 31 percent increase in conversion on its mobile site. Other quantifiable benefits included:

  • 3.8 x – Faster average page load time
  • 2 x – Lower bounce rate
  • 31 percent – Increase in conversion rate
  • 20 percent – More page views per visit
  • 28 percent – Longer average time on site for visits from the home screen

Elsewhere, PWAs have helped Debenhams deliver a 40% increase in mobile revenue and a 20 percent rise in conversions; Tinder has cut load times down from 11.91 seconds to 4.69 seconds; and Trivago saw a 150 percent increase in customers adding it to their home screen along with a 97 percent rise in clicks onto hotel offers.

Going beyond app stores

Clearly, PWAs can help brands across every industry generate substantial ROI, but one issue which needs to be overcome is distribution and consumer behaviour.

Once a PWA is designed, it’s uploaded straight to a web server like any other web app – users can then interact with them as soon as they visit the website, providing they’re signposted well.

It follows that a major issue for PWAs is a proven way of distribution. If companies fail to establish and spend money to notify consumers on how they can be accessed on the internet, they are unlikely to go mainstream. Consumer awareness needs to build for this new type of app.

A first mover advantage?

A lot of the noise around PWAs has focussed on their use within mCommerce strategies, but their impact could be far wider-reaching. They represent the first time in a single app can be used on a smartphone, voice channel, watch, or the rest of the multi-channel pantheon of offerings.

Early adopters are beginning to scratch the surface of what can be achieved through PWAs. Taking them to the next level will require other progressive brands getting involved to further prove the benefits they bring to business. There are many factors brands must consider before implementing PWAs, but we’ve already seen pioneers like George, Debenhams and Trivago make a compelling case for others to follow suit.


Scott TurtonScott TurtonAugust 27, 2020
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9min1420

The coronavirus has fundamentally changed customer experience. Consumers’ attitudes, shopping habits and budgets have all been impacted severely. The only way organisations can survive this tumultuous time is to adapt fast and re-connect with their customers so that they are providing their audience with what they need most. In order to bounce back, CX leaders should consider the following.

Understanding your customers

You no longer know your customers. While this may seem like a rash statement, it is clear that what your customers wanted pre-COVID aren’t necessarily top of their wishlist currently. What are their post-pandemic hopes, fears, and attitudes? Does your brand purpose resonate as much now as it previously did and is it authentic? Do you have a good understanding of the role your products and services play in people’s lives and how will they consider, buy and consume them in the future? Answering these questions is hard and you’ll need the ability and culture to harvest data, hypothesise, test, learn and iterate as you go.

For CIOs, this a real test. Becoming truly agile, design-led and highly automated are ambitions that were already being pursued in many organisations (like BP, Scottish Water and British Gas, for example) well before the pandemic.

As markets become less certain and the focus on cost out and value up intensifies, these initiatives are becoming imperative. Speed to market and relevance are key and CIOs need to partner with parts of the business that own the customer interface (marketing, customer service, sales teams) and drive together towards a new way of delivering digital products and services into the hands of customers and those that serve them.

Mastering your data

It’s also a big test of data mastery and your Customer Data Platform arrangements. It’s critical to be able to liberate, aggregate and interpret what you know about customers so you can reach them at the right time, through the right channel, with the right offer.

You need tools to be able to execute on this insight. Technology is there to help agents decide on their next best action depending on the customer’s circumstances, to help track and intelligently manage and schedule customer contacts, to automate marketing communications based on meaningful triggers.  Such solutions need to be well chosen, integrated and adopted.

Content is king

It’s equally a test of your story. The importance of pushing great content down a variety of marketing and engagement channels to really connect with your audience can hardly be overstated.

Many businesses like Chipotle and WhatsApp, for example, have been effective in striking the right tone, targeting their audiences and strengthening affinity to their brand during the pandemic. They’ve done this through a combination of practical support, honest dialogue and helpful new services.

Maintaining this connection as we exit the pandemic will maximise the enduring value of their engagement in these difficult times.

Do you have content and digital asset management solutions in place to get your new messages out in a compelling and personal way at scale? And is your organisation geared up to leverage it?

Adapting the store experience

Adapting the in-store shopping experience to accommodate a global pandemic is tough. Keeping up sales and standards of service whilst maintaining social distance, avoiding excessive touching of products and surfaces and the handling of cash has left many retailers scratching their heads.

Contactless payment and self-service checkout are increasingly expected by consumers. Beyond this, the pursuit of a truly “Phygital” experience is receiving increased attention. AR and VR initiatives will gather pace for some businesses looking to achieve product and brand immersion without human contact, both in the store and at home.

Many will be watching leading lights, like Amazon Go and Nike Live for inspiration, but with a keen eye on working out what will work for them and make a genuine difference to customer experience and value. Those without a well-researched and considered omnichannel strategy could fail to act and lose out or be seduced by a new idea that misses the mark.

The ramp-up of ecommerce for bigger businesses has been a feature of the pandemic that will endure for many. For those not inclined to invest in enterprise commerce platforms, this means an acceleration of a trend towards “composable commerce”, modular, open architectures that give businesses flexibility as their needs evolve.

Customer service at a distance

Companies that provide customer services in the field have really wrestled with social distancing. The pandemic has shined a new light on ways of working that require pen and paper (likely to force employees and customers to be in closer proximity) or on processes that require staff to retreat to office computers as they lack the ability to capture and retrieve data on the move. Those with stronger solutions in this space are more inclined than ever to pursue AR and VR solutions to help with field service training or increasing their rates of first-time fix. These technologies also increase the potential of remote assistance, bringing field agents and contact centre staff together to provide the optimum service.

Contact centres have faced their obvious challenges, needing to either close or embrace distributed working. Continuing down the path of greater flexibility for staff may give them competitive advantage in the new world but their systems and data become increasingly critical once the safety net of co-located teams is removed.

Conclusion

Many of the strategies business are considering in this ‘new normal’ are broadly unchanged and represent modern practices that optimise the customer experience and enable business to survive and thrive. The Covid-19 pandemic simply brings this into greater focus, accelerating some of the prevailing trends in the market. This represents the perfect moment to step back and reflect on your brand’s purpose, your offer to your customers and whether you’re in a good position to fulfil that promise. In the post Covid world, it is important to recognise that failure to act could have dire consequences.

Starting small is always an option and CX initiatives have the potential not only grow the top line but also to drive out operating costs in the near term. And, of course, if a business does not fulfil its customers’ need, someone else will.


Libby Duane AdamsLibby Duane AdamsAugust 26, 2020
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9min1316

Rapid advancements in technology mean consumers now have the power to dictate the rules and control their relationships with brands.

Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) must ensure their companies are able to keep up with these expectations about quality and speed of service, in addition to the data that arises from these behaviours.

Business’ are undergoing a customer-centric transformation

Amongst the variety of economic schemes Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak has initiated, he has recently proposed a government grant to small businesses per trainee they recruit. This initiative is mutually advantageous to the government as they prepare for the economic burdens that increased unemployment stimulates, but also facilitates an opportunity for innovation as businesses look to prosper.

Now more than ever, with enhanced customer expectations and emerging technologies, the CCO must pave the way for organisations to champion customer-centricity through the momentum of digitisation.  Nonetheless, this innovation requires the combination of democratising data, automating business processes, and leveraging human ingenuity to allow businesses to undergo a positive transformation.

According to a recent McKinsey report, customer-centric transformation entails an entire rethink of a business model. A fundamental change of mindset focusing on the customer can generate a 20-30 percent uplift in customer satisfaction, a 10-20 percent improvement in employee satisfaction and economic gains ranging from 20-50 percent depending on a business’s specific objectives, according to the firm. Although such fundamental changes may seem daunting, the benefits are palpable to those who undertake the journey.

Listening to customers and learning from what they tell you is vital for success in 2020 and beyond. But, to enjoy this success, businesses big and small must ensure that data analytics is central to identifying, responding to, and developing communications with the customer – allowing a mutually prosperous relationship to blossom.

At present, when data is used it’s often used in a descriptive way – condensing data sets into short summaries to reinforce gut decisions.

While this may provide decision-makers with a level of reassurance, the information provided can lack insight from across the organisation and often arrives too late to prove actionable. Sadly, this is a trap many businesses have fallen into time and time again.

They understand the need to put customers first but fail to fully embrace a data-driven approach to support this business strategy.

It’s time for the CCO to be heard and their focus supported. With the help of data analytics, the CCO can play a leading role in a company’s digital transformation efforts, championing customer-centricity during this change.

Championing technology in Age of the Customer

Forrester calls this “The Age of the Customer” – and for good reason. Customers are savvier than ever and have never had so many options for how to spend not just their money but their attention. Customers have an unprecedented ability to inform and express themselves across a wide variety of channels – and they also have an unprecedented desire for authentic relationships with brands.

CCOs are responsible for channelling customer desires within the business. Technology has had a substantial impact on how customers interact, build relationships and expect loyalty to be rewarded. For CCOs, ensuring that the business can keep up with this change is integral; through responding to and shaping innovation as a result of customer feedback is the foundation of recognising the “Age of the Customer”. When a customer provides feedback, that means they care.

The problem, of course, can often be in the monitoring of these interactions. Quantifying these interactions unlocks a myriad of valuable data that can, when analysed, tell you something about how to improve the customer experience to maintain confidence and ensuring loyalty.

From text analytics to simply reviewing the sentiment of social media or survey responses, analytics can be harnessed and utilised in numerous ways that require little effort yet have a huge impact to the wellbeing of your customer base. Such insights are invaluable in informing the delivery of products and services and most importantly, ensure that the customer is the thumping heart of any business-critical decision.

The reality is, when an organisation acts upon feedback we, as customers, feel that they care for us too – and loyalty is enhanced.

Hesitation allows opportunity to be lost

With the pandemic amplifying the shortcomings of many businesses, many now wish they had embraced data analytics sooner. What once was the season of beachwear for high-street retailers, quickly became loungewear as lockdown forced the nation into more comfortable clothes as their staple. Those data savvy were able to recognise this shift in demand very early and reflect it in their products and services. Take fitness apparel and accessories brand, Gymshark, for example.

Lockdown meant a big change for Gymshark’s core customer base of gym-goers, forced to reconfigure workouts to reflect the sizes of their living rooms. It also meant the fitness brand was attracting a whole bunch of new customers, enticed into healthy living by the surge in home-workouts available across social media. Using Alteryx, Gymshark were able to alter their website strategy quickly based on data insights. They could see what categories and products were performing well among different segments of shoppers, and tailor their website homepage to boost visibility. These insights were also shared with the marketing and sales teams, who then tailored products and services to further capitalise on customer demand. Unlike many others in the market, Gymshark’s early adoption of data analytics has allowed it to thrive – providing the and responsiveness needed to weather the turbulent storm that is Covid-19.

Unfortunately, the success of Gymshark has experienced during the pandemic has been few and far between for others. And as conditions toughen further in certain markets, we are beginning to see an “analytical divide” emerge between those embracing the full force of data analytics to stay one step ahead and those not.

CCO’s keys to the kingdom

The CCO has a significant responsibility of encouraging business leaders and C-Suite executives to fully utilise data and analytics to improve their legacy systems. The consequences of neglecting data-driven insights can be devastating, as I’ve seen time and again, businesses that remain stagnant will eventually cease to exist as customers will divert their valuable attention elsewhere. Fear encourages resistance, which inhibits innovation, which naturally causes the demise of many companies.

Now more than ever, business must confront their fears and innovate in response to the “Age of the Customer”. Although many businesses will shy away from innovation and seizing the opportunity for growth, due to the uncertain economic landscape.

One fact remains certain, that data and analytics provide certainty amidst uncertain times. Empirical evidence is invaluable in determining business objectives and maintaining customer loyalties. It is crucial to deliver exceptional customer responsiveness at each and every stage of their experience, to initiate a mutually beneficial relationship. Through understanding ourselves as customer advocates and contributing to the digital transformation process, we simultaneously dispel both customer and business fears whilst also, embedding customer-centricity into business objectives.


Adam PowersAdam PowersAugust 19, 2020
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6min1291

None of us volunteered for it, but we’ve all been a part of a global customer experience prototyping exercise. Locked down in our homes, with severely limited or zero physical interaction with other humans. All the while digital platforms or services increasingly became a lifeline rather than just a pastime. 

How would we all cope?

As the lead of Tribal’s CX practice, I have spent the past few years espousing the ever-increasing importance of considering the convergence of physical and digital experiences that shaped our clients’ businesses. Only to be confronted with a situation where those physical experiences were pretty much eradicated.

Obviously, circumstances were different for key workers and those that had little choice but to continue going out to work. However, I think all of us have had pause for thought about connecting and communicating with other people, about how we use digital services and about our relationships with businesses and brands both locally and further afield. The regular person on the street might not have considered it as such, but I believe we have all been compelled to evaluate the balance and quality of human and digital touchpoints.

In the UK, many who had never considered buying anything on the internet were looking to buy their weekly shop online. Those who had online grocery accounts felt pretty smug there, for a minute, until they saw that every delivery slot was booked for weeks ahead.

Online grocery specialists OCADO received an unprecedented adrenaline shot, “as a result of Covid-19 we have seen years of growth in the online grocery market condensed into a matter of months; and we won’t be going back,” said Ocado chief executive Tim Steiner, in an interview with CITY AM.

One could see that for every business that had only dabbled in digital, the ability to transact online was now an urgent consideration, not an experiment. There is no going back. Digital touchpoints, that may have been considered enhancements, can no longer be viewed or invested in as secondary workstreams.

At a local level particularly, I have witnessed first-hand as business models were reinvented and new partnerships formed. Within a week or two of lockdown, a local restaurant set up a table outside their premises selling basic groceries like flour and eggs – leveraging their trade suppliers who saw their B2B clients rapidly shutdown and loyal staff committed to keeping the business afloat and their jobs alive.

News got around and villagers quickly formed a line, relishing the human interaction of those inventive staff; at 2 metres of course. A week later, they had adapted the website, which had historically been just a simple online menu, to enable a click-and-collect service. The next week, they went further and started home delivery of meals. They have repeatedly evolved ever since. Their determination to develop digital touchpoints and leverage a passionate brigade of staff has also transformed the standing of this business in the community.

Just Eat have only a handful of restaurants in my village. Their service reported 33 percent growth in online order YOY in April and May. In the tiny instance I’ve described, neither a big brand with massive ad campaigns nor a monolithic software giant was involved, but this was truly iterative customer experience innovation all-the-same. A hyper local example of successfully balancing human and digital touchpoints.

The best instances of this balancing act see technology enhancing and supporting humans, and humans enhancing digital experiences. As an example of the former, we have developed a whole suite of digital tools for Volkswagen UK retailers connecting them with their customers online activity and making a much more satisfying dealership experience as a result.

Noel Lyons of Barclays talks compellingly about their digital assistant and how identifying when and how the hand-off to human call centre staff has been critical to overall success. Using the tools and technology available to create the optimal total experience is something customers are increasingly coming to expect, even if that is as simple as an app-based chat function rather than sitting on hold to make a minor change to their bank account. This then has the dual benefit of freeing up call centre phone lines to deal with the most urgent or complex customer requests.

Digital experiences are constantly improving and the love affair with them continues for many of us, with smartphones now one of the most prolific pieces of technology in history. However, I’m inclined to think the importance of human touchpoints is in the ascendant. And with metres and masks between us all, they will need to be completely re-evaluated and reimagined.


Sonja KotrotsosSonja KotrotsosAugust 7, 2020
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6min1088

In today’s omnichannel business environment, the best and smartest content in the world might as well be invisible if it can’t be delivered to consumers correctly. 

This means in the context demanded by the customer, personalised to them, and via the device or channel of their choice. That’s a job for intelligent content — but what it sounds like is not exactly what it is.

 What is Intelligent Content?

Intelligent content is a content management technique in which content is structured as a modular, format-free, and semantically-rich business asset. This practice makes it easy for the content creators and users to find and reconfigure for various occasions.

Does A Business Need Intelligent Content?

What business and which content creators wouldn’t benefit from content that’s well-structured, usable, and all-around intelligent?

But to be more specific, intelligent content is essential for businesses that:

  • Produce more content than can be reasonably managed manually
  • Sell products or services with enough commonality that you can reuse content among them
  • Have omnichannel delivery requirements
  • Are using or will use chatbots or similar automated content delivery methods

The Benefits of Intelligent Content

From making content more usable to empowering sales teams to close more deals to boosting SEO efforts — the benefits of intelligent content are huge for businesses.

Firstly, it makes content more reusable across channels and platforms.

When content is removed from the context of presentation (such as a web page) and stored in modules that are labelled with semantic metadata (which is data that describes other data), it’s much easier for business users to both find and implement as needed.

This metadata enables marketers to create content just once, refresh it, and then republish it across any channel or digital device without rewrites or reformatting — saving time and increasing consistency. In other words, intelligent content enables the creation of omnichannel shopping experiences for consumers, which is a powerful differentiator for businesses in the modern age.

Intelligent Content also empowers sales teams to take advantage of more useful content.

Today, the sales funnel has more touchpoints than ever. And that means salespeople need to be able to access and deliver content that will add value and differentiate their business along the way. Because of the metadata labelling and modular storage, intelligent content is accessible for the sales team to locate in their company’s knowledge base or content management system (CMS), personalise as needed, and deliver via the lead’s preferred channel or device.

The best part is, to the potential customer, it looks like a company has dropped everything to thoughtfully develop and deliver content that has been created especially for them.

Intelligent Content also increases content discoverability to boost internal and external search results

Simply put, digital content that can’t be identified by computers might as well not exist. This is where the intelligence of metadata shines. Using metadata labels or “tags,” companies can attach additional information to their digital content to describe it in more detail. This metadata tagging makes it easier for search engines to find, identify, and display when a user is searching for a related topic.

This discoverability goes beyond external search engines to include a company’s CMS or internal knowledge base where an employee may be looking for customer info, product documentation, etc. Wherever the search is done — the better the metadata, the better the experience and the results.

Going Headless – How to Make Sure Content is Intelligent and Ready for the Future

Intelligent content isn’t so much about the words and images that make it up as it is about how businesses create, store, manage, and deliver the content. Luckily, there’s a tool that can set organisations up to serve intelligent content and the resulting omnichannel experience that consumers crave.

Headless CMS empowers modern organisations to create their content in entirely presentation-independent modules, organise and store it in a semantically-rich way with metadata, and deliver it to any device or channel — all thanks to the power of an architecture built on application program interfaces (APIs).

This separation of content from formatting allows content teams to create content just once and distribute it anywhere and technology teams to build the best frontend presentation without either stepping on the other’s toes.


Laurence ParkesLaurence ParkesJuly 28, 2020
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6min1256

Never before has the digital realm been so fundamental to how a brand delivers its unique brand promise. In a world of accelerating disruption, organisations are looking for ways to rapidly create sustainable competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, while 80 percent of companies believe they deliver ‘superior experiences’, only 8 percent of customers agree (Bain & Co.). The strive towards CX best practice, where competing brands solve customer problems in the same way, has created a market of digital sameness.

But dependency on CX best practice is not the only challenge to overcome. There is also platform fragmentation, organisational silos, and a lack of business logic ownership to contend with.

Become consumer-centric but brand-led and technologically inspired

Balancing the primacy of the consumer versus technology or brand thinking is difficult to achieve but highly rewarding when unlocked. In other words, define your visionary experience based on insightful user needs, hung from a clear brand strategy. Actionable considerations:

  1. In the face of increasing complexity, a clear sense of purpose (inspired by your brand story) can both simplify and pull together disparity when designing your digital ecosystem. Distil your consumer research, competitive analysis and brand strategy into well-defined experience principles.
  2. Find strength in a blended team of strategists, designers and technologists, all with an equal ‘voice’. This will help you find the right balance between consumer needs, brand experience, and the technology that enables it.
  3. Your brand hero moments are what shape the distinctive experiences that matter to your customers. Use key audience needs and motivations to identify the pain points that need improving but overlay your brand promise, values and personality to identify the brand hero moments that will deliver the greatest short- and long-term commercial impact.

Connect what customers want with what technology can do

There is growing tension between consumer understanding and technological possibilities. To drive your differentiating digital experience, you need to connect them. Fundamentally, connecting your brand purpose with your tech stack. Actionable considerations:

  1. By connecting and powering the experiences your CMO craves, with tools and systems from your CIO, you can deliver differentiation. Bring your CMO and CIO together by aligning around your brand vision to help focus and prioritise.
  2. With technology enabling the efficient creation of value to customers, increasingly the tech platform is the business. Your Experience Services Architecture should be containerised and portable, so you own your business logic – releasing you from having to use a particular vendor. This way your brand’s experience roadmap is not tied to that of an uncontrolled third party.
  3. Plan for future innovations with your cloud-based Experience Services Architecture. This will accelerate your innovation pipeline as you’ll have control over a critical component of your digital infrastructure. Enabled by this technology, our client was able to add a brand-new channel to their experience ecosystem in a matter of weeks, with our Omnichannel Experience API.

Support your vision with a clear and convincing business plan

A powerful business case will push action through an organisation. Even better, an Experience Playbook will create an inspiring blueprint that outlines the impact of hero moments on the bottom line as well as the technical infrastructure needed to deliver them; becoming a tool that translates business strategy into meaningfully differentiated customer experiences. Actionable considerations:

  1. Establish a backlog of ideas and experience concepts to explore, rationalise and prioritise. Assessing potential impact versus required effort to implement, identify the quick wins and immediate actions, and sequence the rest into a roadmap.
  2. ROI is key in these times. You can measure the potential commercial impact of your experience concepts at a conversion and brand equity level. Conversion level example: calculate the lost revenue from unnecessarily abandoned shopping carts. Brand equity level example: estimate the likely increase in brand perception and future purchase intent from a best-in-class experience.
  3. Align your technology roadmap and ensure the requirements are a joint responsibility between both your CMO and CIO. This is another important opportunity to align the organisation.

Your key takeaway

These guides are useful regardless of if you’re a large, established brand struggling with legacy issues or a nimble scale-up trying to keep pace with your rapid growth. To differentiate with digital, you must look holistically at your organisation’s complete ecosystem, encompassing the four engines of difference: brand, services, people and technology.

From this, you’ll deliver meaningfully different experiences because they are consumer-centric, brand-led and technologically inspired.


Efrat VulfsonsEfrat VulfsonsJuly 27, 2020
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8min1049

With some countries facing COVID-19’s second wave and a lockdown lurking around the corner, many businesses are still unable to return to normal, while eCommerce retailers which saw a spike in recent years were able to thrive and teach us a valuable lesson for handling a crisis in this new reality.

The trend can be seen positively as people find a way to fulfil their requirements even at dire times and businesses reach out beyond the physical constraints of the walls of their store.

On the downside, this trend cramps out a lot of newcomers to an already saturated market where competition is brutal, to stand out smart measures needed to be taken and automation is the smartest long-term choice.

Price comparison

Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, and many more eCommerce platforms had become a staple name in societies around the world. Both young and adult alike will most likely experience the far-reaching impact of those retail giants by either receiving or purchasing items through their services.

Tablets, Smartphones, and laptops web accessibility led customers to spend more time shopping, and the more time they spent the better they learned to manipulate and use the available tools for their best interest. Prices, as a result, became more competitive than ever before.

Customers today are likely to visit several leading websites looking for the lowest price and shipping costs and start rating before committing to a purchase. Retailers seeking to compete with this easily accessible information should use the right tools, such as automating their price comparison process with the right applications.

Manual scanning for competitors is time-consuming and ineffective. Instead, automated tools will fetch the required product data and price on constant intervals from the web at ease. They will give the edge necessary for competing.

A better understanding of upcoming trends

Compared to traditional retail transactions, eCommerce had its share of cons. A known fear of customers was the difference between the shown item on the web and its functionality after arriving at the customer’s house. In an attempt to overcome this, technological tools were introduced, such as augmented reality and various other applications designed to bridge the gap of imagination and reduce frustration.

Tapping into sources such as vocalized search results, customized browsing experience, and human-like A.I. support systems can ensure ever-growing data pools which are valuable for assessing upcoming trends in retail and eCommerce markets alike.

Following this data crumbs will prove invaluable for business owners as understanding trends will drastically change the way they face the market and progress.

Market research

When it comes to intelligent design, research, and understanding results, the human element is still not out of the picture yet.

However, human labour isn’t as needed for collecting data as previously was the case, giving up its space to automated tools that can easily scan vast numbers of responses and consumer interactions in a more cost-effective and efficient way than any human can.

Gathered information such as relevant keywords used by your customers can then be automatically translated into shareholder presentations or visualised diagnostic charts to ease the process of achieving the desired insight. Due to the efficiency inherent in the low cost and speed, the sampling can be repeated for better effect or in personalised formats and smaller or larger scopes.

Cheaper, more reliable and faster the automation tools grant their user the vision needed to plan ahead. Aiding to plan the next step by learning who is the client base and how to reach it.

Market automation

When a business reaches out to its customers, it’s much more than just seeking exposure it’s about understanding what they feel about your product. Each click, each second spent on examining a product or reading a promotional text is an indicator of interest and potential deal. Many programs are therefore developed and designed to pick up on this information and act, analyse, or both for the benefit of the business.

Automation’s diverse roles can be seen from the basic email delivery systems ensuring promotional material and surveys reach their destinations to complex appliances of voice recognition and analytical tools.

No doubt that expanding the client base and securing more growth is a factor of how efficiently data is collected, that coupons reach the right customer at the right time giving him that personal touch and nudge needed for the sale.

Supply chain automation

The change of goods from one hand to another is as important as the initial stages which lead to the transaction. Each of those steps is a two-lane communication road that will impact further business, tight well-organised shipping, and delivery system will speak in volumes and resonate with customers.

The greater and further a business aims to reach the more complicated those steps become, with more regulations and restrictions to adhere to. Each border crossing, local or international, different laws and tariffs introduced and demand abiding to.

In response services offer various automation tools that will make smooth work any operation from one end to the other, taking care of payment processing, invoices, shipping schedules, transfer routes, tariffs regulations, and much more.

Conclusion

We experience changes that the likelihood of which had not been seen since the industrial revolution. They are sweeping the web, automating much of the tedious heavy manual labour previously done by human hands. In order not to drown, one must ride the wave, learn about this change, and adapt it as the tools to stay competitive. Early adopters are known to be the biggest winners in eCommerce and the process has already begun.


Christopher ColleyChristopher ColleyJuly 22, 2020
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8min2166

As technology has advanced, it has become possible to digitise an increasing number of organisations’ interactions with customers, making the customer journey simpler and more streamlined while also cutting operational costs.

The benefits of such solutions have inevitably prompted organisations to invest heavily in the digitalisation of customer experience strategies over the past couple of decades.

To succeed, however, organisations need to strike an effective balance between digital and human interactions, in order to foster lasting customer loyalty. This is an important consideration, particularly as we come through a global pandemic that has resulted in more interactions taking place online than ever before.

Creating a balanced journey

The key principle behind bridging the digital/physical divide is understanding the moments in the customer journey when a human touch may be more appropriate. Here, we must take two factors into consideration.

First, which approach will minimise the amount of effort required by the customer? For example, routine events in a customer’s journey, such as resetting their password or tracking a delivery, can – and should – be digitised. This makes such processes quick and easy for the customer, while reducing operational input for the organisation. It’s a clear win-win – and a quick and meaningful one at that. Indeed, many of the most customer-centric organisations have identified the link that exists between improving the worst experiences and driving significant bottom-line impact.

For instance, as part of its push for digitalisation, a telco customer decided to focus on ‘low hanging fruit’. Tasks like managing payments and checking usage were moved online. As you might expect, this led to better customer perception metrics. But it also led to a significant reduction in calls into its contact centre, with the high-volume tasks now being fulfilled via self-service instead.

In fact, in this case, digitising the worst experiences led to a 38 percent decrease in callbacks – together with the corresponding saving in man hours, meaning that employees could now be assigned to other tasks.

Humanising the interaction

The second factor to consider concerns those moments in a customer journey where the customer is either seeking advice or experiencing strong emotions. This is where an organisation should think about investing in human interactions and personalising the service. For example, when a customer buys a car online, there should be a human interaction at the close of the transaction, such as at the point of delivery. In this way, the company can show they recognise and appreciate the significant investment the customer has made, while celebrating this special moment with them.

Even more critical, though, is introducing a human element when something goes wrong. At such moments, the customer needs reassurance. Robotic, automated services can have no place here.

In banking, for example, when a customer misplaces their credit card or falls victim to identity theft, they will likely want to talk to a human and be reassured that the company will take on the responsibility of finding a solution. Making customers feel they are being heard can be a determining factor in whether they will stick with you for the long term.

Introducing advanced technology

As the industry continues to move beyond such blunt instruments as traditional satisfaction surveys, customer-centric technologies are stepping up to help humanise digital interactions. Video as a tool has a unique ability to record customers’ thoughts, sentiment and opinions.

Enabling the capture of this authenticity and emotion humanises the process of providing customer feedback in the first place, while also offering a way of amplifying the customer’s voice across the business. Customer Experience leaders can use video as part of wider voice-of-customer (VoC) programmes. It provides a means to convey emotive stories that drive change in their customer operations, while enabling actionable insights to be derived.

Businesses have easy access to video technology, and the expansion in remote collaboration encouraged by the global pandemic has helped ensure that being on camera is now quite normal for many. The crisis has also accelerated the rate at which companies are adopting video across the board. As a result, there has never been a better time to leverage video as an integral part of a customer experience strategy, using it to discover what customers want, and acting on this insight to keep them coming back.

Building omnichannel interactions

The fact that customers are becoming more accustomed to using technology such as video in their everyday lives can be turned to great advantage – but it also needs to be easy for customers to switch between digital and human processes as and when they feel the need. This is especially true if the customer has already tried to use an automated service, such as a chatbot, and failed.

Consequently, organisations should move towards designing omnichannel interactions – balancing the speed and efficiency of new technologies with additional ‘human’ channels – in order to provide customers with the flexibility they need for great customer experience.

It remains true that today, certain customer demographics within an organisation’s customer base may still prefer human interactions. Yet coronavirus has shown us just how quickly organisations and customers can pivot when the need arises. And it goes without saying that the upcoming generations of digital-native customers have very different expectations to those of their forebears. Forward-thinking organisations should be cognisant of tomorrow’s customers, as well as other groups who would be willing and eager to adopt new channels of communication. Investing in omnichannel interactions is a sure-fire way to ensure your company can continue to innovate while continuing to drive customer loyalty.

Interesting links:


Sonja KotrotsosSonja KotrotsosJuly 16, 2020
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9min1247

When digital customer experiences aren’t seamless, they quickly become digital inconveniences. The more technology advances, the more consumers expect it to keep up with their daily lives.

Most of us regularly use several inter-connected devices. It’s often the ease of use and personalisation that takes place during these experiences that makes or breaks how we feel about a brand. That’s the value of omnichannel.

Omnichannel Explained

Omnichannel is an approach to sales, marketing, publishing, and other business disciplines that provides a customer experience that’s integrated and seamless across all channels. There are no barriers or limitations based on whether a customer is consuming content from a mobile device or a desktop computer — every stage of the experience is linked.

By comparison, Multichannel publishing is what most businesses invest in — a beautifully designed website, engaging social media campaigns, perhaps SMS marketing. But as responsive and engaging as those channels might be, if they’re not working together, it’s not omnichannel.

Multichannel leaves a big gap in customer journeys that take place on different channels. But with omnichannel publishing, it doesn’t matter what channel or device the customer is using.

Customers expect Omnichannel

In the explosive digital era that we live in, businesses need to integrate customer-centric narratives if they want to stand out. And customers need to be able to easily experience that narrative no matter the channel or device.

Consider book publishing. While studies have shown that hard copy books aren’t going anywhere — the reality is that most traditional publishers don’t concern themselves with forming relationships with readers. They make deals with authors and leave much of the customer engagement process to their distributors.

The numbers of ebooks and self-published books grow each year. Because this trend disrupts the traditional buying process, traditional publishers now realise that they must start building relationships with readers. On the flip side, Amazon has long recognised the importance of consumer-centric marketing and puts a lot of its efforts towards understanding its users. It asks questions, recommends products based on a customer’s purchasing history and notifies readers when a favourite author has released a new book.

The lesson here is that while content might be king, consumers are close to taking the title.

Effective Omnichannel strategy

The first thing businesses need to do is develop a high-level omnichannel strategy for how to use customer data to integrate your content along different channels. To do that, they must understand why customers interact with each channel, what drives them to do so, and when they’re most likely to engage with it.

The objective is a 360-degree view of users based on how they interact with each channel. Then, build on that data to weave those preferences into every step of the customer’s journey to create a seamless and fully integrated experience.

But not all data is created equal.

There are many platforms, devices, channels, and people to consider, so the key is to identify which data is essential to success. There are significant trends in omnichannel that need to be included in any strategy:

  1. Create Adaptive Content

One of the best ways to kickstart a robust omnichannel strategy is to start creating adaptive content. Unlike static content for a general audience (if it serves everyone, it serves no one), adaptive content is highly targeted and supports personalised and meaningful interactions across multiple channels.

A customer might be browsing on their tablet but want to make the purchase from their phone — the content should change seamlessly, based on the device used, the context and the user. For example, a CTA might be “click” on a laptop, “say select” from a voice-recognition tool, or “tap” on a tablet. Every part of the user experience is adapted based on how the user is engaging with the content.

  1. Guide Customers Across Various Touchpoints

A strong omnichannel strategy predicts the customer’s needs and then provides the right content to satisfy those needs. One great example is how many retail brands have started to combine the customer’s offline and online experience.

Retail brand Oasis, for instance, makes sure that all sales associates on the shop floor carry iPads. When helping customers, they can quickly check inventory or even order an item directly to a home address if it’s out of stock. The customer will then receive a notification by email or SMS to let them know their item is on its way.

With this seamless way of shopping, the brand makes everything as simple as possible for the customer, while integrating each stage using different devices and channels.

  1. Personalise Messages and Optimise Design

Consider how Goodreads connects with users. In its weekly email newsletter, users receive book suggestions based on what their friends are reading. Instead of reading something generic like “top picks,” subscribers get personalised content in which they have a genuine interest.

Adaptive content applies to the visual elements too, and 56 percent of consumers say they would happily purchase from a brand that provides an excellent personalised experience.

Other considerations include how content will look across different platforms and on devices with varying screen sizes. How does it look on mobile, social media or an email newsletter? Content needs to go everywhere, and it needs to adjust automatically.

  1. Complete Your Omnichannel Publishing Strategy with Headless CMS

A headless content management system (CMS) works as a content hub with a central repository for all your content, and it makes it easy to integrate best-of-breed applications and microservices. This content hub enables greater flexibility than having to rely on the built-in features of a traditional publishing platform — but it also comes with another significant benefit.

Under the hood of a headless CMS, content is created and stored separately from programming and design. Not only does that mean content folks are free to create, optimise, and publish content without help from other teams; it also means that they can integrate with various business applications (such as CRM, translation services, AI tools, A/B testing applications, analytics parsing, and more) so that the same content can be easily re-optimised and re-published — indefinitely — for different audiences, devices, and channels. In short, headless CMS enables publishers to optimise and personalise content on a larger scale than ever before.

For modern businesses, an omnichannel strategy has become a necessity for winning customers and building a loyal audience. And while optimising content for multiple devices and channels may seem daunting — it doesn’t need to be.


James HarveyJames HarveyJuly 8, 2020
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5min3287

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to create new challenges for technologists. Businesses are under phenomenal pressure to keep applications and digital services up and running, while at the same time being asked to deliver the best experience possible for their consumers.

In normal circumstances, consumers have very high expectations for the businesses and services they interact with. This demand for flawless digital experiences has meant that organisations need to deliver high-performance and scalable services at all times to protect their reputation and stay ahead of the competition.

During the current pandemic, consumers’ demands are intensified, as they rely even more on digital services to access information, services and products. In a digital-first world, brands need to ensure their digital performance is, and continues to be, a top priority. For IT teams, end-to-end visibility into both web and mobile applications is vital for gaining the insight they need to understand the consumers’ habits, as well as the broader business.

Increasing complexity across the technology stack, however, has meant that delivering exceptional digital experiences as standard might prove challenging for organisations. So, how can businesses successfully deliver an outstanding customer experience in the current climate?

Consumer demands impact IT

In recent years, application environments have exploded in complexity. This has made it more difficult for IT teams to react quickly to application issues and resolve them ahead of time. Today, digital experiences are how consumers engage with the world and, in many cases, how customers engage with brands. As outstanding digital experiences become the norm and appetite for services is soaring, brands need to ensure they deliver personalised, intuitive customer experiences.

According to the App Attention Index, half of all consumers would pay more for products and services that deliver a better digital experience. To remain ahead of the competition, businesses need to differentiate themselves through the applications and experiences they provide.

Building a better digital experience

A visual map makes it easy to see where any issues are and flag problems such as a marked drop-off in users because of delays or lags. Through this mapping, IT teams can gain a unique advantage in delivering an exceptional customer experience, while prioritising resources.

This performance-lens view allows IT decision makers to see the bigger picture, understand how customers interact with the applications, how performance impacts these interactions, as well as resolve the right issues at the right time.

To deliver world-class digital experience, IT teams need a holistic overview of their applications. Demand from consumers has meant that IT teams need to manage application complexity whilst also navigating operational silos that make collaboration, data exchange and problem resolution challenging.

To overcome these challenges, they need a comprehensive view on how customers are interacting with the application in real-time. Visualising the customer journey gives teams the opportunity to identify paths to optimisation and deliver the high-quality experience that consumers demand. Tools like Experience Journey Map provide a visual map of the UX across the entire web or mobile application. Through journey visualisation, teams can proactively manage the digital journey and uncover any hidden bottlenecks.

Re-thinking digital transformation

Today’s business climate brings new pressures and increasing customer demands every day, Organisations must adapt quickly and ensure they have a robust business transformation strategy in place.

To achieve success and deliver outstanding digital services through these uncertain times, businesses need to have full-stack visibility across their IT infrastructure. This will enable ITOps teams to consistently and quickly improve the digital experiences for the end customer. IT has become a strategic driver of business outcomes and a proactive approach to performance monitoring has never been more important.

In the end, the businesses that are able to transform, innovate and delight their users through their digital services, will be the ones who gain advantage ahead of the competition and earn the loyalty of their customers.


Paul MaguirePaul MaguireJune 30, 2020
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9min1152

There has never been a more critical moment to get automation right. As businesses brace for a rough road ahead, simply using technology as a means to streamline manual processes, cut costs and reduce human errors is no longer enough.

While that gave organisations a competitive edge in the past, companies must now take their use of automation to the next level to achieve maximum competitive advantage. That means using automation technologies to drive revenue growth and service improvement by creating new customer experiences that win brand loyalty.

Automation has been quietly transforming the way companies interact with their customers for some time now, but often with mixed results.

A recent survey of large organisations across the United States and Europe conducted by IDG found that most businesses are already using some form of technology to automate business process and customer interactions – ranging from AI (56 percent) to chatbots (53 percent) and Interactive Voice Response (55 percent) to Robotic Process Automation (45 percent).

Many more survey respondents reported that they plan to deploy those technologies in the next 12 months. Yet worryingly, only 41 percent of respondents believed that the way their organisation is using automation helps them to meaningfully forge stronger customer relationships.

Clearly, companies are switched-on to the fact that automation has the potential to upgrade their customer relations, but effective implementation with positive business outcomes is proving a challenge. So where are businesses tripping up? The IDG survey results offer some pretty big clues.

Off-the-shelf software – not such a bargain after all

Firstly, let’s make one thing clear: when it comes to customer service, automation shouldn’t just be about swapping out human workers with bots. While chatbots and Interactive Voice Responses (IVR) are useful for answering straightforward requests quickly, forming that human connection with customers and delivering a higher-value service is something only well-trained human employees can do.

We’ve all experienced, at one time or another, the frustration of being caught in an endless automated loop with an unsympathetic bot when all you want is to get through to a real person. That kind of experience damages a brand’s reputation while causing customer and revenue loses.

Instead, automation should be a mean for employees to better serve customers and create new experiences. It should connect them to relevant data that will help them to build a complete picture of their customer to both reactively handle requests but also identify unmet needs and anticipate future wants. Unfortunately, that’s exactly where many organisations are falling short.  

The IDG survey found that fewer than a third of respondents felt their organisations’ tools greatly help them understand customers, empower them to fix problems and think or act strategically. Why? Well, 65 percent reported that the applications their organisation uses are only somewhat effective at best at providing all the data and context they need to have a full picture of their customers. 

Commercial Off-The-Shelf-(COTS) Software has long been a popular choice for organisations (particularly smaller, more budget-conscious ones) looking for a light-touch, quick application that can automate certain homogeneous tasks and streamline processes. Such products can be good for that. But what they lack is flexibility. In most cases, these COTS software need to be customised to suit each organisation and their unique use cases, thus driving up implementation time and costs. The packaged software cannot adapt to each company, changing business requirements and market needs quickly or easily.

And survey respondents agreed – a shocking 85 percent indicated that their organisation had experienced one or more negative impacts from using packaged software. They reported feeling limited by what the software was capable of and that it even made tasks more complicated. 37 percent said such applications had a negative impact on customer satisfaction.

That’s unsurprising when you think about the sheer amount of different processes that take place in each department of each company every day. Every company will have its own unique processes that are forever changing. A one-size-fits-all solution is never going to work when the need to adapt, evolve and change is imperative in today’s environment. 

Where low-code software comes in

Building custom applications goes a long way to addressing that problem but takes a lot of time and money. That’s why low-code software is transformative. It removes the manual-coding usually required in software development so developers can build multiple high-quality custom applications and automate workflows quickly. It also means that rather than spending months working on one big product that will be out-of-date when completed, developers can make an application that can constantly evolve to meet changing demands.

To put this into perspective, insurance provider Aviva has created 32 new applications using the Appian low-code platform in three years. That’s around 10 new insurance applications per year. And each application has helped improve the way their employees interact with and service their customers.

Over the course of 20 years, Aviva had inherited 750 other insurance companies, along with their systems, data and processes. As you can imagine, that was a challenge for their call centre agents trying to shift through legacy systems to get to the information they needed – far from ideal when there’s a customer waiting on the other end of the line. By using one way low-code automation, Aviva was able to unify 22 different systems under one custom platform, giving operators 360-degree view of their customers and speeding up customer service response times by nine times. 

With organisations flung into new and unprecedented challenges, many will understandably hope that automating processes will drive down costs. Ultimately, it will be effectively engaging new customers and retaining existing ones that will deliver the greatest material benefits in the long run. That’s what must be kept in mind when they consider deploying automation.    


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJune 26, 2020
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5min1257

The current situation made it inevitable for many organisations to shift their work to home in order to stay operating.

From universities transferring to online learning, to restaurants having to offer only online order and delivery, the digital environment has seen a swarm of new occupants joining in during the time of emergency, which put to test all brands that weren’t investing enough into their digital presence.

The new normal poses many challenges to brands, the biggest one being having the capacity to thrive in sudden reality turnover. As the whole world moves to the digital, understanding digital experience management will be of key importance in staying afloat in the current climate. Businesses that can satisfy consumer needs through digital channels will be the ones to survive the crisis.

The rule of three

By focusing on three key digital outcomes, you can foster a sustainable and differentiating experience:

  • How did the interaction make the customer feel? Pay attention to emotion.
  • Did the customer have any trouble achieving their goal? Keep track of the effort customers have to put.
  • Was the customer able to achieve the goal? Was the interaction successful?

Let’s discuss one by one:

1. Emotion

In today’s uncertain world, conveying meaningful emotion through digital channel presents a significant challenge for brands. By finding the right balance of listening and speaking, you can establish an empathic connection with your customers. Understanding what are the priorities of your customers, employees and partners alike can help you deliver a complete service founded on trust and confidence.

2. Effort

It is paramount to eliminate any potential obstacles on your customers’ journey. The customers should struggle as little as possible – if at all, in achieving their goal. Try to simplify the process and make it easier for your customers to make decisions. The task itself should not be challenging, as the seamless flow and connection of your brand’s digital channels are crucial for fulfilling customer expectations. Make your messages clear and effective, and above all timely. The current climate is unpredictable and changes could be happening when you least expect them. By tailoring communication to the place and time of the situation you can ensure customer loyalty and keep customer churn at the minimum.

3. Success

When it comes to the third and final element of digital experience, the customer can either successfully complete the task or not. It is how much trouble they went through until completing the task that counts. Ask yourself what you can incorporate to make a difference in approach to your digital experience. Analyse your strong and weak points and finetune them to make your customers successful in each of their experience with your brand.

How do others do it?

An Australia based media company leverage verbatim feedback to adapt to their customer’s needs quickly. The company learned that their pricing blocks were too loud when reporting on COVID-19, and in accordance with that, they managed to change and adapt easily and rapidly.

The Covid-19 has turned the world upside down. Isolation and hardships of many can give your brand a chance to excel your digital experience with a refreshed and empathic sense of purpose. What you do now is what will differentiate your brand in the post-COVID -19 world, as the one who went above and beyond when it was needed the most.


Sam HoldingSam HoldingJune 17, 2020
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5min1273

Just a 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent; and for most marketers, this is not news.

Customer experience and loyalty have lately been brought into the epicentre of marketing operations, as the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic impact affect critical business KPIs at organisations across a variety of industries and geos.

Many businesses are redirecting their strategy to focus more on customer experience, from both a proactive standpoint and a reactive one. During a crisis, like the current pandemic, it all comes down to customer communications.

For most industry sectors, email marketing is pivotal to customer experience and loyalty, and not without a good reason. Email is a truly powerful tool:

  • It follows your customers everywhere: on laptops, smartphones, tablets, watches, etc.
  • It’s friendly and easy to use for consumers, and cost effective for businesses
  • It’s a rich medium that supports a wide range of content type, design assets, and engagement tools

Using email marketing effectively can have a direct, positive impact not only on sales, but also on customer engagement and loyalty. So, how can organisations develop a good email practice? Here are a few tips to help transform the ability to educate and inform, minimising frustrations for both marketers and customers during challenging times.

Make it relevant

Like most of us, your customers probably receive hundreds of emails every day. Each morning they go through their inbox and choose what’s for reading and what’s for the junk folder, or prioritise those emails that appeal to them most.

Content that’s relevant to your customer base, which is brief but well-written, is more likely to be read. If your audience is large and diverse, perform some segmentation and adjust your content to match each group’s interests and needs. Another good practice is to use geographical criteria in order to help your customers connect with other customers, service providers in their area, or the local community.

Make it clear

During a crisis, it’s more important than ever to understand and use customer data. Knowing where customers are in their journey can help organisations identify needs and create opportunities for proactive message development.

By offering helpful information to customers, brands can effectively evangelise their customer-first approach, while demonstrating their ability to understand customer needs by merging data with communications and thoughtful messaging.

Make it transactional – but be human

According to Experian, transactional emails are opened 8 times more often than typical marketing emails. But even when it’s generated automatically, the email is still a communication stream and, like any other type of communication, it can bring together all the characteristics of human interaction.

Emails come packed with expectations. People expect your emails to follow the usual norms and principles of social interactions. Particularly during the lockdown, It’s essential to keep in mind that your audience is made up of real people – so be friendly, be candid, and use normal language.

Invest in proactive outreach to lighten customer service backlogs

While ramping up a customer service workforce takes time, strategising email marketing to mitigate the burden on customer experience is something that can be done with speed and efficiency, and provide rapid return. Clear, informative messaging has the ability to proactively address future confusion and allow for self-troubleshooting.

Tightening your messaging strategy and content makes it easy to further support your customer-facing workforce by maintaining consistency and minimising confusion as the team engage with customers.

These “front-line” interactions hold a lot of weight for the overall brand and can be the difference between well-informed, satisfied customers and confused, dissatisfied ones.

Ask for feedback

No matter how good you are, or how closely you are following your well-designed strategy, there’s always room for improvement. By asking your customers for feedback you can maintain a healthy, open, two-way communication between your organisation and your target audience while showing that you are willing to adjust and cater to their needs.

Bonus: collecting feedback frequently will help you remain relevant to your customers’ needs and interests.


Peter BarkerPeter BarkerJune 5, 2020
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6min1518

It’s proven that intuitive personalisation deepens customer engagement and improves conversion rates.

Therefore, against the background of ever-growing content estates and increasing customer expectations, a robust content strategy is paramount to successfully achieving this level of personalisation.

Why the cornerstone?

We’ve seen a continual trend in businesses taking a journalistic, storytelling approach to conveying their value. In the professional services sector, customers are looking to buy knowledge, understanding and deep specialism.

Being able to demonstrate this to a prospective client in a very contextually relevant way is key to achieving conversion. And this is true across all industries, though the product may differ, the benefits of a well-executed content strategy remain the same. Indeed, 92 percent of marketers reported that their company views content as a business asset.

Your audience, their individual challenges, their place in the customer journey, when and how they are served the content all play a huge part in the success of your business. With so many moving parts, how can you build an effective content offering? Where do you start?

It’s time to get personal

We know that people now expect to be known by brands and it’s been proven to increase customer engagement – in fact, 74 percent of customers feel frustrated when website content isn’t personalised. But to plan and design a successful personalised content strategy you’ll need to understand your user’s journey and then bake it into your content creation.

Start with what you do know and build from there. You’ll have access to explicit data points like geographical location and so on. From this, you can start to uncover more implicit data based on user interactions and behaviours. This is the foundation for segmentation, which will ultimately decide the kinds of content you serve and should inform how you brief and create content.

This knowledge will help you create a clear taxonomy and tagging strategy, which is key for fulfilling the technological requirements of content personalisation.

Clear taxonomy at the heart

To create this a robust personalisation platform, you need to build profiles from all your customer behaviour: explicit user activity and data, CRM and other sources. That allows for unified profiling – combining data sets to pattern match your content taxonomy. This can all be done through a platform such as Sitecore or Episerver. You can then create a taxonomy based on your profiles and tag content to be served to the right users. Once established, you can test and optimise in real time to see what’s working, what’s not and feed new interactions and content quickly.

It’s an approach Rufus Leonard recently deployed for a leading global professional services client. Architected on a high-performing Azure PaaS solution design, we consolidated and re-platformed two global sites into a central Sitecore platform; geared towards accelerating new customer acquisition and building loyalty.

Content was king for the new site, with over 30,000 articles to navigate in multiple languages. So the new site features complex dynamic UI delivered to double accessibility requirements and content management across the huge multilingual content estate, extensive taxonomy and Azure search integration.

The next step is to automate

Fortunately, the last couple of years has seen artificial intelligence-led automation being introduced to reduce the workload in both understanding your customer segments and their likes and dislikes.

In addition, we can now also use intelligent auto classification of content, where the system understands where content fits in your taxonomy and what profiles or segments will respond to it best. So get a system that you can feed initially and which will learn some rules and be able to curate your digital estate with less work.

The future of content

People now expect personalisation so much, they may only notice it by its absence. Start small, build on what you know, test and optimise continually. A personalised content strategy and platform requires investment, effort, data aggregation and an organisational mindset shift to really be effective in driving engagement, but the benefits to your business and your customers will be exponential.

Rufus Leonard is a winner at the UK Digital Experience Awards 19. 

There is still time to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount at the UK Digital Experience Awards 20!


Rebecca BrownRebecca BrownJune 4, 2020
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9min1240

Author: Rebecca Brown

Moving with the times, innovating or keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to customer experience is never easy.

Sometimes it can feel like it’s made even harder by the array of options open to businesses. Being spoilt for choice in an era where decision fatigue is high and the pressure is on to evolve or cease to exist, can leave you more than just confused. It can feel outright overwhelming, especially when it comes to your online presence.

AI has been leading the way when it comes to online innovation, with sophisticated chat-bots that can actually replicate conversation, and automated marketing campaigns that learn from your customer behaviour.

A top ten list of successfully deployed chat-bots was published this week, which talked about a bot that had been programmed to answer questions as Albert Einstein. Suddenly that question of who would you invite to a dinner party, past or present, takes on whole new possibilities…

That said, for every successfully deployed intuitive chat-bot, there are many that haven’t worked so well, leaving customers feeling angry and frustrated at the lack of human assistance. A great example of a bot that’s just missed the mark completely is InspiroBot – a bot that’s sole purpose is to generate inspirational quotes with an image behind it. Whilst I’m sure it’s still getting a fair hit rate based on the occasional blooper is spot on my LinkedIn feed, it’s safe to say that it’s neither appropriate or inspirational when a bot populates the statement ‘There’s no excuse for being Dumb’ as its best effort.

So you might think it’s safest to just do what everyone else is doing? Think again.

Dominos Pizza released an app that enabled the user to order their previously saved pizza by simply opening the app. No swiping, clicking or frantically searching for payment cards that your toddler may or may not have tucked down the back of her mini oven. Just instant, easy ordering. So impressive, that it almost makes you want to try and replicate it doesn’t it? Only here is the issue – it really can’t be applied to the vast majority of brands.

It can be so tempting to look at what other businesses are doing (or what your competitors are doing) when considering how to move your business into the next generation, but even that isn’t guaranteed to work.

Your competition may have different brand values, a different customer base or different systems that they plug into. There can be no one size fits all approach to maximising the potential of your website whether it’s one page detailing your services or a complex web estate.

So, what are your best options?

Call in the experts

As a CX practitioner, I would never try to pass as a surgeon. I wouldn’t be very good and I’m incredibly squeamish. So why try to perform the functions of a web designer or user experience expert? Leaving the innovation to UX professionals who’ve trained, who keep up to date with the latest technologies and can do the relevant customer research required to build an effective solution is by far the best way. If you can’t afford to hire someone permanently then there are some great contractors or agencies out there, doing really exciting things!

Don’t try to be like everyone else

Speak to your customers, find out their frustrations with your online presence and fix what irritates them the most. Your customer’s frustrations will be unique to their experience with you, so implementing a solution that worked for others will leave you just as likely to fail as succeed if you haven’t done the relevant research.

Don’t assume that innovation has to mean gadgets and AI

Sometimes the most innovative thing you can do is listen – actually, properly listen – to your customers. As long as you have sufficient technology in place for your customers to contact you when they want, this innovation comes from changing the way your business and its people think, feel and behave – not from buying the latest Content Management System or implanting speech analytics.

If you listen to what your customers have to say, make it as easy as possible for them to say it and then take positive action to not only respond, but to learn as an organisation so that your next customer doesn’t have the same problem, then that’s more innovation than a lot of businesses… Get the basics right, and you’ll see customer loyalty soar. Then if you want to dabble a little with AI – why not?

Bring your customers on the journey with you

Change can be scary. As a society we’ve just undergone a monumental change to the way we live our lives without prior warning, without getting a say and at a whiplash-inducing pace. To a lesser extent, customers feel the same effect when one of their suppliers changes.

To offset this, we need to ensure that any period of reflection and subsequent change is communicated loud and clear to our customers, well ahead of anything actually happening – ideally with a consultative approach. If you believe in making your business the best it can be, and having that reflect in your online offering, then you probably want to make it clear that in your eyes the work will never be ‘finished’.

Continuous improvement is what customer experience is all about, so position that carefully with your customers. State it on your website, in your surveys, on your calls – something as simple as ‘We care about the journey our customers have, so we are committed to consistent improvement across all our services. We might ask you some questions from time to time to help us make sure we get it right, and you may see some changes along the way.’ This is enough to cover most bases, whilst reassuring your customer that they are – and always be – at the heart of everything you do.

 

Check out the previous instalments of Bill and Doug:
Experience Isn’t Enough – You’ll Need a Map Where You’re Going!
Easy as ABC: Employee Recognition and How To Do It Right

Richard WheatonRichard WheatonJune 3, 2020
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9min1076

The rise of mobile as a primary tool for shopping is an inexorable trend – indeed, it is projected that mCommerce will double from 2019–2023 (Eamarketer), ultimately accounting for three-quarters of total e-commerce.

In this new ‘mobile-first’ world, speed is perhaps the most important criteria for good customer experience. Yet, too many brands have been slow to adapt to this new reality. Despite offering a great experience in other ways, they haven’t viewed speed as a KPI that will positively impact business performance and ROI.

We know instinctively as consumers that mobile digital experiences that are responsive and tailored to our needs have a direct impact on the brands we choose to interact with. Research from Salesforce reveals that 83 percent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

Additionally according to a study by Forrester 70 percent of consumers admit that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer.

To investigate these broad assumptions, Google commissioned Fifty-five and Deloitte Digital to embark on the most comprehensive site speed study to date, ‘Milliseconds makes Millions’, that for the first time quantifies the impact of speed on four specific metrics conversion rate, bounce rate, page views per session and average order value.

Surprisingly a study across a range of brands with similar buying intent had not previously been published, presumably due to the challenges of accessing a sufficient quantity of comparable data across several sites to generate statistically robust findings.

Milliseconds make millions

Over a four week period, we analysed mobile site data from 37 retail, travel, luxury and lead generation brands across Europe and the US. It was based on 30 million unique user sessions. Even a small improvement to mobile speed can have a positive effect on business results for brands.

One of the challenges in discussing site speed is that the range of terminology, metrics and dimensions can be confusing for busy executives and digital managers to digest and use to make decisions.

Fifty-five’s goal was to unearth some golden nuggets of insight to make sure that progress can be achieved swiftly. Fifty-five monitored over 30 individual metrics, and reduced them down to a concentrated list that has the most measurable impact on commercial performance. The four specific site speed metrics referred to below are, to give them their technical names, Max Server Latency, First Meaningful Paint, Estimated Input Latency, and Observed Load. These metrics, according to the data, provide some indication of the most valuable areas to investigate.

Our analysis shows that a mere 0.1s change in load time in these four key metrics along the user journey dramatically increases conversion rates. In the retail sites, conversions grew by 8 percent, and in travel by 10 percent on average. With a 0.1s improvement in site speed, we observed that retail consumers spent almost 10 percent more, while lead generation and luxury consumers engaged more, with page views increasing by 7 percent and 8 percent respectively.

The conclusion is abundantly clear. There is a great opportunity to increase sales by making your mobile pages more responsive. And conversely, brands that aren’t focused on speeding up page downloads could be missing out in millions of lost revenue.

The study reveals clear evidence that site speed improvements have a measurable impact on customer engagement, conversions and ultimately a brand’s bottom line.

Adopting a mobile-first mindset

So how should brands react? There is a clear need to make site speed a priority across the organisation by introducing it as a KPI.

They need to introduce the right processes and allocate resources to constantly monitor and optimise their site speed. And we’ve identified seven key steps brands should take to meet the challenge of delivering a truly speed-centric customer experience. These are:

1. Understand the speed status

In order to choose where and how to invest in speed, brands need to know how their site is currently performing. This is both in a stand-alone context and also in comparison to your competitors. Tools such as Google Test My Site enables brands to understand, measure and benchmark your mobile site speed. The Lighthouse is another useful tool which allows you to understand your site speed in the context of different devices.

2. Be clear on the potential impact of mobile site speed on the bottom line

Being equipped with this data will help quantify the impact that site speed changes have on your customer flow, to help you prove the validity of considering speed as a primary performance metric and, ultimately, sell more.

3. Adopt a mobile-first strategy

Mobile-first is essentially a design strategy, more appropriate for satisfying today’s consumers than a purely responsive approach. The mobile-first approach considers mobile users’ needs first and foremost, and its best-practices natively consider site speed and responsiveness as crucial elements of the user experience.

4. Identify speed as one of the primary performance metrics

It’s essential to build consensus to make speed a priority KPI and performance metric. Site owners, designers, strategists, developers and suppliers need to keep speed top of mind when undertaking any mobile site improvements or overhauls.

5. Introduce page speed budget to project teams and clients

Page speed budget or web performance budget is a set of constraints that project teams can use to ensure the mobile site meets performance standards and loads quickly across devices and platforms. It’s easy for a website to grow in size with new functionalities, content and design items but it’s essential to understand the impact on customer time and bandwidth.

Performance, especially speed, should never be compromised for an aesthetic or functional site addition. By introducing a speed budget, the impact of each site amendment or update can be assessed to understand the positive or negative consequence. Anything that does have a negative consequence should be reconsidered.

6. Use the right tools in the right way

All of the above assumes you have the means to report on the status and the effect of site speed at the right level of granularity. It is crucial to use the right tools for both measurement and reporting. Your analytics package needs to be set up correctly, with a strong focus on conversion point, funnels and appropriate KPIs.

7. Create the right culture with the right people

Data & good visualisation need to be embedded within the organisation to establish a performance-centric culture for decision-making. Then, people throughout the business – leadership, strategists, developers, designers, content practitioners and project managers – will have better insights into what is at stake when making decisions around site decisions, and speed will then become a priority metric.

By following this plan brands can ensure that customer experience is being led by the key priority of the end user. Investing in speed is the best route to delivering a truly first-class customer experience.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiMay 25, 2020
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3min1035

A 0.1 seconds improvement in site speed can lead to 10 percent growth in retail sales, according to new research.

The findings of the latest research report ‘Milliseconds make Millions’ reveal the dramatic impact of mobile site speeds on consumers’ willingness to spend money and engage with brands online.

The in-depth report was compiled by global data company fifty-five and Deloitte Digital, and commissioned by Google. It is based on 30 million user sessions on mobile websites of a variety of brands across a number of sectors.

Fifty-five analysed mobile site data from 37 brands from the retail, travel and luxury sectors across Europe, over a four-week period.

The results were surprising as a mere 0.1 second change in website load time can influence the next step of the user journey, ultimately affecting conversion rates.

The findings of three key sectors show:

Retail

Improvement in site speed of one millisecond across four site speed metrics made a striking increase, with consumers spending 9.2 percent more. The findings of 20.5 million sessions across 15 retail brands show that speed on product pages is essential, 3.2 percent increase from Product Listing Page to Product Detail Page and a 9.1 percent increase in progressing to Add to Basket.

Luxury

The data shows that luxury consumers seem to be the most sensitive to speed improvements. The clicks to key pages (e.g. “Contact Us”) are majorly increased, by staggering 20.6 percent, when the key site speed was improved by 0.1 seconds. There was also a 40.1 percent increase in users moving from product detail to add to basket and resulting in overall longer sessions. These findings are based on 2.1 million user sessions across 10 luxury brands.

Travel

The findings based on 7.4 million user sessions across six brands showed steady growth, culminating in a 2.2 increase in check-out completion.

Richard Wheaton, Managing Director at fifty-five London comments: “As the most comprehensive site speed research report ever completed, this is a wake-up call to brands to adopt a mobile-first mentality. The benchmarks we’ve created in this report will help brands move beyond being inwardly focused, and identify wider measures of performance that may be putting themselves ahead or behind their competitors. Brands really need to re-think their digital processes and KPIs in this mobile-first world, to ensure that site design and technical enhancements are generating the positive ROI, and not actually unintentionally harming sales by driving customers away.”




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