By Bryan Adams, CEO & Founder at Ph.Creative

There’s no two ways about it. Experience is now THE difference maker in digital. And for good reason, too.

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – creating a digital experience that excites, motivates and converts customers is the holy grail of all online marketing.

Let’s get one thing clear. If we understand how to give people the right experience and the right journey, we can move them towards taking the action we want.

In 2012, just 36% of companies expected to compete on the basis of customer experience. That number is now 89%! What does this tell us? Well, your customers simply expect a world-class experience. The truth is, if you don’t deliver it time and again you’re going to suffer.

All hope is not lost. Here are five ways you can prioritise for a customer-first digital experience.

ZMOT

“What?”

OK, so you might not have heard of ZMOT before. Simply put, ZMOT is an acronym for Zero Moment of Truth. The ZMOT is the initial stimulus, or trigger that sets the customer (or candidate) on their journey with a brand. Once that initial spark has taken place, your customer delves into research mode. Think about yourself… would you buy a new product without checking Amazon reviews or reading user blogs first? Of course you wouldn’t! The same principles apply to candidates applying for jobs. In fact, it’s been shown that 72% of candidates spend between 2-6 hours researching a role before applying.

So, the ZMOT is that critical moment when your customer or candidate journey is brought to life. Experience will be crucial here. If you can give your customers the information, support and help they’re looking for, you can start to move them along the path-to-purchase journey.

Move Towards Action

Experience is made up of many different components. As the saying goes, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them FEEL.” That’s why experience is so crucial. Your customer journey needs to include emotional and rational drivers that push your consumers towards a specific, pre-identified action. But remember, people feel first and think second.

Customer journey maps are an absolute necessity in today’s modern world. These help you contextualize and make sense of your unique digital ecosystem. In fact, there’s a good chance your “journey” isn’t a straight line. In reality, your customer journey is probably a complex digital web that weaves and twists towards a final outcome. So how do you make sense of these components and craft an experience that is effortless and easy?

How do we make experience effortless and simple?

To make experiences effortless and simple, we really need to hone in on what it is our customers are looking for. Persona and empathy maps help clarify and contextualize your customers’ rational and emotional drivers. What excites them? What keeps them up at night? Where do they go for content? What social channels do they populate? Which thought leaders do they follow?

All of these questions (and many more!) must be answered in order to gain a 360-degree understanding of your customer from THEIR point of view. This enables you to create experiences that feel natural and seamless. Of course, you need to walk the journey yourself and step into the shoes of your customers. Only by living it yourself can you optimize and create experiences that really matter to your customers.

Check out a website called www.answerthepublic.com – all you need to do is enter a keyword of your choosing and you can see the main search queries related to that word. It’s a really useful tool to find out how people are thinking, and more importantly what information they’re looking for.

Moments Between the Moments 

Along your customer journey, you’re going to uncover specific mini-moments that could be the difference maker in winning a new customer or not. Take this classic example. You walk into a clothes store and see a new t-shirt. It looks great on the mannequin, there’s a spotlight above that really makes the colour pop, and you simply can’t resist picking it up. Sounds like a definite sale, right? Wrong!

What does the customer do next? Well, she takes that same t-shirt and walks to the back of the store towards the changing rooms. There’s a long queue. Finally, a room opens up. The customer walks inside, only to find clothes and hangers strewn across the floor. The mirror is dirty and the light above is so dim you can hardly see anything. What happens? That great front-end experience is now met with a subpar experience at the crucial moment of decision. The customer is lost! All because of a moment between the moment that the brand hadn’t planned for.

These same principles apply to the world of digital. You absolutely MUST understand where your weak spots lie in order to fix them and ensure that your customers are given an exceptional experience across the ENTIRE journey. In my experience, this is only possible when you take a really strong, objective look at your existing customer journey and walk in the buyer’s shoes to understand their feelings and motivations.

Google RankBrain

Finally, there are a number of clear-cut, practical benefits to improving your digital experience.

Get this: Google RankBrain now ranks websites based on their user experience. If your website doesn’t offer an exceptional experience, you could drop down the rankings. It’s not all about increasing traffic or speed, either. You need to create bespoke content that keeps Google and your customers happy. A great checkpoint is to ask yourself: “Am I adding value to my customers’ lives?”

If the answer is “No,” then it’s probably not worth doing.

And remember, it’s not the size of your Big Data that matters, either – it’s what you do with it. You need to ensure that you use to data to test and learn and constantly improve. In fact, we’re now instituting what we call “Evolutionary Design” with our clients. People used to buy websites like cars every three to four years. Now, we like to think of a website as a Formula 1 car. We constantly need to test and learn to improve it on a continual basis.

Ultimately, experience is absolutely the main difference maker between winning a new customer or losing one for life. Start small and make daily changes; before long, you’ll be amazed at the results.


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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