Over the next 12 months, we’ll be sharing advice on how to grow and strengthen your digital business with a holistic approach to customer intelligence. Join our healthy digital transformation club to stay in the know.
Customer proximity, engagement marketing, consumer-driven innovation… 2020 is the year to take your understanding of customers to the next level. And no one knows this better than the new crop of Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands, who are challenging traditional digital commerce channels and reinventing the way businesses communicate, engage and connect with their customers.
A slew of big-name start-ups of the past few years have set up shop as DTC businesses. Even legacy brands like Nike are making moves to reduce their reliance on third-party vendors like Amazon. So what is behind the direct to customer marketing appeal?
In Praise of a Truer Connection With Your Customers
The name says it all. Many of the D2C newcomers are leveraging this unmediated business model to build a stronger, closer — in short, more direct — connection with their audience.
With a greater hold on consumer engagement through ownership of the whole customer journey, brands are at liberty to analyze the moments of connection to better adjust the CX to their customers’ needs and wants.
Customers in 2020 value seamlessness, yes, but also authenticity, originality, added value, and a customer experience (CX) that ticks all these boxes. Some audiences will be responsive to a company’s sustainable supply chain; others want a beauty brand designed for real people.
In the brave new D2C world, a brand’s core value proposition has to be defined (and delivered!), as it is a cornerstone of engagement marketing.
One of the benefits of all this customer closeness is that it breeds innovation. The D2C superstars, with their tight audience relationship, are leading through disruption; innovating new ways to engage customers and nurture loyalty over time.
In fact, these success stories often transcend the product that launched them in the first place. For example, on its website, Away says it makes “everything you need away, and nothing you don’t.” GoPro’s About Us page mentions “celebrating moments” and “capturing life.”
Achieving this level of connection implies a solid understanding of what matters to your target audience, which brings us to UX data.
Leveraging Behavioral Data For Greater Customer Proximity
Addressing your audience directly gives you privileged access to customer intelligence, and to the digital insights you need to optimize your CX.
Owning the end-to-end user journey affords brands exhaustive insight into their visitors’ UX — from their customer journey, to their in-page behaviors, to their interactions with individual page elements such as images, form fields, etc.
This kind of in-depth reading of your customers’ behavior will reveal your biggest experience hits and misses, flag the changes that should be prioritized and convey where your greatest opportunities lie.
After all, how can you build the ideal customer journey without a solid understanding of what your visitors are trying to achieve in the first place, or how they would prefer to go about it? The way customers move through your site and interact with it are all clues to decipher intent — itself a necessary signal for personalization and customer connection.
Aligning customer wants and a brand message via an engaging experience is something the leading D2C brands have mastered. And today, putting customer experience metrics in the hands of all those who have a stake in the CX has never been easier.
Widening access to this data is key to achieving the level of agility and excellence that customers today expect. Customer preferences fluctuate fast and furiously, and your team’s ability to keep up with them needs to be just as swift.
The DTC Approach: Putting Customers at the Heart of Things
Whatever your business model, there is much to learn from D2C brands’ commitment to customer-centricity. Developing a unique brand narrative, defining a clear value proposition and leveraging your ownership of the customer journey to improve the digital experience for all visitors are just some of the ways you can increase customer engagement.
In the end, all roads lead back to customer experience analytics. Whether you want to control the creative concepts or the technical aspects of your UX, a surefire way to unlock actionable insights is through the use of metrics that capture the nuances of human digital behavior. Does your message resonate? Are you helping visitors achieve their goals? Is your digital experience (DX) frustrating or delightful? There’s much to discover on how your visitors are using your digital properties.
So go ahead, sow your wild oats via a DTC approach and stay informed on your experiences and customer behavior. After all, the ‘20s are here. Let’s make them roaring for your UX.
Want to learn about how our DTC clients leveraged smart UX analytics to improve their content and ROI goals? Download our DTC report.Digital Predictions: Recipes for Conversion Health in 2020
You’ve spent the last few weeks making merry with friends and family, and it’s likely you overindulged. Today, you don’t want to look at another cookie, and you’ve swapped the booze for green juice. You’ve resolved to fill the next decade with yoga and maybe even meditation.
But what are you going to do to improve your digital strategy in 2020? How are you going to go about building a healthier, nourishing, more blissful experience for your customers?
Here is our roundup of 7 trends we think should guide your digital resolutions this year.
1. The experience wars heat up
The numbers have been out for a while: the gulf between businesses’ perception of their own customer satisfaction versus the consumer’s reality is widening. On the other hand, brands that are synonymous with excellent Customer Experience (CX) are reaping outsized benefits. According to a Forrester report, insight-driven companies are growing 7-10x faster than the average enterprise.
The key to a great CX lies with… your customers. The new standards of experience demand greater, smarter customer proximity — one that hinges on a true understanding of what your audience expects and how it wants to connect with you in 2020 and beyond. If you choose not to go all-in on creating an unexpectedly great experience this year, you do so at your own peril.
2. Leaders scramble for new metrics
Knowing how your brand stacks up to customer expectations — and how many different factors from price, to app ease of use, to customer support — contribute to the experience is still a challenge. This is the year many digital professionals will rebel and demand meaningful analytics that are easy-to-consume. Many brands are finding themselves constrained by old metrics, which can tell you how many people visited your site, and how many converted, but don’t offer many clues as to why they left without buying, or if a purchase was in fact the primary goal of their visit.
When it comes to understanding customers, metrics such as content attractiveness and engagement, friction scores and even an objective measure of consumers’ Digital Happiness paints the story between the clicks. You’ll see more CX Index and e-NPS type metrics coming out from agencies, consulting firms and analytics players this year to help meet the demand.
Having access to a system of insights that can capture the nuances and fluctuations of customer behavior, and translate these into actions is how you turn customer intelligence into intelligent CX.
3. More brands flip the acquisition model
Digital teams understand that getting as many people as possible through the door is no longer a viable business strategy. It’s simply too expensive and it is not in fact, a customer-centric approach. Why invite someone in unless you can actually deliver value to them? More brands are shifting their focus to analyzing what happens once customers are on their site in order to better understand who they should be marketing to in the first place, and how.
Think about it — not everyone will want to convert on your site (maybe they’re here to check out in-store availability, use the store locator, etc), and those who do will have a specific customer agenda (they might want to see if a coupon works, to check out fast on their smartphone, etc). The key is to understand: 1) what are your high-value segments, 2) how they like to browse.
By analyzing and understanding the journeys and behavior of customers who are already on your site or app, you can surface intelligence about what they’re trying to do, and in turn, use this intelligence to target specific segments with highly relevant experiences. Don’t forget: the best remedy for churn is a relevant customer experience.
4. Smarter content
Which brings us to content (…don’t all roads lead to content?).
Businesses invest a ton of time and resources into creating content that communicates the brand’s offering and helps customers connect with their values. But how do you measure the impact of content decisions? How do you know what content to display for which audience? How do you maximize your creative investments and merchandising strategy?
Well, it goes back to those smarter metrics. Your customers are giving you real-time feedback on your content with every swipe, tap, scroll, click, etc — each element of your site is either a relevant step in the journey, a distraction, or worse, an obstacle. Customer journey insights are finally becoming operational at scale. And, advanced AI-driven analytics will help translate this customer feedback into actions your team can take to improve the experience and your bottom line. Don’t be left behind.
5. Personalization partners with privacy
Brands in 2020 are going to become better at combining their personalization efforts with their customers’ privacy concerns. Why? Because consumers today want more of both. High profile data breaches and an overload of personalized marketing that isn’t in fact that relevant have made consumers wary of oversharing in the digital world.
But is it really possible to personalize without personal info? We think it is. The beauty of behavioral data is that it delivers on both these demands: privacy and personalization.
Because one consumer does not equate one way to browse a website. And just because a brand knows your name, birthday, address and a few of your interests, doesn’t mean they know what drives you crazy when you’re trying to refill a standing cat food order on your mobile. By analyzing and aggregating the behavior of specific customer segments (based on their context and intent) digital teams can unlock a much deeper, truer type of personalization than that made possible by demographic data.
And if you are going to collect data, the key is to use it well. Be transparent and clear about any request for personal information — customers are often willing to give information that is genuinely going to add value for them.
6. D2C is the new flagship store
Marketplaces don’t afford brands the same level of control over the end-to-end customer experience as direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing. By entrusting others to promote and sell their products or services, businesses are not only settling for lower margins; they’re essentially giving away crucial customer intelligence they could be using to elevate and personalize the brand experience.
And when you’re competing on experience, as brands are today, owning the relationship with your customers so you can better meet their needs and expectations — and strengthen your community at the same time — is crucial.
This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon, and it’s not only reserved for new, agile startup companies. Leading brands like GoPro have shifted their strategy, and are putting more emphasis on owning the end to end experience, and cultivating a meaningful, enduring relationships with their customers on their digital properties.
7. Inclusivity becomes core to your digital strategy
According to the CDC, one in 4 U.S. adults has a disability that impacts major life activities. So if your website and app are not accessible to everyone, that’s 61 million people (in America only) you’re not including in your CX decisions.
The good news is when you design for disability first, you often come up with solutions that are more advanced and smarter than if you hadn’t. Brands everywhere are putting innovation at the service of inclusivity, and are leveraging new technology to future-proof the CX, improve accessibility, and ensure customer-centricity is not just for some, but for everyone.
We’re heading into a new decade of innovation, digital creativity and intelligent technology. Your best strategists in 2020 and beyond will be your own customers. The key will be to tune into their expectations and align your experience strategy with their goals.
It’s time to get a new yoga mat, and a new solution to translate customer behavior into profitable CX actions. As you navigate your favorite sites to find the first, think of the dozens of micro-decisions you take as a consumer: click on this image over that one, filter by size, give up halfway through a scroll, login as guest, etc.
We help brands make the journey to digital wellness more seamless and satisfying. The rest is up to you.
Hero Image via Shutterstock, by Boiarkina Marina