Digital technologies are providing customers with newer ways to experience products and services. Customers are increasingly choosing products and services based on the quality of experience. But this has also led to the user experience becoming increasingly complex. Companies now need a digital experience strategy to ensure that they build the right experiences to meet their customers’ expectations. This very strategy will inform the technology investments that transform their organization into a digital business.
But how do you create this strategy?
That’s what we’re going to talk about.
What does a Digital Experience Strategy Aim at?
The goal of any organization should be to build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with its customers. This goal has to be achieved across digital channels — in email, on the brand’s website and mobile applications, to name only a few. Organizations succeed when they are able to build relationships with consumers through personalized experiences. This helps drive higher revenue, improve customer lifetime value, and reduce customer churn.
A digital strategy is a plan for how to support business goals through the benefits of digital technology. Having a well-defined and clear digital strategy ensures that decisions about digital channels are not made on impulse (“let’s make a new app”) or merely in response to available technology (“let’s make use of QR codes”) but rather as part of a coherent plan, that enhances the user experience and maximizes business opportunities.
To be able to devise a sound digital strategy, we must first understand well what digital experience is.
What Exactly Is Digital Experience?
Digital Experience is defined as the sum total of all interactions a customer has with an organization across all digital touch points provided by the organization. These interactions are spread across all phases of a customer’s lifecycle which typically is:
- Loyalty and Retention
Organizations strive to deliver digital experiences across all phases of customer lifecycle but fail to provide an experience that is consistent, seamless and fulfills the customers need and expectations. Figuring out the right experiences to deliver, is one of the most valuable questions businesses need to answer. That is where a digital experience strategy comes to the rescue.
Let us look at these phases of a customer lifecycle in detail with respect to creating a digital experience strategy around these.
In the Awareness and Consideration stages, the focus is primarily on the channels of outreach for acquiring new customers. Customers discover a brand through various channels of marketing, namely organic search, email marketing campaigns, marketing collateral, and social media campaigns.
In these phases, the digital experience strategy should inform the marketing, and content strategy.
The strategy should help us answer the following questions:
- Who are the users and where are they coming from (i.e. which marketing channel)?
- Is it possible to establish a relationship between the source of traffic and outcomes (for e.g., organic search converts more than Email marketing)?
- Does the brand positioning appear credible from the perspective of our customers?
- Does the product propositioning align with the needs of the type of customers we are aiming to attract?
- Does the provided content align with what the customers are looking for?
- Does the content look credible enough to increase the likelihood of lead generation?
- What is the customer’s overall perception of the organization?
- Is it possible to segment customers in a way that enables you to personalize their experiences?
How to Develop a Digital Experience Strategy?
The process of developing a digital experience strategy makes use of both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Tools, like Customer Journey Mapping and Customer Journey Analytics, are used to understand customer behavior and uncover their needs.
Customer Journey Mapping
In qualitative research, the focus is on identifying key user journeys and digital interactions within these journeys. Research also helps determine how these interactions affect the customer journey.
The insights from the research are synthesized typically as a current state journey map, that presents these insights in an easy-to-understand manner.
A journey map is a model of the series of interactions, which a customer has with business in pursuit of a goal, for example, buying a ticket or redeeming rewards points. It helps identify gaps and opportunities in the quality of the user experience in order to identify new interactions and validate the value of the existing interactions.
The process of mapping uncovers user needs and perceptions over the course of their journey, which helps generate insights, leading to a more compelling and valuable overall experience.
Customer Journey Analytics
Customers use a range of digital interactions to discover, explore, buy, and engage with products and services that a business has to offer. Journey analytics helps companies combine quantitative and qualitative data to optimize customer interactions and predict future behaviors.
A journey map serves as a critical input to this analysis as it describes the customer’s path toward a certain action, such as buying a product or service or seeking support. Journey analytics uses both quantitative and qualitative data to understand certain customer journeys, their duration, and how they impact sales or customer experience.
Steps Involved in Customer Journey Analytics
1. Collation of Customer Behaviors across Channels into a Unified Whole
Customers (prospective customers), across channels, continually create data that reflects their tastes & preferences, likes & dislikes, and digital behaviors of all sorts. This very data, however, is not unified at one single location. It is spread out on the different channels – website, mobile app emails, contact forms, social media, carts, purchases, exchanges, returns, etc. – that the users are interacting with you on.
Looking at individual sets of such data can often be misleading. Let’s take an example. Low sales figures from social media may lead one to believe that these channels are not doing well, which may be only a myopic view. The fact could be that social media channels could be influencing and helping effect sales on another digital channel.
First, you will need to collate data into a coherent, unified whole because that will give you an organic view of the entire customer journey across various channels. That, in turn, will let you know where your efforts are succeeding and where they’re lacking. Cross-channel data integration is thus, must
2. Let the More Important Journeys Be Your Focus
The next important step after having mapped and analyzed the customers’ journeys, is to lay your focus on the more important ones, rather than on each and every journey. While the difference may not be pronounced, as you proceed, you will be able to tell the important ones from the unimportant ones.
Based on this analysis, you will need to figure out the most expensive mistakes that you are committing during your customers’ journeys. Not only should you focus on mistakes but also on opportunities that are most likely to affect your business. Thus, you will be able to make better decisions regarding investments and returns on these investments.
At the core of a sound digital experience strategy lies a sound understanding of your customers’ journeys. Since customers interact via various channels not only in a dynamic but also in a highly demanding manner, it is imperative to provide them with what they need, when they need and where they need it.
A digital user experience strategy will let you achieve this aim by using data that matters; data across multiple touchpoints; data that helps you create experiences that the user will appreciate. Such a strategy will not only help you survive but also thrive in the digital reality.