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The Importance of Digital Experiences

Customer interactions occur online, so make sure they have a great experience.

When we experience something in the physical world, we absorb a wealth of information in front of us to help build a picture and form an impression of what we perceive, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures.

Now, however, as we move into a world that is becoming increasingly digital, more and more of what we experience lies on backlit screens built from ones and zeros.

Experience is more than just what we see, it’s what we feel. In the physical world, touching an object creates stimulation, but when we’re shopping online, we don’t have the opportunity to touch things and create that sensation.

Tap Into Subconscious Processes

The important factor when relating this to online consumer behavior is that we feel faster than we think. Memories of feelings are a shortcut; they enable us to access relevant information without spending time and energy recalling unnecessary data.

The decision to buy a product is a result of a number of subconscious behavioral processes. This means that marketers who want to shape customers’ final purchasing decisions should aim to accommodate those behavioral processes and develop ways of understanding as many of people’s subconscious pathways as possible during their online interactions.

While there are some actions marketers can take to improve a customer’s online journey, the reality is that no two customers are the same. Each person experiences reality through a different lens, so there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for customer experience.

Adding to the complexity, online customer behavior varies depending on the channel or device used. Research conducted by my company, Clicktale, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School shows that consumers browsing on phones enter a “fast functional” mindset that is very different from the state of mind they’re in when browsing on laptop or desktop computers. However, while this suggests that businesses need to adjust their approach to customer experience by device, it is also true that they still need to provide a consistent experience across different digital channels — something that 73 percent of brands currently cannot do, according to a Clicktale data.

First impressions matter. After all, they only happen once, so it’s crucial to get them right.

In order to gain a fuller understanding of customers’ digital experiences, businesses should ideally be able to analyze customers’ behaviors and decisions as soon as possible after any online activity, especially activities that involve negative experiences. If you don’t take action promptly after negative experiences, it may be too late. When a memory of an unhappy experience gets cemented in a customer’s mind, the damage is done. Disgruntled customers leave, and there’s little chance that they will ever return.

Ideally, marketers should be collecting data and acting on insights in real time, or as close to real time as possible, but Clicktale data has found that 71 percent of brands are unable to do that.

Accentuate the Positive

When we have positive interactions with something, our brain chemistry encourages us to repeat the action to reach the same outcome over and over again. It’s a rule seen throughout nature that has helped us survive for thousands of years — it’s ingrained in our psychology. Whether it’s tasting delicious food or navigating through online stores and forms with ease, if something pleases us, we’re emotionally encouraged to perform the action again.

In the business world, the instinct that compels people to repeat behaviors that yield positive outcomes leads to the most desirable outcome of all: customer loyalty. Every brand wants to maximize the positive emotions customers experience when visiting their sites online, and the way to do that is for brands to gain a greater understanding of their customers’ behavior through digital experience analytics.

Collecting behavioral data is one thing, but in order to unlock the potential of that data, brands need to know how to apply it to human customers. It is essential for marketers to build an understanding of customer behavior, grow customer loyalty and create a customer experience vision. The good news is that brands appear to be aware of that: Our “Defining Digital Experience” report shows that 67 percent of marketing professionals agree that improving their understanding of customer behavior is a key goal when building their digital experience approach.

The key to creating positive memories for customers in any business situation is to meet the needs of the customer effectively during any given interaction. In today’s tech-orientated landscape, the vast majority of these interactions take place online, so ensuring that customers receive a positive digital experience is more important than ever before.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that so many brands are now investing in digital experience strategies, departments and teams — a trend that we should expect to continue in the years to come.

More from Liraz Margalit Ph.D.
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