Ever wonder why most digital interactions fail to engage users? In part, it’s because users can’t easily decipher who they’re dealing with. Instead of actively developing unique experiences that support how they want their brands to be perceived, companies chase features and functions that others have implemented. At best, the result is bland cookie-cutter experiences that leave users uninspired. At worst, brands can seem downright schizophrenic to users who get unpredictable experiences as they move from channel to channel.
It’s not easy to create a strong emotional bond through an interface because it’s difficult for users to see the people behind digital interaction points. Instead, they see a mere screen or a system. But people are far more predisposed to creating connections with other people than they are with an interface. That’s why firms need to pay attention to the brand personality they’re trying to convey and make their digital experiences feel more human. Of course, the solution isn’t just to plaster your website with happy faces or buzzwords. Instead, firms can take a more systematic approach and follow the principles of Forrester’s Emotional Experience Design framework. Here are a couple of ways for firms to establish brand personality:
Match visual designs across channels so that users can easily recognize the brand as they cross interaction points.
Keep in sync with the brand attributes that they want people to associate with them by creating content that conveys brand messages and by crafting the right voice to further convey those messages.
Adopt a human tone that lands in the right place in between robotic, just-the-facts approaches and overdone marketing speak that comes off as fake.
But in my opinion, some careful thought is needed to position the store chain alongside HMV’s evolving digital persona. HMVDigital, launched last July, is their take on iTunes. As a digital destination for downloading music it seems to stand on its own two feet. Product scope is a little limited in that it’s music only (no videos), but I can only assume that they have a roadmap to open up new product categories over time.
They are clearly set on taking on iTunes at their own game, a fact that is evident from the site’s logo when you link to it from HMV.com – the old familiar, faithful HMV hound listening to a gramophone, sat right in the middle of a now familiar iPod control wheel. An interesting choice.
It would be a shame if all HMV did here was attempt to mimic iTunes, as they have one ace up their sleeve that iTunes can’t (yet) mimic; a nationwide chain of high street stores staffed with music loving store colleagues. Although the products may become digital, I believe that there is a place for human interaction that multichannel retailers such as HMV can capitalise on. And interestingly, from the tone of his Retail Week address, Fox believes this too.
My first Blog post as a Forrester Analyst and I was going to go little further than saying “hey, hello!” but I figure why not take a few minutes to dig into a couple of subjects that I’m looking at.
Forrester have a large and growing body of research and a dedicated team of Analysts and Researchers serving eBusiness and Channel strategy professionals, and our research plan for the next year covers some bold topics like Agile Commerce, the future of Mobile as a channel and the growing power of Social Media. While I’ll be looking at these topics and more, I’ve joined Forrester with a specific brief, and that is to bring some focus to the European Retail arena.
I’ve come to Forrester from Boots, where I worked for the last 4 years in the Enterprise Architecture group leading the architecture strategy across both on-line and stores, and my move to Forrester is, in my opinion, a sign of Forrester’s commitment to do what we repeatedly tell you to do with your Retail efforts.
Make them Relevant and Contextual.
So that’s my primary mission, at least to begin with. Making what we do here at Forrester relevant and contextual to the challenges and opportunities of the European market. That isn’t to say I won’t be looking at broader global eCommerce trends, and in fact one of the first pieces of work I’m doing is on the evolution of video in eCommerce (more on that soon). But to support those of you who are either focusing on or are looking to move into the European market, I’m working on a broader piece looking into the state of Multichannel Retail in Europe.
If there is anything I can help you with, or if there are any burning topics you would like to see us focus on, then please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or get engaged in our community.
I've been talking a lot lately about how to build great digital branding programs, and it's gotten me thinking about the best ones I've ever seen. Remember the Ford Explorer home page takeover on Yahoo from years ago, that actually shook the browser window as the truck drove across the screen? (It's so old I can't even find a screen shot of it online.) Apple reprised the idea for an iPod program about 18 months ago — as have many others — but the Ford one was both more amazing (I mean, the browser shook) and one of the first that really got people talking. It was incredibly bold in its creative execution but also in its media buy (while there's nothing special about buying home page advertising on the then-biggest website, just think about the monetary bet they put on that buy! It must've cost a fortune).
The Audi program that won a Forrester Groundswell Award last year was fantastic too — using a combination of online content and social media to raise awareness of the automaker's new A1 model. Why? It gave users a customized impression of the new brand (by letting them customize the car) and it was intelligently distributed through a huge number of social channels.
Mobile marketing spend is forecast to hit around 750 million by the end of 2011 and more than 1,250 million by 2014. However, the number of consumers exposed to mobile advertising is still low. In fact, Forrester Technographics surveys shows that two-thirds of online mobile consumers don't remember being exposed to any mobile ads. Of those who had been exposed, the majority (52%) didn't take any actions. For those who did respond, calling a local business or storing a number as a new contact were the most popular activities.
But just because many consumers haven't engaged with mobile marketing yet doesn't mean they don't want to. In fact, 13% of online mobile consumers say that they would like to receive coupons to be used while shopping and 10% would like to be able to look up product information. About one-fifth of online mobile consumers are open to receiving SMS messages from companies in return for promotions, discounts, or free downloads(and this number jumps to more than one-third of Gen Yers).
But to be successful at their mobile efforts, companies need to determine which type of engagement will work best with their target audience and what key objectives resonate most. For example, are you trying to drive awareness, foot traffic, or campaign involvement? Understanding these objectives will help determine whether your organization should engage consumers through an SMS campaign offering a reward or whether it should try to intercept consumers while they are searching.
I am so pumped that Dana Anderson is speaking at the Forrester 2011 Marketing Forum in early April. Dana is Kraft Foods’ Senior Vice President of Marketing, Strategy, and Communications, and she’s one smart lady. She works across the Kraft portfolio to bring fresh marketing ideas and innovation to icons like Oreo and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Dana also has a wicked sense of humor. Her keynote “The Bad Boys’ Guide To Digital Bliss” will illustrate what marketers can learn from Robert Downey Jr. and Jay-Z – not your usual marketing role models!
I asked Dana a few questions on how to drive digital change in a traditional organization. Her answers point to both the fundamental shifts that will characterize the next decade and the perennial truths of marketing (great ideas start with great teams). We hope you can make it to San Francisco to hear more . . .
CO: What are the biggest changes that marketers should expect in the next digital decade?
DA: Whew, 10 years is a long time in the digital world. Facebook is only seven years old and Hulu is only four years old. While I wish I could predict how things would be in 2021, I can tell you the hints I’m seeing right now that foretell a very exciting future for marketing.
There are only three weeks left until Forrester’s Marketing Forum, and the excitement surrounding this event is growing exponentially. Our focus this year is on how companies must radically shift their marketing practices to account for the myriad of new methods and media that people use to engage with a company and its brands and products. Our goal is to help you learn how to adjust to this new digital world we call the Splinternet.
In classic Forrester style, we run our presentation tracks to cater to each of the roles we serve within the marketing and strategy organization. For the market insights (MI) professional track, my colleagues Tamara Barber and Jackie Anderson have prepared some great content, starting first with Tamara’s take on the future of the MI department and then shifting to the awesome panel of speakers Jackie has lined up on what youth research can teach us about 21st century market insights. Next up for our track, I will walk you through some cool, emerging, and innovative research methodologies that you can use to understand this new type of customer.
The Groundswell is now global. Social media has entered the mainstream in every single market Forrester regularly surveys — and in most of those markets, social media use is at 75% or higher. Australian, Japanese and Italian online users all show stronger adoption of social media than Americans do – and Chinese, Dutch and Swedish users have nearly pulled level with the Americans. And in 2010 Facebook reported that more than 70% of its active users were outside the US, while Twitter said more than 60% of its accounts come from outside the US.
The simple fact is that if your company has a social media program, that program is global — whether you want it to be or not. And this isn’t just a nuisance or a language issue. Failing to recognize the global nature of your social programs means you might be telling foreign users about products that aren’t available in their countries (for instance, Toyota UK reached more than 100 million people with a fantastic blogger outreach program for its iQ model; but it turns out that more than 95% of those people live in countries where the iQ isn’t for sale). Or you may be advertising discounts and promotions to which many users don’t have access (for instance, while Amazon’s Facebook page promoted a special price of $89 for the Kindle last November, a Kindle cost almost twice as much in the UK — and wasn’t available at all in most other markets). If you work in a regulated industry like financial services or pharmaceuticals, you risk running afoul of government regulators.
[With apologies to all those of you who had already read this, I'm re-publishing this as the Forrester gremlins ate my previous post.]
For the past few years, many eBusiness and channel strategy executives in financial services have had a nagging sense that today's websites would be rendered obsolete as new technologies emerged or younger consumers developed radically different behaviour patterns. We think that time if fast coming upon us.
For the past six months we've been working on our vision of the Next Generation of Digital Financial Services, led by my colleague Alexander Hesse and inspired by the work of leading eBusiness teams worldwide. Although our vision is not an exact description of how all digital financial services will evolve, given the wide variety of markets that eBusiness executives operate in and the different strategies of their firms, we think the next generation of digital financial services will be characterized by five things:
Simplicity. Making it easy for customers to achieve their goals.
Ubiquity. Interacting with customers wherever they want.
Personalization. Making the entire experience relevant to individual needs.
Empowerment. Enabling customers to take action by themselves.
Reassurance. Providing human help whenever it adds value.
Last weekend I used my AAdvantage miles on a plane ticket for my husband. I went to AA.com, it was easy to trade off options based on number of miles used and flight schedule. When I went to book, my name and AAdvantage number were pre-populated into the form. I changed the name and number to his but got an error: “The AAdvantage number for Passenger 1 does not match the name entered. Please verify and re-enter.”*
Problem #1: A design problem stopped me from booking the ticket myself on the site.
Problem #2: An unhelpful error message didn’t help me fix the first problem.
Without any other choice, I called for help. Before I could reach a person – or even a menu, I got this message:
“With the refreshed and redesigned AA.com it’s easy to book, explore, and plan all of your travel needs in one place because we’ve organized things better, made it more intuitive, smarter, simpler, cleaner, all to help bring your next trip closer to reality. This is the first step of more exciting changes we have planned for AA.com. Whether you are looking or booking, a better travel experience awaits with the new, easy to navigate AA.com. Book a trip now and see for yourself. To expedite your call, please have your Advantage number ready.”
Problem #3: I had to spend a full minute hearing about how American’s new site could help me — the same site that had already failed to help me.
When I finally reached an agent and explained my problem, she said: “Well, you just had to think on it harder. You needed to leave the Advantage number blank.”
Problem #4: The agent told me I’m stupid. Who likes that?
Armed with new instructions, I tried to book the ticket. But instead I got an error message saying the site had timed out.