- Digital experiences have to be as seamless as physical ones to drive the same results with customers and prospects.
- In 2021, brands will have to perfect digital experiences as consumers get used to doing everything online.
- The entire C-suite must be invested in digital platforms.
2020 was the year that non-digital brands finally had to go digital and provide an effective digital experience, as long-existing trends were compounded by the pandemic’s rush to move business online.
Brick-and-mortar businesses built websites, restaurants joined takeout and delivery apps, and existing ecommerce companies suddenly gained an onslaught of competitors. In a post-pandemic world, customer experiences look different – and great ones are achieved through new strategies and success metrics.
In fact, customer experiences – and satisfaction – are more important than ever. When the future of business looks unclear and economic stability is still just beyond the horizon, customer loyalty, consistent conversions and sales are the pillars of resilience and longevity.
Brands cannot risk poor online interactions with customers – typically through their website or app – and have those interactions be what turns revenue away. That is why, if 2020 was the year of rushing to digital, 2021 will be the year of perfecting it.
Brands will actually prioritize optimizing digital experiences in 2021
Yes, many more brands now have digital experiences due to the impact of COVID-19. However, leaders quickly realized that these digital experiences have to be as flawless as physical ones to attract, engage and retain customers and prospects.
At minimum, customers expect businesses to provide online destinations that load promptly with intuitive interfaces, regardless of device – and that’s just the baseline. To impress consumers, brands need to offer more personalized and engaging online interactions.
However, new research shows that all industries are still struggling with perfecting the quality of their digital experiences. User frustration is rampant, as measured by overt user behaviors like unresponsive multi-clicks, where users tap or click at a high velocity on a particular area of a webpage, like a broken link.
User engagement is also low, shown by a lack of reading behaviors, such as users following content with their mouse or consuming content by scrolling down the page in smooth, regular patterns.
These lackluster experiences are a long-term problem for brands. COVID-19 may have been the impetus for going all-in on digital, but even if a vaccine is widely adopted over the next year and people start interacting with brands both in-person and online, digital experiences won’t go away.
Consumers will continue using digital channels to engage with brands, so making those digital experiences seamless will be mandatory in 2021. It will also become a competitive edge for brands, as more companies invest in their digital strategies and consumers become accustomed to digital experiences.
Many companies that exist exclusively online (no brick-and-mortar locations) are leading in this race, given their digital experiences are their only interactions with customers – so they must be impeccable. Brands that follow suit and prioritize in digital experience in 2021 will be making a wise, necessary, long-term investment in the vitality of their business.
Digital experience will move beyond the marketing department
At the onset of the pandemic, consumers used online and digital channels for information, connection and daily transactions for retail, banking and even restaurants – a trend that brands can expect to continue in 2021.
Because digital platforms are so widely used by consumers, and for a variety of purposes, they must become a vested interest for the entire C-suite and each department. Looking across leadership teams, there will be a few changes with C-level priorities:
- CEOs will need to understand how digital experiences are performing, since they impact a brand’s reputation and bottom line.
- CFOs will need to pay attention to the brand’s digital experience as the overall quality directly impacts revenue. The finance department should also be kept in the loop regarding investments in digital experience, so that they can incorporate this priority into budget planning.
- CIOs will need to pay attention because digital experiences are technology-driven. Similarly, the IT department must understand what experiences are being planned and executed to ensure each element operates smoothly.
By involving each department in the digital experience conversation, the marketing team can ensure the digital experience strategy is a success. Even better, that potential impact and value of digital experiences is more likely to become a reality, because the entire organization will be aligned and working toward the same goal.
No matter what the post-pandemic world looks like, there will be a massive digital component to it. If brands don’t prioritize the quality of their digital experiences in 2021, they are ignoring a significant sector of the future.
They are leaving loyalty, conversions and sales on the table. Brands must measure the quality of their digital experiences – from user frustration to engagement to the end-to-end buyer’s journey.
By identifying strengths and weaknesses, brands can create digital experiences that rival the quality of in-person ones, resulting in seamless interactions, more conversions and more sales in 2021.
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