Written by Kirstin Wilson-Jorge, Senior Account Director at krow

Using digital superpowers to build great experiences

We need to be thinking holistically about digital. Some Barclaycard research shows that over half of consumers (52%) would choose to tell their friends and peers about an enjoyable brand experience rather than a purchase they’ve made. Whether it’s a nice touch, or something surprising.

With smartphones outcompeting TV for UK consumers’ attention, the digital world is the perfect place to engage consumers. To deliver surprising and amazing experiences.

Digital enables brands to be when and where consumers need them. But we’re missing something if that’s where we stop with our thinking. Now we live in a digital world, the marketing conversation needs to change. We need to think about how brands engage with consumers. How we create experiences that open up brands to wider audiences – growing the brand for long-term value beyond short-term numbers and statistics.

Seeing the fruit of home-grown channels

As around only 30% of experiences are through paid media, share of voice is a poor measure for long-term growth. Owned and earned touchpoints now have more influence on people’s brand experiences.

After years of investment in digital, a lot of brands do have their own highly used and rated channels. For example, the award-winning Barclays app doesn’t just give customers control of their finances – it’s created an important communication channel, allowing them to share special offers and launch campaigns. Creating a hybrid of service and messaging that delivers a positive, wholistic experience for their customers.

Experiences must be positive

Positive experiences drive significantly higher brand consideration than neutral ones, whether across paid, owned or earned media. And as every experience contributes to your brand story, it’s important to not only be distinctive, but also consider what will resonate most with the audience.

Sometimes, time and resources are against us. But we have to be aware that neutral experiences erode already pressured marketing budgets and brand equity. Worse, a negative experience can be expensive and time-consuming to reverse. Which is why developing a positive experience is vital in digital. It’s far easier to click away elsewhere than to walk out of a shop empty-handed, and there’s less for consumers to lose.

Google’s Page Experience Update due to be released next year is a clear indication of the importance of great digital experiences. Our digital team leaders Sam and Dave wrote a bit more about it here. Ultimately – brands who don’t deliver great online experiences will soon start to lose out.

Creating a great experience

We can now connect to more customers, more often – and in more places that we have ever been able to before. But to use these powers to create positive experiences effectively, we have to know how and when to deploy them.

The Five Digital Experiential Superpowers

Superpower Positive experience Neutral or negative experience
Immediacy Being right there, right then, when customers are ready to be engaged Being an unwanted distraction or hindrance
Intimacy Talking 1-2-1 with customers in their language, giving them personalisation when they want it Being intrusive and invading their privacy without an invitation
Interactivity Listening to customers, embracing their needs, wants and ideas Creating engagement without benefit, purpose or meaning
Immersion Building a stronger connection and taking people deeper into the experience Offering irrelevant connection at the wrong time or to the wrong audience
Innovation Surprising or delighting customers with new methods, concepts or ideas Using an innovation because it’s there ­– without connecting to the brand or campaign’s goals

4 ways to use these superpowers for good

Because it’s digital, we can use these superpowers for a wide range of purposes and across different audiences.

  1. Small scale can be super scale

While many companies use social to mitigate bad experiences, how you respond to positive sentiment is vital too. Using immediacy and intimacy, even a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way to reward that fan/customer who has made the effort to engage with your brand. If you’re clever, you can harness their energy and open up a longer conversation that draws more people in.

  1. Opening the world up with accessibility

Around 15% of the world’s population live with some form of disability. Increasingly, designers and UX specialists are realising that accessibility needs to be built in earlier and earlier. Whether it’s the Xbox Adaptive Controller, which is changing lives and bringing Microsoft’s brand mission to help people achieve more; IKEA’s adaption for Israeli customers with disabilities; or Huawei’s StorySign app that converts text to sign for deaf audiences. Digital can help create a positive experience that includes those with some form of disability.

  1. Keeping the doors open around the clock

Digital transcends time and location to interact with customers on their terms. As mentioned, banking apps are delivering positive digital experiences by being there when, where and how the customer needs.

Food delivery apps were quick to capitalise on consumer expectations of convenience and slick UX. Their USP of being when, where and how people want, underwent a dramatic change as social distancing measures became more severe. They became a lifeline for the self-isolating during the fight against Covid-19. Who foresaw contactless deliveries becoming the norm? Even in a crisis, they’re delivering a positive (and safe) experience. Thankfully.

  1. Lowering the barrier to experience

Another trend accelerated by recent events is the ability of digital to bring experiences to those who can’t otherwise access them, whether that’s because of affordability, mobility or quarantine. Museums and art galleries extended their virtual tours and the digitalised their collections.

There’s a whole range of options now for brands wanting to increase the accessibility of their experiences, with digital or streamed versions of live experiences, packaged content, and ‘lite’ experiences of their offline equivalents. With venues and social spaces off limits to brands, digital opens up a new world for innovative ways to create a shared brand experience.

Bringing the audience closer, while making it bigger

By meeting the needs of your audience, you can create a positive digital experience that brings consumers closer to your brand, like Disney on Ice who share helpful tips, content and activities with busy, time-poor parents to pass on to their children, often helping to entertain and educate.

Digital opens this possibility to everyone, and social offers various opportunities to extend the experience for your audience. Whether that’s access to exclusive content, engagement and support through chat bots, creating AR/VR experiences, or some other clever way to use digital to deliver solutions.

It’s hard not to keep thinking about the unfolding global events around us. As my colleague Sam Bettis noted here, digital has been given a real moment to shine – both in fighting this pandemic and being there for customers. Digital can deliver a truly positive experience.

Where do you think digital will take us next? Get in touch to talk to us about it.

Research conducted by Barclaycard Business between 19th June – 5th July 2018

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