Key Takeaways (6-minute read)
- Consumer experience is just as important as the product or service you’re providing.
- Today’s technology provides consumers the power to choose how they engage with your brand.
- Focus on what makes your brand unique and translate that into the consumer journey at every step.
As consumers become savvier than ever about the ways they can and desire to interact with brands, it’s crucial that brands understand and are able to deliver exceptional experiences time after time. Your product might be the best of its kind or your service might be outstanding, but if consumers can’t navigate your app, they think your brand is boring, or it takes three transfers to reach the right customer service rep every time they call, your business will struggle or fail altogether.
The ethos and goals of consumer engagement haven’t changed. As ever, the first rule is simply The Golden Rule: treat your consumers the way you would want to be treated. Treat them as people, not numbers, and treat them with courtesy and respect.
Be versatile. According to consumer research conducted by Gartner earlier this year, “Through 2022, 50 percent of large organizations will have failed to unify engagement channels, resulting in a disjointed and siloed customer experience that lacks context, according to Gartner, Inc.” Don’t be one of them!
What do consumers expect in today’s rapidly changing digital world? As we discussed in our last blog, consumer engagement today means performing the research to find out where and how your audience wants to connect with your brand. With so many methods of engagement available—social media, email marketing, phone, text messaging, apps, traditional commercials and ads—people are more choosier than ever about how they engage with their favorite brands. Talk to your audience. Have conversations with customers, perform surveys, and pay attention to the metrics about where you’re seeing the most engagement, then focus more on those channels but don’t completely neglect the others. People want to enjoy your products or content on their terms, so making it available on multiple platforms is no longer optional if you want to grow and retain consumers.
Be consistent. So, you’ve figured out the most in-demand platforms for consumer engagement—now how does the consumer experience carry from one platform to the next? Keeping your brand promise should be the focus as you set up various channels. UI and UX are important, as is design; your look, feel, and branding should always be present, so your digital and design teams should be connected to create an experience that is unmistakably your brand.
Think about Target: its red-and-white look carries through every piece of its marketing, from store design and employee uniforms to its packaging, website, apps, print ads, in-store advertising, and more. The mega-retailer recently updated its Target mobile app to integrate its former Cartwheel savings app and add new features for coupons, curbside pickup, delivery options, returns, and touchless checkout. The app is an extension of the existing consumer experience that people love. By combining its e-commerce, savings app, and customer service in one place, the brand reinforced that experience and made it more seamless than ever for its audiences, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
Keep Moving Forward. What can brands do to stay current or even look into the future of consumer engagement? Like Target has done, a good place to start is creating a platform for the consumer journey to easily transition from in-person to digital. Your online platform must offer something that others don’t—like an all-in-one experience or a unique way for consumers to engage with you. Maybe that means games—Nabisco Candystand, anyone?—or maybe it’s simply offering a one-on-one customer service experience that blows all others out of the water. Whatever method works best for your brand strategy, do it with gusto, and don’t be afraid to be different. Give the consumer a reason to interact or a goal to reach.
“Ultimately, CMOs must shift toward a balanced portfolio of ‘course changers’ and ‘course smoothers’: continuing to invest in seamless experiences for customers’ automatic tasks, while prompting customers to lean into natural moments of reflection,” says Gartner.
The startup-turned-$1.6 billion publicly traded fashion company Stitch Fix is a good example for creating unique digital experiences. Its app allows customers to subscribe to deliveries of clothing “Fixes” that include a box of five items specially selected for them by a Stitch Fix stylist. The app also includes style quizzes that are fun and engaging, offering a “like” or “dislike” for items that pop up on screen. Not only are they a quick, fun way to keep your consumers on the hook, they also provide direct consumer feedback that will improve the stylists’ choices as well as an overall gauge of what products consumers are looking for at any given time, what’s trending, and what’s “out.” Stitch Fix also introduced an e-commerce section to the app last year, where consumers can shop items at will instead of waiting for their next Fix.
Break the Rules. Clever headline aside, there really are no clear-cut “rules” for consumer engagement, and even if there were, we’d break them. Innovation is vital to keeping your brand promises throughout crises and shifting consumer needs, which we’ve all learned the hard way these past couple of years. There’s no one-strategy-fits-all branding model. Thinking creatively and finding a way to give your customers the experience they want—after engaging directly with them to find out what that is—is always going to be your best bet.
What makes your brand different from others? Home in on that ethos and your mission statement. This is what will make you stand out in any field, on any platform, online and off. Whether it’s Invisalign’s genius at-home orthodontics program or Brandless turning the marketing model around with its minimalist approach, we love seeing innovators shaking up their fields and learning from their bold moves.
If you need help identifying your brand’s superpower or distinguishing it from others, get in touch with the brand futurists and strategists at Antonio & Paris. We’d love to break a few rules with you.
A&P, a brand agency, excels in finding innovative ways for clients to provide exceptional experiences to their customers. Their work includes consumer insight, brand innovation, creative development, mobile and technology solutions for global brands such as AT&T, Mini USA, DIRECTV, Newell Rubbermaid, Tenet Healthcare, and Barco Escape. For more information about A&P, visit them on Facebook, Twitter or antonioandparis.com.