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Becoming the preference

April 22, 2016

Once a customer is aware of the brand, marketing efforts should be focused on ensuring the customer chooses to purchase from you, over the potentially several other brands they have also been exposed to. Your competitors are employing customer experience tools too after all. Brand preference is almost directly correlated to brand experience – together, the two have a defining impact on customer’s purchasing choices, hence this stage is often considered the most definitive stage of the customer journey.

It is at this point therefore that it is imperative businesses are aware of the ‘moments of truth’ referred to in the introduction and their impact on defining experience. In a competitive market, the customer won’t hesitate to shift to a competitor offering the same product if the interaction becomes frustrating for any reason. Providing the information and tools the customer needs to seamlessly pass through the path to purchase regardless of interaction, device or location is crucial to ensuring the customer values your service over any other.

Website frustrations lead to lost sales

With a strong SEO campaign in place to drive awareness, a brand’s website is normally the first point of contact. Once at the website the consumer has sight of all the information needed about products, services, locations and so on that can help to shape preference toward the brand. Ensuring SEO is supported by as much consumer-useful information as possible, such as up-to-date details about stores and locations, including being searchable on Google and social channels is the best way to ensure the consumer’s search isn’t disrupted by uncertainty. Coupled with this is making sure the responsiveness of the site’s design and functionality doesn’t divert the customer. A recent Kantar study revealed that 69% of shoppers become frustrated by brand sites that aren’t mobile ready. So much is the case that it leaves a bad impression on the customer who is then unlikely to return to site.

Similarly, localised versions of the website can have a huge impact on a customer’s preference of your brand over another. Companies can use localised sites to foster a greater connection between customers and their local store. These localised sites are a great opportunity for brands to answer consumers’ expectations of practical information such as product inventory, comprehensive description of services, or experts offered at individual locations, geolocation features, all of this in an engaging, brand-consistent, environment. Research has shown that 50% of mobile and 34% of tablet users visit a store within a day of their local search, highlighting just how important both optimised and localised sites are for driving preference and a seamless customer journey.

In our next post, we will discuss the purchase stage – providing tips for marketers on the best way to ensure preference coverts to sales.


Why brands need to embrace sophisticated technologies to stay ahead of the creative game

February 18, 2015

Brands are increasingly recognising the importance of creativity and its power to influence market share. This has led to a growing trend of creative competiveness, which has seen brands vying to outdo each other in their quest to be seen as the most original. This sudden rush to gain a reputation for being cool and innovative has been supported by disruptive ads, enhanced digital experiences, buzz marketing and out-of-the-box thinking and has now become an essential part of marketers’ strategies.

 

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Creativity as the starting point.

For a brand, employing a creative strategy relies on embracing the latest, sophisticated technologies with enthusiasm, while keeping a multidisciplinary approach. What is surprising, though, is that not so long ago many brands could have been put in the category of “early majority” or “late majority”,  in accordance with Rogers’ bell curve model about the innovation adoption lifecycles (figure 1).

Undeniably, creativity today is also tied to online technologies. The retail industry, for example, took a long time to realise the unlimited potential of digital; not only in regard to ecommerce, but also in relation to the online to in-store customer journey, webrooming & showrooming, storytailing etc.   Fortunately, however, there seems to have been a change in this mentality in recent years, with retail brands today taking more and more steps to embrace creativity, resulting in them clearly becoming “early adopters” and “innovators,” helping to enhance the user experience.

 

A new way of working: inspiration is everywhere.

To help support creativity, brands are starting to establish new working schemes and are hiring staff who have the ability to predict the next big digital trends or even better, to create new behaviours. Digital natives are pushing the boundaries of innovation and leading from the front: they draw their inspiration from YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, bloggers, artists, creative people and talents from a variety of backgrounds to drive creativity by developing and implementing new concepts. However, there are certain areas where brands still struggle to be creative, and where they aren’t making the most of the opportunities that present themselves. This is where sophisticated marketing technologies can come into play, helping brands to bolster their creative strategies.

 

Where creativity should be improved.

Over 34 million local searches are made every day in the UK. Behind this figure hides an insatiable customer need for precise, local and up-to-date information. With such clear customer demand, the time for pretexts and excuses is over: we are living in an era in which there are more technological solutions available than technological issues.

It therefore makes sense for marketers to seize the opportunity to give people what they really want, and implement solutions that really make their lives easier. Sophisticated local marketing tools help brands foster connections between customers and their local outlets. A recent Internet Retailing report revealed that 74 percent of customers like to see whether an item they’re searching for is in stock at a nearby store. Therefore, by providing the customer with this information when they’re searching for a local outlet, they are able to not only find out where they can buy their chosen brand, but also if what they’re looking for is in store. This approach is proven to dramatically improve the customer experience, driving footfall to stores and improving customer retention and loyalty.

With local marketing gaining momentum, marketers are faced with a number of options to choose from. However, the abundance of providers means marketers often struggle to choose a quality solution. When investing in local marketing, it is therefore important that brands thoroughly research the options available, to ensure they opt for a provider that will really help them to drive sales.

 

Put the customer experience at the heart of your online strategy.

Brands are not only judged by the quality of their products and services, but also by their capacity to provide exceptional online user experiences. When on the Internet, patience is an unusual quality. Every detail counts and the slightest glitch could cause you to lose customers. Ensuring a smooth and seamless customer experience is mandatory including the ease of site navigation and the perfect balance between differentiating designs. It’s also important to offer a consistent choice both in terms of products and also in terms of customer relationship services for example: social media responsiveness, payment methods, collection of the product, loyalty programs and services…By putting the customer experience at the heart of your online strategy, you will increase the chance of them engaging with your brand, ultimately helping to increase sales, customer loyalty and customer retention.

 

Give impetus to the buying decision process.

The time has long since passed when the only way to engage was the “BUY NOW” button. At that time, the major difference was that the online visitor was already convinced and ready to buy. It was only for the convenience of paying online and being delivered. Today, a brand’s website has become a fundamental step in the buying decision process. Visitors expect to be reassured, agreeably surprised, and supported during the purchasing process. To attract and retain customers, it’s therefore important that brands respond to these changes in buyer behaviour and adapt to customers’ way of purchasing. That’s why you have to feed their need for complementary information and relevant content in a very easy and convenient way.

We are living at a time when shoppers spend more time online to compare products, see more pictures, read reviews or find vouchers. Brands need to get the right tools to be part of these steps, and retain the visitor on their website.  Through adopting this approach, brands will diversify the customer experience and increase the number of paths to purchase. In addition, these creative approaches to marketing strategies will strengthen the relationship between customer and brand, again helping to build customer loyalty. To conclude, being creative is not incompatible with your IT strategy, but rather it can be a vital tool in helping to dramatically improve results. . Densifying and diversifying your presence and your content will please today’s customers and their ever-increasing expectations, so brands shouldn’t be afraid to widen the field of possibilities. With sophisticated technologies such as local marketing solutions, it’s now easier than ever for brands to think outside the box to really engage with their customers, giving them a creative edge.

This post was originally published on Fourth Source.