With 89% of brands prioritizing customer-facing digital experiences in 2021, it’s imperative that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and their teams rethink their digital experience strategy as they seek to reduce friction and build customer loyalty
58% of customers believe that most brands’ digital experiences have little to no impact on what they end up buying, according to Gartner. With 89% of brands prioritizing customer-facing digital experiences in 2021, it’s imperative that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and their teams rethink their digital experience strategy as they seek to reduce friction and build customer loyalty.
“The last year has brought on an acceleration in new digital experiences, as brands attempt to build more seamless and connected customer journeys,” said Kristina LaRocca-Cerrone, Director, Advisory in the Gartner for Marketers practice. “However, our research shows that customers perceive these experiences as undifferentiated and – more importantly – that digital experiences rarely shift their buying behavior.”
A Gartner survey of more than 3,000 customers conducted between December 2020 and January 2021 revealed that nearly half of customers can’t tell the difference between most brands’ digital experiences, and even fewer customers actually report doing something different as a result of a recent digital experience (see Figure).
Figure: Evidence for Why Digital Experiences Fail to Build Brands and Shape Customer Journeys
Source: Gartner (May 2021)
There are three key lessons CMOs should keep in mind when re-strategizing and developing digital experiences that pay off:
Course Changes Build Customer Loyalty
According to Gartner, a course-changing digital experience leads customers to shift their perspective or approach and begin to take confident steps toward their goal. A positive course change can impact brand preference by 37% and behavioral advocacy by 54%.
“When customers do something differently with confidence after a digital experience, that creates a lasting brand impression and inspires customers to share their memorable experience with others,” said LaRocca-Cerrone.
Self-Reflective Learning Drives Course Changes
Customers’ self-reflective learning during a digital experience has 2x the impact on driving customers’ course changes, compared to user experience functionalities. This is because customers change course when they feel empowered and ready to do something different, not because of a slick or intuitive user interface. “To trigger these valuable customer course changes, CMOs must invest in building a new class of digital experiences that slows customers down at key junctures and rewards their self-reflection,” added LaRocca-Cerrone.
Specific Tasks Trigger Course Changes
Because course changing digital experiences may not be appropriate for all parts of the customer journey, CMOs should look to deploy these experiences selectively to support customers’ most naturally reflective tasks. For example, tasks that are more exploratory in nature – such as goal setting and problem identification – are better points to engage customers in course changing experiences. 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.