The digital experiences people expect and marketers can deliver have changed dramatically, and Jason Spero has had a front-row seat. Now, Google’s VP of Global Performance Solutions is keeping an eye on the consumer behaviours shaping the next generation of experiences.
We’re living in the golden age of user experience. Startups are upending entire industries with their focus on simplicity, while traditional companies reinvent themselves on mobile to stay relevant.
But it’s not the technology that gets me most excited. Rather it’s the rich experiences that technology is enabling for consumers and the impact it’s having on marketers like you and me. The speed at which brands are introducing compelling new experiences is only accelerating. We’ve not seen anything like it before.
For us as marketers, that means consumer expectations are higher than ever. We’re no longer competing with the best experience in our respective categories. We’re now competing with the best experience a consumer has ever had.
Every time a company designs a rich, useful, or innovative experience, it raises the bar for what consumers care about. On the flip side, if an experience is frustrating or annoying, a consumer may not give that company a second chance. In fact, 50% of users abandon mobile transactions because they’ve had a poor experience1.
Building a great user experience is a challenge, especially as we all grapple with how and when to experiment with new technologies.
But rather than think about the technologies first, I find it helps to imagine the experience you’d want as a consumer, apply it to your brand, and build toward that. Here are three things I hear from consumers when it comes to what they expect from brands:
“Help me faster”
Technology is becoming assistive in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few years ago. We can pay for coffee with a tap of a phone. We can deposit a cheque by snapping a photo. And we can order laundry detergent with a voice command to a digital assistant.
But as technology enables faster experiences, consumers are growing impatient. Their willingness to wait is declining and, as a result, consumers are shifting their thinking from, “Who does it best?” to “Who does it best now?”
There’s a price to pay if you don’t consider speed. Fifty-three percent of people will abandon a mobile site if it takes more than three seconds to load2. Now here’s the reality: We tested 900,000 mobile sites globally and found that the average time it takes to fully load a mobile page is 22 seconds3.
Speed is a developer’s problem, a designer’s problem, and therefore, a marketer’s problem. When marketers prioritise speed it has a ripple effect. Designers must then focus on selecting visual elements, fonts, and a design structure that allow for fast, frictionless mobile experiences. And developers can further optimise, ensuring the best mobile experience possible.
“Know me better”
Personalised and relevant experiences are key to connecting with consumers, and they have a positive impact on the bottom line. 36% of retail executives note that efforts around personalisation have driven two to five times ROI or greater, according to a report by Drapers and RetailWeek.4
But personalisation is a strategy, not a feature. We have an opportunity to be smarter with data, using important signals about customers—such as browsing behaviour or CRM data—to shape their experiences.
For example, when Maybelline was preparing to launch new products for contouring—a type of makeup application that is becoming more mainstream—it used insights from Google to craft how-to videos, which are personalised by intent and demographic. As a result, Maybelline’s videos reached 9M viewers.
Likewise, 63% of people expect brands to use their purchase history to provide them with personalised experiences. In other words, if you know I just purchased a pair of shoes, then offer me socks or a matching belt to go with them.
“Wow me everywhere”
Brands need to consider how all of their experiences—across media, channels, and devices—fit together.
Sixty-two percent of people expect brands to deliver a consistent experience every time they interact with a brand. But only 42% believe brands actually do provide a consistent experience6.
River Island provides a good example of seamless, consistent experiences in action.The brand’s team recognised the importance of bridging the gaps between the digital and physical worlds. In 2016, River Island became the first UK fashion brand to reach shoppers doing mobile research near their stores, with Google’s Local Inventory Ads.
Shoppers were treated to a locally stock-checked shopping opportunity, with a ‘Local Storefront’ page showing availability and nearest shops. It introduced them to the mobile equivalent of peering into shop windows – and built a handy bridge between searching and shopping. The result was a 17% increase in store visits compared to standard Shopping campaigns.
“Those who invest in creating memorable experiences will win users’ hearts and minds”
Jason Spero VP of Global Performance Solutions at Google
Bringing it all together
As consumer behaviours shift, it will be important to rethink the investments we make in the user experience. Removing friction and bridging the gaps between channels—all while treating each customer as a unique individual—will be key.
Ultimately, creating great digital customer experiences is not solely a product challenge or a marketing challenge. It’s a business opportunity. And those who invest in creating memorable experiences will win users’ hearts, minds, and ultimately, share of the wallet.