It is no secret that the digital marketplace is expanding at what can only be called a breakneck pace. So, the expectations of the customer are rising dramatically. Meeting these needs can make all of the difference in the world between a failed business and one which is destined for success. Unfortunately, I have seen many enterprises that continue to struggle with adapting to such technologies. Not only are potential clients increasingly critical of how a product or service is presented, but the inclusion of mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets also needs to be addressed. So, how can implementing the correct digital strategy enhance the user experience and what techniques need to be embraced? Let's take a closer look at these two important questions.
The (Evolving) Internet of Things
The first point that we should realize is that as opposed to a handful of years ago, users are much more aware of what comprises a quality website and a sound presentation. A visitor will no longer wait for a website to load for an inordinate amount of time; he or she is likely to simply return to the search results page and look elsewhere. Users seek ease of navigation, proactive product content, social media contacts and the ability to interact directly with the business. Also, we should never forget that third-party review sites are now becoming critical in determining which business is preferred over another.
In turn, customer-oriented businesses are changing their strategies to present a multifaceted approach to enhance the user experience. Sites are more streamlined. The "curated approach" now goes a long way. Text is written for organic searches as opposed to Google algorithms. Additionally, platforms such as WordPress are now being employed in comparison to outsourcing web design to a professional. A final note centers around the undeniable fact that even the largest companies are now making full use of social media. Words such as "viral" and "blog" have now become industry standards. It is indeed a brave new world, but the advancement does not stop here.
The Rise of the Smartphone
It is estimated that no less than twenty-five percent of Internet access now occurs through mobile devices. In fact, this trend is only expected to pick up pace in the months and years ahead. As more users are now enjoying remote access, some sites are struggling to cope. In fact, I have seen many that still lack the ability to be displayed correctly on a smartphone or tablet screen. Mobile and wearable devices are here to stay. They are not a whim or a fad. As more enterprises realize this fact, it is inevitable that further integration will naturally occur (lest they suffer the consequences).
Businesses are taking this problem seriously. They are now evolving their platforms into versions that are just as compatible with mobile devices as they are with a static PC. Apps and widgets are now the craze; both providing quick access to products and services that are literally at one's fingertips.
Still, we have to appreciate the undeniable fact that numerous sites will need to entirely streamline their current formats to accommodate for this paradigm shift. Naturally, some are better at doing this than others. The creation of the mobile application (while nearly unheard of only a few years ago) is now one of the biggest businesses across the Internet.
The Alphabet Soup of CRM
Customer relations management is now critical. The end user expects that his or her needs will be met in a real-time scenario. This is the primary reason why we now see live chat widgets embedded within many websites. While a static contact form or a telephone number are all well and good, many clients desire to speak with a representative in real time. This enables him or her to feel as if they have a personal relationship with the company in question. In turn, the company can address any issues as they arise. So, the business can ask "How are we doing?" as opposed to "How did we do?".
More than the Customer Alone
Without the correct exposure, the dreams of any business will never take flight. So, proper SEO techniques are also becoming paramount from a marketing point of view. Gone are the days of the so-called "black hat" techniques such as keyword stuffing. Now, text is written with the consumer and the latest Google updates (such as Penguin) in mind. This serves two main purposes. First, no one wants to feel as if a site is addressing robots as opposed to their desires. Secondly, Google absolutely LOVES text and web design that is appealing to their search engine. The end results are high rankings, more inbound traffic and of course, the greater chances of converting a visitor into a customer.
I believe that this is one of the greatest challenges in digital business today. Management needs to carefully balance SEO and exposure techniques with the ability to actively address the needs of the customer. In other words, in the new world of the "Internet of Things", a robust digital strategy needs to be employed in synergy with the user's experience and the needs of the business.
All Things Considered...
From my viewpoint, the concepts that we have described are not what we would call rocket science. It has been known for quite a long time that the success of any operation is gauged by how the customer is addressed and the level of exposure that a marketing campaign allows. Still, this is more often that not easier said than done.
We need to remember that the tactics which worked yesterday and today may very well be outdated tomorrow. Or, a completely new market may open up ( or your customers start using new devices such as smartphones and maybe even a smartwatch). Although technical knowledge is great to possess, management must strive to keep their finger on the pulse of the digital world and have a digital strategy for executing well. This will enable any business to keep pace with the rising expectations of the consumer while also ensuring that online efficacy will steadily grow.
Do you have a digital strategy that spans the people, processes, and tools of your organization? Sometimes we will see that there is great appetite to fund the development of a tangible initiative but less appetite to ensure the successful execution of the initiatives. While that has often been the case, we are now seeing clients that are feeling the pain of not having a digital strategy in place and are doing the work of optimizing their business.