More than ever, marketing content is reaching consumers at an unprecedented rate, creating fragmentation of attention and diminishing attention span. Although there are no official figures, it is estimated that the average person is exposed to between 6,000 and 10,000 commercials each day. So even under the best of circumstances, a marketer must compete with thousands of other messages when trying to communicate the benefits of a brand, product or service and motivate the consumer to take action. They also have to compete with ad blockers.
But that’s not the biggest challenge. Consumers want fast, transparent, and personalized experiences how they want to engage. They want ways to simplify their lives, by selecting organizations that are empathetic to their individual goals. They want frictionless and potentially even surprisingly pleasurable experiences. If an organization can’t deliver this level of experience – physically and digitally – consumers will opt out.
There is no good marketing that can make up for a bad experience.
A new value proposition:
If the pain of a bad experience is greater than the value of the product or service, the customer will either abandon their purchase or leave an established relationship. Changing providers is easier than ever.
Think about your personal experience. Have you ever been captivated by an advertisement or other form of marketing only to be disappointed with the experience? In most cases, the amount of effort you are willing to put into starting or continuing a business relationship directly correlates to the perceived value you will receive.
If the value is not significant or if the pain of the experience is too much, you may not even complete the buying process. If you buy and the customer experience continues to be less than desired, your engagement with that brand will either wane or disappear altogether. Financial marketers need to recognize that traditional advertising and marketing is no longer enough. The best way to attract and engage a consumer is to have a great experience.
The power of a positive experience
When was the last time you saw an ad for Uber, Airbnb, or Tesla? You probably haven’t, as these brands have made the decision to invest relatively little in traditional advertising or marketing. Instead, they rely on innovative design, unique user experiences, and word-of-mouth to generate new business and build loyalty.
Especially during the pandemic, consumers have adopted new habits and created loyalty bonds with organizations that have made their lives easier. They’ve used Instacart to simplify grocery shopping, Uber to deliver meals, Amazon for everyday retail needs, and Netflix for entertainment. Many have questioned whether these changes – many of which have accelerated trends already in motion – would be temporary or permanent. Research indicates that this accelerated transition to better digital experiences persists.
Good experiences can reduce marketing costs:
Many big brands benefit from word of mouth marketing rather than purchased media to drive sales.
The transition to better experiences is also happening in financial services. Acorns offers an easy way to save. PayPal and Venmo provide a seamless way to make payments and transfer funds. And, Robinhood took inspiration from social platforms and gamified stock trading. In most cases, the advertising and marketing is modest, with a heavy reliance on word of mouth.
A shift from functional to emotional
Marketing will be much more effective if we get decent customer experiences first. Indeed, consumers increasingly appreciate brands that offer the kind of experience they want – and that they are already receiving from other big brands. The key may be to move from functional experiences to emotional experiences.
In his book “Designing for Emotion,” Aaron Walter designed a pyramid of user experiences similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, where we start with basic functional user experiences and aspire to deliver enjoyable and even enjoyable experiences. As with Maslow’s pyramid, the highest level is almost never reached. I’ve made some adjustments to Walter’s Pyramid, below, but the concept is the same… we want to move on from basic design features to create some memorable moments.
The levels of the user experience pyramid include:
- Functional. It meets the basic requirements to support the product. The experience can be completed by the consumer in an acceptable amount of time with modest effort. There is a clear call to action and assistance may be available if the process is not understood.
- Reliable. The experience is consistent across all channels at all times. The use of data and information is optimized for an improved experience.
- Friendliness. The higher the objective characteristics, this level typically relies on user testing to determine if the design and underlying processes are proceeding without a high level of abandonment. How easy is it for the consumer to find what they need and take the desired action?
- Simple. Is the experience lacking in friction that can slow down or confuse the user? Is the process accessible to all customers? This level requires rethinking and restructuring back office processes with an emphasis on speed of execution. Don’t make the consumer do something you can do for them (think about prefilling the data).
- Pleasant. At this level, users will not only engage frequently, but encourage others to do the same. They will be doing word of mouth marketing which will have a multiplier effect on traditional marketing efforts. There is a level of uniqueness and creativity that far exceeds expectations (think about the first time you left an Uber without pulling out your wallet or phone). Personalization makes the experience more enjoyable.
Don’t just “OK”:
The challenge is that many organizations don’t go beyond “reliable” or “usable” experiences.
The user experience that can shift market share is when an experience is simple, easy and enjoyable… like Uber. It’s the difference between being able to open a new account or applying for a loan in a few steps that takes less than three minutes and a process that takes more than ten minutes. It is the difference between “fair” simplicity and a user experience accessible to all and sensitive to the individual needs of the consumer.
We must strive to create pleasant experiences that customers will share with others.
Collaboration between technology and marketing
Financial marketers will have a much greater potential for success if they can complement their creativity with a focus on exceptional product and service experiences. It bears repeating: in a digital world, where speed and simplicity is expected, no marketing can make up for a substandard user experience.
According to an article in the MIT Technology Review, “Every financial institution is turning to digital transformation to meet growing customer expectations for speed and convenience, lower operating costs and fend off competition, including from technology companies. who are entering financial services ”. Some spend more than 10% of their annual income on technology investments, according to Bloomberg. This level of investment is necessary because most financial institutions are catching up with customer expectations.
The user experience pyramid is dynamic:
Customer expectations for each level of the user experience pyramid continue to rise.
The levels of the user experience pyramid are not static. The digital economy is creating a cycle of digitization with better and faster digital products, services and devices, as well as tremendous pressure on organizations to use technology to transform their operations. The pandemic was a wake-up call to organizations that believed it was enough to provide “digital access”.
An article by Jack Ashdown states: “Perhaps one of the most interesting areas of customer experience creativity will be the merging of advertising with the design of user experience within brand experiences. So, rather than a battle for supremacy, customer experience strategy may become the focal point of increased collaboration between tech designers and advertisers.