Transforming Your Digital Brand by Developing Interconnected Experiences

Marketing groups work in silos in many organizations, separated by perceived differences in goals and tasks, and the lack of interoperability between systems. In one corner, an email marketing manager collaborates with designers to tweak the next email blast, while on the other side of the room, a SEM is working to optimize keyword effectiveness. Meanwhile, a brand manager buzzes around the room, attempting to coordinate group efforts towards the next big promotional project.

Does this sound familiar?

For many years, marketing activities have been primarily driven by campaigns. This drive has come about through the traditional role of marketing within the organization being the promotion of awareness about company objectives.

Marketing’s role in the organization has fundamentally altered with the rapid scaling and evolution of digital technology during the past two decades.

Success in today’s landscape can only be achieved by pivoting marketing’s view of responsibilities beyond campaign management, and towards total ownership of customer engagement and experience through all facets of brand interaction.

Why are experience and engagement so important?

Experience represents different things for different companies, but can be described as the set of connections between a customer and brand driven by customer engagement.  The experience of the customer during engagement touch points are now, more than ever, responsible for nurturing a positive or negative association with a brand. Engagement and experience are the primary drivers towards likelihood of interaction driving brand advocacy, or detraction.

In today’s environment, digital engagement and experience is every bit as important as physical interactions with a brand. The higher the level of required engagement on the part of the customer, the more cohesive and streamlined the experience delivered must be on the part of the vendor.

For example, in the retail space, interconnected brand experience may represent the path between a customer decision to download the retailers’ App and sign-in, followed by communication of a promotional coupon, successful in-store redemption using the App, and results from this engagement being fed into a loyalty program. All of these interactions leverage digital technology.

In public service / entertainment driven markets, such as theme parks, interconnected experience will more likely represent the enhancement of the on-site engagement during a visit by provision of supporting tools such as apps, wearables, and other customizable digital engagement channels. For consumers, these experiences can optimize a visit (by providing support information such as wait times, show booking, etc), while also providing valuable data back to the organization to help support further development and refinement of digital activities.

For all consumer facing channels, mapping the customer experience to be seamless and dynamic will create positive interactions, and will reward the customer for their decision to pursue a deeper engagement through digital channels.

An early case study in interconnected experience: Starbucks

Starbucks has been an early innovator in creating strong holistic digital brand experiences for customers.  The company pioneered in-store digital currency and mobility in 2011 by integrating a barcode reader to the Starbucks App, and offering customers the option to convert gift cards into supported digital currency.  Starbucks’ Global Chief Digital Officer, Adam Brotman, and his team, created a streamlined digital engagement channel with a variety of positive outcomes:

  1. Frictionless end-to-end user experience.
  2. Creating interconnectedness between POS data and loyalty program
  3. Expedited traffic flow in-stores
  4. Created a channel to align Apple Passbook/Google Waller

The creation of a path to digital currency engagement for customers through the App and innovative use of POS readers is an excellent example of developing interconnected experiences that heighten user engagement, while also providing valuable marketing information back to the company.  A key to Starbucks success in their implementation was the recognition of the market in which they operate, and the tailoring of their digital brand experience to be appealing to their customers value drivers. I will provide detail on how brands can identify their own value drivers in the digital space in future articles in this series.

The Three Rocks of Interconnected Experience:

Companies seeking to build seamless digital brand experience should look at three distinct areas of their workings to determine whether they are ready, and to define approaches they should feel comfortable towards with regards to creating interconnected experiences.  These areas of focus may be represented as The Three Rocks of Interconnected Experience’.

 

In a future post I’ll be providing some specific detail on each of the three rocks, and covering important considerations for marketing professionals who are considering their position in the digital space, and looking to create opportunities to leverage interconnected experiences to transform their digital brand experience.

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