Marketers are constantly battling for their brands to stand out in a crowded marketplace. But with so many companies vying for attention, it is becoming more difficult than ever to get the word out about your company and its products or services. That's why digital experience has become one of the hottest trends in marketing today—it provides an opportunity to break through the clutter and connect with potential customers like never before.

What is digital experience (DX)?

Digital experience (DX) is a broad term. It spans the range of people’s experiences with an organization's communications, products, and processes on every digital touchpoint. Enriched with appealing visuals and product assets to be aesthetically pleasing and visually engaging, digital experiences can include anything from social media campaigns that encourage engagement on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc., email campaigns that offer information relevant to your customer's interests, or even SMS text messages that can be sent instantly when there is breaking news about your brand. But digital experience can also include websites designed specifically for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

Still a bit abstract? Let's try with a tangible example.

A couple of years ago, luxury fashion house Gucci decided to create a powerful digital experience on social media to promote their Bloom fragrance. By combining augmented reality and creative animation, they created a digital experience that was an industry first: an interactive flower crown for social media users to “wear.”

Users were captivated by the aesthetics, engaged by the gamification element, and surprised to be able to interact and play with the brand. Without any prompt, they started taking selfies, posting, and sharing them online—creating terabytes of priceless user-generated content and increasing the brand's visibility on a global scale.

It goes without saying that the campaign was a resounding success and the results were nothing short of impressive. This digital experience alone earned the brand 5.5M impressions and 500.000 shares on social media.

Why is digital experience such a powerful tool?

1 - Social media gives consumers a voice

By giving customers a voice, social media has shifted brand-customer communication patterns and forced companies to look at their customer experience in the face. Consumers aren't shy about sharing their opinions of a brand, the services, and the experiences they deliver online. If frustrated or dissatisfied they will take to social media to let the world know—in the digital-first world, poor digital experience immediately impacts the brand.

But beyond having developed an eye for digital experience and venting their frustration online, customers will not hesitate to abandon a brand if the experiences they provide fall short of expectations—similarly, they will not hesitate to recommend the brands that deliver engaging experiences.

2 - Customers won't settle for less-than-extraordinary experiences

For years, digital leaders such as Amazon and Netflix have been spoiling customers with ever more granular and personalized digital experiences. In a similar fashion, the majority of start-up companies that have been spawning in the DTC, tech and digital services landscape (often founded and run by digital-natives, providing more or less the same services and differentiating themselves mostly on the basis of the experiences they offer their customers) have also contributed to setting the bar higher than ever when it comes to customer expectations. Today, 73% of customers say one extraordinary experience raises their expectations of other companies.

In the digital-first world, competitors are only a click away. This makes it easier than ever for customers to compare vendors based on their digital customer experience (especially if their products, services, or prices are similar). A targeted, personalized experience that reassures and anticipates the needs of the potential customer—while engaging them with impactful creative content—goes a long way in securing a sale.

But even though digital experiences are created in an attempt to cut through the digital noise and help a brand stand out from the competition, they too often have the opposite result—they are often, in fact, all identical.

3 - Consumers are fatigued by digital sameness

In the digital marketplace, digital giants and smaller brands rely on similar technologies to deliver similar experiences on similar devices—making it harder for brands to stand out. The optimal experience of buying a plane ticket will be pretty much the same, irrespective of the airline you travel with; similarly, you will always be adding your items to a cart when shopping online for clothes or groceries.

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As companies develop fixed, optimal experiences for their customers, the route to differentiation will increasingly be a strong brand and great product. But great visual content is going to be what differentiates brands from one another.

Being inundated with uniform and uninspiring experiences makes consumers more responsive to anything that catches their attention. This means that any brand able to engage and captivate customers effectively and repeatedly across the customer journey has tremendous opportunity to disrupt a competitor or gain market share in an industry.

But to truly stand out, experiences need to be planned, personalized, and executed strategically across the whole length of the digital customer journey—and in the digital age, this just got a lot harder.

4 - The digital customer journey is long(er)

This might sound counterintuitive to a lot of people. And in fact, you might be excused for assuming that all it takes to make a purchase online is the click of a button. But that only describes the last step of a very long journey that the buyer might have started weeks earlier.

The buyer's journey got a lot longer because the sheer number of touchpoints used to reach customers has grown exponentially. The traditional marketing funnel/customer journey that has a straight line no longer exists. Choosing to become a customer is now a long process that's partly influenced by:

  • a brand's marketing efforts (across a funnel that today looks more like a maze)

  • competitors' marketing efforts

  • the quality of the communication with these brands

  • the impact of the content the buyer is targeted with

  • other buyer opinions and reviews

But buyers also display a number of behaviors that are simply beyond a brand's control of even their understanding. To give an example, 92% of people visit a brand's website for the first time for reasons other than making a purchase.

A longer purchase cycle means customers have more opportunities to drop out and not make a purchase, while the sheer number of existing touchpoints makes it hard to deliver a powerful, memorable, and consistent digital customer experience. Customers expect authenticity, personalization, and empathy in order to pay back with loyalty.

A longer customer journey with a higher number of touchpoints means brands must engage customers at every stage, or they'll stray to any competitor offering an experience they deem more valuable. And this happens all the time; according to a recent survey, ​​75% of consumers reported that they will leave without completing a transaction if they encounter an error, and 65% say they trust a business less when they experience a problem using a website or mobile app—ultimately splintering customer relationships and loyalty.

5 - Engaging digital experiences drive revenue

Marketers seem to know this intuitively. But most marketers don't seem to fully grasp the degree to which this statement is true. According to a recent report by Salesforce 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.

As the transition from markets to e-markets continues to gain pace and more and more purchase experiences happen online, Salesforce has also found that 55% of customers prefer digital channels over traditional channels (68% of Millennials / Gen Z) while 40% of customers won’t do business with a company if they can’t use their preferred channels.

But if you're still looking for further proof that digital experiences drive revenue for brands in any industry, just look at the most striking result from Salesforce's survey: a stunning 66% of customers are willing to pay more for a great digital experience!

So how can brands create engaging and profitable digital experiences?

While it seems pretty clear by now that a great digital experience is currently the biggest weapon in a brand’s marketing arsenal, the big question remains: what goes into the creation of digital experiences, and what contributes to their "greatness"?

Our next blog in the series: "Why is creative content essential to crafting powerful digital experiences?" will cover why crafting compelling and unforgettable digital experiences is within everyone's reach—just like the revenue they drive. But if you are hungry for more juicy stats and figures, start by checking out our State of Branding '21 report to discover the latest trends and technologies set to shape the future of brand marketing 👇.

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