Here at DEG, each associate is tasked with staying up to date with the tools and trends that our clients, partners, and their customers are asking for today, while still looking ahead to be prepared for what tomorrow will bring.
This is no easy task as consumer trends are becoming more and more multichannel. A recent report from Quixel Research shows 78% of consumers used their smartphone or tablet while watching television. In March 2012, LJS Strategic Research found 66% of consumers used their smartphone or tablet to research purchases and 38% of those did so while in the actual retail store. With consumer trends like these, designing experiences for a single channel is no longer enough.
While the mediums and trends have evolved at a lightning pace over the last decade in particular, many multichannel strategies pioneered in the early 1900s by a man named Claude C. Hopkins still apply. Even though Hopkins was in advertising, he set himself apart from many of his peers by crafting deep user experiences though a variety of methods – innovations that are still have impact to this day.
Measure Everything – This is common sense these day; however, like most things that are common sense, people need reminded of such from time to time (myself included). How effective was that television commercial? What was the reach on that tweet that talked about how great the product was? Hopkins believed that every advertisement was meant to sell something and every advertisement campaign should be measurable. This ability to measure is why print advertisers produce the same coupon with different codes in different publications. What is possible for print is also possible for digital. Any link can be coded and tracked, be it from an email, through Twitter or Facebook, or from a native application on a smartphone. Without measuring, you cannot determine success.
Be Consistent – Hopkins was pragmatic and, while not explicit, understood the need for consistency in his campaigns. In the late 1800s while a bookkeeper for the Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company, he was allowed to design a campaign for the carpet sweeper. Up to that point the information was focused on the technical superiority of the product; information which didn’t appeal to the primary users of the time. His campaign focused on the creation of a pamphlet that targeted the appropriate consumers and appealed to the aesthetics of the product. While the pamphlet was sent out to the field, he also made sure to provide displays in store that reflected the same information.
This consistency across channels is just as important today as it was over a hundred years ago. One example of this is the growing flux in how consumers read emails. According to Litmus Labs, 23% of the 123 million people tracked were opening email messages on their iPhones. This was the highest percentage email client in their November 2012 study. Yet, according to a study in February of 2012 by MongooseMetrics, 90% of websites aren’t mobile-ready. If a growing number of people are accessing emails from their smart phones the links in them open to a website or landing page that isn’t optimized for mobile, conversion rates will drop significantly. Similarly, a consumer researching a product on a retailer’s website expects to find it in the same section in which he found the product in store, and that the labels and, increasingly, prices will match. If you meet his expectations, his experience is improved and not only is the chance of conversion increased, but so it the likelihood of him returning for a second experience on down the road.
Sell Your Service – In his autobiography, Hopkins noted that he wasn’t selling himself as a product. He was selling what he does as a service. In almost every segment, a better product will eventually exist; however, providing a high level of service and a consistent experience will help you keep your customers. This still rings true in today’s world. We gravitate to the stores and services that provide a consistent experience; be it a barber, mechanic, retail outlet, or website.
This concept of selling a service is important as we craft multichannel experiences. In today’s marketplace, more consumers seek out and repeat holistic experiences, but increasing shy away from web-, mobile-, or physical-only experiences. By understanding the services available, we can begin to craft ways to blend the channels into a new service that strengthens and deepens the bond with the consumer. This can already be seen with how companies are, for instance, using Apple’s Passbook service for iOS or with retail websites that offer in-store pickup if it detects customers are ordering online within a certain radius of a physical location. Using these technologies has provided new ways of enhancing services to consumers.
The bottom line is this: Consumers are expecting more. As technology evolved, it is understandable for retailers, e-tailers, and designers to try to predict and analyze trends. However, in doing so, many find themselves scrambling to keep up and they lose sight of what made them successful in the first place. As companies continue to innovate on their services to accommodate ever-heightening consumer expectations, it’s good to know that the core principles behind what we do hold true.
The challenge ahead for all of us is to find a way to meet those expectations while remembering to stick to the straightforward guiding principles Claude C. Hopkins pioneered. They’ve worked for 100 years, why would they stop now?