A view from John Watton

Brands must improve customer experiences across devices

Recent research has benchmarked what the average and top companies are doing online and has provided insight into the online habits of more than 5,000...

Today, European consumers own an average of 6.1 connected devices. Three of these are used on a daily basis, and 85% of us switch between them during tasks.

This mobile-driven world, with its accelerating number of digital touchpoints, provides an abundance of opportunities for marketers.

But a heavily connected landscape does not come without its challenges – the market is competitive, and while a brand has more channels to reach consumers, so does every other.

It’s resulted in incredibly high customer expectations and, thanks to the rise of social media, customers are very much in the driving seat, with the ability to feedback and share their thoughts on a service or product at the touch of a button.

At Adobe we’ve carried out research benchmarking what the average and top companies are doing online, alongside insight into the online habits of more than 5,000 consumers across Europe.

The Digital Index EMEA Best of the Best report revealed only 40% of consumers think brands are doing a good job at providing consistent and personalised experiences across the various devices that we own.

It’s a seemingly uneasy result, but also signifies that the brands that are able to provide a seamless experience across every touchpoint, will be the ones to ultimately succeed.

This is a topic we’re aiming to tackle, with a focus on how businesses can take their customer experience offering to the next level and become an "experience business".

For me, an experience business monetises on the lasting impression they create for existing and soon-to- be customers.

Whether they operate in the hospitality, retail, travel or fitness sectors, these businesses create a personalised, compelling experience that spreads to every intricate point of the customer-brand relationship, similar to the distinct experience you’d expect to find at the local pub, corner shop or gym. They make the customer feel important and as if their journey has been truly bespoke.

This concept certainly ups the bar for marketers, as it’s not just enough to simply exist on these various platforms and blindly fire emails or display ads. We need to know what our marketing is actually doing and the impact it is having, and this is where we should be using the data we have to create actionable insights.

Having data as the backbone for all brand activity, from SEO, to a website’s overall usability and design, will make the physical in-store experience, and subsequent interactions, truly memorable for our customers, and that’s what it’s all about.

The mobile experience

The disappointment in the cross-device experiences brands are providing suggests there’s clearly room for improvement. Tying this into the fact that 72% of consumers consider browsing to be worse on a smartphone than on a desktop, shows mobile in particular is an area we should be focusing on.

This is especially the case considering smartphone traffic grew on average of 36% in 2015, and when we look at the latest research from Capgemini 3 that found mobile sales accounted for 51% of all items sold in Q4 of 2015.

While this digital tipping-point indicates that mobile is clearly the way that consumers want to interact with brands, marketers should look to move on from keeping online sales data and high street sales data in separate siloes.

Everything is at play, and every mobile interaction influences a high-street spend and vice versa. If marketers can work on improving the mobile engagement, address the cross-device challenges and become an experience business, they will certainly move one step closer to business success.

The internet age is rife with opportunity for brands and consumers alike. But it’s imperative that marketers embrace becoming an Experience Business.

By utilising big data, creating a seamless experience across multiple touchpoints, and focusing on mobile engagements, the cross-device challenges we face today will soon be consigned to history.

John Watton is marketing director EMEA at Adobe Marketing Cloud