Commentary

Are You Delivering Seamless Marketing?

Intuitively designed devices continue to dominate the market and shift consumers’ expectations for simple interfaces. Will your marketing programs deliver similarly seamless and natural experiences?

According to a report published this January from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, ownership of e-readers and tablets nearly doubled in the U.S. during the recent holiday shopping season.

Combined with the almost fifty percent of Americans who now own a smartphone, we’re quickly becoming a nation of consumers accustomed to instant and on-the-go access to information and entertainment.

A recent 2012 trends report described this shift to seamless technology, and most importantly, the digital behaviors that more Americans are embracing. Connected, we can share our immediate thoughts via Facebook and Twitter, post our photos to Instagram, pin and share all we love and covet on Pinterest, download that important Johnson file from the cloud, shop for a fabulous new handbag (comparing prices all the while), and stream the season finale of "Downton Abbey." Such examples represent the increasingly simple and seamless experiences that more and more consumers are not just enjoying, but are coming to expect via their digital gadgetry.

Our expectations as consumers, customers, and shoppers are shaped by our experiences across all facets of our lives. As more of our digital tools respond to our spoken words and a “Minority Report”-style wave of the hand, not only will Siri have some serious competition for our affection, but our patience for all types of experiences that are frustratingly complex or multi-stepped will continue to decline.

Consumers who are accustomed to the immediacy, simplicity, and seamlessness of today’s (and tomorrow’s) technology are certain to carry over those expectations to their other experiences in the marketplace. Marketers who want consumers to interact with their brands in anything beyond a transactional manner will need to deliver on consumers' new "great expectations" and ask themselves if they are delivering the marketing equivalent of a “natural user interface.”

Now that your brand has a presence across digital platforms, social media, and mobile, does the content you provide align with a consumers’ expectation of that particular medium? For instance, your mobile presence must address on-the-go needs like location, practical information, and entertainment. Consumers expect a brand’s social media presence to be a dialogue and not a one-way communication.

How hard are you making members of your loyalty club work? Your brand should deliver information about members’ rewards, status, and options via a variety of touchpoints, including mobile. And today’s best loyalty programs are integrated with social media to deliver the most reach, relevance, and influence.

Does your brick-and-mortar experience promise service, education, entertainment, or some other uniquely interpersonal promise not available online? A shopper accustomed to researching and shopping for a growing number of their wants and needs online will demand more of their in-store experiences. More and more often, this means providing them with opportunities to use their mobile devices to expand their in-store experience.

Do you offer multiple points of entry for your consumers to participate in promotions, such as contests and sweeps? With time becoming consumers’ most valuable currency, we cannot expect them to complete a lengthy form that has more to do with a brand’s desire to capture information about the entrant and less to do with creating a sense of excitement about winning fabulous prizes.

As technology becomes a more personalized, natural, and immediate part of our lives, consumers will expect brands to deliver similarly intuitive and seamless interactions. As marketers, it’s a great time to examine whether we’re ready to meet these expectations.

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