The shift to digital over the past two years has been unprecedented–driven by necessity in the heart of the pandemic and with no going back. This is something I have witnessed firsthand in our digital business and it has been repeated time and again in conversations that I had with top brands from all industries and around the globe.
A distinct economy has emerged as commerce, communication and entertainment have all gone digital-first. The Adobe Digital Price Index is based on an analysis of Adobe Analytics data that includes one trillion visits to U.S. retailers and more than 100,000,000 SKUs across 18 product categories. This Digital Economy is predicted to exceed $1 trillion in the U.S. That is enough for any CEO to take notice.
The Digital Economy has already driven significant growth for some brands around the globe today. But the question is: How can every brand, big or small, traditional or cutting-edge, unlock this huge opportunity? The answer is in one word, just like the IRL economy: Experience.
In-person experiences will always be valuable, there is no doubt about that. However, new research shows that digital experiences are now just as important for building trust with brands. Digital experiences are even more crucial to building this trust for Gen Z and Millennials than in-person interactions.
However, it is not enough to have a good experience. Consumers expect digital interactions to be fast, simple, safe, familiar, and ultimately satisfying. Also, it should feel personal. To achieve this feeling they should be relevant, timely, automated and connected.
To be clear, I am not referring the “personalization” that brands have been delivering for many years. It’s about more than just delivering the right experience to the right customers through the right channels. The ability to personalize at scale is the new standard for success.
This means that customers receive relevant experiences on all channels, online and offline. It also includes immersive experiences that will help define the next generation. This is all possible for millions of customers. In milliseconds. Simple? No. It is possible. 100 percent.
These types of personalized and empathic experiences build trust and strengthen relationships. They respect preference and privacy and offer value to both consumers and customers in a B2C and B2B model. While your digital economy stakeholders will demand more personalization, scaling will require prioritization of three key building blocks.
A common and complete understanding of the customer
It requires first and foremost a deep understanding of the customer. This all boils down to data: real time, actionable data. It is essential to collect customer data, rich, first-party data, with explicit consent, from all departments of your company. Then organize, govern, and surface business-changing insights. This will allow you to take the right-informed and split-second actions that make experience personal and valuable.
“Customers want to feel that they are more than just a number on a company’s bottom line,” Andrea Pennycooke (SVP, Head, Digital Discovery, Marketing Technology & Digital Commerce), Truist Financial Corporation. Truist Financial Corporation is a purpose-driven financial service company dedicated to building better lives and communities. The most trusted brands invest in learning about customers – their likes and dislikes, their preferences, etc. Meeting them right where they are. While it may look different for each customer, the best companies offer different experiences to satisfy their customers’ needs.
Customer data platforms (often referred to simply as “CDPs”) combine data into one profile to power experiences. This includes web- and mobile-based personalization, which meets customers at their next step on a journey with them. They streamline data collection, enrichment, and distribution by using low-code implementations and geographically distributed servers that allow for fast dissemination and high fidelity. It must all be done immediately, even if it sounds complicated.
Brands must be able to deliver personal experiences to millions of customers in milliseconds. They need a content engine that operates at high speed across creation, delivery, optimization, and access. This second building block is crucial to your success. This is also the most difficult and complex.
Content velocity requires that all people, processes, and technologies be fully aligned and able to work together to provide the best content for every person.
A high-speed content engine can address each of these significant obstacles–connecting creative and marketing teams and automating workflows. This is best-in-class asset management powered by AI. It allows teams to create unique experiences and increase engagement, conversion, order value, and time savings. Analytics provide valuable insights into content performance, which can be used to optimize campaigns and ensure that content creates a personal, meaningful connection.
Uncomplicated customer journeys
Your content engine is humming at speed and comprehensive data is flowing in real time, so making customer experiences personal at large boils down to providing seamless customer journeys that are well-planned, connected, consistent, shoppable, and consistent.
This last mile involves expertly managing every touchpoint that your customer has with your brand, including online, mobile and via chat, as well as any phone calls or in person.
By ensuring that customers have direct access via a CDP, the best companies do this. You can dynamically build, enrich and refine your audience while also determining which content, offers, and messages you should deliver to them at each stage of their journey. The end result of a successful journey is often a transaction through digital commerce. Brands need to ensure that every experience is “shoppable” but also intelligent. AI guides based on customer behavior, product features, and popular trends.
People around the world have been able to see the potential for the future through the shift to digital. This has prompted them to rethink everything, from how they live now to how the future will play out in the future. It will have a huge impact. The quality and delivery of digital experiences will determine success in the digital economy. Companies that take the right actions now will thrive and survive. This is an exciting time, and there are many possibilities.