The topic that’s driving discussion in board rooms and coffee shops at the moment is the Digital Transformation – i.e. how organisations are embracing technology to drive performance and efficiencies and to deliver exceptional user experiences. Branding and marketing have always been about delivering unique and memorable experiences that surprise and delight. Today, people expect to seamlessly traverse between physical and digital spheres and enjoy the experience across their devices, wherever they are, and regardless of social or broadcast channel. They expect these experiences to match their habits and respond to their ever-changing tastes and preferences. On a biological level, experiences are alluring. They produce the surges in cortisol, dopamine and oxytocin the brain needs to experience the attraction towards a brand and product to make a purchase, and to loyally commit and become an advocate.
So when the fusion between digital, physical and biological occurs harmoniously, successful UX can persuade, motivate, and engage; it encourages engagement and purpose, it affects sentiment, and influences behaviour. This is why UX is so important.
As the platform for delivering these experiences, your brand becomes equally important. It becomes a collection of physical and digital experiences that tell the story of you and your business. Together, these detailed, emotional and sensory experiences create a new type of customer decision journey – it’s a journey that’s built on experiences, not just tactics. And it’s what I’ve started to call, ‘The UX journey’.
Planning for the UX-based Decision Journey.
People (from your everyday consumers to your specialist B2B buyers) have become incredibly sophisticated and empowered. And because they expect marketers to be able to connect with them, wherever they are, via their choice of device and media, they’ve also become incredibly elusive.
What’s required isn’t a targeting strategy anymore, but a series of content-rich digital experiences that draw them towards you, in almost an organic or magnetic way.
We know from various sources, including LinkedIn, SiriusDecisions and CEB, that maybe as much as 80% of the B2B buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to sales. Most of the buyer’s journey is fulfilled by people self-serving content from online sources, so there is genuine engagement in content and digital experiences. The challenge is delivering the right things at the right time.
This is where Aamplify’s ‘Magnetic Demand’ approach comes into play, because it provides organisations with the tools they need to draw potential customers from their everyday social hangouts into your domain. From there, you can start engaging with them in a meaningful way – i.e. explain why they should be buying products and services from you, rather than Joe next door or your competitors around the globe.
With the explosion of social media, smart devices, faster networks and tailored content, people expect unique user experiences each time they come into contact with your business and your brand – and they expect these to be tailored to the type of relationship they’re having with you. What’s needed is a complete rethink of how business leaders engage with their marketing communications partners. What businesses don’t need are more channel, platform or app specialisations – they’re inundated with those already. What they need are digital user experience partners that can transform device and platform combinations into unique and memorable user experiences.
So rather than focusing on the technology of the communications medium, or the functionality of the app or device, we need to discover innovative ways to create and amplify the experiences they can deliver together. And this is why, we need to evolve traditional communications plans – which map tactics simply by channel, platform or app – to the experiences people need to take them along their buyer’s journey. This is what I’m increasingly calling the UX Communications Plan.
“Experiences disrupt you from the day-to-day and into the here and now. People don’t simply buy products or services. They buy in to the experiences they receive. They want experiences that pull them in and don’t let them go.”
The UX Communications Plan.
With the UX Communications Plan, we’re acknowledging that people don’t simply buy products or services. They buy-in to a range of experiences they receive from the brand, which results in multiple or repeat purchases. The big challenge facing B2B organisations today is this idea that we’re leading people towards a purchase. What we’re actually doing is using the brand as a foundation for engaging with people via different channels, platforms and apps, to deliver a mix of digital experiences and relevant content. And when we get this fusion right, we have an approach that engages on multiple levels and creates genuine interaction with the brand – we pull them in, and don’t let them go. And this is the most powerful brand and marketing tool we have.
Stages of the UX Communications Plan.
Here’s a short introduction to the stages we’re using to develop the new UX Communications Plan.
1. User Personas:
o Engaging with real buyers tells you what you need to know about their tastes, preferences and habits. How they make decisions to engage with you, how they do it, and why they might do nothing at all.
o Their behaviour guides your UX decision journeys, sets the structure for your UX communications plan, and decides the structure and navigation of your different landing pages, including your website.
2. Decision Journeys:
o With the buyer persona insights, we then need to know how people are going to ‘arrive’ at your website, events and brand experiences. What journeys are they going to take from knowing nothing about your business/brand, to being a loyal customer, and a willing brand advocate?
3. Experience mapping:
o With your personas and decision journeys in place, you’re now ready to develop your brand experience map. This is a fusion of the traditional communications plan and brand architecture into the UX map. Here, we’re not talking ‘brand’ touch points anymore, we’re talking ‘UX’ touchpoints.
4. Creating the new ‘UX Communications Plan’.
o With the UX Touchpoints Mapping in place we can then identify the best device, app or service to deliver each UX, which takes us to the development of the actual tactics.
o Brand Development.
o Digital Experiences.
Putting the digital transformation in the context of ROI and the marketing department’s ‘real world’.
The digital world already gives us unique opportunities to deeply connect and engage with people, so they can communicate, collaborate, learn, and share information through your brand. The Digital Transformation gives new possibilities, amplifying the joint potential of the platform and the device to give your brand the opportunity to effortlessly entwine itself into the lives of the people you seek to build relationships with.
As people move along their UX journeys we give them information in the right format exactly when it’s needed. We all know that people don’t engage or buy after the first experience – they need access to a series of consistent experiences that build the credibility and relevance of the brand as a whole, and your products and services in particular. So as we build the UX journey, we want to engage with people to gain insights into their behaviour so we can adjust tactics and approaches. This means a continuous flow of relevant, personalised experiences that pull people into your domain and gives them tangible reasons to stay – not because you’re the loudest voice, but because you’re the most relevant.
In today's social digital world we have a genuine fusion of technologies between the physical, digital and biological spheres. By consistently delivering relevant, useful information, we can build a relationship with consumers that results in quality leads and sustainable sales. And when it’s time for the customer to make that first, second, third or fourth purchase, you’ll (still) be the brand they buy.
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