User experience has evolved beyond individual touchpoints, and the future holds streamlined micromoments – and affiliate opportunities – right in the palm of the consumer.
To the younger generation, the digital age has been the only age. Yet it has been less than a decade since the release of the iPhone.
In June 2007, Apple changed the landscape of marketing, introducing a way for brands to sit in the pockets of their target market anytime, anywhere. The knock on effect has been, in industry terms, instantaneous. However, time is relative – and in marketing — particularly 21st century marketing — even five minutes can be an entire era of its own. When we look to the future of campaigns, we look mere months down the line.
In the early noughties, the average consumer attention span sat at 11 seconds. Today, that’s nearly halved, sitting at just seven seconds. Matt Preschern, CMO, HCL Technologies, explains that “what has happened in the last 15 years because of smart phones is [that] our attention span has gone down – but on average, people go to their smart device 150 times a day, and they spend up to 177 minutes on it.”
Google describes these consumer experiences as ‘micromoments’ – fracturing the consumer journey into “hundreds of real-time, intent-driven, micro-moments” according to Google’s Think With Google collections. “Each is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences.”
According to Preschern, 50 per cent of Americans state that it would be a personal catastrophe if they lost their phones, showing just how much people have come to rely on their mobile devices. What that does mean, however, is that the relationship between consumer and brand has evolved. The tables have turned, and customers are engaging with your brand on their own terms, how and when they choose.
“Don’t think of the device as a physical object, think of what it enables you to do.”
“They don’t think of multi-channel, or omni-channel,” Preschern says, alluding to the way in which marketers consider engagements. “They think of their device as their vehicle to engage with your brand, learn about your brand, get entertained by or speak to your brand.” And so they will increasingly expect responses in a similar way – that brands will respond in real time. “There’s a notion of agility” says Preschern. “And then what they expect is an unprecedented level of personalisation.”
The Ongoing Touchpoint
So what does this mean for marketers? According to Preschern, it’s a matter of being “always on.” Particularly in B2B, it’s a matter of remembering that your customers are human beings. “You have to invest in some sort of marketing technology that’s directly linked to your CRM systems, while at the same time using data to your advantage.”
Thinking about your customers’ buying cycles, the emerging innovation is one that maximises attention to customer experience, to experiential touchpoints. “Customer experience across all touch points is kind of the holy grail of marketing” he says. “There’s no longer an online and offline world; a customer experience, whether using a search engine, receiving an invoice, speaking on the phone, or simply going to a social network, [shows a customer] wanting to have a social interaction. All of those are vehicles for [that] interaction.”
As such, marketing needs to be exceptionally targeted; it needs to be experience centric and outcome driven. The APIs with the most initiative go into the notion of the customer ecosystem. If you go into Google Maps, there’s an integrated Uber button. In some hotels, if you rent a film there’s an option to order pizza. We’re so far past standalone websites and even apps – the crux of the matter comes down to experience, and mobile brings customers closer to this streamlined UX. How customers interact currently sits on various channels, but the more integrated this becomes, the easier their experience – and in order to capitalise on this in the future, affiliate marketing will feed into UX.
These micromoments can be so brief and lurk in a consumer’s subconscious, but every interaction is a micromoment. Every micromoment is an opportunity. “Don’t think of the device as a physical object,” Preschern sums up “think of what it enables you to do.”
Consumers are sharing photos on social media whilst actually in shops, for purchase advice and recommendations. It’s crowdsourcing in real time, for things that directly affect their lives – and the mobile device is the hub.
Moving forward, marketers must be integrating themselves into the customers’ ecosystem, and moreover affiliating with the right platforms – just like Uber and Google Maps.