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Three Ways to Transform the Digital Experience

Three Ways to Transform the Digital Experience Larry Bowden
It's a fact: organizations that develop social and mobile-optimized sites experience increased sales and build better brand loyalty. Creating an engaging, customized web experience – or an exceptional web experience – allows marketers to deliver the right information, capabilities and resources on every type of device.



This might sound simple, but many marketers can find it daunting. Here are three tips for creating an exceptional web experience in an increasingly connected world.



1. Get social



Nowadays, there's a dizzying array of technology choices for creating visitor/website harmony. From digital marketing and mobile commerce, to websites and social media, marketers are inundated -- often paralyzed -- by data amassed from consumers via searches, purchase histories, Facebook "likes" and comments on Twitter.



Be aware of and monitor the social conversation. Make sure you truly understand the sentiment and are interacting one-on-one with customers. Integrating these conversations directly into a website gives you a one-stop-shop for networking and shopping.



2. Forge a shared agenda



The marketing landscape is evolving, thanks in large part to the rise of BYOD and other game-changing technologies like mobile and social. IT and marketing are more similar than people realize – just as marketers struggle to reach their audiences, CIOs and other IT professionals grapple with ensuring employees have access to company data on a slew of devices: tablets, smartphones, etc.



This “new normal” is causing organizations to revaluate how they engage: Analyst firm Gartner predicts that in 2017, CMOs will have greater control of the IT budget than CIOs. Moreover, marketing budgets are projected to grow 7-8% (2-3 times that of IT budgets). It’s evident that these two critical business functions must break down silos to work together in the interest of delivering business results.



3. Don’t underestimate the importance of scalability



Website traffic patterns vary, so account for an expected spike in visitors if there’s a particular time of year when you’ll need to handle heavy volume.



For example, the Wimbledon tennis championships cause a surge in website traffic that’s unparalleled throughout the rest of the year. Wimbledon.com provides millions of visitors with an exceptional web experience and then scales back down to support regular operations after the tournament wraps. This strategy allows Wimbledon to rapidly create and allocate required resources for the Championships while simultaneously delivering real-time information via various devices – from traditional PCs, to mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, and television.



Today's consumer has unlimited access to information. They also have the ability to share it with their immediate network within seconds. This immediacy has caused consumers to expect personalized communications and top-notch service. CMOs and other marketing professionals must rise to meet this challenge by better reaching and engaging with their audiences.



Calling All Marketers



So by now you might be asking, “Where do I begin?”



As a first step, conduct a full audit of your website on different devices. How does the site look on a smartphone? On a tablet? Is there functionality that a customer would need on a smartphone or tablet that only shows up on the full site? Making small tweaks to functionality can go a long way and can change a prospect to a customer in a matter of minutes.



Marketers tend to think about people in demographics, but for a truly exceptional web experience, you need to think about customers as individuals. Ask yourself, “Where is customer X spending his/her time on my site?”



A great example is an online retailer, like Amazon. They sell thousands of products. Imagine that Customer X logs on and looks for a grill. As they scroll through various reviews, related items such as a grill brush, a “kiss the cook” apron and a grill cover pop up. By providing additional, related items, Customer X has a personalized experience that leads to increasing spending and longer time on the site.



IT investments have long been the domain of the CIO, but all of that is changing as work becomes increasingly social and digital. Given the realignment between marketing and technology, marketers are becoming increasingly critical to organizational success – and perfectly poised to help deliver business results through innovation and efficiency.

Larry Bowden, who has spent two decades at IBM in various management roles, is the vice president of Portals and Web Experience which is a part of IBM’s Collaboration Software business. His offerings include the new IBM Customer Experience Suite...

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