Understanding how consumers interact with their chosen brands across the many platforms available to them today is fundamental to effective marketing and customer service. Cross-platform optimization essentially refers to harnessing this behavioural information to provide a unified brand experience over all digital channels, whether that’s web, mobile or social media.
In recent years, consumer technology has undergone some drastic advances. Whilst an initial technical revolution took place around the emergence of the internet itself, a second has been triggered by the recent progression in mobile technology. Christopher North, managing director of Amazon UK, commented, “I have never seen anything happen as fast as mobile.”
And as the devices we use change all the time to become more varied and sophisticated, so too does the way that we choose to interact with them.
How is technology altering buyer behaviour?
Mobile technology enables consumers to get things done on-the-go like never before. One example of how this alters buying behaviour is provided by John Lewis in their “How we shop, live & look” report, which deduced that online sales within the fashion industry are especially piqued by the level of accessibility that mobile technology enables.
According to the major retailer, a combination of weekly fashion publications like Stylist, coupled with the immediacy of Twitter and mobile-optimised online shopping channels are driving the trend. Consumers can see something they like, browse online and buy it then and there – and that’s just what they’re doing.
In addition, a phenomena known as ‘showrooming’ has begun to take off in the UK, with 51% of 18-34 year olds using their mobile to compare prices or check out reviews in-store. This has promoted some businesses (including major high street store, Debenhams) to offer free WiFi to collect customer data or promote the latest deals.
That’s not to say, however, that PC-optimised sites are becoming redundant – far from it. Most people work on a desktop or laptop computer day in, day out and will likely continue to do this for years to come. In fact, Google consumer research recently revealed that 90% of people consult multiple screens sequentially to complete online tasks, and 98% move between devices in the same day.
It’s important not to dismiss that people choose their device based on convenience, and therefore, seamless interaction between all available channels – or cross-platform optimization – will prevail overall.
So how exactly can brands deliver an ‘omni-channel’ experience?
One of the biggest mistakes brands make when determining their online strategy is dividing the work up between different departments that essentially act as ‘silos’. When this happens, the brand message can become distorted in the disparate teams, resulting in a stuttering consumer experience that very quickly loses momentum, and therefore sales. What should happen instead is that these departments operate as one, connected and in synergy, to deliver one streamlined customer journey.
A good example of how this can work is Dominos Pizza. If I choose, I can go in store or call the nearest outlet to order my pizza and arrange delivery or collection. But what I can also do is browse the menu, customise my choice, place my order and keep up with my delivery’s progress in real-time all via the website or via mobile app. Each stage of this transactional process works in synergy, to offer me a seamless overall brand experience.
The secret to providing this kind of unified customer journey is an integrated software platform that consolidates all channels of communication into one manageable interface. Ideally, brands should now be thinking about structuring their organisation in such a way that interaction from all channels of communication is funneled into one customer touch-point for continuous customer relationship-building.
Changes in buyer behaviour driven by emerging technology, and how different channels of communication can work for – and not against – each other, must be addressed by brands if they’re to utilise the full potential of the online sphere for driving sales.
Note: This post is a guest post from a member of our DMR Insider Community.
Photo by ** Maurice **