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Dashboard – Customer experience in the next digital decade

Interactive catalogues and iPhone apps have come out top in the rankings of techniques to be implemented by companies wanting to raise the bar on customer experience and drive conversion, according to a survey by Adobe Scene7.

INTERACTIVE catalogues lead as the highest planned deployment by marketers for the second year in a row according to the ‘Customer Experience in the Next Digital Age’ study, conducted by Adobe Scene7. Mobile shares the top planned deployment spot, with iPhone apps cited by 27% of the respondents. Just behind are iPad apps, advertising on social networking sites and branded social community pages, cited by 25% of the respondents.

The global survey questioned marketers on the techniques and technologies they use online and those they plan to deploy. Respondents were asked specifically about analytics, digital advertising, mobile, personalisation, rich media, merchandising and social media.They were also polled on the effectiveness of these tactics, including impact on conversion.

Fully 73% of the businesses surveyed say they plan to invest in site redesigns or would otherwise make significant enhancements to improve their site’s ROI. The vast majority (82%) say they plan to deploy those enhancements within the year, up 8% from a year ago.

Analytics tools for measuring and optimising online experiences is the most deployed tactic globally, used by 55% of the respondents. In line with last year’s findings, social media and rich media tactics also rank among the most adopted. At least a quarter of all respondents have applied some executions in analytics, social media and rich media.

Although businesses included those in the advertising, media, computing and retail industries, previous surveys have shown that retailers do mirror the overall group “pretty closely.”

The features that drew the most “very effective” ratings (actual or expected) by respondents who have deployed or plan to deploy them are:

  • Multi-media product viewing: 39%
  • Videos for merchandising,advertising and demonstration: 36%
  • Product information on mobile devices: 36%
  • Product tours: 34%
  • Check inventory status in-store or web, on mobile devices: 34%
  • Visual filtering and advanced search on product features: 34%
  • Interactive catalogues and brochures: 34%

According to Adobe Scene7, this year’s deployed and planned rates for online executions are generally within range of last year’s, suggesting that investments are maintaining 2010 levels.

There is also a focus on protecting current investments as shown by the wide deployment gap between the most adopted execution, site analytics (55%) and the next most adopted, branded social presence (40%).

Social continues to draw interest and while executions in this area already have some of the highest deployments rates, they should gain even greater adoption as their momentum continues.

Echoing last year’s results, social media – most notably branded presence in social communities and blogs/micro-blogs – again find their way near the top of both deployed and planned executions. This year,branded community pages netted a 20% year-to-year growth in deployment, one of the largest gains among adopted executions.

That mobile sprung to the top of the planned deployments for the first time in this survey suggests that mobile is finally ready for prime time after years of false starts. Interest in mobile marketing is also being accelerated by the rapid adoption of tablets,which is opening new possibilities for innovative mobile experiences. Further fuelling the interest in mobile is Android’s recent surge, an event that gives marketers another platform besides Apple’s on which to build a rich, branded mobile presence.

However, social and mobile’s effectiveness and ROI appear mixed as marketers try to get their arms around these new channels.While a majority (58%) of the respondents say social has a positive impact on conversion, the social features garnering the most “very effective” ratings remain those more mature and proven tactics such as customer reviews and ratings.

Mobile scored the lowest votes (43%) in terms of positive impact on conversion (50% checked‘Not Applicable’). Still, there are signs of high expectations: Even though most mobile executions are not out of the gate,providing mobile users with access to product information and product inventory data received“very effective” ratings from the second and third largest number of respondents,at 36% and 34%.

Geographic Differences

While EMEA and North America generally show similar deployment levels for many of the features measured, Japan continues to lag these regions particularly in the adoption of social and rich media tactics. Japan, however, is significantly ahead in certain mobile-related applications, including QR codes and commerce enablement, as well as mobile analytics.EMEA has a marked lead in other analytics deployment, including 1:1 testing and campaign measurement.

While the number 1 planned execution in North America is advertising on social sites (29%) and EMEA is iPhone app (34%), the rest of these regions’ top planned deployments are more biased towards rich media. Interactive catalogues represent the second most planned execution in both regions.Among EMEA’s top five planned deployments are 3D visualisation and multi-media product viewing; in North America, quick looks and rollover views also made the top cut. Meanwhile, Japan’s top four planned executions are exclusively mobile,with Android apps ranking number 1 at 23%.

According to Adobe Scene7, the mix of top deployed executions would not have changed much from last year were it not for the new executions it sought to measure this year. For instance,where audio and RSS drew high deployed rates last year, the popularity of viral executions, including Facebook Like and social sharing tools, edged them lower this year. Similarly,mobile apps elbowed out last year’s top planned features, including personalisation by postal code/geotargeted sites and personalisation engine/ behavioural targeting.

In line with last year’s results, rich media tactics are among the most deployed and effective, suggesting that some of them are on a maturing path. Nonetheless, there remains room for innovation, as emerging tools such as virtual fitting rooms and 3D visualisation remain largely untapped.

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