Delivering an engaging experience is the new mountaintop for marketers, and brands are falling short in the eyes of consumers. New research from audience engagement and earned data solutions firm 3radical suggests that marketers may be misunderstanding the goals of a winning experience.
The firm’s newly released consumer research report, The Struggle is Real: Adapting the Online Experience to Fit Today’s Consumer’s Needs, aims to give marketers a better understanding of the consumer experience so they can improve satisfaction and better navigate the rapidly changing consumer landscape beyond 2020.
According to the research, covering the U.S., UK and Singapore and conducted by 3radical and data strategy firm Marketing IQ, 90 percent of those surveyed believe online brand experiences need to improve, and 68 percent say their contact information (commonly needed in marketing activations) is the data they’re least willing to share. While 81 percent of consumers interact with their favorite brands beyond transactional activities, marketers are often missing opportunities to build stronger, longer lasting, and more profitable relationships with their customers.
“As regulation tightens, and consumers guard the information that brands value the most, marketers must seize engagement opportunities to earn consumer data,” said Michael Fisher, CEO of 3radical, in a news release. “This research sheds light on how consumers prefer to engage and the situations in which they’re prepared to share information, which is certainly important reading for marketers.”
Traditional loyalty programs that offer discounts remain popular, with 83 percent of respondents saying such incentives have meaningful influence over their decision-making process. However, the importance of non-financial incentives that enable consumers to engage with brands more frequently is also apparent. Those looking to build ‘better connections’ with their favorite brands outnumber ‘bargain hunters’ and provide brands with a path to improved engagement and improved margins.
“If you look at the brands doing this well, they provide consumer engagements that go well beyond traditional loyalty schemes,” said Fisher. “They offer ongoing and organic value. Take casual dining brands that provide complimentary apps and services for customers, whether they be interactive games with real prize incentives, table service, the opportunity to provide feedback directly to the kitchen, or whatever they may be—they’re providing things that are genuinely relevant and fostering a community, but they’re also highly effective data gatherers.”
Whereas consumers are globally united in their belief that brands need to step up their game and build relationships rather than one-way dialogs, the research also uncovered key differences highlighting one size does not fit all. For example:
- Consumers in Singapore are the most critical of current online brand experiences but most willing to interact with their favorite brands outside of traditional transactions. They also lead the way in wanting to express their opinions to their favorite brands on social media, showing the importance of listening (and being seen to listen) via social platforms.
- Consumers in the U.K. are the least likely to engage with brands when not shopping, emphasizing the importance of brands taking advantage of the engagement opportunities that do exist. Generational differences are particularly prominent in the UK where younger generations are much more likely to share data with brands.
- Consumers in the U.S. who are willing data sharers are much more likely to share through interactive game experiences and through quizzes and surveys. They are also moving away from traditional newsletters as a way to engage with brands and are generally unwilling to share information to receive them.
Across all respondents, the most popular forms of brand engagement happen via social media (favored by 46 percent), followed by engaging quizzes and polls (preferred by 38 percent). Other popular ways of interacting include viewing informative content and tutorials’, ‘sharing experiences on social media’ and ‘playing interactive games’.
One-quarter (25 percent) of all respondents say they’re willing to share data in exchange for more personalized shopping and more personalized communication experiences, proving consumers want more relevant experiences that are data-driven.
“Value comes in many shapes and sizes, and so too does data collection,” Fisher added. “Consumers want a mix of ways and reasons to engage and it’s important they do as the future of marketing will depend on consumers volunteering their data. The days of unregulated and shady data acquisition are numbered. The challenge for marketers is to work with consumers to understand how and when they want to engage, and then making it happen. This research will help them do just that,” he concludes.