As technology increasingly pervades every aspect of our lives, our digital experiences are making their impact felt in the real world more and more frequently. But consumers' expectations of their digital experiences differ from those of their real-world experiences – so how can marketers square the circle?
When we interact with brands in the digital world, it's all about combining convenience with cost – free or cheap opportunities to connect with the brands we love. In the real world, we're looking for something more – quick, cheap or free isn't enough, we want a lasting, valuable experience that makes its impact felt. And we're prepared to pay for that.
Even the journey involved in getting from place to place is all about the experience. Perhaps not the morning commute – but the adventure of travelling through Europe on the train, or sipping champagne in the first class lounge at an airport is all part of this can’t-put-a-price-on-it feeling we all crave. Think about your important business meeting; sure, you could do it via video conferencing – but an in-person meeting might be the deal clincher, even if it’s less convenient and more costly. So you’ll always go for it if you know the outcome will be lucrative.
Connecting the real and the digital worlds
Everything we could ever need is available to buy online; with services such as Amazon Prime promising next day (or even same day) delivery for those of us who just can't wait. But while digital allows us the convenience of clicking a button and the chosen item hurtling through cyberspace to our front door, there is nothing quite like bouncing on sofas, flopping on beds or touching silken fabrics in the haberdashery. This is the experience we can’t recreate online – yet.
Similarly, while online grocery shopping is undoubtedly appealing – no queues, no packing and unpacking, no dragging children around a supermarket and placating them with treats – many people feel disconnected with what they eat unless they have been to the shops and chosen their apples, meat and fish themselves. Bitter experience also shows that the ‘picker’s’ idea of a ripe banana and one’s own might differ greatly as does their idea of a ‘substitute’ product if what’s been ordered isn’t available.
So, how can the digital bridge the gap with our real lives? Brands with their own generic top-level domain already have a strategic advantage. They have the ability to look at every single experience their customer has in the real world and the digital world and identify how to help them transition or enhance one to the other.
They can do this in a memorable way too, meaning they're not dependent on search to get people there. You might have popped down to the furniture store to buy a new sofa, but once you got home, you decided you could really do with a footstool too. Using the data your in-store purchase generated, the store could serve you a programmatic ad that steers you towards your footstool, without you having to drag yourself back down to the store. Thus, your in-store experience is enhanced digitally at home; simple.