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4 min

3 questions our clients are (or should be) asking themselves this year

by Kalev Peekna February 11, 2021
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After spending the last year in a constant state of change, it’s time to pause, take a breath and assess where we landed.

2020 was the year for Digital to prove its worth, and many of us are left wondering what lasting impacts the accelerated digitalization of our internal and external experience will have on our brands, our people and our customers. And as pressure increases to ramp back up, we are tasked with repositioning our organizations and ensuring that our reactive, often ad hoc efforts of the last year truly pay off in the long term.

Asking yourself the following questions will help you recalibrate your strategies and position you to work both smarter and faster.

 

1). What did my engagement and overall performance look like?

Every new digital experience your consumers encountered last year–both from your brand and all others they interacted with–will shape what they expect from all digital experiences moving forward. Though it may be hard to see with precision where the bar has landed, there’s little doubt that it has been raised.

Increased expectations raise obvious questions. Are the digital touchpoints and experiences you likely rushed to market performing the way you hoped they would? Has engagement increased? Are you sure you know what engagement is supposed to look like in a digital-first world? If you answered no to any of these questions, it’s important to measure the reality of your customers’ behavior, whether you’re falling short and why certain investments may not be paying off. And you’ll want to do so before your users pledge their loyalty to the next best player that makes them feel understood and appreciated.

There are two really great places to start. First is creating (or refining) your data strategy. As always, this starts with linking digital behavior to your business and marketing goals. Make sure you’re establishing the right goals and KPIs to measure success against, and that you’re mapping them appropriately to metrics. Next, consider undergoing some simple user testing, which can help you uncover an array of important insights, from pain points or navigation issues to whether a particular design feature is useful or not.

 

2). Was I able to maintain a level of fluidity and consistency across the user experience?

If you’re like many of our clients, you probably fired up a host of digital experiences last year, and did so very quickly. But few organizations had the opportunity to overhaul their digital customer experience in a comprehensive manner. When new touchpoints, products and resources rapidly join your legacy experience, it can often lead to a clunky or disjoined UX, and makes it difficult to provide a base level of brand consistency.

The key to cleaning things up is to be strategic. Now is a good time to take a step back and understand what you’ve created. Assess how consistent the brand experience is across those different touchpoints and how you’ll tackle making any necessary updates and enhancements in the future. Chances are high there’s an opportunity to streamline, optimize and improve the experience of your digital portfolio.

If you don’t already have one, establishing a strategic, branded Design System can help with this process. A strong design system not only promotes a unified experience, but it can cut down on rework for your team, leaving you time to focus on other important and strategic initiatives this year. Ultimately, a good design system will help ensure that loyalty earned by digital touchpoints reliably flows up to your core organization.

 

3). How differentiated is the experience I’m providing?

At the end of the day, your organization is just one of many that pivoted to meet customers where they are. Many of your competitors likely took similar steps and may even have used the same kind of digital tools to keep engagement running during the crisis. Digital used to be a prime differentiator on its own; now the challenge is how to make your experience stand out from the crowd.

Solving this requires an outside-in perspective. Determine who is it you’re really trying to target, and then investigate those users to get a first-hand account of the challenges they’re facing. Analyze your competition. By all means, draw inspiration from progressive leaders in Digital, but be sure to look beyond your own market. It’s never been more important to challenge assumptions about what your customers need, or what seems “appropriate” for your industry and customer base.

Then use that deep, outside perspective as the source of your inspiration. Generating new ideas and finding the right spaces for differentiation can seem daunting, but the lessons of Design Thinking and Human-Centered Design can plot a clear path for your organization to take. Assemble a cross-functional, cross-level team and turn idea generation into a collaborative (dare we say, fun?) conversation about what’s possible.

You may find that in order to differentiate, your brand will have to enter some uncharted territory. This is a good thing. Rapid market changes frequently require reassessing your positioning or even certain aspects of your brand platform. If there’s one thing this last year taught leaders across the organization, it’s that it doesn’t pay to shy away from new uncertainties.

 

Answering or addressing these three questions does require some leg work and investment, which can feel overwhelming to tackle. But there’s an opportunity to uncover a great deal of value for your users–and you don’t necessarily have to blow up what you’ve got or start from scratch to realize the full potential of your digital. Our team of multi-disciplinary experts can work with you to assess the landscape and identify the activities or projects that will help you see real improvement.

To learn more about how One North can help you create unique experiences that perform, contact us.

 

Photo Credit: Marek Szturc | Unsplash

Kalev Peekna is the Chief Strategist at One North, leading the Digital Strategy team. He brings a cross-platform, user-focused approach to innovations in brand development, design, data analysis and technology, and helps clients apply those innovations to their strategic aims.

If I were a vegetable: I would be broccoli. Because I have always wanted someone to call me “cruciferous.”

Most unusual job: Cocktail bartender at a Cabaret

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