• July 7, 2021

Digital Experiences Don’t Impact Purchase Decisions

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Fifty-eight percent of customers believe that most companies’ digital experiences have little to no impact on what they end up buying, Gartner revealed in a new report.

With 89 percent of companies prioritizing customer-facing digital experiences in 2021, it’s imperative that chief marketing officers (CMOs) and their teams rethink their digital experience strategies as they seek to reduce friction and build customer loyalty.

“The last year has brought on an acceleration in new digital experiences, as brands attempt to build more seamless and connected customer journeys,” said Kristina LaRocca-Cerrone, director of advisory in the Gartner for Marketers practice. “However, our research shows that customers perceive these experiences as undifferentiated and, more important, that digital experiences rarely shift their buying behavior.”

In the survey, Gartner also found that 46 percent of customers can’t tell the difference between most companies’ digital experiences. And, to make matters worse, only 14 percent of customers actually report doing something different as a result of a recent digital experience.

Based on this information, Gartner analysts recommend the following three key lessons for CMOs when re-strategizing and developing digital experiences that pay off:

1. Course changes build customer loyalty. A course-changing digital experience leads customers to shift their perspectives or approaches and begin to take confident steps toward their goals. Companies that can enable these types of experiences will see dramatic impact on customer loyalty. In fact, a positive course change can impact brand preference by 37 percent and behavioral advocacy by 54 percent. “In other words, when customers do something differently with confidence after a digital experience, that creates a lasting brand impression and inspires customers to share their memorable experience with others,” LaRocca-Cerrone said.

2. Self-reflective learning drives course changes. Customers’ self-reflective learning during a digital experience has two times the impact on driving customers’ course changes, compared to user experience functionalities. This is because customers change course when they feel empowered and ready to do something differently, not because of a slick or intuitive user interface. “To trigger these valuable customer course changes, CMOs must invest in building a new class of digital experiences that slows customers down at key junctures and rewards their self-reflection,” LaRocca-Cerrone added.

3. Specific tasks trigger course changes. Because course-changing digital experiences might not be appropriate for all parts of the customer journey, CMOs should look to deploy these experiences selectively to support customers’ most naturally reflective tasks. For example, tasks that are more exploratory in nature, such as goal setting and problem identification, are better points to engage customers in course-changing experiences. Ultimately, CMOs must shift toward a balanced portfolio of course changers and course smoothers, continuing to invest in seamless experiences for customers’ automatic tasks, while prompting customers to lean into natural moments of reflection.

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