How to do better digital

Many years ago when thinking about the best way to reach consumers, the answer was television (and perhaps press and radio). The media was the focus. Media and marketing bods were trained well (a bit like Pavlov’s Dogs), that when advertising was mentioned, the default was television, press and/or radio, largely as few other options were available.

Much has changed, and often people have been deconditioned away from traditional media, even when it may be the right direction, as it is no longer the default. The Pavlov’s Dogs of today is digital, be this a new App, website or even the desire for an enhanced user experience (AKA ‘UX’).

However, whenever the media is the cognitive default – be this TV etc or digital – the actual default should always have been, and should always be the customers, users, consumer et cetera.  No question at all that digital provides monumental opportunities, but still it is not about the media but the problem or opportunity being solved.

Square Holes spends a load of time speaking with and researching real customers and users in relation to their experiences online (and offline). And, consistently the user (or customer) experience is flawed. This is often from replicating the category wrongs, but more so from ignoring actual users when modelling the user experience.

So today we thought we would share our thoughts on some steps to putting a bit more consumer empathy into digital. (Ps. In our research the term ‘digital disruption’ often scares real people as it isn’t saying better just disruptive.)

Ideation (+ prototypes)

Building on an understanding of the market and real people (refer to Square Holes 06), let the ideas flow! The costs and timing barriers are falling for digital. Where the solution to a problem a decade or so ago may have been expensive re-engineering of the business model, product, infrastructure etc, today many solutions are made easy by tech. Look for easy to do, likely impactful small ideas, and a few BIG IDEAS. Then start building prototypes, concepts et cetera.

Evaluate (+ refine)

Take the digital idea(s), prototypes etc to the people. This is likely optimal via qualitative research approaches such as workshops, in-home / family chats, one-on-one in-depth interviews with the target audience and/or group discussions with distinct market segments to allow discussion and debate. (Although quantitative to measure market demand). Seek a ‘funnel’ like discussion e.g. who are they, reactions to prototypes and priority enhancements.

Strategy (+ refinement)

What is the optimal path to market? Allow likely users to interact with the evolved prototype, e.g. using qualitative research. Where are the barriers – security, price, value, complexity? ?How to find the advocacy hotspot – where happy customers share positive word-of-mouth and product reputation is nurtured. Explore selling models (freemium / premium etc) and the value proposition. Brand / marketing / logo testing, distribution expectations and how to scale.

Agility (+ evolve)

Agility is about always sincerely listening to customers and fixing what needs to be fixed quickly and efficiently towards clear goals. Tech businesses are often great examples of agile strategy. Updates to the platform occur behind the scenes and are released with speed and responsiveness. Bricks and mortar businesses often need to remodel and re-engineer to resolve issues, and potentially years later nothing has fundamentally changed. Digital is about fast user-centred evolution.

A few quotes from our research from real people…

“I more mindlessly scroll through Facebook. It means I am not really on there to do anything. I do not post stuff, I just see if there’s anything interesting.”

“I trust my financial institution more now because I utilise their apps more regularly and I feel like I have greater access, so there’s the potential that the same may occur with the government”

“Saves time. I remember when you had to flick through the white pages and ring places and trying to get answers. And now you just use your thumbs and can get on the road just as quickly.”

“Technology definitely has its place in society but it’s taking over everything and making our world very impersonal. Too many zombies walking around. Too much reliance on technology. A lot of government departments and businesses just expect you to have a mobile phone etc and many people find it quite hard to comprehend. Technology is taking away jobs as well and we have the government saying ‘get a job,’ ‘get a job’ but they’re decreasing a lot in some areas and professions due to technology.”

Gamification and social media is being used in more granular and interesting ways.”

“Some incredibly useful apps for use on smart phones. Interesting how ten years ago everyone carried a bottle of water. Now everyone clutches their phone.”

“Wow it is amazingly good. Where to next!?”

Originally posted as our weekly ezine. Read it here.

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