Forget campaign microsites – brands need to think about digital experiences as ongoing engagement tools, powered by cutting-edge technology and contextually-relevant personalised content. From kick-off to go-live and beyond, we work with forward-thinking brands to deliver digital experiences that cut the mustard, here’s how.
1. Define success
Write down your goals, agree them as a team and refer back to them as you go. By understanding your goals, you can define what a minimum viable product (MVP) might look like and the product roadmap to achieving it. In fact, you shouldn’t really look at an MVP as a product, but see it as a strategy, and you should set about identifying the metrics that allow you to validate the following:
Make it useful – Each and every thing you make should be useful. If people are using your product regularly, you’ve found a place in their lives and that can only be a good thing, right?
Be remarkable – If people are telling other people about your product then you’ll get more people using it and any additional marketing will simply fuel the fire.
Be commercially viable – Creating and maintaining digital experiences is expensive in terms of time and cost. Ensure you’ve got a clear understanding across your organisation as to what commercial success looks like.
It’s worth noting that success may look different as your product matures. Acquisition, retention, and referrals may well be early success metrics, but over time that may well shift towards sales, subscription and revenue as well as looking at “churn”.
2. Reorganise your business – act like a startup.
Historically, marketing has been very inward-focused with strategies and tactics geared around the needs of the organisation. Creating a customer-first approach to marketing and, ultimately, the on and offline experiences you give them requires a big cultural shift. All too often, marketing and digital are separate teams so by breaking down the legacy silos that often exist in established businesses. Success starts at the very top with boardroom buy-in.
The word Agile is ubiquitous now, but in the context of reorganising your business, it means gearing your organisational structures to be able to move quickly. The pace of change in business is mind-blowing. Market and technology advances mean that consumer expectations are exponential. Digital transformation is a way of life. Be inventive and agile, or become extinct.
When it comes to creating digital experiences, you may be a big corporate but great things can be achieved by small, motivated teams who have the autonomy to make stuff happen quickly. Teams that aren’t afraid to try and fail but who are minded to test and learn, build great things that succeed. Go forth and conquer.
3. Start simple.
The emphasis here is on starting. You simply want to validate your success metrics, and bells and whistles aren’t always required. It’s important that you have a vision for your product and a simple statement will do. Here’s Instagram’s:
Our mission is to capture and share the world’s moments.
– Kevin Systrom, Instagram co-founder
The Twitter platform was and still is a remarkably simple concept. The fundamental to test early on was the idea of whether people would be prepared to share short bits of text about their daily lives. It was an instant hit, yet the platform was famously coded in a relatively short period of time and deployed on hosting technology that couldn’t cope with the success. It’s now a global phenomenon with over 300 million users. So get your product in the hands of users as soon as you can, and test and learn! You won’t always get it right first time.
4. Make it personalized and put content at the heart of your digital experience
Loving your audience means giving them the personal touch. Personalisation means compelling contextualised content. It’s okay to promote your products and services, but only when it’s natural to do so. Bubble up evergreen content when and where it will relevant. Deliver regular fresh content to keep users coming back for more.
All this isn’t possible without harnessing technology and data.
Making the technology connections with other platforms that hold customer data (e.g. CRM) is key. You’ll be capturing data with every user interaction. Make it meaningful by capturing a behavioural analytics tool like Mixpanel. The more data you have, the more personalised you can make the experience, both from a functional and content perspective.
5. Understand and love your audience
Digital experience begins with defining the target audience. By investing time up front to establish detailed user personas, we can start to map out the kind of experience we’d like to provide, from product features to the types of content we want to create. The proof of the pudding is in the eating so involve real users at most stages. Here’s how:
Research – Use qualitative and quantitative research methods to map the user personas against product opportunities.
UX Planning – Our UX workshopping process involves us, our clients and even potential users. Your product shouldn’t try to do everything though, so prioritise. We use Post-it Notes to define all the user stories and then do a dot priority vote (literally dots written with markers) to establish which stories should make the first cut of the product.
Prototype – Make stuff, test it on users, and don’t be afraid of throwing it away. In fact, it’s a bad idea to use prototype code in our experience.
Beta – Identify product ambassadors, give them an early release, and the benefits are double bubble. You’ll get valuable feedback as you release new product features, and when you go live, you’ll have an army of marketeers who will be proud to tell their friends.
MVP & Beyond – User feedback never stops. We use tools like Hotjar to get real-time feedback from users, making it super easy to provide feedback and positively encouraging and rewarding contributions is a platform for success.
The screenshot below shows the Speedo On platform, with a user providing live feedback using Hotjar.
To conclude, love your audience and they’ll love you back. Together you can achieve great things.
Roger Barr is co-founder and chief technology officer of Mediablaze. As a British Triathlon Level 2 coach, five-time Ironman Triathlon finisher (including the 2014 Hawaii Ironman World Championships), marathon runner, cyclist (he was the first person to Everest Box Hill!) adventure racer and keen walker, he’s able to marry his passion for keeping active with helping brands to connect with their consumers through digital experiences that make a difference.