Brian Marr’s talk on the connected experience, or how to reach people on all the devices they use, may have been my favorite session at Seattle Interactive Conference 2012. Marr is the instructor of a marketing and branding course at MCDM – one class I wasn’t able to fit into my schedule – so I was excited to get a taste of his expertise. He currently works as the Director of Strategy at Smashing Ideas.
The connected experience blends the different screens that people have in their lives. With people relying on many different types of devices for a variety of purposes, it’s important for businesses to plan more than just good content or products.
“If content is king, context is queen,” Marr said, stressing the importance of knowing where and why your customer will be accessing information.
To help get to the heart of this concept, Marr looked at technology use and trends, different kinds of connected experiences, challenges, and how to get started creating such an experience for your customers or users.
1. Technology and use trends
- Digital options increase every day
- Fluidity allows you to reach people through all the different methods available
- Some devices actually create new data, which yield new insights (i.e. FitBit, Fuel band, etc. This idea will also be interesting for toys.)
- Network speeds increasing (huge difference from 3G to LTE)
- With the decreased price of cloud storage, sharing content across devices is easier (shared experience)
- Content management systems drive the consumer experience and should be integrated into the foundation of your platform
2. Types of connected experiences
- Synchronized: for example, the eReader let’s you make notes and brings you back to where you last stopped, no matter the device. Evernote allows you to share information and access documents from different locations and devices.
- Adaptive: content adapts to your current device. This could mean apps for the device you want to target or responsive websites. It’s important to consider how the customer will engage on a device and what information you need to share.
- Complementary(second screen): people interact with content at an event or with others experiencing an event. A lot of networks are investing in second screen platforms. 80% of people with tablets watch television with a second screen in front of them; an opportunity for networks to build deeper experiences for customers.
- Device shifting: people start searches on mobile/tablets and finishing them elsewhere, shifting seamlessly from device to device. Consider content and context of each device. For example, when searching for cars, on the phone you might want to show visuals, basic information, and location-based results, while on the PC you have expanded information, but don’t focus on location-based information specifically.
3. Today’s challenges:
- Figuring out what devices to target (iOS v. Android, tablet v. phone v. PC –huge variations). When deciding, think about each device and what capabilities they have (screen, memory, location, etc.). Creating a great experience for all devices is expensive and hard to maintain, but can be valuable.
- To create a connected experience, you need an Internet connection. People want to access information while in stores, but often don’t have the access to do so.
- Departmental silos within companies are the biggest challenge to creating really compelling connected experiences for customers. Often separate teams manage different aspects of a project and content management systems can result in duplication of content. A system for inter-departmental collaboration need to be put in place.
- Sometimes you don’t need a connected experience. Be able to recognize when a connected experience isn’t necessary.
4. How to get started
- Define your target market. Who is best to target for what you want to achieve? Focus on this group first, expand later
- Create customer personas – don’t just rely on data, think about personality, hopes/dreams, etc. to create a more personal customer experience
- Consider user flows
- Map out the experience using the sales funnel from awareness to interest, sale, etc. When done well, this gives you a sense of all the engagement points, online and offline.
- Most importantly, break down the silos and create connection points between departments and products
- Think about how the pieces work together and how resources can be combined to create more powerful products
Marr cautioned not to get distracted by shiny objects or “the next big thing.” There will be always something new and exciting. Instead, start by thinking about why you do what you do. Then, figure out who needs your content, what they are using it for, and the best way to get it to them.
Connected experiences are now, we are the ones holding it up.