We live in a thrilling and constantly changing world where in light of extremely fierce competition, the only sustainable long-term strategy for businesses is to keep learning and translate insights into relevant innovation. Successful businesses are restless. They relentlessly challenge themselves to continuously improve. They change their game when they are on top of their game.
For companies to succeed in this market, at Google we have identified five key trends that successful, forward-thinking businesses need to adopt in order to develop a competitive advantage.
(1) Be in the moments that matter through boosting the mobile experience
Adapting products or services for mobile experiences has been crucial for businesses that want to win, but there are still too few businesses that design entire consumer journeys using mobile as the starting point.
This is despite the fact mobiles are used so regularly among consumers. In fact, according to Bloomberg, 93% of Alibaba’s sales during Singles Day were conducted through mobile phones. If you are up against similar giant marketplaces you really need to put seamless mobile experiences at the centre of your long-term business strategy. This means working continuously on conversion rate optimisation and looking to speed up page loading times to less than three seconds. By doing so, the prevalent disconnect between consumers’ desire for a seamless mobile experience and businesses’ lack of focus on this element will be reduced, and organisations will retain and win customers.
(2) Offer meaningful and frictionless experiences throughout the entire consumer journey
Successful businesses develop integrated experiences into every step of the customer journey. If they take a walk in their customers’ shoes and map the journey, they will be able to identify pain points and eliminate friction more easily.
Purchase paths that create friction open the door to competitors who provide a slicker customer experience. Whereas marketing that guides consumers, and offers something relevant at each step of engagement, encourages them towards a purchase. Consumers expect meaningful, frictionless and seamless interactions with retailers and brands. If not fulfilled, they will move their attention elsewhere.
(3) Recognise the power of data
The new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will become law on Friday May 25 and businesses are becoming increasingly aware of both the possibilities and limitations surrounding the use of data. Companies that have amassed first-party/CRM data are sitting on a goldmine and need to utilise it to optimise the whole customer journey. The same goes for third-party data. Digital tools can be used to analyse consumer signals of intent and online behaviour, and the data collected can, within the guardrails of data protection legislation, be mined for insights and inform media buying decisions – all with the aim of reducing cost and improving the personalisation and relevance of marketing messages.
(4) Use automation and machine-learning
Automation makes processes more efficient and develops faster and smoother solutions for consumers. A simple example is recommendations based on user signals. Businesses that leverage automation can develop processes, insights and services that will have a positive impact on customer experience, marketing, structures, workplaces, and perhaps most importantly, an organisation’s ability to adapt and act effectively in rapidly-changing market conditions. Machine learning is one of the principal and most important tools in automation and is fast becoming affordable and widely available.
(5) Break down silos
Last, but not least: to enable fast decisions and a strong consumer focus, businesses need to re-think structures and break down silos. They must create one team consisting of marketing, sales and IT that focuses on the customer journey and works towards the same Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Today, many functions with different KPIs are organised and run as independent verticals, making it hard to achieve an integrated customer experience. Forward-thinking businesses are combining these functions and building fast, horizontal teams that own the entire process. Businesses that support this more flexible and agile way to organise will grow more than those impeded by traditional silos.
I look forward to seeing progress in how technology is used to drive relevant and delightful customer experience and build a new generation of stronger businesses as a result.