Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A Delicate Balance in Digital Transformations Part 1: Emotional Response and User Engagement

Strategy / Design

We recently launched Rightpoint Digital Operations Services in response to the rapid evolution of the digital experience technology landscape. Consumer preferences change rapidly, and new technologies to meet user expectations are appearing daily. Marketing departments’ responsibilities across industries have grown in response, from better understanding customer motivations, identifying disruptive technologies, and knowing when and how to invest their budgets. In order to build long term strategies in a fast-changing environment, having a partner at the forefront of digital innovation lends a clear competitive advantage. In this series, I’ll be covering some of the key variables to consider in building those strategies, and how they all tie back to the end user.

Methods to measure the emotional responses elicited from user experiences and the long-term impact on the user’s perception of the brand are central to marketing strategies across industries. While there has been a flood of new entrants to the IT marketplace aiming to capitalize on this growing focus, the methods for assessing and timing the adoption of new digital experience technologies can be informed by consumer behavior studies dating back decades.

In 1960, psychologist Daniel Katz published his widely accepted research into the relationship between the attitude one has about completing a task, and the motivation for completing that task. Coined functional theory, Katz’s work suggests that in order to impact one’s behavior, you must influence the attitude that they associate with that behavior. Translated to user experience, this means that if you want users to act in certain ways, you must determine why, to them specifically, are they motivated to behave as they do. Further research has shown that by mapping users’ motivations with their behaviors, marketers can instill favorable perceptions of their digital advertising efforts.

Despite it being over a half century since Katz’s publication, its implications are more relevant than ever for today’s enterprises. According to Google, mobile searches for “______ for me” grew over 60% between 2015 and 2017. Amidst the current national debate on consumer data privacy, consumers are increasingly expecting brands to offer content that is both relevant to them and presented in the right way. This is only accomplished when companies fully understand their customers’ motivations, and in what way can their expectations be met in a pleasing manner.

The impact of effectively aligning digital strategies to users’ individual motivations has been shown to create a level of loyalty that nearly transcends the actual value of the end product. Consider the brands of Apple and Samsung. I’ll bet that in the past six months, you’ve overheard a heated debate on which is the superior manufacturer—the loyalty of consumers to these brands runs deep. These aren’t just arguments over device functionality--they’re arguments over personal philosophies.

One interesting research study compiled data from Facebook user activity in global groups dedicated to either fandom or aversion to specific brands. The study keyed in on four groups specifically, fittingly named:

  1. Fans of Apple
  2. Fans of Samsung Mobile
  3. Apple Sucks
  4. Samsung Sucks

There are a lot of interesting insights to be derived from how users interact with pages like these, not the least of which is this: in the Fans of Apple and the Fans of Samsung Mobile groups, the majority of posts and page activity related more to passion for the brand than their actual products. Inversely, the majority of posts in the Apple Sucks and Samsung Sucks groups related more to product critiques than passion.

Organizations need to study the impact of their users’ experiences, not just on practical consumer buying habits, but on the feelings and emotions they create. This needs to be a constant consideration to keep up with changing consumer preferences, and it’s where having a partner skilled in delivering ongoing improvements is especially valuable. In part two of this series, I’ll be sharing further perspectives on how some of the brands we work with think about the culture shift needed to be completely user focused. Until then, we’d love to hear your perspective—you can get in touch here.

Seth is a Sales Engineer at Rightpoint, focused specifically on Rightpoint Digital Operations Services. You can follow him on LinkedIn.