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It’s all about the people: Digital adoption

Published: Tuesday, 16 February 2016 by Katharine Hulls, VP Marketing
Digital Intelligence

I have been intrigued by the recent series of Barclays Digital Eagles TV adverts giving viewers tips for getting value online. It’s an interesting marketing message as it promotes Barclays’ digital leadership by offering a public service that teaches people key online skills in a very non-technical, inclusive way. Using middle aged and older people within the adverts is a smart move for two reasons.  Firstly, wealth is on average highest amongst the 45-64 year old age group and remains relatively high amongst the 65+ age group , however, according to the Office of National Statistics, in May 2014 only 37% of UK adults aged 75 years and over had ever used the Internet - that’s 1.8 million people . As such it makes perfect commercial sense to help get these wealthier customers online and confident in using the internet – and by association Barclay’s online banking services – as online banking is cheaper for the banks to operate and opens up a number of up-sell, cross-sell marketing opportunities via email and social channels.  Secondly, and more subtly, using more mature people shows that Barclays digital services are accessible and relevant to people of all age groups and it stops their non Generation Y, high wealth customers, feeling patronized by the typical persona of a digital expert.

Initiatives such as these are encouraging consumers to be more tech savvy. With 99% of 16 to 24 year olds (7.1 million people) in the UK using the internet , consumer expectation of how a brand should treat them online is the highest it’s ever been. And as the number of ‘silver surfers’ increases along with the continued general popularity of online shopping, so too does the demand and expectation for quality online customer service. Social media is indeed amplifying this – providing a platform for both happy and disgruntled customers to voice their experiences – but so too are brands such as Barclays that are educating customers on how they should behave online to get great value, such as advising customers to leave items in their baskets and wait for a discount offer from the brand before hitting ‘buy’.

These tech savvy consumers are putting numerous additional pressures on brands, one of which is the need for ever more speed. At the Forrester Research 2015 Forum for Marketing Leaders, the buzz term for the future of marketing was hyper-adoption – the rapid and simultaneous uptake of new behaviors and technologies by consumers. Hyper-adoption brings limited brand loyalty because less emotional, and often financial, investment is needed to complete the purchase and try something new – there just isn’t time or necessity to connect deeply enough with a brand. This in turn means that hyper-abandonment has increased too. Brands must therefore continually add features and benefits to their products and services at pace in order to keep appealing to consumers; putting pressure on marketers to constantly meet these ever increasing consumer expectations and raising the level of personalization even higher.

The right to individualism
Today’s tech aware online consumers also understand that brands have the data and technology available to treat them as individuals online and as such demand to be appealed to on a 1:1 level. Our latest research conducted in partnership with Teradata revealed that over half of consumers across every age group in the UK and Germany like to receive individualized communications and have high expectations of how much brands understand them. For example, over one third (37%) of consumers expect to be recognized by brands without having to provide huge detail each time they interact, whilst 25% of consumers want the brand to display previously shared preferences and 21% also want a brand to know their previous purchase history . Our research also showed that consumers are happy and willing to share information if they believe it will enhance their online experience. But as always, this information can come at a high price if the brand gets the experience wrong.

Differentiation
In today’s instantaneous online world, where brand loyalty is limited and consumers’ attention spans are short, customer experience is now the key differentiator. If your website and online customer experience does not live up to expectations you won’t succeed. Consumers today expect to provide their personal details, but in return they also expect to receive an intuitive, personalized experience, with relevant offers tailored to them as individuals. Fail to provide this and there is little loyalty – consumers will quickly move across to your competitors. This is where marketers play a key role. As consumers continue to become more knowledgeable and savvy online, so must your marketing strategies. Barclays has embraced the benefits of online banking, and its original educational marketing message provides the customer with a great experience and changes perceptions of its brand. Isn’t it time that your customer experience did the same?

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