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The State Of User Experience

Shelly Kramer

In today’s digital era, it’s not a stretch to expect that every business understand the importance of user experience (UX)–especially as it relates to your company website. A well-designed and mobile-friendly website is, quite simply, table stakes in today’s Internet-fueled world.

When talking about your website, consider this: 96 percent of the time a prospect visits your website they are not ready to buy. What’s more, you’ve got 8 seconds or less to get their attention. What are you doing to give them the experience (and the information) they seek when they find their way to your website? The experience you create for them for in that exceptionally short period of time has a big impact on what happens next.

So now my secret is out. I’m a UX freak. I think about user experience all the time. I’m even the person who makes time to write an email or fill out a contact form and tell you about it if I visit your website and have a less-than-pleasant experience.

That’s why I was interested in Limelight’s recently published 2015 State of the User Experience report. The study, now in its second year, collected data from more than 1,300 adult consumers, all of whom spent—on average—at least 5 hours per week on line (as if that’s hard to do). The results revealed some interesting and sometimes surprising trends in the habits and preferences of the online user. Let’s take a look.

More time spent online

Not news to anyone: People are spending more time online than ever before. Go outside, go into any restaurant, airport, mall, or public space and try to count how many people have their noses buried in devices. Then give up, because the number will be too large to keep track of. The increase in the last 12 months has been dramatic, as this graphic from the report illustrates.

More Time spent online chart

Over this past year, the number of people who admitted to spending 15+ hours a week online (not including work-related online usage), rose from 23 percent to almost 45 percent. Cumulatively, those spending more than 10 hours a week online has risen from 36.6 percent in 2014 to 64 percent in 2015. That’s a lot.

Not surprised? What if I told you that, stereotypes aside, it’s not the young ’uns leading the charge on increased time spent online—it’s the boomers! Limelight’s data showed millennials trailed behind the boomers in time spent online: 41 percent to 51 percent. A statistical blip or the first signs of a new trend? Does this surprise you? Then I challenge you to pop into your local Apple store and take a quick count as to how many older folks you see there compared to those in the 18-24 age group. Frequent traveler? Look around at your fellow airport patrons—you’ll see massive device adoption by both boomers and Gen-Xers. Sure, plenty of young people are tethered to their devices, but they aren’t alone in that regard. We are all online more, and by and large we’re all using our omnipresent devices for that access.

Social and video favored, especially by millennials

So what is everyone doing during all that online time every week? In 2014, the split between different activities was minimal, with news content coming out ahead by a narrow margin. This year, though, as this graphic illustrates, social media sites account for the most activity.

 Social and Video Favored, Especially by Millennials chart

It’s no surprise that video consumption also features strongly, with millennials naming video and social jointly as their number-one online activities.

influence of video among the Millennial cohort

The influence of video among the millennial cohort is a factor that I wrote about earlier this year when I highlighted research from a Google/Ipsos study. The study suggested that 98 percent of smartphone-owning millennials view video content daily on their device. Not only that, they are also likely to be more focused on the video content they’re viewing on their mobile devices than they are when watching TV. Take note marketers—ignoring video is bad. Ignoring mobile optimized video, even worse.

Consistency and content

Performance and continuity across different devices continued to be priorities for most website users. What was most striking about the survey results, however, was the increased weight given to the availability of “fresh and updated content.”

Consistency and ContentThis should be something that encourages content marketers everywhere, but it should also come with a warning: More content doesn’t equal success, and cramming your blog or website with spammy business jargon and sales-y marketing messages is a surefire way to drive people away. Content that informs, educates, entertains, and provides value to your reader will help you not only attract website visitors, but ultimately entice them to do business with you.

Are we becoming less impatient?

How long do you wait these days for a page to load before moving on? Two seconds? Five seconds? Nothing makes me crazier than a slow loading anything, and it’s a killer for any website. Surprisingly, the survey results suggest that user patience may be increasing, with the percentage of those willing to wait more than five seconds increasing from 40.79 percent in 2014 to 51.58 percent this year. This in turn appears to be having a positive impact on brand reputation, with more respondents indicating that they would be less likely to turn to a competitor due to a slow load speed.

Are we Becoming Less Impatient

A word of caution though for anyone thinking that they can compromise on the performance of their website: The survey also highlights that over this past year mobile users are moving in the opposite direction, with a dramatic drop in those willing to wait for a page to load.

Percentage of people willing to wait longer chart
Percentage of people willing to wait longer for page to load

Smartphone usage is exploding, particularly among millennials and Generation Z, and more of us are researching and shopping while on the move than ever before. Online holiday sales were predicted this season to hit 83 billion, with mobile predicted to drive the majority of visits for the first time ever. Kind of a big deal, no? I don’t know about you, but I’ve not yet set foot in a store for any of my holiday purchases, and at least 50 percent of my purchases have been made from a device. What about you?

The personal touch

Users seem to be getting slightly more forgiving when it comes to brands gathering their personal data, and data shows they would rather a website remember their details and serve up a more personalized experience on their next visit.

The Personal Touch

The increase from 26.7 percent to almost 43 percent in just 12 months is a significant move. The study doesn’t touch on security concerns, but while these are sure to remain, it seems that web users are at least willing to trade some of their personal details for a more personalized experience.

Speaking about the study, Jason Thibeault, senior director of marketing strategy at Limelight, had this to say recently: “We have more options than ever—more content, more video, and more shopping. And while patience has increased slightly, people—whether they are millennials, Gen X or Baby Boomers—all expect a personalized, highly functioning web experience, or they will look elsewhere. With the explosion in content, branded entertainment, video, and e-commerce, the stakes are higher than ever.”

With this study still only in its second iteration, it’s probably too soon to draw too many firm conclusions from the results. What it does prove though, is how important the website user experience is for users and how fluid the trends surrounding web use can be. It’s vital for brands and marketers who want to attract customers online turn their focus to creating the absolute best user experience possible. We also need to be constantly evaluating the data that’s available to us, as well as feedback from customers, about what makes an online experience a great experience, and using that feedback to drive strategies moving forward.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to be a huge business to leverage big data to help create stellar user experiences. You need to commit to making it happen, and there are many solutions out there to help you along the way—many of which are incredibly affordable.

All graphics are from The State of the User Experience Report.

 

This post was brought to you by IBM for MSPs and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s PivotPoint. Dedicated to providing valuable insight from industry thought leaders, PivotPoint offers expertise to help you develop, differentiate and scale your business.

This article was originally seen on V3Broadsuite.

The post The State of User Experience [Report] appeared first on Millennial CEO.

Image via StockSnap.io

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Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.

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About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at www.tempocreative.com. Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

Social Media Matters: 6 Content And Social Media Trend Predictions For 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Julie Ellis

As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.

Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.

Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.

1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines

Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.

However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:

  • Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
  • Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.

2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify

Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:

  • Sending and receiving emails and messages
  • Making purchases
  • Researching products and services
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or writing reviews and comments
  • Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
  • Visiting news and entertainment websites
  • Using social media

Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.

This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.

3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms

Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.

This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.

However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.

4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age

In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.

However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.

However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.

5. Content production must reflect quality and variety

  • Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
  • While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
  • The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
  • B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
  • Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.

Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
Small Business Video infographic

A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.

6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement

Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.

For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.

For a deeper dive on engaging with customers through storytelling, see Brand Storytelling: Where Humanity Takes Center Stage.

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About Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis – marketer and professional blogger, writes about social media, education, self-improvement, marketing and psychology. To contact Julie follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

How Much Will Digital Cannibalization Eat into Your Business?

Fawn Fitter

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers predicts that 40% of companies will crumble when they fail to complete a successful digital transformation.

These legacy companies may be trying to keep up with insurgent companies that are introducing disruptive technologies, but they’re being held back by the ease of doing business the way they always have – or by how vehemently their customers object to change.

Most organizations today know that they have to embrace innovation. The question is whether they can put a digital business model in place without damaging their existing business so badly that they don’t survive the transition. We gathered a panel of experts to discuss the fine line between disruption and destruction.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_3

qa_qIn 2011, when Netflix hiked prices and tried to split its streaming and DVD-bymail services, it lost 3.25% of its customer base and 75% of its market capitalization.²︐³ What can we learn from that?

Scott Anthony: That debacle shows that sometimes you can get ahead of your customers. The key is to manage things at the pace of the market, not at your internal speed. You need to know what your customers are looking for and what they’re willing to tolerate. Sometimes companies forget what their customers want and care about, and they try to push things on them before they’re ready.

R. “Ray” Wang: You need to be able to split your traditional business and your growth business so that you can focus on big shifts instead of moving the needle 2%. Netflix was responding to its customers – by deciding not to define its brand too narrowly.

qa_qDoes disruption always involve cannibalizing your own business?

Wang: You can’t design new experiences in existing systems. But you have to make sure you manage the revenue stream on the way down in the old business model while managing the growth of the new one.

Merijn Helle: Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are putting a lot of capital into digital initiatives that aren’t paying enough back yet in the form of online sales, and they’re cannibalizing their profits so they can deliver a single authentic experience. Customers don’t see channels, they see brands; and they want to interact with brands seamlessly in real time, regardless of channel or format.

Lars Bastian: In manufacturing, new technologies aren’t about disrupting your business model as much as they are about expanding it. Think about predictive maintenance, the ability to warn customers when the product they’ve purchased will need service. You’re not going to lose customers by introducing new processes. You have to add these digitized services to remain competitive.

qa_qIs cannibalizing your own business better or worse than losing market share to a more innovative competitor?

Michael Liebhold: You have to create that digital business and mandate it to grow. If you cannibalize the existing business, that’s just the price you have to pay.

Wang: Companies that cannibalize their own businesses are the ones that survive. If you don’t do it, someone else will. What we’re really talking about is “Why do you exist? Why does anyone want to buy from you?”

Anthony: I’m not sure that’s the right question. The fundamental question is what you’re using disruption to do. How do you use it to strengthen what you’re doing today, and what new things does it enable? I think you can get so consumed with all the changes that reconfigure what you’re doing today that you do only that. And if you do only that, your business becomes smaller, less significant, and less interesting.

qa_qSo how should companies think about smart disruption?

Anthony: Leaders have to reconfigure today and imagine tomorrow at the same time. It’s not either/or. Every disruptive threat has an equal, if not greater, opportunity. When disruption strikes, it’s a mistake only to feel the threat to your legacy business. It’s an opportunity to expand into a different marke.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_4Liebhold: It starts at the top. You can’t ask a CEO for an eight-figure budget to upgrade a cloud analytics system if the C-suite doesn’t understand the power of integrating data from across all the legacy systems. So the first task is to educate the senior team so it can approve the budgets.

Scott Underwood: Some of the most interesting questions are internal organizational questions, keeping people from feeling that their livelihoods are in danger or introducing ways to keep them engaged.

Leon Segal: Absolutely. If you want to enter a new market or introduce a new product, there’s a whole chain of stakeholders – including your own employees and the distribution chain. Their experiences are also new. Once you start looking for things that affect their experience, you can’t help doing it. You walk around the office and say, “That doesn’t look right, they don’t look happy. Maybe we should change that around.”

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. 

To learn more about how to disrupt your business without destroying it, read the in-depth report Digital Disruption: When to Cook the Golden Goose.

Download the PDF (1.2MB)

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Insurance Customers Now Demand Simplicity, Personalization, and Experiences

Birgit Fien-Schmalzbauer

The insurance industry is seeing a significant technological revolution as the inner workings of agencies adapt to the digital economy. However, customer-focused changes are also necessary. Digital customer engagement and focused, lifestyle experience communications are more powerful and important than ever. Customers are demanding a simple, seamless way to interact with the insurer they select. Often they determine whether a particular insurer will meet their needs long before that first touchpoint.

How can today’s insurance companies meet customer demands for hyper-connectivity and personalized lifestyle experiences?

Trends reshape the insurance buyer’s experience

Insurance customers are demanding simple and personalized experiences, and they want those experiences to match their lifestyle needs. The concept seems complex, but it does not need to be. Insurers must create the right impression, build a solid brand, and integrate key components of the business to meet customer needs. Consider that as many as 70% of customers are making purchase decisions prior to engaging with the agent. This demonstrates the importance of connecting with and creating the right interactions long before the agent calls the customer. It also showcases the importance of digital connectivity.

A good place to start meeting this demand is to look at the trends that are reshaping the insurance buyer’s experience. For example, today’s insurance buyer has immediate access to the pricing and product information he or she needs to make decisions. They can gather feedback. They may compare policies. And they will get recommendations from multiple sources. This happens everywhere, allowing the customer to make better-informed decisions.

Customers also want a personalized journey through the sales cycle. They want access to multiple ways of connecting with the company to create a seamless journey. Channels in every aspect of the insurance business must communicate the same message and provide the same ease of connection with the customer. One survey found that 29% of customers view companies that deliver on their promised value at the right price to be worthy of their business, and 21% of customers want personalized services and products to meet their needs. Among those looking for ease of business, 22% want both online and offline touchpoints. Companies that fail in these areas often miss key opportunities to form positive relationships with insurance buyers.

Consumers today are more willing to provide detailed data for analysis. Although more data is available, many companies still do not use it effectively enough. However, consumers expect and want insurance companies to use their data to create enriching, better-reaching solutions. In other words, customers are giving data. They want insurers to use that data to create insurance products that best meet their needs.

What technological solutions do customers need to engage?

Understanding the trends in the insurance buyer’s sector is important, but implementing solutions is even more essential. Every aspect of the insurance provider’s business impacts the customer experience. To create a lifestyle insurance experience that meets the trends and demands of today’s customers, companies must accommodate their increasing digital lifestyle. To do this, a number of tools must interconnect to reach consumers.

Companies must bring together all business components, including marketing, sales, services, and commerce. With the customer at the center of every process, insurance businesses must focus on delivering comprehensive service.

Within the marketing component, for example, digital connectivity may seem obvious. But today’s insurers must reach beyond traditional TV advertising. They also need to consider the value of adding video and social media. Consumers engage with companies quickly and efficiently online. Social media, for example, is where they go to gather information about a company’s reputation. They use it to report concerns directly to the company. Consumers also use it to gather information about services and products. Video is an excellent form of engagement that aids in brand-building as well as creating personalized experiences.

Within the sales component, businesses must include traditional sales methods while also focusing on digital connections, including mobile, quote to cash, and execution. Digital customer engagement, even within the agent’s phone call, can secure more leads and improve an insurer’s ability to reach a larger audience.

The digital economy also impacts the commerce component of the insurer’s business. Trade, retail, and e-commerce are all equally important. When reaching and interacting with customers, providing for their needs, and delivering service, all levels of commerce must be digitally connected so companies can interact with and deliver the type of personalized service consumers need.

Of course, the service sector also plays a very important role in developing a personalized solution for consumers. Here, every component of the insurer’s services must connect digitally, from phone SMS and self-service to call centers. All touch points play a role in exactly how the customer interacts. They also play a role in how the company’s departments interact. It all impacts how the expectations of the consumer are met.

Creating digital customer engagement in the digital economy

Creating a digital business is essential to all companies in today’s economy, and customer engagement simply must happen. This includes providing multiple channels consumers can use to connect with your business, as well as providing personalized experiences. Every interaction needs to provide options. And all business processes, from sales, service, marketing, and commerce, must align.

Giving customers a way to interact is important. Giving them numerous options to connect is game-changing.

Download our insurance white paper “How Insurers Can Prepare for the Digital Revolution” today to see what SAP has to offer. We will work with you to develop an insurance business that’s ready to meet the needs of digital customer engagement.

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Birgit Fien-Schmalzbauer

About Birgit Fien-Schmalzbauer

Birgit Fien-Schmalzbauer leads the Research and Innovation Office within the insurance industry business unit at SAP. Her responsibilities include defining the innovation strategy and co-innovation with partners and customers for complementing the solution portfolio, especially in the area of IoT, blockchain, and ecosystem; selection and development of startups; definition and support of go-to-market strategy; as well as supporting marketing and analyst events.