We did some work for a food brand recently. A world leader selling in markets throughout the globe. In keeping with most of the brands the company owns the website is superb. Engaging pictures and videos, not too much copy but what there is is well written, tells a great story about the brand and how it can be used, easy to navigate.
Undoubtedly the website gets great feedback and engagement scores, it probably performs well in qualitative research especially when compared to competitor sites. It is a great site by any standard, both creatively and technically.
However, after we had researched the product and the brand the website left us feeling a little cold.
While it promoted the product and the many uses of the product really well it failed to communicate the differential of our product to its competitors. It promoted use of the genetic category rather than the specific product. Yes, the site was branded well, you could not fail to see the brand while navigating the site, but once off the site you were enthused with ideas about how to use the product but had no idea why our brand is different from, let alone better than, any of the (cheaper) competitors.
This is not an isolated problem. Web sites are fantastic opportunities to communicate with, and sell to, customers and potential customers. They give us great opportunities to communicate a more detailed brand story and involve consumers with our brand. (Who would know – or even notice – that all the headings on Nando’s menus – and their website – are tilted at 87 degrees to “remind” everyone that they were founded in 1987 if this were not explained on their site.)
They are also incredibly well researched as technology allows us to know exactly where everyone is clicking, how they navigate around the site, which sections attract the most interest, which layouts, wording, colours illicit the most clicks and so on.
However, because we can be so precise about what does and does not work on our sites we often overlook how they make the customer feel. This layout or this design may illicit the most clicks or a better rate of sale but which makes the consumer feel best about our brand. Does our site create greater customer understanding of why our brand is better than the competitors, does it make them feel good about our brand, does it drive greater customer loyalty? Does the emotional outtake from our website/from our apps match the emotions of our brand and our product, does the site/app illicit emotional responses from our customers that are appropriate to our products, that are confirmed by our products?
It is when we get this truly right that websites, apps etc. are not only great communication and sales tools, but become truly synergistic with our brand and start to create greater brand advocacy among our customers.
The Marketing Clinic has been tracking consumers’ emotional journeys for a number of years now and we are increasingly being asked to track their emotional journeys as they interact with websites and apps. What are the consumer’s emotional responses to the overall appearance of the site as they enter it, to any security procedures that they must navigate? How do their emotions move as they search for the information that they require, as they navigate other information available on the site, as they progress through the sales process?
Every website owner that I speak to knows the percentage of sales to visits, often the number of visits the average customer makes before making a purchase, they know the number of pages visited, the number of clicks made, they know the routes that customers tend to navigate to find the information they require. But, when asked how does the customer feel after visiting your site? How has the site changed the way they feel about your brand? or Which parts of the site have the greatest positive effect on your brand image? They tend to be a little less certain.
Most successful brands ensure that they really understand their consumers’ emotional – unconscious – responses to their interaction with their products, but surprisingly few are devoting the same efforts to understanding their consumers’ emotional responses to their websites and apps.