The following questions will be the points of discussion for the article.
1. Digital transformation has raised consumer expectations for digital experiences. How can businesses navigate this demand?
For a long time, websites managed by IT were very focused on functionality. Then Marketers took it over to push messaging and sales. Now, users are looking for experience. This means continuity of experience across devices and throughout the buyer journey. It is more important than ever to have a cohesive approach to all digital channels from website, to email, to social, to customer service and sales.
A common phrase heard is to “reduce friction.” Stop making it hard for users to find the information they want and perform the tasks that they want to. Give them multiple ways to engage with you on their terms and on their timeline.
2. What are the primary challenges that companies face while conducting digital experience optimization?
The primary challenge is that most companies don’t put the user at the center of their business. A user doesn’t just interact with one department within an organization. They interact with several. You need to understand what the USER wants to get out of each interaction so that they are inclined to buy the products or services you offer. Users often don’t care what each department has to say.
Another challenge is that there is too narrow a focus in what they are trying to optimize. A business needs to make sure all of the stakeholders are involved in defining what the goal is.
3. How does digital experience optimization align a company’s website and digital strategies to a common goal? How does it better prepare a business for future growth?
The best thing that Digital Experience Optimization (DXO) does is create that alignment across departments so that there is a common goal. It does this by understanding where the company is currently at from a digital perspective, leveraging what is already working, and addressing what isn’t working. The whole process is built to create alignment and structure to achieve the company goals.
We use a method called SOSTAC
by PR Smith. While is was created specifically for marketing plans, it can really be used in any scenario where consensus and a plan is needed. There are 6 key phases:
● Situation Analysis
It can generate very powerful plans when the process is followed. By its nature, you are forced to collaborate with others and come to a consensus on what needs to be done, who is owning each step, and how to determine if you were successful. We use it for a lot of different projects outside of just marketing.
4. How can businesses gauge their customers with optimized digital experiences?
It is very easy to see if your optimized experience is working. It will all be in the data. However, there is no single metric to look at, particularly across industries. A lot depends on where the business currently is. If they are getting lots of basic service calls now, maybe the metric is a reduction in calls. Maybe the business wants the user on their site longer with more engagement. Maybe it is to push them to download the product faster.
5. Will contemporary technologies, like AI, big data, and ML, be utilized to optimize digital experiences?
All of these technologies will play a part in optimizing your digital experience. I think big data and machine learning will likely have the biggest impact, assuming you have the skills in house to take advantage of that. I am most skeptical of AI. I think of AI much like I think of persona’s. Humans are incredibly complex and fickle beings. Trying to boil their behaviors down into a small number of personas or assume that A always leads to B I think is a disservice to the user. Let them take ownership of the choices they make instead of just spoon feeding them what the AI believes they want to hear. I grew up with the Terminator, so I have a distrust of AI 🙂
6. You have had hands-on experience working across numerous industry giants. How does 3 Media Web benefit from your expertise?
I think the biggest benefit is that I stay calm and rarely get flustered. I have certainly seen my share of things gone right as well as wrong that I can pull those learnings into 3 Media Web in a way that is not confrontational to the team. The biggest benefit I bring is with my communication style. I think communication skills, or lack of them, are really the root of all problems. When communication breaks down - among colleagues or with clients - everything falls apart. So I don’t know how much of my past experiences specifically has benefited 3MW, vs my ability to communicate what I learned and how we can leverage it in a way that makes it accessible to the team.
7. How can businesses enhance their competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive market?
I have a saying “If we aren’t changing, we’re dying.” It’s quite possible someone else said it, but it’s a little bit of a mantra for me. A business CANNOT stay the same and expect to be around in the future. You must invest in your employees so that they can learn, try, and even fail. Failure isn’t a terrible word. Failure is fine as long as you learned something from the experience. Repeatedly failing the same thing is the problem, but not failure in and of itself.
It is more important than ever to have a cohesive approach to all digital channels, from website, to email, to social, to customer service and sales.
8. Please discuss some of the latest initiatives you have been working on. What innovations or trends have been a recent addition to 3 Media Web’s portfolio?
We have been leaning into using the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) model for the last 2 years. It has had a significant impact on how we run our business and growing profitability. It has really transformed how we run the business.
We have a couple of areas that we are increasingly focusing on:
● Page Speed - this is important for SEO rankings as well as general usability of a website.
● Accessibility - every site we build is built to WCAG standards. While this is a priority for those that have disabilities in their use of the website, often those measures greatly improve the experience of all users.
● Website personalization is another area that we are putting more effort into that is critical to optimizing the users digital experience. Users want to feel like you are speaking directly to them.
9. What advice would you give to market players and budding entrepreneurs?
● Read Traction by Gino Wickman(A book about EOS)
● Make sure everyone on the team knows the goals for the year and works towards them in their daily work.
● Don’t grow too big too fast
● Don’t micromanage. Hire experts and let them lead you.
● Put the customer first