Digital customer experience — a comprehensive guide

Digital customer experience guide

Customers may not know the differences between a digital customer experience and any other customer experience, but you should. To win their business, you must give them the best possible digital customer experience.

Most business leaders know how important it is to deliver a high-quality customer experience, but that can look a little different when your company operates digitally. AI and other technology have come so far that customers expect personalized experiences on every channel of your brand. Designing and managing a seamless, personalized digital customer experience at every stage of the customer journey will help you gain and retain more customers and increase your business’s long-term growth.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

What is a digital customer experience?

Digital customer experience (CX) is a customer’s perception of your brand based on their interactions across all digital platforms. Those platforms include everything from websites to mobile applications, social media to email, and any other channels where the touchpoint is digital.

Digital CX has become an integral part of marketing strategies as companies turn to the virtual world, not just for advertising but also for ecommerce and relationship building . Consider that around three-quarters of customers use multiple channels for a transaction, and more than half expect personalization throughout the process. The quality of their digital interactions with your brand is more important than ever before.

Customers expect their online experience to be hassle-free and easy to follow from start to finish. Providing a positive digital customer experience helps you meet this expectation and lets customers walk away from your brand with a favorable impression. This could compel them to share that experience with others or revisit your brand in the future as repeat customers.

To compete for a share of customer attention and dollars, modern marketers must be aware of and adept at using all the available digital platforms, proven and even unproven. Some of the touchpoints you can leverage to create a positive digital customer experience include:

Digital customer experience vs. customer experience

Customer experience includes every interaction a customer has with a brand, while digital customer experience only refers to digital interactions. We’d like to emphasize that customer experience is the broader term and digital customer experience is the subset.

Most customers won’t separate these two concepts in their mind, but for companies it’s vital that your digital experience is of the same quality as in store. For this reason, you want to ensure a seamless transition between traditional channels and digital ones. Your organization will need to prioritize your digital customer experience to meet customers’ rising expectations of the overall brand experience.

Customers will get what they need in the most convenient and enjoyable way possible, no matter which device, channel, or venue makes sense in the moment. It all comes together in an extraordinary journey that keeps them coming back time after time, year after year.

Why digital customer experience matters

Digital customer experience is so important because it’s what helps customers form an opinion of your business. Offering a seamless digital CX builds trust and connection with the customer and can convince them to buy from you.

Indeed, customer experience is a powerful driver of sales. They have little patience for impersonal experiences. In fact, 66% of consumers say they will stop buying from a brand if their experience isn’t personalized.

Conversely, a slow or unreliable digital customer experience can have an equally significant negative impact. In the digital space, where transactions happen instantly and every competitor is just a couple clicks away, having a first-class digital CX can be the difference between making a sale or losing a potential customer for life. Your digital customer experience must be on top of its game.

When you acquire more customers thanks to a seamless digital customer experience, they’re more likely to buy more, stay with you longer, and tell their friends about you.

Digital customer experience journey stages

The five stages across the digital customer experience are: awareness, evaluation, purchase, return, and advocacy. Each stage gives businesses the chance to deliver outstanding digital experiences, cultivate customer loyalty, and improve growth. Next, we’ll explain how each of the stages interact with the wider digital customer experience.

Digital customer experience journey stages

  1. Awareness — The first stage in the digital customer experience journey is about getting the attention of a customer while they have an issue that could be solved by your product or service. At this point they’re still understanding what their pain point is and how they can fix the issue. Make sure they’re aware of your company through content marketing, paid advertising, or intent-based traffic.
  1. Evaluation — The next stage entails the customer considering your company by researching and gathering information. While they’re collecting data, they’re also evaluating you against competing companies. Are you the highest quality product out there? Are you the more cost-effective option? How trustworthy does your brand seem based off customer reviews? This is a critical stage in the digital customer journey, so you’ll want to impress them at every digital touchpoint.

What are these digital touchpoints? Anything that gives them a deeper understanding of your product. Think webinars, demos, free trials, product-focused white papers, case studies, product comparison charts, essentially anything under the product marketing umbrella. They’ll discover this content through platforms such as social media, search engines, and your website.

  1. Purchase — Success! A customer has decided to purchase your product out of all the products out there. However, even after they make the decision, technological roadblocks can deter them. Your key digital touchpoints at this stage, depending on your product or service, could be a cart checkout page and process or a subscription page and process.

You’ll want to keep an eye on a few metrics that will determine the efficacy of these processes, namely the abandonment rate. This keeps track of people who started the purchase process, but then abandoned the task before finishing. Another metric to look out for is the number of purchases made within a specific timeframe.

  1. Return — The goal of this stage is to ensure previous customers are satisfied enough with your product or service that they return to make another purchase. This is a big deal since it’s much easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one.

To make sure they return again and again, focus on your digital customer support, customer success, and retention marketing. This could look like 24/7 customer support chat or email marketing campaigns targeting your existing customer base. You’ll want to double down on loyalty techniques, sales, and personalization.

Now is not the time to ease up on metrics. Did you know 44% of businesses don’t calculate their retention rate?

  1. Advocacy — This is when a returning customer turns into a loyal fan. They’re singing your praises to their friends on social media and leaving glowing reviews wherever is appropriate for your product. They may also be actively referring new customers through your referral program.

You can track this stage through the referral rate, or the ratio of referral purchases compared to the total number of purchases. If you find yourself with many advocacy customers, you’re absolutely doing something, most likely many somethings, right in your digital customer experience journey.

Digital customer experience best practices

Why is it so important for your business to have a seamless digital customer experience? The Pareto Principle states that 80% of your profit is generated from 20% of your existing customer base. These days, customers don’t differentiate between digital or physical customer experiences, and they expect a higher level of quality and personalization at every stage. A set of best practices will help you monitor and manage a successful digital customer experience.

Identify your audience

Before you can deliver an exceptional online experience, you must understand various customer types. Grouping customers by purchasing behavior, aka customer segmentation, helps you personalize your messaging and offers.

Your company likely has numerous audiences, so ask yourself the questions below for each segment:

The core of your customer experience depends on whom you’re targeting. Creating buyer personas can help you put a face to your different customer segments. They typically include basic demographics, motivations, and behaviors.

Track your customers’ journey

To create the best possible experience, you need to know when and where customers interact with your brand. By creating a customer journey for each buyer persona, it enables you to follow your customers’ touchpoints.

Extracting data can also help you understand them better. Either ask them directly for information or use analytics tools to see how their journey is progressing . If a touchpoint is actually a sticking point, show empathy and fix it to improve the digital customer experience.

Create an omnichannel customer experience

Digital customer experience best practice

An omnichannel experience encapsulates digital and physical customer touchpoints into one seamless journey, helping people engage with a brand on their own terms. First, you’ll want to consider every single potential touchpoint for the customer’s journey. How easy is it for them to switch back and forth between platforms and devices? Is messaging informed by earlier interactions? Do they have the appropriate amount of information and direction at each stage? Content strategy is critical in creating a comprehensive omnichannel customer experience. Content strategy is critical in creating a comprehensive omnichannel customer experience.

Create a customer feedback loop

You won’t know if your digital customer experience is effective or how you can improve it unless you ask. Use a survey or simple rating box to determine overall satisfaction. If a customer contacts you to ask a question or discuss an issue, check to make sure your answer or solution was useful to them. And always respond to emails about customer service. You can also get your product teams to do user testing.

Personalize the digital customer experience

Customers love feeling like your brand caters to them directly. They’ll give you data if they trust you’ll use it to create the best possible experiences for them. But you must personalize the digital customer experience in a way that shows you’re aware of their preferences by offering relevant products, services, and recommendations to them at just the right moment.

For example, you can ask for their birthday during the signup process, and then offer a discounted rate on an item they have left in their shopping cart on that day.

Make analytics your best friend

Data analytics is a great way to gain insight from the patterns derived from your customers’ behavior. Data analytics software tools like Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics turn your data into visual reports and customized dashboards, helping you control your data’s true value.

Always find ways to improve

You should always strive to improve both your customer experience and your digital customer experience. Keep experimenting and improving by using customer feedback and data trends. Iterate continually and track the results. You’ll gain insight to elevate experiences and spark the emotions you want customers to feel and the actions you’d like them to take.

Tools to improve the digital customer experience

Digital CX is critical to any modern marketing strategy. By creating a seamless digital customer experience, you’ll gain more customers who will remain loyal and tell their friends about you. While delivering a cutting-edge digital CX might seem difficult, many companies already have a foundation in place — in the form of customer management tools and data. When you’re ready to get started, you’ll want to choose the right platform to help you deliver the best digital customer experience possible.

Adobe Experience Manager combines digital asset management and content management into a unified solution for delivering timely, relevant, and personal experiences. It helps you source, adapt, automate, and deliver one-on-one digital experiences across web, IoT, and more — at any scale — powered by the latest artificial intelligence. As a cloud service, Experience Manager is always on and up to date so you can make the most of your content and stay ahead of rising customer expectations.

Watch our platform story to learn more.