Today’s online customer is price savvy, particular about quality, and meticulous about the brand experience. Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996), in particular, are pretty conscientious about sustainability and the eco-friendliness of where they shop (and will actively avoid any brand if it transpires they use plastic packaging). Generation Z (those born 1996 or later) are truly omnichannel shoppers with zero patience and high expectations.

To meet the expectations of today’s online shopper, you need to take a good look at your offering; what’s the customer experience like on your website? Does your content inspire or could it do with a refresh?

We’ve put together a few pointers to help you to understand what customers are looking for, and perhaps we can get you thinking about digital areas you didn’t consider previously.

They need to know you ‘get’ them

Modern consumers expect brands to not only understand their needs and wants but also want brands to align with social movements and causes. Customers often make purchasing decisions based on how much they identify with a brand’s values and messaging.

For example, a new start-up in Scotland really care about making a change to the fashion industry by using ‘real’ bodies, whatever size, shape, ability, or colour – in an industry well-known for consistently using size four, six-foot-tall models, Molke is making genuine connections with its move to support body positivity.

What do your online customers want? Molke embrace body positivity
Scottish start-up company, Molke, using body-positive models

Your customer service needs to be on point

76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations

Salesforce, ‘State of The Connected Customer’ report, 2nd Ed

Online transactions are largely built on trust – the consumer sees your content or ad, then decides if you are trustworthy enough to receive their cash. The product is dispatched then jobs a good ‘un, right? Wrong (obviously).

A lot of brands really let themselves down when it comes to post-transaction communication or the returns process. Well-known courier, Hermes UK, found itself in a Twitter shit storm by responding to customer complaints using a cut-and-paste reply. As you can imagine, this did not go down well with the outspoken Twitter audience…

Hermes Twitter shit storm
Hermes UK coming under fire on Twitter

The Hermes hate-a-thon has been going on since last year and shows no sign of slowing – because the brand has not changed its approach, despite obvious signposting from its customers that things aren’t quite right.

Bad news travels fast on social media and the ripple effect of a few bad reviews can have devastating consequences for smaller brands. A recent Salesforce study found that 62% of customers saying they share negative experiences with others – word-of-mouth travels uber-fast on the digital grapevine.

Bad experiences travel fast

You need to be truly digital

Gone are the days when brands dictated how customers shopped or communicated with them. Today’s consumer expects an omnichannel experience.

Omnichannel: denoting or relating to a type of retail which integrates the different methods of shopping available to consumers (e.g. online, in a physical shop, or by phone)

Lexico.com

Taking an omnichannel approach involves organising all customer-facing areas of your business to work interchangeably to improve customer experience. For example, a business may have a retail store, a Facebook Page, and a phone number, with an omnichannel approach customers should be able to go into store, see something they like, enquire about the product on Facebook, and finally, order the product via telephone (or any other combination of these actions/channels).

An omnichannel experience is not ‘going the extra mile’ for customers, it’s what’s expected.

Customers want an omnichannel approach
An example of an omnichannel marketing approach

Your business needs to understand sustainability

A sustainable business is one that generates profit while improving societal and environmental conditions. 

https://sustainable.org.nz

Despite the impending environmental disaster, I’m still finding that some business owners don’t understand (or don’t care about) business impact on the environment.

Nobody expects the CEO or MD to run around in a biodegradable paper suit, but you should at least be looking at how you can build sustainable practices. A great place to start is over at https://www.edie.net/blog/, where you can find the latest news on the environmental impact of UK business on the environment. In the meantime, let me look into that biodegradable suit.

Customers want businesses to be environmentally sustainable
Please love me

Your content needs to be top-drawer

With so much competition and noise online, each and every piece of content you put out into the world needs to be thought about. Yes, you should still be reactive to industry news, popular culture, and what’s going on around you locally – even if you just want to do a quick Tweet about a live event you’re attending, you need to make sure that your content has been through your quality checks.

What are your quality checks? Let’s list out the basic checks you should be doing each and every time you publish anything online (or offline for that matter).

  • Is it on brand? – this could include your brand values, messaging, and target audience
  • Is it optimised? – is the image the right dimensions/resolution for the platform you’re publishing to? If you’re publishing to a website, have you thought about SEO? Is the content the best it can be for the time/budget you’ve allocated?
  • Is it original? – duplicating content is not advisable but this is not to say you can’t share content by others.
  • Has it been proofed? – your online customer will be quick to point out mistakes, and they will do this very publicly. Always try to run your content by a second person if possible, or use a free tool such as Grammarly.
  • Have you forgotten anything? – always add an image or video to any content being published. Content with a visual performs much higher than text alone and it also helps to further drive your messaging. Always try to add links to online content where you can too – this is obvious if you’re promoting a product as you would (hopefully!) link back to the product page automatically. Look for other opportunities to send traffic to your website or blog; think about how you can add value to your content.
Online customer - what do they want? Granma punctuation meme

Still need help? Drop me a line to see how I can help you to grow your business online

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