Google and Facebook are two of the world’s largest brands, worth 309 billion dollars and 159 billion dollars. These enormous corporations have another thing in common: most of their consumers are not clients.
Googling banana bread recettes or posting status updates on Facebook is free. But the more these channels we use, the more advertisers they draw – and advertisers pay the bills. For example, in 2019 Google received over USD 160 billion of ads, accounting for almost 71% of its revenue.
We know how these business models work, but the differences between service users and customers are often overlooked. In a recent Google video, the company says it is constantly working to improve the search engine: “Alone in 2019 we made more than 3,620 search improvements, an average of almost 10 improvements every day.” But Google doesn’t seem to invest just as much time on ad tools — the largest source of revenue.
JotForm, my business, has 8 million users who build online forms. Some also upgrade to paying customers, and for these two groups we continually improve our product. But the people who interact simply with our forms are also users — whether or not they realise it. Maybe they receive from their children’s school a retail survey or an emergency contact sheet; our “form consumers” also should have a great experience.
It is vital that you understand everyone you serve, whether you sell goods, services or operate a Non-Profit. It is important to use this understanding to refine what you make and prioritise your time. Here are three ways for all your audiences to strengthen your brand.
Know the UX/CX difference
Digital developers know the user experience, or UX, intimately. In his 1988 book, “The Design of Everyday Things,” designer, researcher, and psychologist Donald Norman first coined the word. When Norman joined Apple in the early 1990s, long before it was a popular definition, he took over the title User Experience Architect. Today UX is described by its consultancy firm Nielsen Norman Group as “all aspects of the interaction of the end-user with the business, its services, and its products.”
A much younger area is Customer Experience (CX). Forrester described CX in a 2010 blog post as “how customers feel their experiences with your business.” Forrester’s Harley Manning said that good consumer interactions “are valuable (providing value), accessible (making it easy to find and value) and fun (emotionally engaging so that they can be used).”
If you think that the UX and CX meanings sound strikingly close, you’re not alone. It is easy to sink into the quick sand of business jargon, but two major differences exist:
UX continues to concentrate on accessibility – are it easy to navigate Google search results? Is it easy to use our form builder?
CX focuses on expanding the brand as a whole. How do people feel as they link to your business from ads to customer service to digital channels and retail locations?
Both the strongest organisations are right. They support Facebook users and advertisers who purchase space on the site. The aim is to ensure that everyone has a positive brand experience, easy processes and intuitive tools.
Happy clients mean happier consumers
Companies serving various clients and users also face an internal tug-of-war. Sales teams typically tend to prioritize inventions and technologies that benefit paying customers, as UX writer Jeremy Bird describes. Designers and UX teams understandably want to perfect user experience, such as on-board process simplification.
Consider an enterprise like Yelp. We are users as we browse our neighbourhood for the best dumplings. If we promote our vegetarian restaurant on the website, we become customers. Yelp possibly fails to prioritise all groups in its product roadmaps and with limited time and resources.
The approach, Bird says, is to address consumer requirements in a way that also enhances user experiences. “By concentrating on the consumer to define the issue to be addressed and the user to find out how to resolve that,” he says, “we like both categories that are also a big success for our business.”
If Yelp noticed, for example, that most supported search results are too distant from late night snacks, the company could improve location monitoring to better serve advertisers. Users will also see closer sandwich shops, both funded and organic, in their search results. The product is best for everyone.
Learn about digital “brands of use”
In 2018, three organisations examined the success of businesses in the digital era. The group asked about 5,000 U.S. customers how the Coca-Cola Dollar Shave Club felt about 50 distinct digital and conventional brands.
When the team looked at the results, the products were divided into categories of “purchase” or “use.” According to the authors Mark Bonchek and Vivek Bapat: “Buying products focuses on creating a product demand, while brands concentrate on the demand for the product.”
Both types have several variations, but testing the brand “twins” of the market helps to explain the difference. In order to promote hotel stays, Hilton/Marriott, for example, uses ads, loyalty points and its own internal storey. Airbnb highlights local views, explorations and actual guests and hosts’ stories. Both businesses have to make reservations, but their solution is worldwide.
Why are these differences important? Researchers have found that people are more loyal to brands. These brands were also more likely to be recommended to others and favoured the brands over their rivals. In addition, respondents were prepared to pay higher rates for brands of use.
You need to inspire users—of all sorts—to tell their friends and colleagues about your business to think like a digital pioneer. Create intuitive and easy-to-use products and services that equip customers to be more profitable, competitive and achieve their objectives whether they be financial or personal.
And if your organisation has always made one party a priority over the other, try to change your viewpoint. What would consumers or advertisers like? Are you under-served consumers who demand greater attention? It’s worth exploring how everyone meets and experiences your brand. Like Google, you will want to continue your current strategy, but the more players you learn, the better you can play the game.
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