Reduce the consumer cognitive load; become a no-brainer

In a world of information overload and ever growing pool of available options, how can one make sure to obtain, and to maintain, a profitable piece of the market share? The competitive advantage isn’t even given to the one with the best product, or the most user friendly interface, because no one will notice that if they don’t open the app to start with. The bottom line? There is too much cognitive load on the customer, and whoever makes their lives the easiest wins the race.

Most of the mobile app ecosystem today works following a consumer-initiated query:

Now, what if you could provide your customer with a reduced journey:

  • Step 1: process (& act on) content

By anticipating customers’ needs and proactively providing them with the solution, not only do you drastically reduce the cognitive load required from the customer, make their lives easier and serve them your service on a silver platter, but you also completely skip the step during which your user decides between using your app or a competitor’s. You are the captain now.

How do I anticipate my user’s needs?

A good listener knows how to read cues, and your app users give many, whether through their online history or with their real-life behavior. Your job? Make sure you are there to present them with what they need, when they need it, where they need it. Essentially, this is what the industry started referring to as right moment marketing, micro-moments or contextual marketing (as of now, these terms are all grossly interchangeable).

Right moment marketing (let’s call it that shall we) works on two main axis, one of which is pull based and the other, you guessed it, push. Now, this is not necessarily a “step 1”, “step 2”, type of dichotomy, but ideally a simultaneously interfeeding process, differed or in real-time.

1. Pull offline knowledge to enrich customer profiles and create smarter audiences

In order to be that go to app that delivers just what the user needs, you need to understand your users. This means picking up on these various cues and making sense of them. What traditional marketers already do is look at online cues; as well as building a collection of what customers search for, what they click on, what websites they visit, what they bought, and what is their basket size etc. This data collection has proven extremely valuable and shows results in today’s marketing strategies… but it has a serious blind-spot.

To make a difference, you imperatively have to start treating your customers differently from one another and shrink the experience to a hyperpersonal micro-level. Long gone the spray-and-pray, we know that experiences need deep tailoring. So why look at an incomplete picture? Nowadays, mobile phones are at customers’ arm’s lengths every step (literally) of the way. And that device is a gateway into a much deeper and richer understanding of customers’ behavior. With the adequate opt-in and priming strategy, accessing users’ location is a gold mine of offline touchpoints that are otherwise invisible.

With these tools, you can now anticipate the first step – Customer has a need. ✔️

Offline journey audience

2. Capture the key ‘moments’

Engage with users at significant touchpoints by proactively surfacing what they need, when they need it. Many service-based businesses already started doing so – think airline apps pushing your boarding pass in the hours prior to your flight for example. And this is precisely where the differential factor between competing apps will be; apps need to start thinking of themselves as service providers, working for the consumer, mindfully removing hurdles.

As Julie Ask from Forrester noted; it is time to “shift your paradigm to moments” by delivering a customized experience rather than targeting people. Customers’ day-to-day paths are extremely distinctive, a big scale fingerprint, or footprint if you will. Now combine this concrete footprint with your existing digital journeys, this is data you have at hand to anticipate their needs, capitalize on the highly converting moments and serve that right-size experience.

And just like that, choosing app and translating need into command? No longer needed ✔️

> Read more about capturing the moments that matter

3. Reduce friction by creating a seamless experience

According to Google, 67% of smartphone users admitted switching apps because ‘it takes too many steps to purchase or get the desired information’. It’s human nature, we want to get to our destination as quickly and painlessly as possible. That means that the faster we are rewarded with what we are seeking, the better our impression of the experience, and the more likely we are to chose this path again.

On mobile, that means whatever way you can reduce the number of clicks and swipes between the first interaction and the ultimate conversion, the better of a job you are doing at servicing your user. There are many ways you can do that; here are a few:

  • Deep linking – one click and here’s your content, not your homepage.
  • Rich push – add images, sounds and other widgets to your notifications. Currently only used by about 9% of mobile companies, rich push has the potential to show a value that text-only cannot.
  • Contextual pages – surface the right content upon app open, when are where needed.
  • Single medium experiences – being routed out of the app to a browser page and back is a fatal no-no, keep it in one place, and let that place be your app.
  • App integrations – make the journey as seamless as possible, think in-app payment or other integrated services.

But friction doesn’t just come from needing too many clicks to reach the end-goal. An important source of friction is a direct result of publishers’ traditional revenue model, primarily the nowadays ad-saturated screen. The resulting banner-blindness negatively impacts ad value, for one, but this cluttered app space also negatively impacts the user experience and ultimately leads to users uninstalling apps to clear their home screen. It is time for publishers to adopt a new service-based revenue stream, hitting two birds with one stone; higher value for the advertiser and richer user experience.

Keeping the in-app noise down makes filtering through information (step 3) painless ✔️

In an ideal world, what does the user journey look like?

To recap, we live in an over-populated digital world, in which another dozen apps are preying on your churning users. The apps that consistently deliver value, at a lower cognitive cost, are the apps that customers stay loyal to. As we move forward and embrace technologies that allow for more tailored user experiences, you have the potential to condense the journey by surfacing highly relevant and ready to consume content:

  • Step 1: customer has a need
  • Step 2: choose app and translate need into command
  • Step 3: filter through information
  • Step 4: process (& act on) content✔️

It is time to start thinking about opportunities built around user-specific moments. And this shift, taking personalization a giant leap further, is reshuffling the status quo, putting both customers and marketers on the winning team.

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