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Consumer Expectation for Digital Experiences

Forrester Research Consumer Forum 2006, titled "Humanizing The Digital Experience," focused on how leading brands are rethinking their digital and multichannel experiences in order to reach new and existing customers, tap the benefits of social computing, and reassert their role as customer advocates.

According to Forrester, digital channels now reach broadly across all age, gender, income, and ethnic groups: 79 percent of U.S. households are online, and 84 percent have mobile phones. The forum began with a look at how mainstream consumers have new and higher expectations for their digital experiences. Consumers do the following:

They tune out when the information isn't relevant -- Nearly half of consumers who visit a landing page leave in under 8 seconds. To build relevance, brands must start with segmentation models that enable personalization and deliver targeted function, content, and images.

They give up when the digital experience isn't intuitive -- Fifty-nine percent of the sites Forrester has reviewed do not have clear category and subcategory names, and 70 percent have inefficient task flow. Customer experience professionals need to improve this average, because consumers favor sites that have easy-to-find content and functionality.

They are more concerned than ever about their privacy -- Only 31 percent of new Web buyers -- consumers who are more mainstream and tech-shy -- think that their credit cards are secure online. In the face of mounting privacy concerns, brands must rethink their permission-based marketing and online payment strategies.

They trust each other more -- Thirty-eight percent of 'Gen Y' consumers use social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. Marketers need to identify the benefits of supporting these communities -- and the guidelines for brand communications in this new environment.

They trust marketers and corporations less -- Twenty-one percent of consumers say going online has eroded their overall trust in corporations. As the Internet provides consumers with access to more sources of information, brands must face the fact that consumers are more independent in their thoughts and actions.

In summary, Forrester believes that consumer expectations for digital experiences are built on three fundamental elements -- appeal to their emotions, provide easy access, and offer useful value. Apparently, it's easier said than done.

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