Consumer Empowerment or Why Brands Can’t Afford to Falter

Danny Brown is right.  2 days ago he wrote a post about brands that drive  customers away. Essentially saying/asking, why give your customers, the loyal one’s, a reason to leave. I loved his examples and his post is a quick must read. But let me take his thought a step further.  Recently WebTrends released a whitepaper in which they analyzed the website traffic of Fortune 100 websites based on ‘unique visits’. The study revealed that 68% of the top 100 companies were experiencing a negative growth in unique visits over the past year.

Now we might easily attribute that to the rise of social and particularly to Facebook possibly, but what the research revealed was that Facebook was gaining tremendous popularity as a destination to connect with brands online, and is increasingly chosen over the websites of certain companies. Partly because when customers went to the websites-those sites were still stuck in 1990’s “brochure-ware” mode.

Do you want to give a customer or potential customer, an easy out and an easy path to the competitior? Beyond Danny’s examples of bad customer service experiences, make their initial destination location and landing page user experience a bad one and that should do the trick.

Though there are websites sustaining traffic in spite of Facebook, I’ve said all along that when Facebook catches up with an e-commerce solution that makes the brand experience simple and efficient,  the corporate website is done. This is not an if, it’s a when, and it’s already happening.  When we add mobile and mobile social to the mix, the old adage of you never get a second chance at a first impression will have never loomed more large.

It is time for brands and retailers to understand that it’s not neccessarily about surviving online with a website that has a multitude of itabs that point you to all it’s web properties, it’s more about understanding why people seek out your web property in the first place. What does your user want and expect from your brand online? If you’re a commerce site, or you sell product online, then why complicate the landing page with a corporate look and feel and experience? I don’t care about who your board of directors are! But I do want to possibly buy your product. Make it simple. Want to get ahead of the curve? Then you need to understand, TODAY how mobile and social play into the user experience, you MUST  measure and improve the  performance of all your social, mobile and web entities-KNOW WHAT YOUR USERS WANT AND EXPECT.

Survival for brands and retailers will now be predicated on a customer expectation that is high, seamless, one click in theory, and will eventually be one site in nature. Ok so if we take into account Danny’s post that brands are doing everything they can sometimes to drive their loyal customers away and visits to corporate sites are down-what is happening?

Consumer empowerment is what is happening. Choice is happening.  And brands not recognizing the new age of the educated and enlightened consumer, and moving slowly to adapt, is what’s happening. Stop getting caught up in the minutiae of why you’re moving so slow. Let’s go.

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