There are several “forces” that come to play when building an online presence. When your lifeline depends on the awareness, engagement and retention of your online offering, it becomes crucial to find that silver bullet that will bring your consumers back for more. I’ve been thinking about these “forces” lately, and a few in particular come to mind.
There’s no doubt that the UI of a website plays a critical role in the overall experience a visitor has to your website. UI defines the ease of use, as well as the discovery of the core elements an online presence wants to present to the user. A good UI might be web based (as the Google presences mostly are), or a combination of an application and cloud (as for ex iTunes would be). Whatever the case, the UI serves as a gateway to the experience and aims at delivering the core proposition an online presence may have. Often brands might have a killer idea, but lose their consumers due to bad web design, information architecture and navigation.
A website should be like a machine that learns more and more about you as an individual. Gaming companies know the depths of AI, but these same principles can and should apply to the “regular” online presence. Your metrics should reveal the recency and frequency of your visitors and your CRM tools should enable you to profile your consumer base in order to provide (and learn to provide) the right information as well as context sought to by the individual consumer. A search engine that not only provides information on an overall algorithm but also through user specific cookies, starts to takes steps into this direction.
Despite all the automated tools that are available, nothing beats the context and creativity that a human brain can bring to the picture in any given context. You can get the best “social media listening platforms” to crawl the web, but unless you have a human interface to validate and extract meaning from the data, we’re not full realizing the potential of what can be done. It’s like an autopilot on an airplane. Automated tools can “run the business” to a certain point, but they are not programmed to think about exceptional circumstances yet alone to spot areas of development that need creativity. Social features on a website play a critical role in giving the right context to the information presentation. A tool can ping for overall volumes of discussions around a certain topic, but nothing beats a human-to-human recommendation/like around particular topic. Social features on a site can enable the value creation of IQ, but the source is always human, not machine. The machine is merely a smartly programmed intermediary that allows human-to-human value creation to come to life.
The last dimension, (yet the most fascinating in my opinion) is about EQ. In traditional business environments, I would dare to say that overall quantitative values derived from sheer IQ, still prevail. EQ is a topic covered in management courses as a “later thing in Moslew’s hierarchy of needs” but in the end, the hard numbers and quantitative data prevails (as a generic opinion). The Internet possesses an entirely new playing ground for anthropologists. Derived meaning from a web presence is bound to certain natural characteristics a human being has. Traditional advertisers have investigated these cross cultural differences for decades, but it always surprises me how little cross cultural thinking is being placed on modern web presences built across the Internet. Most of these cultural “clicks” can be derived from simple listening to consumer’s feedback and behaviors as well as simply having the courage to seeing the “niche as the new norm”. I currently live in the UAE and have found it surprising how few of the multinational brands take into account the local traditions that impact the lives of hundreds of millions of people. The UAE is a Muslim country. Now we live the period of Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims across the world. Yet, few brands have the flexibility (or courage) to reach out the their consumer base to participate from an “EQ” perspective. These “soft” values will play an increasingly important part for online presences as despite the globalization of the economy, people still identify themselves by whom they are not. Culture plays a big role in the identities of human beings as well as their buying behaviors. In the end, it is said that a purchase decision is very often emotional, not rational. EQ is all about the sphere of emotions that impact a human beings perception on life. Brand should be thinking about this in significance.
Very few brands have gotten this equation of UI, AI, IQ and EQ right. Does any particular example spring to your mind?