The 6th Sense
Rokkan Hero Image

I need to create a
digital experience that
facilitates conversions

Here’s a hard truth:

80% of companies believe they deliver superb experiences.
8% of customers agree.

There are few things more important in marketing than the customer journey, and perfecting that brand experience has (rightfully) become a top pursuit for CMOs. And yet, the above figures illustrate a profound disconnect between their goals and results. For all the effort many brands have put into refining, revising and rethinking their user experiences—from advertising, to phone support, to digital, to brick and mortar, to post-purchase—they are still falling short of consumer’s expectations. And brands can't afford not to meet customer expectations.

PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 1/3 of customers claim they'd walk away from a brand they love after a single negative experience. That's right. A single negative experience has the power to erase all the positive equity accumulated before it, no matter how sizable the amount. Those are high stakes for brands, due in large part to the high standards to which customers are holding them.

Consider that for many consumers, their first interaction with a brand is in the online space. For those brands selling their products and services through a website or app, their digital experience is often the entirety of their customer experience. These touchpoints must thus embody the experience a brand wants to be known for.

Companies
are missing
the mark on
experience
64% 73%

67%

of customers

say their standard for good experiences are higher than ever

Consumers Business Buyers

Think about the brands that have disrupted the concept of experience—Amazon, Uber, GrubHub. Not only have their services disrupted categories, but they have zeroed in on how to make the use and access of those services as optimal as possible for their specific consumers. Customer expectations are at an all-time high—Salesfoce research found that 67% of customers’ expectations for good experiences are higher than ever. There is a new benchmark, and those who fall below it are punished. Surpassing this benchmark is a possible, though complicated endeavor.

There is no shortage of theories on what constitutes an optimal customer experience. Many brands have adopted the belief that the best experiences are ones of convenience and ease, and crafted their functionality accordingly. Others have placed speed or mobility or accessibility as paramount. A whole industry of specialists has been created to measure and optimize against these facets. The problem is that far too many have sought to model an experience either on an abstract ideal—with zero regard for how consumers actually interact with their products or services—or against theoretically conversion-driving minutae like button placement or CTA language. The latter is measurable and actionable—How effective are our nudges? But, it does not resolve issues around how products are presented within the larger context of brand perception and customer mindset and motivation.

Take, for example, the acts of purchasing car insurance, going to the movies, and buying a luxury watch. These three experiences could not be farther apart. It would, therefore, be foolish to assume that each experience could be improved by following the same strategy, be it one that emphasizes ease, accessibility, personalization or otherwise.

BMW allows US-based consumers to purchase a car direct from their factory. It is an experience that leverages their website as a starting point but the journey from consideration to ownership includes phone, e-mail, and in-person brand interactions. Customers are able to customize their car using the immersive Build Your Own tool; send this to a local dealer who will arrange for the factory-purchase; travel to the factory and museum. Included with this are an MSRP discount and 14 days of Eurpoean insurance, allowing buyers to explore Europe in their new car. When it’s time to return home, they simply drop the car off at any of their drop-off locations in the continent. The car will then be transported to the US for pickup by the owner at their local dealer. While immersive and multi-channel, this experience is the opposite of convenient.

Bottom line: there is no magic bullet for enhancing a digital experience. No endlessly applicable best practice. No universal benchmark. It is a mix of the tangible and intangible. It is scientifically unscientific. Data-driven and intuitive. And it has to be. Because its success rests in understanding one of the most complex and elusive systems of all: human behavior. And therein lies the challenge.

Brands need to look at experience strategy not merely as an exercise in reducing friction, but as an opportunity to make a profound and lasting impact, and ultimately drive loyalty. And that can begin only when you start thinking of your product or service in terms of the experience you’re providing.

The Brave Change:

Put Human Motivation at the Core of Brand Experiences

The rules of engagement for customer experience need to vary based on two things: the type of product or service a brand offers; and the motivation that offering instills in customers. Those two things are inextricable. When one changes, so does the other. And so must the customer experience blueprint.

To that end, Rokkan has created a customer experience strategy map that helps brands decipher their offering, identify their customers’ motivations, and build a customer experience that will beat expectations in their category.

Motivations across categories are plotted on four quadrants: Routine, Burden, Passion and Entertainment. These distinct motivations should lead to distinct customer experiences. Classifying a brand’s offering in one of these motivations depends on where it falls on the risk/reward spectrum.

01 MAPPING BRAND EXPERIENCE

Breaking
apart categories
through a
behavioral
lens
HIGH RISK

High-risk products and services are often characterized by relative newness or innovation. They are expensive and lock you into a time commitment. And there are often significant differences among competing brands.

Brand Decision Making
Customers tend to play Goldilocks with products and services in these categories: they want them to be just right. And they invest significant time and effort into making the right purchase, as the wrong choice could have major consequences. The sales funnel here is long, with a number of points during the learning process where people actively seek additional information, opinions, and assistance. Brand choice is highly thoughtful, rarely impulsive, and less likely to rely on habits, shortcuts or simplification strategies.

LOW RISK

These categories are so evolved they are perceived as nearly static, with brands exhibiting limited differentiation. They are associated with a decision making process that expends little time and energy, and there is a limited need to learn.

Brand Decision Making
Here, choices are quick and seemingly thoughtless to the point of being made on autopilot. Wrong brand choices have minimal consequences. And funnels are flattened.

HIGH RISK

The products and services in these categories are about enjoyment, often transcending the notion of product and moving into hobby or passion. With a multitude of brands providing broad, stimulating variety, constant dabbling and experimentation is the rule. Finding the right brand fit through exploration and customization, is an engaging and rewarding experience. The image the product projects about its customers is often important, too.

Brand Decision Making
Here, brands are often evaluated as much for the emotional product differentiation as the physical—equally examined for how they make people feel and how others perceive them, as for their functionality. Consumers are always “in” the category—always attending, shopping, trying—effectively turning the funnel into a seemingly endless and wonderfully experiential process. Brand choice is often based on feeling over fact, dependent on delivery of emotional rewards, and highly subject to cultural trends and influences.

LOW RISK

These categories constitute an essential but unenjoyable part of life, running the gamut from tedious to painful. Shopping for these categories is often dreaded, with consumers seeking ways to shorten and simplify the decision-making process. There is a premium on function—what works best for them is whatever does its job best. There is a premium on customization, but “not on my time.” The end goal is simply this: check it off the list.

Brand Decision Making
To the extent that the category offers choice, the brand decision task often becomes mind-numbing. Price or convenience can both become default decision criteria because they simplify and shorten the process, and create the illusion of lower risk. And there is a conscious attempt to limit brand contact, as more contact prolongs pain and complicates decisions.

RISK / REWARD CATEGORIES

HIGH RISK / HIGH REWARD
Products are in the Passion category. One example is travel.

HIGH RISK / HIGH REWARD
Products are in the Burden category. One example is life insurance.

HIGH RISK / HIGH REWARD
Products are in the Entertainment category. One example is having a soda.

HIGH RISK / HIGH REWARD
Products are in the Routine category. One example is detergent.

02 QUADRANT DYNAMICS

ROUTINE

The nature of this category is boring but essential. And the associated emotions are mostly negative, e.g. irritation, obligation and responsibility. Brands are characterized by limited differentiation despite overwhelming variety. The nature of brand contact is at times of pure necessity, and brand decisions are made infrequently and thoughtlessly. This dynamic changes only when something revolutionary happens, which is rare. The nature of the funnel is fast and compressed—in and out.

Routine Brand Experience Principles

Transform yourself from a low interest product to a high interest service
Think of and present yourself less as a product and more as a service that both simplifies and elevates the customer experience.

Automatic
Create routine and habit where possible and automate the process to work seamlessly. Whether this is introducing an online-only subscription model or one-click purchase.

Minimal
Reduce to only what you need. People know the products in this quadrant and why they need it. Hone in on the key facts and differentiators, be it Price-Value ratio, Quality, Free shipping, etc.

Proactive
Be proactive and timely. For regularly purchased items, automated reminder e-mails, product variant recommendations, and other features that help remove the need to think, show an understanding of the context of purchase.

Leveraging the growing popularity of voice commands, Routine brands can inject ease and automation into the process.
BURDEN

The nature of this category is angst-ridden and complicated, yet vital to get right. Associated emotions are mainly negative, e.g. stress, frustration, vulnerability, powerlessness, and feeling stupid. Brands are characterized as multi-faceted, requiring an abundance of knowledge to make a choice. Brand contact is numerous and lengthy, with consumers seeking help often. Brand decisions are made carefully, generally involving online research, secondary sources and personal recommendations, as well as rational comparisons between several brands and products over time. The nature of the funnel is long and painful, with many consumers getting stuck.

Burden Brand Experience Principles

Put a human at the core of your experience
Burden categories are often stressful, leaving consumers with a lonely, “me vs. an organization” feeling. Consumers engaging with these categories want reassurance, advice, support, and an trusted ally. They want a brand that is by their side and rooting for them to succeed. Humanize the experience to offer people the feeling of human support throughout the online experience, whether via messaging, features, or just making it easy to talk to a person.

Considerate
Reduce cognitive load. Simplify and reduce to the relevant information and avoid overload. Burden products are often complex with esoteric rules and terminology. Be cognizant of this: strive to reduce the reading level and educate users so when they compare you to the competition, they’ll remember why they suddenly understand what they’re reading about.

Manageable
Chunk tasks to break up journeys into small manageable steps. Just as one does during an online checkout process, this helps nudge users ahead one step at a time and can massage doubt and remove anxiety.

Tried
Create social proof to build confidence and trust along the way by leveraging others (reviews, etc.).

TAILORED
Provide information in the right way for each individual. Listen and customize: make each visit as personal as possible—moreso with each recurrence.

Oscar Health cultivated a brand personality centered around being friendly—speaking to consumers in a way that feels personalized and helpful.
PASSION

The nature of this category is passion, interest, engagement, and personal investment. Associated emotions are positive, e.g. joy, indulgence, fun, confidence, enrichment, self-expression, and pride. Brands are characterized as highly differentiated, particularly in emotional terms. The nature of brand contact is rich, deep, extended, and desired. Brand decisions are thoughtful, relying on the right brain over the left. Consumers have a great desire to “go deep” with brands and are open to a variety of means. The nature of the funnel is endless—customers never want to leave.

PASSION Brand Experience Principles

GO DEEP INTO THE RABBIT HOLE
This space benefits from deep content and rich interactivity. Embrace this. Allow people to engage with passion—to go deep, nerd out, connect with others, and leave richer.

Pride & ownership
Create moments of pride for users. Highlight big moments the brand creates; inspire users to make these memories for themselves; and celebrate each purchase with them.

COMMUNAL
Connect customers to likeminded people with similar passions. Beyond reviews, showcase and facilitate connections between real people by creating spaces for passionate fans to gather, such as Nordstrom’s own Reddit community.

CREATE SOCIAL PROOF
Build confidence and trust along the way by leveraging others, unboxing videos, reviews etc.

Nike’s SNKRS app provides consumers with updates on new releases, inside looks into designs and collaborations and provides a direct line to purchase.

ENTERTAINMENT

The nature of this category is often trivial, but fun. Associated emotions are positive, e.g. light indulgence, release, entertainment, and escape. Brands are characterized as generally good, with lots of fun variety. The nature of brand contact is typically enjoyable, with a huge drive among consumers to diversify and try new things. Brand decisions are usually non-rational and impulsive. The nature of the funnel is brief but always returning.

ENTERTAINMENT Brand Experience Principles

EXPERIENCE AS ENTERTAINMENT
Create a compelling, culturally resonant experience through timely design and interactions as well as culturally relevant content strategies.

MAKE IT SOCIAL
Create moments and opportunities for people to connect, whether through social or owned channels, or by leveraging these channels to showcase real-world community activities.

Make it instant
Reward the here and now—from coupons to exclusive, snackable content across various digital channels.

Play
Entice play by adding a layer of gamification onto the task to elevate the experience.

Rockstar Games Social Club is an online community for fans of the brand’s key franchises and is a space to track stats, share gameplay videos, sign up for exclusive in-game events.

01. ENGAGING CULTURE

How do I get people to trust my brand?

03. UNLOCKING PRESTIGE

My brand feels expensive but not valuable

OUR KNOWLEDGE HUB

Rokkan is uniquely positioned to take on very specific brand business problems and solve them with proven methods. Learn more about our methods, seminars, brand experiments, white papers and speaking engagements.

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