Jan 17, 2021 - Elana Lavine

Transitional Experiences Are Not the Future

2020 cracked the whip, and if we weren’t paying attention before, we damn well are now. The hunchback rang the bell, and the whole world woke. Consumers scrambled to adjust to a home-based, online existence and businesses raced to contend with the accelerated pace, leaving efforts to exceed customers expectations on the back burner.
We propelled ahead of schedule in real-time. Even the select few who were already prepared or had a Plan B in place still needed all hands on deck. The majority of the companies that didn’t have a Plan B — and definitely didn’t have a Plan C—have a meager shot at recovering from 2020. 

The good news?

Even if you were completely run over by 2020, you still have a chance to be a contender. Trends from 2020 will seep into 2021 and beyond. 

Transitional experiences will be a permanent fixture in the now, not the future.

We are all consumers living in a digital age; we now experience everything in our homes, and as marketers, we have to ask ourselves, what can we do to elevate that experience to make them come back for more? 

This year, those who’ve answered the question by taking the strategic time to shift gears have produced incredible, outside-the-standard website experience results. 

Here are a few of the entities paving the way: 

Museums
It’s a time where you can’t go out and experience culture—it has to come to you. Doors may be closed, but websites never are. Marshaling the effort to produce a digital experience where one can take field trips from the comforts of their living room, will allow individuals, kids, and families to visit at any time, from anywhere in the world. 

For example; The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum invested in a fully immersive in-gallery experience and saw a 2000% increase in traffic to its site, which gained national recognition.

Restaurants
Half capacity in some cities, closed to indoor/outdoor dining in others. Many restaurants can’t keep their full-time staff on, especially if their income source lies with take-out only. For the time being, pivot your business strategy and offer alternative options like an interactive meal kit experience that can engage your consumers. Bonus points, take the guesswork out and provide delivery options within your site.  

For example; Portos, a beloved Los Angeles staple, transformed its website to accommodate a significant new feature: a bake-at-home page that includes nationwide shipping options.

Finance
Ramp up online effectiveness to make the experience as easy as walking into a firm and sitting down with an investment advisor. Provide up-to-date trends, news, and transparent company findings. Allow your consumers to feel financially safe and in good hands during a pandemic because that’s the future of banking. 

For example; The Carlyle Group went through a complete refresh to reflect its current forward-thinking brand position, including putting content first. Post-launch, the firm saw a 162% increase in lead generation, 972% in session duration and 89% in social shares. 

Concerts
This sector will take some time to regain ground again, which is why labels, streaming services, artists, and venues are scrambling to come up with alternative solutions. Thus far, quick thinking has generated live virtual concerts (at reduced cost), family-friendly streaming karaoke sessions, behind-the-scenes studio recordings, collaborations, and exclusives. 

For example; Billboard has built its landing page to be a mix of the latest musician news, top charts, streaming concerts, and breakout artists. They’ve positioned their site as a hub; the place to go to see, to know and to watch.

Trade Shows
Even before Covid, trade shows have been on the decline. One would think Covid would be the final nail in the coffin, but wait: Where tradition fails, innovation prevails. No travel time, no booth setups, no pants required. The rush to create virtual conferences is here, and over the next year, we will see even more significant improvements. The ones you attended at the beginning of the year will look much different from those you’re attending now, or even the ones you participate in the future. 

For example; Acquia Engage built its first virtual conference platform with free admission. The platform made attending a tradeshow more accessible. A few pros; streaming sessions can be viewed months post-event, and more individuals from around the world are able to attend.

Grocery Stores
Online grocery shopping has surged, making the need to shop at your most convenient, nearby grocery store a bit out of date. Consumers still want convenience, but they want it in the form of seamless checkouts, delivery dates, visuals, real-time product availability, and easy-to-use navigational flow. 

For example; Thrive Market has made a name for itself by being one of the most up-to-date, easy-to-navigate, highly-visual, sustainable, online grocery services out there. During COVID, the company has added more to its inventory, invested in 24-hour online support, provided informational blog posts, and reduced shipping fees while being a significant contributor to the COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Travel
Constant reassurance about the cleanliness of planes, trains, and automobiles are not enough to appease cautious minds. Consumers want first-hand accounts, peer reviews, and up-to-date information. This industry is changing faster than any other, and it’s been a race for everyone to keep up. Not to mention the crushing blow to travelers across all genres — experts to novices. Hesitation is hitting everyone, so how do we produce less fear in their eyes? 

For example; Afar provides up-to-date travel information, well-written peer reviews and articles with tips, experiences, news, and stories. Its site is filled with positivity, even in this harsh reality. It’s effortless to navigate and contains award-winning visuals.

Clothing
Online shopping for clothes isn’t a new concept, but the way consumers are expressing their need for a better experience is. Inclusivity and diversity are the way of the future. Consumers want to be represented and running to the post office every time an item doesn’t work is growing old. A great way to avoid this issue is to include a diverse set of human shapes, sizes and ethnicities modeling the items. 

For example; Madewell has hired a diverse range of models to showcase its jeans. Jeans are notoriously one of the most challenging online clothing purchases. Madewell removes part of the guesswork of shopping, making the decision an easier one to make. 

In every industry, we will see companies pushing boundaries. Some industries will take longer than others, and some may fade from existence all together to make way for new ones. The above are just the tip of the iceberg. This is why we, as marketers, have been given this opportunity to think outside the proverbial box and get inside the head of a home-based consumer who craves seamless experiences, flow, and unbroken tabs. 
Going into 2021, strategy and foresight will be essential to secure and sustain business growth. Allow technology to work for you, not against you, when you plan out your future online presence
 

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