Marketing the Power of Convenience

by Brandon Hartness

posted on 04-16-2015

There’s not much that’s as compelling as convenience when it comes to customer conversion journeys. Think about it: how many times have you paid more for gas because the station is right there? The station is in the right place with the right product at the right time—everyone wins.

In the digital space, the gas station analogy can be applied to just about any product or service out there. By understanding consumers’ journeys and walking in step with them, brands can be that gas station—that right place, right time, right bag-of-tricks offering—in a critical moment of need or want. Here’s a tie that would look great with the shirt you put in your cart. Check out this push alert on the last day of free holiday shipping. Strolling by a boutique? Try this on for size: an exclusive mobile offer that pops up on your phone as you glance in the window. These examples are quick and convenient, and they appeal to Brandon the Consumer’s real-time movements and perceived needs and wants. They’re the modern day off-ramp gas station.

There’s an interesting push/pull in today’s landscape, though. Unlike the gas station, delivering relevant, real-time convenience at scale isn’t as simple as shelling out big bucks for a great spot with high foot traffic. Given the powerful Internet of Things universe we’re all operating in, convenience becomes even easier to deliver—you, the marketer and the brand, can be everywhere your customer is, virtually all the time. But on the flip side, there’s a greater demand for convenience—consumers aren’t just pleased to see a convenient offer or message pop up; instead, they expect it. Because if you don’t deliver, someone else will—it’s like the last millisecond on steroids. We’ve got a fraction of a second to deliver relevant experiences and touch points, or consumers will ditch for another, more personalized opportunity—it just takes a click, after all. If your message isn’t convenient and compelling—where he wants to receive it, how he wants to receive it, in a way that’s easy to activate and achieve—he’s gone. With his departure goes a massive opportunity for new and incremental engagement and conversion.

So where’s the balance, and more importantly how can marketers tap into the power of convenience to propel consumers’ purchase journeys? Focus on personalizing, factor-in location and context, and above all be sure you’re connecting the dots when it comes to lifestyles and needs. Start here:

Are you the bank or the hair stylist?

Back to the gas station example. Before the Internet, the wisdom on consumers and convenience was simple: “A convenient location is critical in more-standardized, less-personalized services” such as banks. However, when it comes to “less-standardized, more-personal services such as hairstylists,” the convenience barrier drops considerably. This real-world example is probably true for you, too—if your bank and your stylist were to move out of town, which are you more likely to follow? My money’s on the stylist.

Think about that through a digital lens. If you sell limited-edition Nikes, you’re probably in good shape when it comes to attracting a niche audience of sneaker fanatics. Same goes for hobbyists and mega fans—if they want the ticket, the memorabilia, the comic book, or the autograph, they’ll move mountains to track down your site and get their hands on the goods. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be convenient—easy to find and consumer friendly with plenty of targeted upsell opportunities—but having that hook is powerful in its own right.

The same rules, in many ways, apply to brands that deliver compelling, relevant consumer experiences—these are the guys who cultivate enviable loyalty, organic incremental opportunities, and long-term customer value. They’re the guys we all want to be, the guys who aren’t jockeying for consumers’ attention every second of every day—thanks to their impressive optimization and personalization capabilities, they already are as convenient as can be. They leverage data to deliver relevance at scale, they connect consumers to real-time experiences based on historical, real-time, and geographic data, and they’re in their pockets (or wrists, or inboxes, or apps) exactly when they should be—these powerhouse brands are so convenient and so well-aligned in their messaging and delivery that their audiences are completely smitten and totally onboard.

So if you’re a “more-standardized” service like the bank example above, what can you do? Learn from the niche and the hyper-relevant. Be everywhere I am when I need you—or, more specifically, need cash. Offer me relevant opportunities when the data says finances are top of mind. Have a great app and/or a stellar responsive mobile experience so my workflow is as convenient as possible, and leverage these platforms to push reminders, targeted offers, unique points of differentiation, and one-click add-ons to the right customers via the right platform at the exact right moment.

Appeal to the time-crunched

Everyone loves convenience, but I’d argue there are some audiences who have more to gain from some quick fixes. City-dwelling food delivery platform Delivery.com pushes deep discounts to busy urbanites during peak mealtime hours. With a quick click, this busy, professional bunch gets great food at a great price. It’s convenience in every sense—I can order on the website, on the mobile site, or on their very straightforward app, so whether I’m sitting at my desk, stuck in a cab, or strolling down the street, I can easily activate. The discount is automatically applied, so no need to fumble around for a promo code. And even if I’m not thinking about food, Delivery.com reminds me I want to eat. Total convenience for populations who are prone to time crunches.

So, looking at your business, who are you targeting? Busy executives? Frequent flyers? Harried new moms? Would getting back some precious time be compelling enough to grab their attention and pull them into your brand experience? Eighty-five percent of moms with kids want to be greeted at the door because, simply, they’re busy and appreciate the help. How can you replicate that experience on your digital platforms?

From there, drill down on what’s most important to these time-strapped users. SmartBrief, a Washington, D.C.-based media company, partners with leading B2B organizations and creates their daily “briefs”—short snippets of relevant breaking news for a time-strapped audience of executives and decision-makers. The results? Massive socializing and viral sharing that far exceeds its five million subscribers. Their average open rate is double the average, with click-through rates exceeding 500 percent of industry standards. What’s more, 90 percent are sharing SmartBrief links and newsletters with colleagues and friends, expanding the reach, influence, and impact of this well-targeted messaging. It’s quick, convenient, and speaks to the specific needs of these audiences—it’s a win.

Layer-in context and location

Recommendations are another great, simple example of delivering convenience at scale. I’m buying a suit—once it’s in my cart, show me the perfect tie to go with it. If I’m busy or simply not particularly stylish, the convenience of getting a head-to-toe look in one click is probably too good to be true.

Same goes for location. It’s the morning, I need a coffee and my favorite haunts are jam-packed—push a special offer on a grab-and-go drink and breakfast wrap, and likely I’ll bite (pun intended). Geofencing and microlocation acknowledges context—I’m on my phone—plus location for a relevant experience rooted firmly in convenience. What’s more convenient than something that’s just steps away—that, coincidentally, I was on the hunt for already?

Remember, convenience is king

At the end of the day, no matter who your audience is, convenience is still king. A 2013 study found that 43 percent of shoppers buy online for convenience, versus 25 percent who click for better prices. Think about your brand’s convenience message and optimization strategy—are your products or services the convenience? Is your entire brand experience the convenience? Is it both? Neither? How can you be everywhere and anywhere your consumers want and need you to be, in real-time and 100 percent on target? The end result is a satisfied customer base that’s more invested, thanks to the convenience you bring to their lives—and that, at the end of the day, drives much of the long-term success of your organization.

Topics:

Products: