Think with Google recently released its 2021 Consumer Truths, revealing the highest influx of technology-related search terms ever. This report showed that consumers are making an overwhelming transition to “online”, “virtual”, and “at home” experiences. Businesses are having to adapt to this new normal – allowing nearly every single customer interaction to happen on a computer, tablet or phone. Students are seeking online learning opportunities over in-person classes; fitness enthusiasts are searching for the best fitness app to replace their gym; and instead of going to a museum, art-lovers are taking virtual tours of new exhibits. Let there be no mistake, this great acceleration in the use of technology, digitization, and new forms of doing business online is here to stay.
Creating Value Through Interactive Technology
According to Google, searches related to interactive features, technology and tools saw massive increases in 2020. Popular Google search terms such as ‘fitness apps’ increased by 200% year over year and ‘online learning’ increased more than 400%. Other technology related search increases included terms such as 'puppy finder', 'meditation apps', 'with friends online' and 'virtual tours'. While the pandemic accelerated these trends, it is evident that consumers’ increased adaptation of digital technology into all facets of their lives will endure.
As Plato once said, “necessity is indeed the mother of invention”. The increasing need for technology has fueled a need for innovation. Interactive technology and website features allow businesses to bring more value to their customers and is now one of the most important ways to represent products and services in an online environment. According to McKinsey & Company,
“At the organizations that experimented with new digital technologies during the crisis, and among those that invested more capital expenditures in digital technology than their peers did, executives are twice as likely to report outsize revenue growth than executives at other companies.”
At Blennd, we take a hands-on approach to building custom interactive tools and features. We dive into our client's value propositions to uncover modern, innovative and engaging ways to interact, learn, and make purchases in digital environments. Technology features that we have implemented to improve user experience and interaction have inlcuded:
- Automated customer support features
- Custom-built calculators
- Interactive eCommerce features
- Quizes and interactive guides
- Interactive video content
- Education course builders
- Advanced geo-location tools and interactive maps
- Vendor driven marketplaces
- ...and many more
Time and time again, our consultative approach to discovering untapped opportunities through optimized online features and has proven to significantly improve user experience and drive ROI for our clients.
Interactive Technology in Action
One of our recent clients, Science Interactive, helps university-level educators build custom curriculum for their students, which includes a wide-ranging library of over 400 courses across 10 disciplines. Following extensive discovery and strategy sessions, we mapped out a robust custom online solution that allowed teachers to build their highly customized lesson plans for students directly on the Science Interactive website. Blennd strategically developed a custom Course Builder, allowing professors to find and select individual courses to create individual lesson plans, and receive a quote within minutes.
The new Science Interactive website was built to adapt to new educational technology expectations – with tools that allowed teachers to easily build customized plans based on their academic needs. When academic institutions around the country realized they needed to pivot to online learning, the Science Interactive website was equipped with everything they needed to seamlessly continue teaching and interacting with students online.
Creating Value Through Unique and Engaging Content
According to this year’s search trends, more and more people are looking for engaging content online that creates a sense of connection. Searches that begin with “how to”, and YouTube videos titles ending in “with me” are growing in popularity, meaning users are looking for interactive and fun content that creates a sense of connection with their friends and family in an online environment. Businesses are adapting by making their content more exciting, some even incorporating quizzes or games on their website to build more value among their users and keep them engaged with their brand in digital environments.
At Blennd, we take a look at the data, find the topics people are talking about or searching, and the questions they’re asking. We make sure our clients’ content answers those questions and adds to the conversation in new and exciting ways.
For our client, Western Colorado University, the Blennd team executed 500 hours of photo and video work, and 175 pages of written content. Our ongoing partnership with the university includes posting new articles, videos and content to add continuous value to their website – based on what the students are most interested in online.
Using Technology to Solve Business Problems and Improve Effiency
One of the greatest gifts your business can provide your employees and customers is a better sense of balance. Today more than ever, there is an overwhelming desire to finish tasks online as efficiently as possible – in order to reduce stress and check items off your to-do list. Both internal and customer-facing operations can greatly benefit from updated technology to better solve both employee and customer problems. This also creates more operational efficiencies for your business, reducing redundancies and improving your bottom line.
Efficient workflows are crucial for successful businesses, and the only way to accomplish that is with better marketing technology tools. Employees may waste hours working around their business’ website flaws, including troubleshooting with customers and working with outdated backend tools. For businesses with long-standing processes, changing operations and integrating new technologies may seem like a daunting task. However, in the long run it can seriously improve work efficiency, brand perception, and customer satisfaction — making a significant impact on your ROI and competitive advantage. Learn more about why CMOs are prioritizing marketing technology budget in 2021.
Give Them What They’re Looking For
Average internet users are becoming much savvier in their day-to-day searches. They often have a specific question, and they want the first three search results to answer it. Think with Google emphasized the importance of investing in a seamless, personal digital experience – but many websites don’t accomplish this.
It has never been so vital to keep a site updated and prioritize user experience. That means updating tools and technology to make content, products, services and experiences easier to find and use. Ecommerce is a great example, where the steps leading up to a purchase are just as—if not more—important than the purchase itself, so businesses need to make sure their ecommerce features are up-to-date and user-friendly. Throughout the year, many businesses have had issues with inventory and shipping, leading to an increase of google searches including “who has” and “in stock”, which jumped an jaw-dropping 8,000% in 2020 compared to 2019.
Keeping up with the Demand
At Blennd, we anticipate changes in product demand and purchasing patterns online. When building an ecommerce solution for our client, Enso Motion, we built a “Buy on Backorder” feature when their products are out of stock. This allows their website technology to assist in ecommerce fulfillment and managing customer expectations without disappointing consumers or forcing the business to miss out on potential revenue.
Cultivating Connection in Digital Environments
How does your business foster connections with consumers? Over the last year, there have been massive increases in search terms related to connection online. According to Google, the search term ‘with friends online’ increased 300% YoY and watch time for videos on YouTube with #withme in the title increased 200%. Social distancing and staying home has become the new normal, but people are using the internet to connect more than ever before. Your business can use its platform to build those connections through online features. According to Think with Google,
“For many people, a level of uncertainty or fatigue will likely persist in this new year. Marketers should find ways to reassure and remind people that their businesses are getting the basics right – think product availability and appropriate safety measures. But beyond the basics, marketers should strive to help people feel like they’re reestablishing some semblance of control over their lives and they’re thriving rather than simply surviving.”
Currently, technology is where businesses have the most control during this unpredictable time. That is why agile companies are using this as an opportunity to harness the power of their online presence and tap into what consumers are really asking for from brands when they search. Businesses that do not embrace and adapt to these new technology trends will inevitibly lose ground to their industry peers.
Using Search Trends to Your Business’ Advantage
Asking these questions, and meeting new consumers needs online is the best way to gain an advantage in the years ahead. While the pandemic certainly played a role in the increasing demand for new technology, it was merely a catalyst that accelerated trends that were already underway. According to Forrester’s predictions for 2021,
“2021 will be the year that every company — not just the 15% of firms that were already digitally savvy — doubles down on technology-fueled experiences, operations, products, and ecosystems. Yes, that means investing in some new technology... and finally retiring the technical debt holding you back.”
People experience brands differently now – and your business’ online presence has to be modern, intuitive, and intentional to drive business. The best ways to start? Take a look at your businesses differentiating factors and build a strategy that is digitally focused on creating engaging experiences for your customers through your website, interactive online tools, and insightful content that answers questions and builds loyalty. Now is the time to reassess your businesses strategy– how can your brand adjust to meet growing demand for better online experiences?