What is cross-platform experience and how do you use it to reach your business goals?
2007 brought us the iPhone and later the App Store, which introduced an entirely different experience for consumers. The multitude of devices, browsers, and connectivity have become increasingly fractured leading to a wide range of challenges to deliver a consistent and engaging experience to business users and consumers on platforms.
The so-called “year of the mobile” has been happening since 2010 and today, mobile is already ubiquitous in our lives. User expectation depends on the context, but across all profiles and devices, users are demanding better performance.
“Mobile is not eating desktop, but it is eating our free time”.
What is cross-platform?
The term platform is a combination of the type of hardware and the type of operating system running on the computer or device. If a user is on one platform (mobile), they can still communicate with another user on another platform (mobile). So if you send a message using Facebook Messenger from your mobile device, your friend can read it on their computer, tablet or smartphone. That is the essence of cross-platform.
This broad sense of thinking about cross-platform misses what is unique about each medium or platform. Users do not use devices in isolation of each other, rather they move from one device to the other and expect their entertainment or work to be synced. Due to this expectation, there is a need for a connected cross-platform experience. Many apps and services are moving towards just such an experience and offering availability across platforms, but it has not quite caught up yet.
“We do not decide whether to use the web or mobile devices; we use the web and mobile devices.”
But how do you create a connected experience across devices? For a start, think of the web as simply another user interface, just like tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, and smart watches. The challenge is to create a smooth and incredible cross-platform user experience across all of these.
Here are some ideas of current apps utilizing cross-platform well to help you improve your cross-platform user experience to increase conversion rates for your business:
- Pocket app: This is the app I love the most. Pocket is a plugin that is used to save articles you want to read later. It is available as a Chrome add-on and iOS app, and it works cross-platform.
- Apple Game Center: When you play a game on your iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, Game Center saves your points and whole game profile to create a connected cross-platform experience.
- Slack: When you transition between desktop and the mobile app, the app remembers the last thing that you read, and it will not show you content you’ve already read.
The digital landscape is shifting towards creating a connected user experience, but the challenge is to create a cohesive user experience between devices (laptop + mobile experience).
For e-commerce store owners, cross-platform can look different from the app experience. Here is an example to help you improve cross-platform experience if you own an e-commerce store:
A visitor comes to your website or e-commerce store and checks out a pair of sunglasses. This visitor might be out for a dinner and viewing on their mobile device, but they are more comfortable making the purchase at home from their desktop. A connected experience would allow the visitor to find and bookmark or save the pair of sunglasses to buy them, later on, their desktop at home.
Why is this the best experience? People browse websites on both smartphones and tablets. They start on one device but want to continue or switch to another and are using more devices at the same time. Consumers are interacting with products and services through a growing diversity of platforms, ranging from installed software to mobile apps and smart TVs. It is important to think about a multi-screen, dynamic experience for your customers as each platform has its strengths, weaknesses, constraints, uses, and modes of interaction.
What is multi-channel funnel?
Cross-platform is not to be confused with a multi-channel funnel strategy. Funnel thinking bases itself on a model of human behavior and follows the AIDA model. The AIDA model is based on human psychology, but does not specify tools, channels, or media and just describes the path to purchase that most humans follow:
- Attention (Awareness): attract the attention of the customer.
- Interest (Intent): promote advantages and benefits.
- Desire: convince customers that the product will satisfy their needs.
- Action: lead customers toward taking action or making a purchase.
Because the AIDA funnel is a model of human behavior and not media consumption, it has not changed and is not dead. Funnels are not tools, channels, or media people are using for a purchase, funnels are the way humans process buying decisions.
The AIDA model works like this: I walk around a mall and am ATTRACTED to lots of products in the stores, but I do not buy them. I have INTEREST in them and think they are cool, but don’t have a DESIRE for them at the moment. I did come to the mall for a few items that I DESIRE but have not ACTED upon. Finally, I will walk into a store to choose an item or two to take ACTION upon and purchase. At each section of the AIDA model, the list of products in my head worth purchasing gets smaller simulating a funnel.
A multichannel funnel is adapting to a digital reality as customers move across multiple touch points, devices, channels, and screens during their path to purchase. Customers no longer follow a predictable or linear model towards their purchase. The AIDA model is a linear model which cannot incorporate the full expanse of the customer’s buying process today, but it is a better place to start and model from than zero. In today’s society, more things act as triggers. Marketing communications have expanded, and the purchase is not the final step of the funnel. It is more important than ever to put the right message in front of the right audience at the right time.
Online marketing channels such as direct traffic, email, organic search, referral, social, paid, and display ads are combined with offline channels like TV, radio, outdoor ads and telephone. Using voucher codes, specifics calls-to-action, landing page URLs, QR codes, NFC (near field communication), or offers combined with the Facebook app are simply a few ways to integrate your offline and online marketing channels for a multichannel customer experience. You can also combine search and telephone by adding click-to-call extensions to your website and landing pages, or Facebook and email can be used together by cross-referencing followers to create custom audiences.
When taking a multichannel approach, you should optimize online channels first, but find silent periods with inactivity. Be sure to test, create a hypothesis and use part of your budget to test it.
TIP: Using multichannel funnels in Google Analytics
In Google Analytics, the conversion or e-commerce transaction is credited to the last referring campaign or search ad: the one that referred the user to the conversion. How did other sources (prior website referrals, searches, and ads) contribute to that conversion, however? How long did it take the customer to purchase after his or her initial interest? To answer questions like these, you’ll want to look into the Google Analytics Multichannel Funnel reports. These reports show how your marketing channels (sources of traffic to your website) coordinate to create sales and conversions.
Data representing the conversion path includes interactions with virtually all digital channels. These channels include, but are not limited to:
- Search (paid and organic) – this shows all search engines as well as the specific keywords searched
- Referral Sites
- Email Newsletters
- Social Networks
- Custom Campaigns – this can include any offline campaigns that send traffic to vanity URLs
Google Analytics Attribution Modeling
From multichannel analytics, you can get into attribution modeling which is both complicated and challenging. It requires a deep understanding of a business model and how different marketing channels collaborate to create sales and conversions – industry and the target market. Attribution modeling goes beyond Google Analytics and is a very broad topic that requires it is own post, so stay tuned for more information on attribution modeling.
Meta Description: With more screens and platforms, a cross-platform user experience and a corresponding multi-channel funnel is in demand and needed in today’s society.