I'm attending the annual Adobe Summit this week. For the first time its shifted venues from Salt Lake to Las Vegas, or from saints to sinners as an opening speaker pointed out.
One of the morning's speakers from Adobe started out showing a humorous video about a couple of hikers, one of which gets bitten by a snake and the friend tries forever to find help on his smartphone. First, he gets a pop up ad over the search results he can't get rid of, then he is asked to give his email to register for a site, then ... the video ends with his friend being drawn into the light. You get the idea. The experience was so cumbersome that the customer—the friend in this case—was never able to accomplish his goal. Marketers put so many obstacles in front of him, ironically, all in the name of digital marketing.
Then in the ultimate irony, an Adobe spokesperson then did a live demo of a connected, multi-channel experience using REI, that unintentionally mirrored the video experience while claiming to be a great advance in digital marketing. In the scenario, someone does a search for bicycle helmets. He is then presented with a sponsored ad from REI and promptly clicks through. So to begin with, we've just eliminated over 90% of people who do not click through on search ads. And from an experience standpoint, Adobe is unabashedly promoting paid search over good SEO. In the demo, we never even saw what the organic search results were because all the customer saw on their smartphone were a series of paid search results, or as they might call them, ads.
Next, after clicking through on the REI ad, the customer is brought to a page showing bike helmets, but then another ad pops up urging them to download the REI app. Remember that they were actually wanting to shop for a bike helmet. But of course this was an Adobe demo, so they instantly clicked through to the app store and then downloaded the app. My guess is that the reality meter just lost another 90+% of real customers. So, at this point the example applies to probably less than 1% of the audience who wanted to buy the bike helmet.
Not to belabor the point, but after the demo opens the app, they have to agree to share their location and agree on another popup to do something else I don't even remember. At that point they have to search for bike helmets on the app again. And then, when you thought it couldn't go much further, they demo'd a GPS and beacons technology to points the customer to a physical store where they could buy the item. At the "store" they showed off smart shopping bags that charge the online account (that the customer just had to set up) directly by putting the helmet into the smart bag and leaving the store.
When I counted everything up, it was around 10 steps to buy something they were actively shopping for. I wouldn't call that a good customer experience. If it were me, I would have most likely gone somewhere else much sooner.
The moral of the story is simple: Adobe was showing off a bunch of cool technology that allows a brand to track a customer and give them a connected experience from web to app to store. All great stuff, I agree. However, it went completely against the goal of giving the customer as simple and as relevant experience as possible. What they showed off was what a company like REI would love to do, not what they should do. And no knocking REI, I'm a lifetime co-op member who shops multi-channel with them all the time.
So, before you invest in a lot of new technology, take a moment to figure out what the experience you're creating will do for the customer and build that, not all that technology will allow. It is the customer experience, after all.