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STAMFORD, Conn., May 26, 2021

Gartner Marketing Research Shows 58% of Customers Believe Most Digital Experiences Don’t Impact Their Purchase Decisions

CMOs Must Rethink Their Digital Experience Strategy or Risk Lack of Differentiation and Customer Impact

Fifty-eight percent of customers believe that most brands’ digital experiences have little to no impact on what they end up buying, according to Gartner, Inc. With 89% of brands prioritizing customer-facing digital experiences in 2021, it’s imperative that Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and their teams rethink their digital experience strategy as they seek to reduce friction and build customer loyalty.

“The last year has brought on an acceleration in new digital experiences, as brands attempt to build more seamless and connected customer journeys,” said Kristina LaRocca-Cerrone, Director, Advisory in the Gartner for Marketers practice. “However, our research shows that customers perceive these experiences as undifferentiated and – more importantly – that digital experiences rarely shift their buying behavior.”

A Gartner survey of more than 3,000 customers conducted between December 2020 and January 2021 revealed that nearly half of customers can’t tell the difference between most brands’ digital experiences, and even fewer customers actually report doing something different as a result of a recent digital experience (see Figure 1).  

Figure 1: Evidence for Why Digital Experiences Fail to Build Brands and Shape Customer Journeys

Source: Gartner (May 2021)

There are three key lessons CMOs should keep in mind when re-strategizing and developing digital experiences that pay off:

Course Changes Build Customer Loyalty

According to Gartner, a course-changing digital experience leads customers to shift their perspective or approach and begin to take confident steps toward their goal. A positive course change can impact brand preference by 37% and behavioral advocacy by 54%.

“When customers do something differently with confidence after a digital experience, that creates a lasting brand impression and inspires customers to share their memorable experience with others,” said Ms. LaRocca-Cerrone.

Self-Reflective Learning Drives Course Changes

Customers’ self-reflective learning during a digital experience has 2x the impact on driving customers’ course changes, compared to user experience functionalities. This is because customers change course when they feel empowered and ready to do something different, not because of a slick or intuitive user interface. “To trigger these valuable customer course changes, CMOs must invest in building a new class of digital experiences that slows customers down at key junctures and rewards their self-reflection,” added Ms. LaRocca-Cerrone.  

Specific Tasks Trigger Course Changes

Because course changing digital experiences may not be appropriate for all parts of the customer journey, CMOs should look to deploy these experiences selectively to support customers’ most naturally reflective tasks. For example, tasks that are more exploratory in nature – such as goal setting and problem identification – are better points to engage customers in course changing experiences. Ultimately, CMOs must shift toward a balanced portfolio of “course changers” and “course smoothers”: continuing to invest in seamless experiences for customers’ automatic tasks, while prompting customers to lean into natural moments of reflection.

Gartner for Marketers clients can learn more in the report What Marketers Need to Know to Make Digital Experiences Pay Off or watch the on-demand webinar “CMOs, Build Differentiated Digital Experiences That Pay Off.”  

About the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo

Gartner analysts will discuss the key issues facing CMOs during the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, taking place virtually August 17-19. This conference provides marketing leaders actionable advice about the trends, tools and emerging technologies they need to deliver business results. Gartner analysts address the biggest opportunities, challenges and priorities marketers face today, including data and analytics, customer experience, content marketing, customer insight, marketing technology (martech) and multichannel marketing. Follow news and updates for the event on Twitter at #GartnerMKTG.

About Gartner for Marketers

Gartner for Marketers provides the objective, expert advice, and proven tools that CMOs and other marketing leaders need to seize the right opportunities with clarity and confidence, and to stay ahead of the trends that matter. With in-depth research and analysis, Gartner for Marketers helps you focus on the opportunities with the greatest potential to deliver results. More information on Gartner for Marketers is available online at www.gartner.com/marketing. Follow news and updates from the Gartner Marketing practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerMKTG.

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About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities today and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.

Our unmatched combination of expert-led, practitioner-sourced and data-driven research steers clients toward the right decisions on the issues that matter most. We are a trusted advisor and an objective resource for more than 14,000 enterprises in more than 100 countries — across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size.

To learn more about how we help decision makers fuel the future of business, visit gartner.com.