The (Web) Experience Advantage

Take a moment to imagine what your customers are doing online, right now. Like you, they are engaged in digital experiences performing everyday tasks; such as checking e-mail, managing finances, booking flights, downloading music or connecting with friends.

In late April, 2010, Nielsen reported on March 2010 data for average Internet usage across the top Web brands in the United States. The report states: "The data indicates that 62.3 million home and work Internet users visited at least one of the Wikimedia Foundation-owned sites or launched a Wikimedia Foundation-owned application during the month, and each person spent, on average, a total of 15 minutes and 21 seconds at one or more of their sites or applications."

The data for Facebook is much different. The same report shows that users spent an average of just under seven hours on the site during the month of March.

The difference between the two is the level of engagement - creating emotional imprints that can elevate brands. Or, if not done properly, removing equity from them.

Brands that deliver engaging digital experiences build and sustain long-term competitive advantages. Therefore, getting the experience right must be a priority. At Red Door, we've learned that engaging experiences all have the following characteristics. Consider them when evaluating how well your organization is serving its customers online:

- Engaging experiences create value. Whether through efficiencies that help us get more done in a busy day, stay connected with friends and family, provide entertainment or solve problems, good experiences keep us coming back for more. They encourage us to take action and give us something back in return.

- Engaging experiences don't make us work too hard. A helpful experience is one that guides us toward a solution. Simple inputs produce remarkable results that can not be replicated anywhere else. These experiences make our lives easier. They instill a sense of accomplishment, empowerment and satisfaction leaving us feeling energized, not depleted. 

- Engaging experiences touch our emotions. Usability and utility are fundamental to a good experience; however, those attributes alone won't differentiate brands from one another. An emotional component must also be considered. Dull experiences will always be swapped with ones that have likable personalities.

- Engaging experiences are always available. Experiences that create value are needed at home and on the go. We expect them to be with us anywhere and available all the time. Mobile compatibility and portability to desktops and social profiles ensure that, when we need an experience, it will be ready and waiting for us.

- Engaging experiences are easy to share. When we discover a valuable experience it's increasingly important that we can share it with others. Experiences that prevent us from sharing products of interest or engaging in dialogue around compelling messages detach us from those people (and brands) we value most.

We hear time and again that experience is the message. As consumers shift more of their attention online it becomes increasingly important for brands to deliver engaging digital experiences. Luckily, a common-sense approach is often all it takes. Matching the goals of customers with business objectives is the winning combination.

About the Author: Charles Wiedenhoft is the Director of Business Planning & Optimization at Red Door Interactive, an Internet Presence Management firm with offices in San Diego and Denver that helps organizations profit from their Web initiatives. Clients include Petco, Qualcomm,, Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill and Cricket Communications.