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The role of the corporate website in the critical customer conversion journey

Accenture’s 2013 study provides key insights on how consumer electronics manufacturers (CEM) are competing with their peer set in the digital ecosystem.

Overview

Driving superior marketing performance in the digital ecosystem across the full multichannel customer experience is an on-going challenge for chief marketing officers (CMOs). It’s a complex task not made any easier by the proliferation of digital channels that influence the customer conversion journey. But the corporate website is a flagship channel that senior marketers can leverage in the drive for brand loyalty and increased sales.

Based on the 2013 Accenture Electronics and High Tech (EHT) benchmark study of 15 consumer electronics1 dotcom websites, CMOs need to:

  1. Re-evaluate the performance of their corporate websites within the digital ecosystem.
  2. Introduce superior capability to capture the value of websites as an acquisition channel.
  3. Ensure brand websites are optimised to reach perpetually connected consumers.
  4. Close the gap on competitors who are already exceeding customer expectations.

1 Study conducted between December 2012 - January 2013

Background

Think about the way most of us make major purchasing decisions today and the journey is often a similar one. Today’s digital savvy consumers are using multiple and parallel information channels to do their homework and make the right choice. In both mature and emerging Consumer Electronics markets globally, brand websites are cited as an important and natural choice of reference for consumers when making their purchase decision.

In turn, the rise of the “always on” connected consumer is fuelling change across the digital eco-system as retailers and consumer electronics manufacturers adapt to new platforms, devices and technologies in an effort to reach and engage with customers seamlessly.

The evidence we have gathered shows that the biggest CMO challenge is owning the journey by offering a seamless experience between online and offline consumer interfaces. Two thirds of senior marketers feel it is an important capability to master. But only 13 percent believe their performance is leading edge and 16 percent think it is weak.2

A 2013 IDC survey of CMOs in technology companies meanwhile reveals that the company website is regarded as by far the most important area for digital marketing and that more than 60 percent of respondents expect that investments in website content and development will increase.3

In this study, Accenture has researched the dotcom websites of 15 leading consumer electronics companies in order to provide key insights into just how successfully they are competing with their peer set by measuring their critical digital customer experience capabilities.

2 (source: CMO Research 2012 Accenture Interactive).

3 © Copyright IDC. Source: IDC 2013 Tech Marketing Barometer: Trends, Forecast, and Essential Guidance for Tech

Marketing Executives, doc #240712, April 2013,

Analysis

Given the high degree of transparency and easy access to understand and analyse competitors’ website capabilities, the gap between the leaders and the underperformers is somewhat surprising. The fact that the gap in many areas is substantial provides a great strategic opportunity for underperformers to rapidly progress and catch up. The best practices are known, the path to implement them understood and the business imperative clear.

The common denominator for the three leading companies is their superior capabilities in relationship building. All of them are also slightly ahead of their peers on the information and commerce performance factors. What sets each apart is distinct product information, a range of customization options, a smooth online purchase experience and extensive two-way support for their customers.

Those companies whose websites are underperforming however are performing poorly in three critical areas of performance delivery.

Recommendations

Accenture has identified some key measures that CE companies need to implement in order to catch up and start to compete effectively with the leaders in their respective sector.

  1. Information - It is essential for companies to get the information performance factor right as customers will often conduct their research where the best available information is, but then purchase from the cheapest reputable retailer. In selling the value proposition, the information area must tell consumers precisely why they want this product and what makes it different. Additionally, there are different categories of “researchers”, from the confident technical connoisseur to those nervous, new discoverers, who don’t fully understand all the elements, but feel that they should. Understanding and catering for all consumer knowledge sets is imperative.

  2. Commerce - The best performing brands present their customers with multiple, informative, highly personal and easy-to-use conversion channels. This measure indicates how well consumer electronics manufacturers use their websites for direct-to-consumer ecommerce, or if they choose to channel potential customers to retail websites or outlets.

  1. Relationship Building - This is a key factor for manufacturer brands as it addresses customer retention, engagement and provides stronger avenues to brand loyalty.

    Going forward, the key imperatives for CMOs are clear. Consumer electronics manufacturers need to rapidly close the gap on their competitors by leveraging existing best practices to improve the performance and capture the value of their websites. If website underperformers fail to capture this opportunity, the leaders will surely do all they can to use their digital channels as a way to further outperform the market. Today’s corporate website could and should be an intelligent and responsive competitive differentiator which allows CMOs to truly own the customer conversion journey.