Why good design and social conscience should underpin business and marketing strategy
Laura Qureshi and Martin Cox have some tips for nailing good design, and discuss how building conscience into your brand in meaningful ways can make a difference in consumer engagement.
While they may seem like odd bedfellows, good digital design and a social conscience have more in common than you think. Both are worth investing in to ensure the success of your business – and both are key concerns of the digitally enabled, ethically minded modern consumer.
The online shopping landscape is a crowded, competitive space, but there are a number of ways to ensure you stand out from the masses. Consumer expectations and buying habits have evolved – the modern consumer expects a responsive, convenient shopping experience, and is swayed by social influence over traditional advertising. For businesses looking to tap into the key Millennial and Generation Z customer base, it is more important than ever to provide a streamlined, responsive digital user experience. Alongside this, embedding a socially conscious backbone is not only a positive step for your business’s core values, it will also ensure you are attracting and retaining the conscious consumer.
Designed for success
Customers will judge a book by its cover: the average website user will decide whether they’re going to stay or leave within the first five to eight seconds of being on your page, and according to a recent Australian study by SAP, only 17% of consumers who experienced an unsatisfactory digital experience would shop with the brand again.
On the flipside, 73% of consumers who reported a strong digital experience would be a repeat visitor.
It’s clear that an enjoyable online shopping experience is crucial for happy repeat customers. There are a host of beautiful ecommerce sites doing it right that you can look to for inspiration – take Country Road. It has strong product presentation, an excellent customer account function and an easy-to-redeem loyalty program, which is a huge plus for the modern successful online store. Ultra Football (Australia’s premier online football boot store) represents a great example of a site with custom functionality and strong customer account features. Another example is Flowers Vasette, which enables you to set your budget and buy your flowers online, and includes clear delivery rates and zones. On top of all that functionality, it is beautifully branded with a strong use of photography.
Start with the basics
Nailing your digital design can mean many things, but if your customer can’t find you then the most beautiful site means nothing. First and foremost, ensure your customers can search and find you easily by:
- submitting your site to Google and get set up on Google Analytics,
- optimising your image size to ensure site speed is fast,
- having your contact details prominently available, and
- ensuring your website is mobile friendly.
Once your customer finds you, you want your site to be a clear visual communication of your brand. Make it smart, aesthetically pleasing and easily navigable by incorporating a few of the golden rules of digital design:
- Be consistent: Pick your aesthetic and carry it through your whole site. Stay consistent and cohesive – you don’t want to lose customers by presenting a confused brand identity.
- Cater to the modern reader: Average readers only make it through 30% of text on a webpage. Keep your headlines bold and body text short, sweet and use a legible typeface. Make sure your content has space to speak – utilise your white space and break up text with images.
- Pick your palette: Pick a three-colour palette, and stick to it. Try using neutral colours with strong feature colours.
- Create call to actions: Don’t make you customer search for what you want them to do. Use obvious call to action copy like: ’email now’, ‘connect with us’ or ‘just ask us’.
One last tip? To make sure you are adding value to your customers through your digital design, pick one great CX to deliver to your client base and invest in it. It might be a loyalty program, or could be as simple as ‘shop the look’ functionality. Anything that adds to the convenience of the overall customer experience will elevate your business.
A shared conscience
A social conscience in any setting of life is important. In regards to your business’s digital presence, it can also achieve a few things for your brand and relationship with customers.
Michael Porter and Mark Kramer wrote in the Harvard Business Review: “shared value is not social responsibility, philanthropy, or even sustainability, but a new way to achieve economic success.” According to a 2014 Nielsen survey, 55% of online consumers ‘would pay more for products and services from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible’ and globally, 84% of consumers seek out socially responsible businesses. Social responsibility intersects profitability and allows you to meaningfully connect with consumers.
Evidence of this intersection abounds in today’s market, with thriving businesses built on social responsibility such as Thankyou, Girlfriend Co and People Water. Millennials are an enormous driving force for the success of these businesses – this is a group of tech-savvy young people with spending power, and as online retailers we cannot afford to ignore the changing values and needs of the modern consumer.
So, how can you embed social conscience into your business to connect with these conscious consumers?
1. Align charitable and business objectives
What are your core business values? Figure out how these align with social causes. Include your team in discussion: no social initiative will succeed if only the CEO is on board. We like to give back to our non-for-profit clients both by donating to their causes, and offering our services at a discounted rate. Some of the non-for-profits we’ve worked with both personally and as a business include Salvos, St Kilda Mums, Anonymous X and Share The Dignity.
2. Support meaningfully
Support these causes in whatever way you can, but ensure it is with meaning and authenticity. Consumers will see straight through a business feigning social responsibility simply because they think it will position them in a better way.
3. Manage your corporate responsibility program
Embed philanthropy into your business model. Like any other objectives: measure, track and communicate the results. Incorporate the basics: make sure they’re specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timed objectives. Set goals, and focus on these to maximise your program’s impact.
The take home messages? Make sure your site is easy to find and user friendly. Capture your customer’s attention with smooth, high quality digital design. And finally, connect meaningfully – place focus on developing a social conscience for your business. It’ll pay off.
Laura Qureshi and Martin Cox are the directors and founders of DO Commerce, the full-service digital agency.
Image copyright: gstockstudio / 123RF Stock Photo