COVID-19 fast-tracked digital transformation around the globe when consumers and businesses moved predominantly online. Today’s consumers have their pick of digital products and services, which means they’re not as loyal to specific brands. In order to build loyalty, brands are tasked with delivering digital experiences that are both seamless and innovative.
The insight comes from Contentsquare’s 2021 Digital Experience Benchmark, which used a database of 900 global brands to collect data from more than 20 billion individual user sessions between January 1, 2020 and Dec. 31, 2020. Contentsquare analyzed 12 months of data from desktop, mobile, tablet and app interactions/sessions to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on online experience and brand loyalty across 10 industries.
Consumers are loyal to experiences, not brands
The study found consumers are loyal to brand experiences rather than specific brands. If consumers have a positive experience with a brand, they are more likely to purchase from that brand again. Diving deeper into the findings, Contentsquare uncovered mobile still accounts for the majority of online traffic across all industries, with 64 percent of online visits coming from smartphones.
Mobile experiences skyrocket
Mobile screen views for apps skyrocketed by 202 percent, which is attributed to increased app usage during the past year. Mobile screen views jumped slightly during the early stages of lockdowns, but usage really spiked in July and November due to consumers taking time off and holiday shopping. Meanwhile, app screen views on tablets increased by more than 317 percent, also spiking in July and November for the same reasons as mobile screen views.
However, when it comes to the average mobile conversion rate—the percentage of users who have completed a desired action—desktop accounted for 2.3 percent and mobile for 1.5 percent. Both desktop and mobile rates fell in 2020 because overall traffic increased year over year. Interestingly, grocery (4.2 percent) and apparel (2.1 percent) recorded the best mobile conversion rates above all other industries.
Consumers are fickle and change websites quickly
One of the biggest challenges for brands is keeping consumers on their websites. Nearly one in two consumers don’t make it past the first page, which translates to 47 percent of visitors abandoning sites before they make it to page 2. Whether it’s confusing messaging, bad site design or slow loading times, consumers won’t stay if they have a bad mobile experience. With nearly half of consumers bouncing after viewing just one page, designing and building digital experiences needs to be a priority for brands across all industries.
Brands can start by improving their Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), a loading performance metric that measures the time it takes for the largest content block to appear on a screen. If a site visitor sees a page has loaded, they are more likely to stay and interact with the page. While LCP of 2.5 seconds or less is considered ideal, Contentsquare’s study revealed the median LCP across all industries for desktop was 4.6 seconds and 10.6 seconds for mobile. Elements that can significantly slow down LCP loading times include media, images and visual backgrounds, which explains why the luxury industry had the highest loading times.
Digital technologies should focus on where and how content is accessed
Having great digital content is another way to create a positive digital experience for consumers. Brands tend to spend generously on digital content but need to put more thought into where the content lives and how consumers access it. According to the study, 45 percent of all web content goes unseen—a calculation that compares the total number of pages on a site to the number of pages not viewed by 95% or more of traffic. That number is even higher for some industries like fashion (59 percent). Nevertheless, brands have made improvements in the last year, since nearly 70 percent of content was unseen by site visitors in 2019.
Brands experienced more digital growth in the first few months of COVID-19 than the entire decade. Now a year into the pandemic, it’s apparent that consumers have formed new digital habits that are likely to become permanent. The study’s findings show brands still have improvements to make in key areas such as site entry, site experience, and conversion—all of which can lead to greater brand loyalty.
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