A Day in the Life of the Digital First

Posted by
Erin Kang
LivePerson Contributor
12/11/2014 - 16:29

Are you a digital first? And where do brands fit among the savvy, connected audience?

Meet the “digital-first” consumer—a quickly growing audience whose instinct is always digital, first, whether it’s to explore a product, contact a brand, complain, connect with friends, watch entertainment or seek romance—the list is virtually endless. For many consumers, digital is the main and only channel used for everyday activities, replacing voice and in-person interactions.

The digital first are a challenging breed. While they expect 24/7 access to brands when they need information or help, they don’t necessarily want the same to be true when it comes to brands contacting them.

For example, if they have an issue with a product or service, they expect your brand to be available 24/7, on their channel of choice. But if you happen to engage them with an irrelevant promotion, they will deem you annoying, or worse, “spam.” If you break the rules of the digital-first generation, they will “opt-out”unsubscribe, unfollow, or cancel from your brand forever. Win, and you’ve got a lifetime customer. We call this the “new social contract”in the digital era, the consumer has more power and control than ever, and brands need to listen up.

So, what does this mean for your business? How can you transform your customer strategy to satisfy this growing population? The first step lies in understanding the motivations and behaviors of the digital-first generation.

Who does LivePerson classify as a digital first?

Digital first is a way of life; it’s not a demographic. According to ITU research, there are upwards of 3 million people online worldwide and 2.7 billion people using smartphones, according to Ericsson. Digital first is becoming the default consumer profile.  

The digital-first lifestyle

Digital firsts accept that technologies have forever changed the way we experience all things. Daily activities are guided and enriched by digital.

You can spot this change in lifestyle in almost any activity.

  • Training for the next Tough Mudder? Digital firsts are tracking mileage through apps, and using Spotify playlists to assist their workouts. A whopping 44 million today are  using fitness apps,and you’ll hear all about their progress in the Facebook group.

  • Habla Espanol? Hopefully more of us are, because over 25 million users are registered on Duolingo, a fun, easy-to-use language-learning app that has become a hit among digital firsts.

  • Seeking romance? Those that are wary of the bar scene are relying on digital for their “meet cute” moment. Four of the top five highest grossing social apps are for dating.

  • Having a “me” night? Staying in has never been more fun it seems, with 50 million people streaming movies on Netflix and over 175,000 GrubHub orders being processed daily.

Spanning all ages

Pew Research found that 93 percent of Millennials (18-34) used the Internet in 2012. Gen X (35-46), Younger Boomers (47-56), and Older Boomers (57-65) were not far behind, with 89 percent, 80 percent, and 75 percent using the Internet, consecutively. In 2013, Pew Research also found that the number of social media users who were 65 and up tripled between 2009 and 2013.

My mother only ever uses the KakaoTalk app to connect with me, or her friends. My dad never eats a meal before first posting a picture on Facebook, and my grandma is seriously addicted to YouTube. The most common misconception when it comes to identifying the digital-first consumer is that they’re all Millennials.

Connecting digitally

Digital firsts prefer to stay connected with family and friends through rich, 1:1 digital channels such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facetime, and Viber to name a few. In the last quarter of 2014, Snapchat became the “fastest-growing app” with a 56 percent increase in users from 2013, according to TechCrunch.

Secondarily, digital firsts depend on social networking sites to publish and stay-in-the-know with friends and family. According to a recent study from BI Intelligence, “Americans spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity…”

We know people are engaging online, but these preferences are relevant to the question at hand. Maintaining human-to-human connections within our personal lives isn’t what it used to be. And in turn, the brand-to-consumer relationship has been forced to evolve. So, where can brands fit into the digital-first equation?

Take a page out of the digital-first book

This is a group that knowswhere there’s Wi-Fi, there’s a way. With digital firsts following both their favorite brands and favorite people in the same spaces, brands have to compete with friends and family for attention, without getting in the way. It’s a matter of meeting consumers on their preferred channels and own timenot forcing the brand into a personal space with outbound or invasive approaches.

In order to capture consumer hearts, brands must be aware of these three challenges when engaging the digital-first generation.

1. Digital-first consumers expect ‘always-on’ support.

Today’s consumer expects instant gratification, no matter the channel. LivePerson research found that an online consumer won’t wait more than 76 seconds for support. Any longer, and they’re as good as gone.

But, there’s a catch. While they want to be able to reach your company whenever they need to, the expectation doesn’t go both ways.  

Offer access to digital communications—like chat and text—during peak hours, seasons, and especially for high impact customers. Ensure that these real-time communications span all channels, especially mobile. Take advantage of mobile apps that let you respond to your customers while you’re on the go.

2. They demand personalized, relevant experiences.

Digital firsts are quick to “opt-out” of anything that seems irrelevant. Now that brands have a place in more personal channels, they must engage on a more personal level. Digital consumers are easily annoyed with content that’s not relevant, especially when it’s passing through their news feeds alongside family photos.  

You don’t know your consumer as well as their college buddies, but your data does. New technologies give brands the context and intelligence they need to understand consumers, and provide content and engagements that are helpful and exciting, not creepy.

With smart technologies, like predictive intelligent targeting, brands can provide rich, tailored engagements armed with insight into consumer behavior.

Digital intelligence fosters an experience that can’t be matched by the traditional 1-800 number. In the words of LivePerson’s CEO, Rob LoCascio, It’s becoming clear every day that messaging, or what we call chat today, is going to win out over voice when it comes to how companies are communicating with their customers.”

3. They want to talk to a real person, not a robot.

Even though we are becoming more digital, we still want to engage with a human, and not an automated interactive voice response or an FAQ page. Amazon found a way to bring a live 24/7, support channel to the smartphone and tablet. To take it a step further, Amazon agents meet consumers wherever they are, face-to-face, via desktop or mobile.

Another brand that gets “digital firsts” is Backcountrya specialty outdoor online retailer. Backcountry prides themselves in their passion and expertise for outdoor equipment, and they’re using digital technology to connect their experts, called Gearheads, with their customers. Through live chat, visitors can connect with their favorite subject matter experts, and get the personalized advice that they need. Not only is Backcountry seeing more satisfied customers, they’re seeing bottom-line results. Customers that connect via chat have a 50 percent higher average online order, and customers who use chat are 10x more likely to purchase than those who self-serve.  

Leading brands are trying to understand how to use digital channels to provide the best experience possible for their customers. They are using technology to better connect the people in their business with loyal customers. Brands that can intelligently use technology deliver a human touch, much like digital firsts use tech to enhance their personal relationships, will maintain a competitive advantage with this fast growing audience.

Are you ready to become a digital-first brand?

Click below to learn more about a day in the life of the digital-first generation in our awesome infographic:

Digital First Infographic


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