What can a coffee company teach us about experience optimization?

“In its campaign to revive the intimate, friendly feel of a neighborhood coffee shop, Starbucks orchestrated the closing of 7,100 of its American stores at precisely 5:30 p.m. for a three-hour retraining session for employees.” The focus, on February 26, 2008, was to “get back to basics” with an emphasis on the café experience — in what can only be described as a dedicated push for sensory re-branding. As Starbucks was systematically closing down stores during economic crisis, rather than executing an ad-hoc strategy to get more people in the door, they closed their doors in a brilliant marketing strategy to optimize the customer experience.

If you don’t know much about sensory branding, Martin Lindstrom explains it in Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy. Using various companies as examples and case-studies, he writes that successful branding strategies appeal to multiple senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. It’s a strategy that gets “inside the head” of the customer and tailors a unique experience just for them.

So how does this translate to the digital realm? After all, not everyone has a “scratch-and-sniff” computer screen.

  • Think marketing optimization. Think about it this way: SEO is a result of intentional site architecture. It’s an output, not an input. If your business is struggling, it makes no sense to try to overcompensate by driving more web traffic to your sinking ship. Take a page from the Starbucks handbook: fix the holes and then invite the users in.
  • Keep the user in mind. Who are the people visiting your site? What are their motivations? What are their inflection points? Thoroughly investigate your audience types and tailor your site just for them.
  • Every page is a landing page. Just because something works on one page, doesn’t mean it will be effective on another page in the same way.

Sometimes the best thing to do is shut everything down, make some coffee, take a deep breath and reevaluate. Put yourself in the user’s place, deconstruct the architecture, and rebuild on that original foundation that made you unique.

This entry was posted in experience optimization and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.