What is a Digital Experience?

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The expectations of the average consumer from companies concerning marketing and communication have grown rapidly over the last two decades and a lot of this has to do with the growth in digital technology. We live in times where many retailers only exist in the digital sphere and even those who still have brick and mortar outlets put a huge amount of energy into their digital presence. With that being said, how do businesses big and small create digital interactions that satisfy customers and speak to the quality and innovation of their brands? Why, by creating fantastic digital experiences via the leveraging of digital technology, of course. 

What is a Digital Experience?

A Digital experience can be defined as an interaction between a user and an organisation only made possible through digital technology such as the internet and smart devices. The user can be a customer or an employee and the organisation is usually a company, business, or brand.


What a digital experience does is allow organisations to utilise specific features and components of digital platforms to deliver interactions that go beyond basic digital communication. A basic digital piece of communication could be a document on a static webpage that has no interactive elements, for example. This webpage can be turned into a digital experience by making it a pdf that includes links to other relevant documents, right-click functionality, social media buttons, auto-translations and so on. This is not to be confused with digital customer experience.

What is the difference between digital experience and digital customer experience?

While digital experience focuses on singular digital interactions between a user and a business, digital customer experience encompasses all of the digital interactions a user has with a business. Adding an item to your favourites list on your smartphone is a singular digital experience. When - later that day - you add that item to your basket and then go to a page where you make payment on your laptop, this and your previous action is a digital customer experience.


With digital customer experience, a company leverages the functionalities and features of multiple digital platforms in order to provide an all-round beneficial experience to a customer. Digital technology has seen an exponential growth in the amount of touchpoints a user can go through along his or her customer journey. What innovative brands are doing is making sure each and every digital touchpoint is optimised with the customer in mind in order to provide a streamlined experience for the user.   

What makes a great digital experience?

Something that’s important for companies to understand is that simply having presence on or utilising a digital platform doesn’t automatically mean they’re providing a digital experience. It’s like building a car without an engine for a customer and saying to them “I built you a car, what more do you want from me?” (for some reason I’m imagining this being said by Tony Soprano, gestures and all). It’s not enough to just exist on these platforms; companies have to be strategic about how each one serves a purpose that benefits the customer. A great digital experience strategy takes into consideration aspects such as consumer digital behaviour, customer journey, purchase funnel, customer profile, user intent, customisation, and the unique elements/mechanisms of each platform so that the final execution leads to experiences that satisfy users while helping your company set clear KPIs, know which metrics to focus on, and measure ROI.


A great digital experience is:

  • Innovative: uses an existing platform to do something new. 
  • Dynamic: uses digital media (videos, images, gamification, graphics, animation, illustration etc) or specific digital mechanisms to heighten its message.
  • Adaptable: doesn’t rest on its laurels, anticipates where digital is going and has a solution.
  • Scalable: changes to match device or platform without losing its core essence
  • Intuitive: feels natural to the user, feels like a logical next step towards reaching a goal. 

Let’s use these features as the  foundation to look at some digital experience examples.

Five great examples of digital experience 

Digital experience: Gucci social media augmented reality filter
Digital platform: Social media
Digital experience feature: Innovation 

Being at the cutting edge of digital technology and finding ways to elevate existing experiences are foundational to creating digital experiences that make an impact. When Gucci’s Gucci Bloom fragrance was chosen as one of the brands to launch on Camera Effects - Facebook’s augmented reality development studio - global media agency network Mediacom tasked SMACK with creating an interactive flower crown for social media users to “wear.”

Our approach was to use cutting edge digital technology (augmented reality, creative animation) and the leveraging of existing platforms (social media, digital devices) to create a digital experience that was an industry first. Specifically, we built a hyper-real design filter using a 3D modelled crown made of genuine flowers that was brought to life by utilising an animated stop-motion frame to give a dreamy effect as the flowers bloomed and butterflies fluttered around them. Rather than limit this digital experience only to the “selfie view” which bloomed a crown of flowers to wear, the tool’s design incorporated functionality that allowed users to use the filter for their outward facing camera and experience lovely flowers blooming and butterflies flying around whatever environment they were in.


The result was an outstanding (if we do say so ourselves) AR digital experience that was shared over 500,000 times on social media. Watch the filter in use here.

As is evident, an innovative digital experience can garner excellent results.


Digital experience: Viewing a product on ASOS
Digital platform: Product page - website
Digital experience feature: Intuitive

If you’re anything like me when it comes to shopping for clothes online, you’re probably never completely sure what size to go for, especially when it comes to tops. ASOS has made solving this problem easier by including a feature on its apparel product pages that allows you to enter your height, weight, tummy shape, chest shape, and age so that your “Fit Assistant” as it calls it, can recommend a size for you.


By adding an interactive feature that enhances and, in a way, provides a personalised experience on a platform (product page) that can often be bland and simple, ASOS has made this single digital interaction intuitive as it helps towards a logical next step in the user’s process of purchasing. A limitation that is often a barrier for customers buying apparel online is not being able to physically try on an item to be sure its size is right. Using a virtual fit  assistant as a digital technology tool has led to a digital experience that helps to break that barrier down to a good extent so that the customer can move on to the next digital experience in the purchase sequence.


Digital experience: Interactive digital game (Gamification)
Digital platform: Website
Digital experience feature: Dynamic

Having already worked with SMACK in creating a game to raise awareness of the launch of a luxury fashion collection online and instore, Karl Lagerfeld once again seeked our digital services, this time for the launch of the creative and colourful KARL X YOU holiday collection that would be available to purchase as the festive period began. As well as raising awareness and getting eyes on the collection, the client set data acquisition as one of the objectives of the digital marketing campaign.

Because the solution was so successful for the first campaign, SMACK and the Karl Lagerfeld team agreed that gamification was again the best option for this second digital campaign. Our digital experience agency built a new game called Katch Karl that sat on the brand’s website. The game featured many of the items that were a part of the new collection. In order for users to be eligible to win a prize (the product they had to “Katch” in the game) they would have to enter their name, email address, and store preference.


This is an example of a digital experience that really leverages the versatility and dynamism of digital technology by using a tool such as gamification to boost the interactivity and engagement of a singular digital interaction. Also, with customers becoming more weary of online privacy, cookies, and how their data is used, a digital experience has to be captivating and worthy for people to divulge their details to companies. A dynamic piece of digital experience that offers possible rewards is a great way to convince users your brand is worthy of their data.


Digital experience: Book a bridal consultation appointment
Digital platform: Website, app, in-store iPad.
Digital experience feature: Scalable

Tie The Knot was a digital experience SMACK helped British luxury clothing retail company Ted Baker create that allowed brides and grooms to book consultation appointments that took place in a selection of the brand’s stores. It was important to the team at Ted Baker that this digital experience be not only engaging, but able to function across all digital platforms and devices. It was crucial that, be it booking a bride appointment on a smartphone or booking a groom appointment on an in-store iPad, the digital experience adapted to the functionalities of each device without losing the quality of overall user experience. 


SMACK was able to create a digital experience that was interactive and seamlessly adjusted to the unique interactive mechanisms of each device. As an agency, when we work on digital marketing campaigns, we always bear in mind that where a user starts a digital interaction is not necessarily where they will complete it. It’s therefore vital that, were a user to start an interaction on one device but go on to later finish it on another, this change of devices does not jar the experience of completing the digital interaction. A good digital experience is scalable, able to take place smoothly across the multiple devices the modern consumer interacts with.


Digital experience: Using a Clubcard
Digital platform: Application
Digital experience feature: Adaptable

When I signed up to Tesco’s reward scheme (Clubcard) on the retailer’s website some years ago, I received a letter that contained a couple of cards and plastic keyrings with barcodes on them that I had to scan whenever I made purchases in-store in order to collect points I could use to get discounts off items or services. Although I scanned them often, I rarely knew how much points I had built up and what I could specifically use them for. Why? Well because, to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered to or forgot to log back into my online account to check. After a while the Clubcard keyholder I was using got damaged and I didn’t bother to replace it.

On a recent trip to my local Tesco however, for the first time there were a bunch of products with signs saying customers could save money on them right there and then if they had a Clubcard to scan...including their virtual Clubcards on the dedicated app. I quickly downloaded the app and logged in using the credentials of the original online account I had used to sign up for the physical clubcards way back when. And voila! There on my smartphone was the barcode for my Clubcard ready to be scanned and below it how many points I had accumulated, how many more I’d need to get my next voucher, details on saving even more money by signing up to a service called Clubcard Plus, and more. 


This example highlights how digital adaptability can have an impact on a user. Tesco went from making it possible for customers to access their Clubcard information by login into the main website only, to developing a dedicated app that provides an even better digital experience than that of its main site. Because of this positive digital experience, I’m back to using my Clubcard everytime I go to the store again.

In conclusion, digital experience as a concept goes beyond simply existing on a digital platform: it’s about using digital technology to enhance the singular digital interactions a customer has with a company. The goal is to address customer needs while fulfilling digital marketing objectives for the company. A great group of singular digital experiences by a user leads to a great overall digital customer experience. 


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