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Good Friction, or, How Marketers Win in Digital Business

By Kristina LaRocca-Cerrone | March 11, 2021 | 0 Comments

MarketingCustomer Acquisition and RetentionCustomer ExperienceCustomer Understanding and Marketing ExecutionMarketing Leadership and Strategy

Most marketers tasked with supporting – or driving – digital business cite “seamlessness” as the name of the game. We want to remove friction, make decisions easier, and in particular, keep customers on their journey with us. So we introduce features like real-time inventory tracking, e-commerce portals, automated re-order, or guided selling tools, all designed to help the customer stay on-track.

 

“Convenience, ease of use, less friction – that is the ultimate value prop.”

— Marketing Leader, Healthcare

And yet, when Gartner researchers examined the question “how can marketing build digital experiences that pay off?” we discovered there’s more to success than creating totally frictionless experiences.

In fact, it’s course-changing, not course-smoothing that leads to bigger, better lifts in brand preference and advocacy.

The digital impact of course-changing experiences on brand preference is on-par with the impact of product value

Customers whose digital experience changes their perspective about how to accomplish their goals, makes them feel more confident and in control, and helps them decide to do something different than they had planned, experience a lift in brand preference that is nearly equal to the lift created by product value itself. Meaning delivering the right kind of (course-changing) digital experience has almost as much power as whether the customer thinks your brand provides high-quality products, or exceptional value offerings.

And those course changes, those moments where the customer does something different, changes their perspective, builds confidence…they come from good friction, not seamlessness.

Good Friction

“Good friction” means digital experiences that allow – or even encourage – the customer to slow down and mediate instead of speeding through decision-making. It means providing rational decision support, but also creating opportunities for customers to sit with uncomfortable emotions: to weigh risks and opportunities, to feel self-conscious or worried and focused or skilled in a way that helps catalyze thoughtful action – in short, experiences that reward self-reflection.

Of course, some moments in a customer’s journey with a brand are more primed for self-reflection than others. Automatic tasks (like purchase) still benefit from course-smoothing, from eliminating friction.

But tasks like goal-setting, skill-building, problem-identification, or consultation – those are reflective tasks. They’re platforms for meaningful course-correction that builds brand preference. They’re bends in the road where marketers should focus on slowing customers down, not speeding them up. And they’re probably the best opportunity you have as a marketing leader to make a real impact on digital business success.

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This research comes from a new Gartner study, “Redefining Marketing’s Role in Digital Business”, which will be presented at multiple 2-part virtual event series in April-November 2021. To register for these events, and learn more about good friction and the impact of course-changing digital experiences, and marketing’s role in enabling these experiences, contact your account manager,  or schedule an Inquiry with Gartner.

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