Friction, Marketing, and Confirmation Bias

By jer979!! | | 27 May 2020

tl;dr: the world of experience bends towards frictionless Web 3.0 models. It may take a while, but the race is on…even if most don’t know it.

Ever since I first installed MetaMask and, later, Magic (discl: advisor) and Authereum, I had a standard for what the customer experience of the future would look like.

There will be no log-in and passwords. There will be no request for personal information. There will be no resale of your personal data. In fact, control over your data belongs to you.

When I saw how easy it was to move value from, say, Compound to dydx and compared that to the excessive hassle associated with moving money in our traditional system, I knew the days of the web as we know it, were numbered.

What that number is, I have no idea, but I felt pretty strongly that the next wave of digital applications would remove even more friction from the customer experience.

Amazon Prime Set the Standard for non-Amazon Brands

In another context, I’ve called this the “Amazon Primification” of Customer Experience.

Simply put, it doesn’t matter whether you ordered from Amazon or not, the expectation (pre-pandemic, that is) was that whoever sent you the package would have to you within two days.

That’s the context of the customer today and what many marketers (and I’m guilty of this as well) tend to forget is that the customer brings these set of expectations with them to every encounter.

Nordstrom’s customers are also Amazon customers. The two are not existing in separate silos.

That’s part 1 of the marketing challenge today.

Whoever provides the least amount of friction has a competitive advantage and, potentially, sets the standard.

An Abundance of Offerings Creates a Scarcity of Patience

But there’s a part 2, or other side of the (bit)coin to this, which is the customer’s worldview when encountering a new product or service.

That’s the belief that, “it’s probably going to suck.”

Which is fair.

After all, there are billions of web pages, SaaS platforms, crypto tokens/networks and heck, even politicians.

An oft-quoted person on this blog (beginning in 2007) is Herbert Simon, who made the observation that every new abundance creates a new scarcity of some kind.

an abundance of information creates a scarcity of attention.

Herbert Simon

I first mentioned this as it relates to the explosion of media channels with the advent of social media, but now that compute (thank you AWS and Azure) and storage (same) are so cheap, there’s an even greater explosion of new products and services, particularly of the digital variety.

The consequence….an abundance of digital “experiences” of the Web 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0 variety means a scarcity of patience for experiential friction.

The expectation is “well, since most of the sites/software/tools that I have ever used turn out to be disappointing, there’s a good chance this one will as well.”

This is the scarcity of patience.

As soon as someone senses or experiences enough friction (whatever that is for her), the default actions is “I’m out.”

My coach sent me a quote from Wired for Love that said:

When we experience friction or tension, the body and mind begin to anticipate it and create those states while looking for evidence of threat to confirm its own biases.

Wired for Love

This happens in relationships of all kinds, personal, professional, and between people and applications.

It’s confirmation bias.

The good news is that the services which thrive will be exceedingly low in friction.

The bad news is that all the others won’t be.

I think this will be particularly important in the B2B software market which, for a long time, has resisted some of the ease of use that consumer apps have with some exceptions, like Productboard (discl: advisor).

But, the b2b SaaS user is also an iPhone owner….and has come to expect easy.

Friction is the enemy.

Web 3.0 has shown us the glimpse of that future.

Now it’s just a question of who bends towards that first.

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