The Blog

Crutchfield’s Digital Experience Rocks More Than Just Ear Drums

I recently came across an interesting white paper published by Ektron titled, “Demystifying Digital Experience Management.” The paper offers tips for creating positive and memorable digital experiences. In the middle of reading this document, I heard a knock at my front door. It was the deliveryman holding a product I had ordered from online electronics retailer Crutchfield.

Not long after I closed the door, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. Crutchfield had sent me an eerily-timed email promoting a sale on their high-end, touch screen receivers (an undeniable step up from what I had just purchased). It was from this experience that the idea for this blog post was hatched. According to Ektron, shaping an outstanding digital experience requires proper contextualization, consistency and integration across web, social and mobile platforms.

How would I rate Crutchfield in these areas?

Contextualization Grade: A

It’s no secret that individuals’ experiences, interests and preferences can differ greatly. These important factors also contribute to the “context” that surrounds any business interaction. The more a digital experience is customized to fit an individual’s unique profile, the more effective communication with him/her will be. Ektron believes “Adapting the context of the communication to fit the individual is a hallmark of a great digital experience.” Crutchfield understands this.

For example, when browsing their website, they ask shoppers to input the year, make and model of their vehicle to quickly identify products that are compatible. Behind-the-scenes, this information is also used to deliver personalized content, like the e-mail below I received after plugging in my vehicle’s details.


Consistency Grade: B

Maintaining consistency across numerous digital channels is another important component of the digital experience. What needs to be consistent? According to Ektron, not only a brand’s look and feel but also its messaging. After a quick look at Crutchfield’s Facebook page you’ll notice two things: (1) their logo and brand look are consistent with its other channels, and (2) the content and feel are much different than what you’d expect based upon their website and e-mail communications.

For example, their typical Twitter message tends to be polished and professional with an occasional “very cool” or “that’s awesome” slipped in. Their Facebook Page in contrast, is full very humor heavy (while still relevant) with an occasional straight-faced post mixed in. As a fan of humor myself, I’m not saying I’m against this approach. The post below has received over 250 likes and 121 comments, which are solid engagement stats.  I’m simply saying that this break from consistency seems to go against Ektron’s recommendation. What are your thoughts?


Integration Grade: A

Ektron’s white paper also discusses the importance of integrating systems such as content management, marketing automation, customer relationship management, analytics and social data into a company’s digital tool kit. I’ve never sat in on a Crutchfield digital integration strategy meeting, but my experience as a customer tells me that they’re highly aware of its importance.

Previously, I mentioned receiving an e-mail from them that included suggested products to fit my specific car. What I didn’t mention is that I received that e-mail literally minutes after I had added an item to their online shopping cart and then abandoned the purchase. This tells me that they’re likely using a marketing automation solution to automate real-time follow-up. Apparently they’ve designated shopping cart abandonments as an e-mail trigger within their workflow. Their use of automation software would also explain how/why I received a digital and paper catalog shortly after my initial purchase.



When you add up these grades, Crutchfield earns a report card that would make any mother proud. There’s no doubt they’ve done their homework on the digital experience and have successfully integrated their knack for service excellence into their digital efforts (see their retweet below). It’s no coincidence they’ve received so many awards including Bizrate Research’s Circle of Excellence Platinum Award for 14 consecutive years!


Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter. I’d love to hear about your most memorable digital experience, your thoughts on digital automation or your smack talk about the old school car I drive!