Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of talking with one of the web’s most influential marketing experts, Bryan Eisenberg. The interview you see below is the end result of these discussions. Eisenberg, co-author of the best selling books ”Call to Action,” “Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?,” and “Always Be Testing“, is one of the industry’s most sought after speakers and consultants. The list of Bryan’s accolades and awards would actually extend longer than the interview, should we list them here.
It is necessary to take special note that Bryan is co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association, as well as being an adviser and board member of SES Conference & Expo, among the many others. You can learn more about Bryan at BryanEisenberg.com, but I mention his expertise here so that both emerging and time tested industry professionals might “tweak” your attention and glean what you can from the following.
Here is the Q & A with Bryan followed by a brief summary and his most recent video.
Q - In a recent article on your blog Bryan, you talk about why marketing is broken. One interesting aspect, so called “ad scent”, made a lot of sense to me. How do you think expert marketers got off the trail in not adhering to such principles? How do they get back on track`?
A – Yes, it flabbergasts me. Scent was first discovered in 1995, that marketers are unaware is a huge issue. Scent is fundamental to understanding how people use every digital device. The challenge comes from the silos our corporate structure creates. The person responsible for the email is not responsible for what happens once they land on the website, the person responsible for the ppc ad isn’t creating the landing page, etc. The only way to get back on track is to realign these functions with the right tools, measurements and processes.
Q - Along the same lines, when marketers see conversions fall by the wayside, why do you think they deviate still further, rather than gravitate back to known principles?
A – Distraction. We marketers love the shiny new object. We often forget that marketing is really about doing the fundamentals well. The processes are boring by design. We attract lots of creative people who don’t like to think about building persuasive systems. Marketing success is rarely about how clever you are and more about how clear your messaging system is.
Q - Recently you spoke with MarketWatch’s Quentin Fottrell I believe, about Google’s virtual wallet and the need to institute a physical plastic card, as you suggest, as an interim bridge of habits. My question is about eCommerce. “Do you think we will see people adopt these new digital payment methods faster than they did simply “buying online” for the first time?”
A – I believe so. Initial adoption of ecommerce was also limited by lack of technology, not everyone had a computer. Those that did had and poor experiences; people didn’t have high speed connection, websites were beyond awful for several years, etc. Today everyone has the technology, literally in hand with their cellphones, and people will always gravitate towards convenience. Once some of the core financial and technological issues are resolved around mobile payments we’ll see faster adoption like we see in other parts of the world.
Q - Along these same lines, it seems to me the advent of scanning everything imaginable with my iPhone, buying it on the spot, is coming at a snail’s pace. Will we see a steep ramp to adaptation at some point Bryan?
A – Keep in mind that at the peak catalog sales were only about 10% of retail sales. Ecommerce is creeping up to that level after only a very short time. People still love the experience of being in the store and touching things and having them immediately. This is why companies like Walmart and Amazon are working so hard at same day delivery efforts and retail stores are re-imagining themselves to improve the customer experience to be more like Apple’s stores.
Q – Not everyone knows you are an expert on writing persuasive content Bryan. As such, while content is supposed to be king, how do you recommend business contend with the trend toward what’s called “munchable bites” rather than genuine news, editorial, marketing speak, etc.?
A – Companies need a bit of both. They need to understand how their customers want to consume their content. Mobile is purely “snackable” bites but when researching on the web, especially for more complex decisions, people want more depth.
Q – Is the web being “dumbed down” by the tendency to not read as much?
A – Not as much dumbed down, as people are trying to figure out how to cope with everything fighting for their attention. As marketers we are going to have to do better if we want to grab and sustain our customers attention. Here’s an interesting fact – people are reading more. It’s not that they don’t want to read it’s that they’re not interested in much of the content that companies create because the find it inwardly focused, irrelevant and uninteresting. I wish I could let you all peek behind the curtains of the best performing companies so you could see how differently they think of content from the average website.
Q – You wrote another “conversion” post earlier this month about demo videos, how do you justify the cost of such videos to clients, I know many marketers and PRs will take note?
A – You have to engage customers the way they want to be engaged. Not everyone wants video so it’s not a substitute for good copy. However, more and more video is being consumed. Sometimes it is much easier to watch or listen to a video than to read a bunch of text. Think about this especially on mobile. Warby Parker is answering customer questions via videos uploaded to YouTube. The result is that responses are 65x more likely to be tweeted.Don’t you think that’s telling?
Q - I love your take on web design and landing pages in particular. Why do you think it is so difficult for some site owners to understand the importance of these store fronts? What advice would you give the SME with a budget here?
A – I don’t think it is a perceived lack of importance. I suspect that it is a lack of process, tools and understanding of the scale that is needed to make these work. That is why I am excited by big data tools like BloomReach that create and optimize landing pages for the long tail in scale. They created more than 143,000 pages for Neiman Marcus in less than 6 months. SME need to find that technology that makes them agile enough to produce pages quickly and seamlessly and then test them.
Q – In a segment you just completed, illustrated by the video at bottom, you talk about internal management structure as it relates to successful marketing. Specifically, making circular integrated strategies with reporting looped back into the financial statements of each company. Your explanation suggests a bit of outside training may be needed for companies where there is some disconnect. Is this something top level consultancies should offer, given that many CEOs seems to mistrust their marketing teams?
A – I am suggesting that with 70% of CEOs lacking trust in their CMOs that it is incumbent on them to figure out any way possible to get this done and to be come data and business performance driven. With the explosion of big data and the ability to analyze in real-time there no longer is in excuse. Let’s start with the digital marketing efforts and move to the more traditional channels later.
Q – Is mobile marketing going to eclipse what has been possible so far on the web?
A – NO, not eclipse. It is going to be different. For many of us, it just means we’re connected at all times. It will change search behavior as searching at any moment is easier since I don’t need to be sitting in front of a computer. We can just pull out our mobile and search. It will change things in countries were having computers and connectivity were issues because the mobile devices shortcut being connected.
Whether you are a budding marketing genius or a hard nosed CEO reading this, Bryan Eisenberg is in the business of informing. My “take away” from this conversation is “there’s always something more to be learned, no matter how expert one becomes.” Let me be blunt here, three years ago if anyone had suggested I needed to listen to an expert marketing consult, my retort would have been something like; “If I need one I’ll go ahead and get stampeded by 10,000 of them on Twitter!” I have always been flabbergasted at just how many marketing types are out and about social media and the web. [Hard Return Here]
There’s fifty million baseball players too, but only one Babe Ruth, one Willie Mays, one Mickey Mantle, and so on. My take away here is, fifty million marketers aren’t on the New York Times Bestseller list – So, I’ll put some of my money into mobile search marketing, but not all of it. Thanks Bryan.
Readers can connect with Bryan via his numerous SM connect points but his Twitter @TheGro is about as good a place as any to get his attention.