When I went into marketing/communications in the 80’s, things were simpler. I spoke 5 languages, which pushed me into this field. What else could I do, be a translator? Not on your life. Not when I could be creative, come up with quantitative studies and research why / how people buy.
It seemed simple, right? You have a product and you have to figure out a way to sell said product. You had magazine ad space, TV commercials, newspapers… every day, everywhere you looked, you’d see some form of advertisement. Eventually, we became desensitized to print and TV marketing – the traditional ways.
The Internet wasn’t used as it is today (although it still had some traction). The World Wide Web was the Wild Wild West. It was a “small” little marketplace, with a minor audience for client product promotion.
And Then Internet Entered the Scene… Fast Forward in Time
Advertising is more sophisticated now… but then, so are consumers. Way back when, we could survey the consumer, create charts, crunch numbers… it was all about data. Anymore, however, you have to understand consumer psychology.
Marketing has gone holistic. Yes, quantitative and qualitative data is still important, but we’re not looking at real numbers anymore. We’re looking at the consumers themselves.
What makes buyers buy? Is it the way a site looks? Does having the sidebar on the left gain a greater response than having the sidebar on the right? Are blue links more “clickable” then, say, green ones? Is “buy” more active than “act”?
What Are the Click Triggers?
With all the Google changes lately, you really have to pay more attention to your site. Of course, if you’re a regular reader, you know I push site attention anyway, no matter what Google’s doing. However, with all the vertical marketing possibilities, you want to make sure you get all the bang for your buck you can from any top listing you get.
So you study the click triggers – those beautiful little differences that cause people to click through: through to your website, through to your buy page, through to your “thank you”. It’s a step-by-step process, and you have to guide them every step of the way.
- Is my content sticky? Does it have good information worth reading?
- Are my headlines well written? Do they grab readers’ attentions?
- Do I let others (those who will tell me the truth) read my content before I put it up? Do they like it? Do I listen when they offer suggestions?
- Is it easy to navigate through my site? Does my site create a pleasant user experience?
Are You Ignoring the Individual?
This is the most serious question, and you need to really give it some thought. If your content completely targets consumers (i.e. all product/service focused) rather than having helpful bits of information, you could be losing out.
You can’t appeal to everyone; not everyone is your target market. You don’t want to get so busy trying to reach everyone that you miss those who might convert. Build your site, images, writing, etc within the context of your specific target, and then experiment.
Yes, experiment. Human behavior and relevance is a beautiful thing. Being able to associate one with the other will have half your online battle won. However, you can’t just pull knowledge out of the air. You have to be willing to experiment – to test. Plenty of tools are readily available for just this purpose, such as…
Google Website Optimizer
A/B testing is in; guessing is out. If you think you might know why a page isn’t converting, that’s all well and good. However, there’s a difference between thinking you know, and really knowing. With a little A/B testing, you can find out what areas really are the problem and fix them.
Take a screen shot of your page and put it up on Usabilla. Let people know what questions you want them to answer and then send out the link. This little goodie can give you some very valuable insights in terms of layout and design.
Very nice, very short survey. You can find out why people came to your site, whether they found what they wanted (giving you visitor satisfaction ratings) and get suggestions from them, all in the same program. Again, this is a very useful goodie.
The three above are just a few. There are, literally, tons of usability testing tools out there. Many are free; some cost, but are worth it.
You’re not going to get through today’s marketing world by guessing. You’re not going to make it with traditional marketing tools. You have to be willing to use everything at your disposal; you have to be willing to expand.
What changes have you made to keep up with online marketing and technology?
Post image via BDoughertyAmSchool