Online Marketing Today – A Lot of Research, A Lot of Psychology

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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.

Ask yourself:

  • 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

Gabriella Sannino
For the past fifteen years Gabriella has held positions as a consultant, web developer and creative director until she decided it was time to open Level 343, an SEO and copywriting company. She fancies herself an Italian rocker, rebel and SEO geek. She loves singing in the shower and keeps a notepad next to her bed.
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  • Bonnie Burns

    Very nicely done! It is important to get feedback from how others view a site etc. people tend to build for what ‘they like’ and not take into consideration what a consumer may like, want to see or pulls them in. Its not about ‘me’…its about ‘you’

  • ahmadferi@ravel shoes

    Simply, admirable what you have done here. It is pleasing to look you express from the heart and your clarity on this significant content can be easily looked. Remarkable post and will look forward to your future update.

  • Simon Miskimmin

    Nice post. I still find it amazing that some companies still seem to prefer “ignorance is bliss” than embarking/investing in a testing strategy to improve performance. Surely the days of blind mass marketing are numbered. Hopefully posts such as this will help to educate, those who need it most before it’s too late for them!

  • Satech

    Very well said “not everyone is your target market.” Today’s traditional marketing tools does not work in the new era of Internet marketing age.

  • Elizabeth

    It is pleasing to look you express from the heart and your clarity on this significant content can be easily looked.Surely the days of blind mass marketing are numbered. Hopefully posts such as this will help to educate

  • Eldad Sotnick-Yogev

    The ignorance is bliss attitude that Simon mentions are definitely still in existence today. Yet, the sites you share are very helpful – especially Usabilla as getting the public’s feedback is always helpful. One thing we all know is that today’s Internet makes conducting market research a whole different game. No more focus groups when you can speak directly to your targets via social communities. Thanks for another educational read