Category Archives: Digital Marketing

Common Website Mistakes To Avoid

Your website sucks

We all see a lot of websites these days. But how often do you find yourself on a new site wondering what the company actually does or wants you to do next?

It’s an all too common problem. In our haste to build websites, we often forget to look at the initial designs through our site visitors’ eyes and routinely fail to make it easy for them to do what we want.

This recent post from Socialmouths highlights five common website mistakes that dramatically impact the number of conversions.

Top of the list is the failure to state a clear value proposition, by demonstrating what makes your organisation special and different. In a nutshell:

you have to tell people quickly and simply what it is that you do, and why you’re great at it

And there are other design crimes like too many CTAs (calls to action), no single dominant CTA, and insufficient reasons to believe that also regularly impair the effectiveness of many websites.

Next time you visit a new website, think about the five common mistakes that Socialmouths has identified and ask yourself if they apply and how they could be addressed. Then look back at your own site, wearing your desired visitor’s hat, and ask yourself the same questions.

I’m not a gambling man, but I’ll bet you’ll instantly spot several things you can improve.

Friction Free Forms for Marketing Ninjas

Happy New Year!

I’ve written before about the dangers of asking too much of your site visitors before you have established a meaningful, value-based relationship with them.

Now Lisa Margetis at Singlehop has reminded me of the importance of keeping any “asks” you must make of your customers as simple and pain-free as possible.

In her curiously titled “Contact Forms for the Minja” (which stands for Marketing Ninja, apparently!) infographic, Lisa illustrates how response levels and conversions fall as the number of fields in an online form increase. Using data from Dan Zarella, we can see that the optimal number of fields in a form is around 3 to 5:

More fields fewer conversions

And from Marketing Sherpa we also know which fields are most valuable to most marketers:

The fields marketers value the most

In summary, as Lisa rightly points out:

It’s all about finding the right friction

Too much friction (e.g. too many fields or hoops to jump through on your site) and people will refuse to fill out your online form. Too little friction and the data you collect are unlikely to yield sufficient insights to allow intelligent segmentation and targeted content marketing in future.

As Lisa’s infographic shows, there are many examples that prove, and sometimes disprove, the theoretical principles. But the simplest rule I think any marketer should follow is:

Only collect data that you actively plan to use.

In my experience, that’s by far the easiest way to ensure that all forms present the minimal amount of friction to your online customers and prospects.

Now go forth, learned Minja, and create beautiful, friction-free forms!

50 Things You Don’t Need in 2014

As 2013 draws to a close, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some well-loved things that suddenly find themselves obsolete in our fast-changing world.

I can’t pretend this is a comprehensive list of all-things-obsolete, but coming up with fifty was far easier than I first expected!

What did I miss?

The Basic Data Capture Mistake Almost Every Marketer Makes

As marketers, we know a large part of our job is to collect as much data about customers and prospects as possible. Feeding the database gives us leads to qualify and valuable data to mine.

So it makes perfect sense when we have something of value to these people—like some great content or special offers—that we should make them jump through a few data hoops before we let them at it. The least they could do is share their name, email, and maybe some lifestyle interests so we can contact them again in future. Isn’t it?

No! It turns out this is actually one of the worst things most marketers do online.

Next time you have something that other people would like to access, try this for a change:

Give it to them. Just let them have it. No forms to fill, no data to share. Just instant, free access to the content they desire.

But here’s the kicker. If they like what you gave them, now is the perfect time to ask them to do you a favour in return. Perhaps they could give you just a few pieces of contact information so you can stay in touch and share more great content like this in future.

You see, people who have just been given something are much more likely to give something in return. It’s called reciprocity, that sense of indebtedness that is hard-wired into human behaviour.

I-doubled-my-data-badgeAnd in tests, flipping the online data collection to take place after the gift is received allows marketers to capture twice as much data as before. Yes, that’s double the data for no extra effort.

Not only that, but it’s often better quality data too. The tyre kickers and time wasters have got what they wanted and are unlikely to want to stay in touch. But the people who really appreciate your content, who know that it can bring value into to their lives, have everything to gain by sharing their contact details.

But don’t just take my word for it. Put it to the test. Flip that data collection page in your website, or trial the alternatives alongside each other in an A/B test. If your website visitors are anything like every test sample I’ve ever encountered, you’ll soon see you data counts and quality climbing.

I know it feels counter-intuitive but, honestly, this really works.

Now, stop thinking about it. Go put it to the test!

Three Charms But Four Alarms

Three is the magic numberWork, Rest and Play (Mars)

Power, Beauty and Soul (Aston Martin)

Soft, Strong and Long (Andrex)

 

We humans love seeing choices or lists presented in groups of three. Three gives a natural balance to things, as does five or seven.

But three really is the magic number for marketers and copywriters.

A recent study for the Make-A-Wish Foundation sought to find the messaging sweet spot for securing charitable donations. They randomly assigned a different set of reasons to research participants, each of which was designed to persuade them to part with their hard earned money.

TMIOne group received two egoistic reasons to give, another received two altruistic reasons to donate, and a third received all four reasons combined. Those in the last group, who were presented with four reasons to give, were less likely to donate than the other groups who received just two. It seems that at a count of four, the attempt to persuade had been too obvious, resulting in the participants actually being dissuaded to donate.

In another test, subjects were shown ads for a brand of shampoo that carried between one and six benefit claims. Those who were given an ad carrying just three claims rated the shampoo more highly than those receiving more or fewer claims. Again, it would appear that one or two benefits are not quite enough to persuade us, yet four or more start to feel like desperation, resulting in scepticism that throws into doubt the veracity of all of the claims.

So, next time you’re trying to persuade someone, keep your list of reasons why they should believe you to three. Simple. As. That.

Source and further reading: Influence at Work blog

Content 1 Advertising 0 – Why Great Content Wins Today

(This post by Allister Frost was first published on the Emarketeers’ blog)

Content, content, content… It seems everyone in marketing these days is talking about content. The stats prove it too with the number of Google searches for “Content Marketing” soaring 10-fold in the last two years.

And I’m a believer. I believe great content strategy should now lie at the foundation of every marketing plan. It is more important than SEO, PPC, CSR, or any other abbreviation you may know. It is the very essence of great marketing today.

To explain why, I’d like to you to come on a journey with me. A journey back to a simpler time, when computers didn’t yet rule the world.

Come on a journey with me…, to a time when the only compositions produced by One Direction are safely contained in their nappies.

Let’s go back a full two decades to 1993.

Everyone Looked Like This in the 1990'sWelcome to a post-recession Britain where unemployment and social discontent have brought waves of rioting to cities across the country. Hip-hugging, high-waisted denim jeans are all the rage, Wayne’s World picks up best soundtrack at the BRIT Awards and the only compositions produced by One Direction are safely contained in their nappies. Even Tim Berners-Lee is probably wrestling with his TV remote trying to find his ideal holiday on Teletext.

Aside from the macro-economic similarities, to be in marketing in 1993 was a very different affair to the modern day. Broadcast media channels were largely limited to TV, radio, outdoor and press. And if a potential customer wanted to find out what a company had to sell she had to phone up to request a brochure or to book a visit from a salesman (yes, it was nearly always a man).

All of which meant that companies could often maintain a firm grip over what customers knew about their business and the products they had to sell. Opinions could be controlled and shaped with advertising and clever PR.

The printed press, at the very height of its powers, put its journalistic focus onto naming and shaming heavy-handed corporations and government officials. Only rarely would its attention fall on the minutiae of individual customer complaints, usually to share the news of the discovery of a cornflake bearing an uncanny resemblance to Sylvester Stallone.

Fortunately, smart marketing teams developed a neat way to discretely deal with unhappy customers (and who wouldn’t be unhappy to spot Rocky in their cereal bowl?). The inbound customer service phone line was born and the complaints of a generation of dissatisfied consumers were quietly paid off with the promise of money off vouchers or refunds.

It was a golden era of control for the marketing manager.

To coin a phrase: Marketeers had never had it so good.

Jump forward twenty years to 2013 and things are very different. With a multitude of digital avenues to consider—alongside the traditional analogue channels that still attract huge audiences—choosing where to place your message for the best results has become a marketing minefield. And while the fortunate marketeer with a generous advertising budget can still buy a substantial presence in paid media channels, there’s no longer any guarantee of control over what the masses ultimately hear about your brand. Today’s marketing manager now also has to compete with the voices of millions of digitally-empowered consumers. And most of the evidence now suggests it’s a battle we cannot win.

In their armchairs and bedrooms, coffee shops and trains, anyone with Internet access can now publish their opinions to a worldwide audience. This daily chatter, about the things that really matter to ordinary people, courses through social networks, discussion forums and review sites. These voices have ushered in a new marketing world order, where everyone’s opinion matters and the casting vote falls to those we trust the most.

You already know the bad news. 84% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, while only 62% trust TV ads (source: Nielsen, Sept 2013). These are stats that should be etched into every marketer’s brain. People trust people, they don’t trust advertising, marketeers, salespeople or spin.

This isn’t a new phenomenon.

People have always trusted the people they know more than strangers or fancy advertising messages. But what has changed is the nature of the people we trust. In 1993, the people we knew comprised those we grew up with, lived near or worked with. In 2013, the people we know—or feel we know—now encompasses our extended social circles online and almost any human-made content we find on our personal journeys through cyberspace.

The intimacy of our online experiences can now create instant trust in content.

We are witnessing this remarkable shift playing out before our eyes. The intimacy of our online experiences can now create instant trust in content. When our internet journeys lead us, sometimes serendipitously, to useful content or advice, we are highly likely to consume and believe it. Our behaviours have changed a great deal from the passive consumption of advertising messages during the broadcast era. Today we know how to seek out the information we need and intuitively—although not always accurately—know what we can trust.

Fortunately for us marketeers, human brains are wired to work this way. Logic tells us that not everyone on a review site can be wrong. Or that if a friend of a friend once “Liked” a brand of dishwasher tablet, that brand must be worth considering next time we go shopping. These cognitive biases allow us to make sense of a rapidly changing world, to adapt quickly to new forms of information and not feel overwhelmed by the data. This brings both great responsibility and opportunity to everyone in the marketing profession.

Great Content beats Advertising
And that, in a nutshell, is why great content really matters.

We are long past the day when organisations could rely on advertising alone to cut through the clutter and get our brands in front of the right people. Control has shifted from the few to the many. Today we need new skills to produce useful, creative content of many forms—blogs, videos, diagrams, reviews, photos, stories, whitepapers—and deliver it to places where it can be discovered, trusted, consumed, and shared. Crucially, our content must bring utility to people’s lives, answering questions they ponder or providing relevant entertainment that intensifies their relationship with the brand.

How do we do this? Join my exclusive Emarketeers webinar in December to find out. More details below.

 

WANT MORE? SIGN UP FOR OUR FREE CONTENT MARKETING WEBINAR

Allister Frost will be discussing this and all things content marketing on a special free webinar for Emarketeers on Friday 6th December at 1pm GMT. Registration is now open at http://www.emarketeers.com/events/how-social-content-can-elevate-your-brand. We hope you’ll join us there.

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