User experience rules, meaning that continuing to broadcast only what your business does will likely lead to diminishing returns over time. One of the best examples of the cost of emphasizing utility over experience was made by HomeAway when it became apparent that Airbnb was going to become a significant competitor in the private rental space.
HomeAway developed a marketing campaign that stressed its high-end accommodations versus Airbnb’s lower cost offerings (which included sofas to sleep on). HomeAway pounded away at the differences between the two companies, emphasizing the superiority of its rentals in a way that didn’t engage its audience. Airbnb, on the other hand, marketed the advantages of finding privately owned rentals by highlighting unique vacation experiences that were convenient, affordable and accessible. In addition to neglecting the vacation experience, HomeAway’s comparison-based marketing also included the flaw of introducing Airbnb to its own customer base. This took place in 2008, when HomeAway had the lion’s share of the private rental market. Seven years after the misguided marketing campaign, Airbnb’s market cap is about $20 billion versus HomeAway’s $3 billion cap.
While this example is based on a large-scale marketing campaign, the user experience also takes place during every touch point with a business. Here are 3 ways to enhance the experience of your potential and existing customers as well as the results of your digital marketing initiatives.
- Present a mobile-friendly website – The chances are that your site is being seen by more mobile than desktop users, a trend that will increasingly lean toward smaller device access as we roll along. Make sure that your website recognizes the size of the viewport that is being used for access so that the page can be organized for easy viewing and navigation.
- Engage readers – Pages that don’t capture attention within a few seconds are usually left in a cloud of dust as visitors bounce away looking for information that speaks to them. Aligning your content with the information that drives visitors to each page can ensure that visitors get what they expect when they arrive.
- Make conversions easy – Arrange your mobile pages so that your “call to action” buttons are easy to find. The optimal location will depend on several variables and should be tested in real time to determine the place that drives the most conversions. For example, call to action boxes are usually placed near the top of the page when the objective is to build an opt-in list with a free product offer. Buy buttons, on the other hand, are usually placed lower on the page, especially if readers are presented with more text to consume before making a purchasing decision.
The competition for internet sales steadily intensifies. To win your share of sales, your digital marketing strategy has to prioritize the customer experience at every touch point.
So you've built a site that delivers high value information to your target market, has a great look, and also has simple and clear navigation. It's all good so far but all of these fantastic aspects are considered to be "on-site". To complete the picture, you're going to need to go "off-site" and start marketing on the internet. This is the only way people, outside of the ones you give your business card to, are ever going to find you online.
Don't be intimidated by the term "marketing on the internet". The basics of this necessity are very simple and include the following actions:
- Start a blog – WordPress, Google, and a host of other sites offer free blog platforms. In fact, the platforms offered for blogging are now so robust that your blog can be turned into second "mini-site" to support your primary website. You can use your blog in any way you wish, whether it's to provide a more informal venue to communicate with your customers, to give insights into your company's philosophy, or to communicate other types of information.
- Write informative articles – There are numerous sites around the web where you can post articles, including ezine.com, hubpages.com, and Squidoo. Authoritative and informative articles on these sites can position you as an authority in your field and drive traffic to your site.
- Get social – The social media sites offer another channel for marketing on the internet but the rules are a little different here than elsewhere. Dial back on your sales lingo here and focus on adding value wherever possible.
The techniques for marketing on the internet will vary depending on your business but these three venues are a great start. Wade in and you'll start generating traffic that seeks you for both information and your authority in your area of business.
For businesses, simply participating on social media sites is just the first step toward seizing the opportunities that exist in this dynamic new environment. Optimizing your social media optimization efforts requires concerted actions in a variety of areas including:
* Having a firm handle on what you’re trying to accomplish with your social media activities – Knowing why you’re developing a presence on perhaps numerous platforms can keep the focus on driving results as opposed to simply interacting with various communities. Focusing on objectives can reduce wasted time spent on tangential issues, which in social media circles are virtually unlimited.
* Presenting new content on a consistent basis – The creation of unique and compelling content on a consistent schedule will keep members of your communities coming back to see what’s new. Be careful to publish only the content that is informative and adds value while staying away from the idea that any content that gets published is good content.
* Varying your content – Going multimedia with your content can keep your publishing schedule fresh while allowing the exploration of additional ways to communicate with your various communities. While text-based content is still vitally important, visual content in the form of images and videos tends to be shared more often. Incorporating a variety of content formats also enables you to present your information in the manner that is most conducive for communicating the information you’re sharing.
* Put the right skill sets to work – One of the biggest changes that social media presents to businesses is the democratized two-way communication between the company and its communities. While some people may be very comfortable in this type of engagement, others may not. Be sure that the people you have tasked with engagement can carry the job without serious mis-steps.
While social media offers many opportunities, it rarely offers instant gratification. Be patient with your social media optimization efforts, be consistent with your process, and the rewards will arrive over time.