Posts by Philip Allen
You will doubtless have noticed an increase in focus on the subject of Content Marketing over the last year or so.
In fact, Content Marketing has become such a buzz, its given rise to a whole new area of career development for savvy marketers. It’s not uncommon to see job roles such as Content Strategist and Content Marketer making up a digital team now.
In this article, I’d like to explore what’s behind the move towards Content Marketing as fundamental part of Digital Strategy, but first, let’s look at the difference between an Organisation Centric culture and a Customer Centric culture:
You can see that an Organisation Centric culture puts most of its trust and faith in product and service feature sets. There may be a sprinkling of perceived benefits thrown in, and a lot of time will be spent crafting the business introduction and About Us sections of the site to try and demonstrate differentiation.
This strategy worked fine when competition in the digital landscape was less fierce, but now that it is, we have to look at engaging audiences much earlier in the sales cycle.
The following diagram demonstrates a typical search journey with an overlay of two very important factors:
Key Factor 1: 80% of users start their search journey in this way
Key Factor 2: By the time a prospect engages a business for comparative pricing, they are more than 70% commited to a single prospective vendor. This is one of the main reasons a business may witness lower lead or sale conversion rates.
The second statistic is particularly important. The majority of users will compare at least three suppliers to benchmark price and value in the final stages of purchase. However, the typical user who is completing this search journey will already be showing a 70% intent to a preferred vendor.
So targeting customers in the Tracker Phase with an Organisation Centric culture can be highly ineffective because you are relying on countering the feeling of trust, integrity, reputation and value that has been fostered by a more effective Customer Centric culture in this scenario.
Organisation Centric versus Customer Centric Web Development and Content Curating Strategies
See how this translates into two different approaches to website development and content curation:
Six Steps To Adopting a Customer Centric Culture
If you are interested in exploring the benefits of a customer centric culture for your next project, here are six steps to get you started:
1. BENCHMARKING » 2. PERSONAS » 3. USER JOURNEY » 4. CONTENT » 5. CAMPAIGN » 6. MEASUREMENT
Help your board members and stakeholders make decisions based on metrics...
- Produce a Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard to agree which metrics and KPI’s are most relevant to your organisation
- Produce a central hub of KPI metrics that can be recorded on a month-by-month basis. Ensure you have a column for MOM Growth, and group your metrics based on RACE (Reach, Act, Convert, Engage)
- Use advanced Google analytics to help curate metrics for above
- Integrate an advanced metrics dashboard into your Website CMS reporting
Ditch assumption and use real data to profile your audience and create accurate personas...
- Segment your market
- Discover your persona goals
- Discover how your customers learn
- Discover their goals
- Discover their challenges and frustrations
- Discover their preferences
3. USER JOURNEYS
Armed with a factual in-depth understanding of the issues, needs and challenges your audience faces you can now define the following with greater accuracy:
- Key user journeys or the ‘red routes’ your audience needs to follow
- The information they need
- Content and functional requirements that will drive engagement
- Rich media elements that will provide a more compelling experience
User journeys can be mapped on schematic diagrams or static wireframes, but by far the most effective way of demonstrating this in a Rapid Prototype.
A Rapid Prototype is a clickable version of an intended Website. Prototypes can by built quickly and tested in various ways to ensure the requirements of the market segmentation and persona requirements are managed effectively.
Consider what content needs to be available for the different stages of the buying process and define this in a Content Strategy.
What content will answer the questions and concerns your audience has around whether to buy your product or service?
You’ll need to earn your audiences permission to speak to them by whichever channel they prefer (telephone, contact submission, quote request, product demo, whitepaper request etc.) – how will the content on your website achieve this?
What content can you publish to demonstrate your knowledge leadership and how easily can your different audience types get to it?
Here is a logical flow charting the lead and sale generation process:
So armed with knowledge about your audience personas and the kind of content that will engage them, you will be able to plan refinements to the structure and content in your current Website, or drive a better outcome for a new Design & Build.
Now it’s time to develop inbound marketing initiatives such as SEO, Paid Search, and Social Media Marketing:
- Benchmark your Digital Marketing Capability with a score based situation analysis
- Produce a Digital Marketing SWOT adapted to recognise Strategies
- Produce a Digital Marketing Plan Summary
- Produce a Digital Strategy Summary
- Prioritise digital marketing initiatives
- Develop a long-term strategic initiative roadmap
You can search the web for free resources to help with Digital Marketing Planning, team up with a web agency that can help in this area, or choose to work with a dedicated inbound marketing agency.
The skills you currently have in-house, and the scale of your business operations will govern the choice of approach.
"What's measured improves." - Peter F. Drucker
Analytics is the cornerstone of inbound marketing strategy and armed with your Benchmarking tools you can quickly…
- Demonstrate the impact of incremental increases in Conversion Rate Optimisation
- Help departments assign budgets based on ROI rather than percentages of last year’s turnover
- Help to join up what can be a disjointed picture of your online activities
- Help react quickly to changes in customer behaviour
- Help sales and marketing departments align in more efficient ways
The appeal of inbound marketing as a cultural change is driven primarily by its ability to deliver increases in online performance that can have a dramatic effect on sales revenue.
Moreover, this lift in sales revenue comes at a lower cost than traditional marketing methods so the effect can be felt directly on the bottom line.
Adopting an inbound strategy is easier than you think, once your team is on-board. Actions and transactions can be tracked, measured and optimised to increase the value of your online efforts.
No more neglecting the real potential of your Website, or struggling to understand how the digital landscape can all be made to fit together.
Just a clear actionable strategy that will bring management, sales and marketing together in a new customer centric culture.
Many people think of graphic design as fairly subjective – beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that.
But can graphic design, or more importantly, the standard of graphic design on your website help or hinder sales, and if so, by how much?
I have to confess I am a graphic design standards advocate. In my formative years I cut my teeth with one of the world’s largest Advertising Agencies and learnt all about typography, imagery, quiet space and messaging.
In fact, everything you need to create a compelling visual canvass that people will lock onto.
I’ve tried to instil a culture of persuasive design in D. Agency and its fair to say its one of our strengths. We have a reputation for creating websites with strong visual identity but its not all plain sailing.
On many an occasion, our design work has been dismissed by a minority of people as “eye candy” or “window dressing”.
This tends to happen when companies approach us for work with an “Organisation Centric” approach to web design, or comments come from people who don’t deliver particularly high standards of design, choosing the “a flashy looking website is useless if it doesn’t deliver what the customer wants” defence.
So how valid is the argument for strong design identity on a Website?
If you haven’t tried these tools yet, you really should – they can tell you why people might be leaving your Website and lots of other things as well.
These tools provide you with a real life video recording of how people interact with your Website. You can discover what the initial impression is of your site when a visitor lands on it for the first time, and you can also learn about problems or ‘friction points’ that users find irritating.
Here is a transcript of three responses from a test managed by conversionrateexperts.com on behalf of one of their clients.
“The site seemed kind of amateurish. There was a feeling that the company did not take the Website seriously.”
“In general, I think the home page needs a refresh to make it more attractive – it is now more like a virtual storefront than one from a company as well established as [company name].
“It was unprofessional and amateur looking and hard to find the correct link to use. Regardless of what size company you might be, a website can make you look as though you are the largest company in the UK… in any industry.”
Now see how a small improvement in graphic design gave an overnight 7.4% improvement
In response to similar feedback, conversionrateexperts.com carried out a very simple page re-design. There were no changes to the copy, or to elements on the page or their position – just a re-design of existing elements.
The result was an instant 7.4% increase in conversion rate from 1.78% to 1.91%.
If we take a B2B website with 10,000 visits per month and an average customer sale value of say £5,000, then the new webpage will generate £65,000 more revenue per month or £780,000 more revenue per annum.
All for the right design updates.
If your visitors are concerned about the appearance or professionalism of your Website, you could get a massive boost in leads, sales or advocacy if you re-design it.
What could an increase of say 0.5% in conversion rate mean for you?
Use our conversion rate comparison tool and enter data for your own business case – it’s free to use and you don’t have to register.
The results will demonstrate the increase in revenue from 0.5% increments in conversion rate. Go on, try it now and see what it could mean for your business.
Still not convinced?
Why not try usertesting.com or whatusersdo.com
Try using Likeart based statement responses to prime your testers. Likeart responses normally look for a response to a question based on six levels of response ranging from “Completely Disagree to Completely Agree”.
You can adapt this for user testing to get responses based on peoples “perception” of your company through your website, which is exactly how new visitors learn about your business.
Brief your testers along the following lines:
“Please visit the following website [your website], spend no more than 5 minutes navigating the site and record your response to the following statements:
- “[Your company] is a Top 3 company in its field”
- “[Your company] can help you increase your sales”
- “[your company] can help you become more efficient”
- “[Your company] can help you reduce costs”
- “I would definitely buy from [your company]”
You can tweak these questions to suit your own business but remember this important point:
All sales begin with a person’s perception about your business. It’s impossible for a person to form an in-depth assessment of your company from the first interaction.
The progression of the first interaction comes down to the person’s perception of your business and for that you need image.
An image of trust, integrity and reputation is all you need to flow a contact through to a lead, sale or advocate.
And a professional image starts with a high standard of graphic design.
Adobe Kuler is a FREE web based application that lets you quickly create colour themes for any project.
Experienced designers will already have a strong grounding in the complexities of colour theory, but everyone can save time using this great tool.
Once you register with Kuler, you can create your own colour themes and palettes in far less time than it takes by using reference books.
You can log back in at any time to view and retrieve themes saved in your personal MYkuler space.
Kuler is a great product because it encourages you to experiment with different colour combinations. You can even tag a colour from an image or corporate logo, and Kuler will build themes around it.
Planning to invest in SEO or AdWords? See how Conversion Rate optimization could help give you a bigger bang for your buck
Read this real-world comparison of two Websites selling an identical product range.
Comparison table: Real world comparison of two live websites selling exactly the same products
You’ve got a Website and you want it to contribute more to your bottom line. The site generates business for you, but you want more.
The logical thing to do is push more traffic to the site by using tactics such as SEO, AdWords, Social Sharing, Backlinks, Affiliate Programs etc.
But hang on a minute; traffic is actually quite expensive to develop. It’s also progressive so you won’t quite be leaping to Position 1 in Google’s organic listing in the next few weeks.
In fact, a well-defined online marketing strategy could take several months to get everything implemented and up to speed.
Of course traffic is important, but is there a way of complimenting SEO and AdWords to gain faster results?
Yes there is, and it’s called conversion rate optimization, the logical process of ensuring more people who visit your Website convert.
Conversion rates apply to all sorts of businesses. You could be measuring the volume of product sales, the average basket value, the number of leads generated in the case of B2B, the number of paid subscribers, or the number people signing up for anything from an event to a clinical trial.
Here is a real work scenario that demonstrates the power of conversion rate optimization and the effect it can have:
A company operates two Websites in its market. They both sell the same products. Website A was purchased as a going concern and has been live for over a year, whilst Website B was commissioned as a new build to run in parallel.
It’s a scenario that provides an opportunity to directly compare the performance of both sites.
Now, Website B hasn’t been live for long, so it can’t yet compete with the traffic generated from the more mature Website A, but its already producing a higher volume of sales.
What’s the reason behind it?
Website B has a visitor-to-sale conversion rate of 3.29%, whilst Website A has a conversion rate of 1.39%.
To realise the full implication of this, I compiled the comparison table at the top of this post to demonstrate. I replaced the actual traffic with a constant of 10,000 visits a month because it’s the implication of conversions that’s important.
So every month, Website B will generate 190 more sales and £9,500 more in revenue based on this model.
Of course in your industry, the average sale might be £100,000 if it’s a large item of capital equipment or the value of a long-term account.
Another important point to make here is that I’ve also kept the average sale as a constant to make the illustration easier, but in fact, the average basket value is higher on Website B as well, but I’ll save that for a different post.
So if you have an existing site and you’re considering upping spend for online marketing, why not look at the potential for conversion optimisation.
Alternatively, if you are putting a brief together to purchase a new Website, make sure you make a request that each vendor includes notes and evidence to back up how they intend to maximize conversions.
This way, when you get the proverbial three quotes back suggesting a build cost of £10,000, £20,000 and £50,000, you’ll be better placed to judge the value.
Incidentally, Website B cost around £10,000 more than Website A because ther was an investment in user-centred practices such as personas, UX analysis, experience mapping and prototype testing.
That said, its clear to see that not only could the difference be paid back in a very short space of time, but if we took a 2-year view using this illustration then Website B would generate £228,000 more in revenue without any extra investment in SEO or marketing.
If you would like to see the benefit even a small increase in conversion rates could have on your revenue, try out our FREE CONVERSION RATE TOOL - it will only take a minute and you don't even have to register.
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