It is always refreshing to know that you are not alone in the world, that there are others like you who think (and act) like you. This was how I felt after returning from NYC to attend Future Now's Persuasive Online Copywriting and Call to Action seminars.
Years ago when I decided to pursue a career in marketing, I was driven by the concept of motivation and persuasion. Why do people do what they do, why is it that given the same circumstances and environment people can have completely different perspectives (tomato- tamato anyone?), why do people make the decisions that they make? Why, why, why, why....
And so I studied marketing plans, demographics, customer segmentation versus mass marketing, and sales processes. I even dabbled in philosophy and psychology and consumer behavior and still the question nagged at me- but why? All of the traditional methods of marketing told me the what or the how, not the why.
And then came search engine marketing- now we are getting somewhere, or so I initially thought. I soon learned that a lot of SEO and SEM experts were merely playing the same numbers game as traditional marketing mediums. Find out what the most searched terms are and use those for the website to get better rankings and more visibility. In other words, lets dump more traffic into a sales funnel that is full of holes. But I was determined, there had to be a better way, I still wanted to know why.
What was the intent of the person who typed in that search term, what questions are they looking to answer, and how can I best answer that for them?
The methodology that I have learned so far from the great people at Future Now answered the why. The why is answered when you consider, plan for, test, optimize, and refine the marketing to align with a person's decision making preferences.
And just how do you do that you ask? Start with these three questions:
- Who are you trying to persuade?
- What are you trying to persuade them to do?
- What does that person need in order to feel comfortable and confident taking that action?
The first two are not new questions to most marketers, the third brings to light the missing link.
Our personality traits shape how we see and interact with the world (and make our decisions). Your customers have a preference for how they interact with you, and it just might not be what you expect. People will easily do what they want to do, the job for marketing should be to figure out what it is that they want, how they want it, and deliver it in a way that is appealing to them.
So the small step for search engine and internet marketing? Empathize with your customers, after all, it is all about them is it not? Don't talk at them, talk with them, in their language, in a way that they are comfortable with. If you have traffic coming to your website, then you have potential customers coming to you with questions. Do you know what questions they are asking? Does your site answer those questions, or frustrate them (and they leave to visit your competition)? All that polished, clever, and pretty copy writing will not mean anything to your customer if it does not answer their questions.
I know what you are thinking- of course I empathize and listen to my customers- but are you really listening? All the focus groups and surveys in the world will not give you your customers natural reaction to your company, product, or service.
But here is the good part, with the internet as a marketing medium, we now have the opportunity to really find out what customers think. Web analytics can tell you how they found you and how they interact with your website. Online forums, blogs, and customer reviews can tell you what they really think. With every click on your website, your customers are telling you what they like, and what they don't. Your customers are in control of the message online, are you listening, or are you making your decision based on actual behavior, or speculations?
So here is the start, the small step marketers need to take to shift the thinking back to the customer. Because it is all about the customer...
Answer that third question, and you have taken that small step.