Making it easy for users to find your message
People are lazy. Take the phenomenon of television, for instance. People turn the set on and switch off, so to speak. If you watch the behaviour of the average viewer, you will see that he or she does not pay much attention. In fact, people often sit in front of their sets and do not watch. Their attentions will be divided, and very often the box will become ‘background noise’ or a flicker in the background.
The web is similar. People have it but do not use it well. If knowledge is needed, it is easy enough to go to Wikipedia and carry on scratching around from there. When a shop or a phone number or contact needs to be located, that can also be found easily enough. Just Google it. Yet with all the availability of knowledge and information, there are still people who do not bother to go to Google or Wikipedia.
Faced with this problem, the question is not so much how the web investment can be made to work better, but how the investment can be increased to better engage internet users?
If you are running an online strategy that involves more than ‘brochureware’, a site that rarely changes and doesn’t give news, you will use various methods to engage users. This will include e-mail newsletters and social networking, possibly also SMS driven from the back end of a site.
These are critical, but must be considered carefully.
The problem with e-mail newsletters is passive use. Although it is quite possible to put links into a newsletter, low click-throughs are the order of the day. It’s a phenomenon that has a similarity to people who have the television on, but don’t watch.
A lot has been said about getting people to click links. The solution however is not to get people to click, but rather to carry more content in the body of the newsletter so that the need for a link is reduced.
The idea of driving traffic to a website through newsletter links should be considered in light of the fact that the object of the exercise is not to measure the number of visits to a site, but actually to get the information across.
Social networking poses a different set of challenges. In the realm of corporate information, positioning statements and news, Linked In can be excellent as it allows for links to blogs and news on sites.
Facebook is challenging, and not entirely the answer if the object of the exercise is depth. It is a good social medium, but the site is skewed towards visual presentation in the form of photos. In other words, to get the message moving, images containing the information or accompanied by captions, have to be employed.
Twitter is challenging, as it is extremely frenetic and the ability to message is limited by the character count. However it does have strong potential for attitudinal marketing, by positioning the brand alongside individuals who can act as ambassadors. However it is an ongoing conversation and has to be monitored continuously
The third manner to reach people is through search engine optimisation. The core aspect of search engine optimisation is the technical aspect of finding the right keywords and descriptions that will lead to the site. The trick is to place individual metadata on each page, alongside core metadata that is generic to the site.
The fourth manner to reach people is search engine advertising. This obviously has the benefit of placing the brand at the top of search, but it needs to be carefully considered in the planning stage. Very often I see search advertisements for expensive Namibian lodges. The couple of cents that each of these advertisements costs would probably be better directed towards displaying the ads to overseas browsers.
Yet reason is needed. Web marketing routinely spits out huge figures that are superficially impressive, but among the huge numbers, there is very little thought given to the quality of the audience or the way to match brands to wants and needs.
Without a sound audience, all the eyeballs will not impact the bottom line.