Piles of money don't necessarily buy business (or marketing) effectiveness. Last of a series.
Last time, I shared results of an experiment we ran in the office. I had one of my persuasion architects write up two simple profiles that would be good potential prospects for XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio. Then I had two new, inexperienced support staffers click through the sites emulating these profiles. I shared their XM site experiences last time; this week, their paths on Sirius.
Cindy Arrives on Sirius
Cindy is a competitive, time-starved music aficionado. When she arrives on the Sirius home page, there are no enticing images or elements that provide an impression of the vast music choices she'll have as a subscriber. The color palette is dark and masculine. The light grey "Music" button is almost invisible; Cindy never sees it. Instead she uses the top navigation and clicks the "What's On Sirius" button.
On the What's On Sirius page, Cindy becomes frustrated. She still doesn't see genre listings in the active window. If she were a more patient persona, she might have noticed the rollover sub navigation near the top of the page, but she's anything but patient. Underneath the main banner in the active window, she clicks on "Music."
When she lands on the Music page, Cindy still doesn't get any satisfaction. This page looks almost identical to the last one. At the fold, she spots the word "Pop" and scrolls, finally seeing a genre list. She clicks on a drop-down and finds an esoteric listing of names, which isn't helpful. As she scans and scrolls down the entire page, she gets some resolve. Still, she'd like more mentions of specific artists she might hear. This page has no clear subscription call to action. Of course, there's a free online trial button near the top, Cindy never sees it.
With no clear action to take, Cindy bails.
Mark Gets Sirius
Our fun-loving, spontaneous sports fan Mark arrives at the Sirius home page and is immediately greeted with sports elements. Just above the fold, Mark clicks the "Sports" section.
The sports section is really exciting for Mark. He sees everything he could possibly want: college, pro, football, basketball, commentary, all these choices are evident. At this point, Mark can click on anything and explore to his heart's content.
The tragedy is Mark will gain resolve for Sirius as an option, but no matter where he goes from this page, he won't encounter any subscription calls to action in the active window. You can point to the near invisible "free online trial" button in the top right-hand column that looks like a banner, but Mark (like Cindy) is likely to miss it due to banner blindness.
Mark may be persuaded to subscribe right now, or even to be referred to a local dealer, but he isn't given these opportunities. He leaves interested, but with no clear next step.
After losing a combined $1.5 billion in 2005, Sirius and XM may be willing to take some free advice. Some suggestions from my staff newbies:
The Power of Predictive Modeling
Personas provide marketers with a predictive model of customer behavior. They're a starting place for creating relevant, persuasive customer experiences. In basic profile form, they can be used to ensure you're answering all your visitors' questions; in their more robust persona level, they can be used to develop tightly woven persuasive customer nets that account for each customer segment's needs, preferences, motivations, communication styles, and so forth. Personas allow marketers to "operationalize" customer-centricity.
In under an hour, using entry-level persuasion architecture principles, two untrained staffers were able to make powerful observations and content suggestions that if implemented would certainly translate into better converting sites.
It doesn't take persuasion architecture methodology to conclude that the words "marketing accountability" may be more important to these companies after they took it on the chin in 2005.
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Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES, Shop.org, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at BryanEisenberg.com.
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