Satellite Radio and Listening to Personas, Part 2

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.

Free Advice

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:

  • Provide a summary of benefits on the home page. Why not present the total number of channels, hours of programming, genres, and artists subscribers can experience each week?
  • Display the price more prominently. How much is the service? Is it too expensive? Why does it seem like you’re trying to hide this information?
  • Tell visitors how easy it is to get started. Explain how to subscribe. Make it simple. Where do they get equipment? How much do they have to spend? How soon can they start listening?
  • Tell visitors what others have to say. XM and Sirius both have passionate fans. Why aren’t they represented on the sites? One fan e-mailed me after my last column to tell me how persuasive the XM fan sites are and how surprised they are XM never built this into its site and doesn’t even offer an obvious link to it.

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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