Seven Thoughts to Arm Yourself With in 2006

2005 was a great year for conducting business online. The rising tide of the Internet continues to improve our top and bottom lines alike. Many of us are pleased with ourselves, and we should be. Yet many want more: higher conversion rates, speedier growth, and decimated, humiliated competitors.

So our gift to you is seven profound thoughts that, if expounded upon, understood, and executed, will make you a hero. Pick one or all and run with them. Soon, you’ll experience increased marketing ROI (define).

These aren’t new thoughts; I’ve shared all of them before in this column. Still, you’ll find them valuable to your 2006 efforts.

When in Doubt, Create Personas

In 2005, personas moved beyond being a buzzword. Marketers discovered they really work. If you were a pioneer who invested the time and energy into creating personas in 2005, you likely learned:

  • How personas, properly created, can unify marketing and sales efforts and create a framework for managing the scenarios your customers initiate when they seek your product
  • How personas will become more critical to teams and companies looking to maximize selling and marketing channels

Three Words: Scenario, Scenario, Scenario

Real estate success is about location. Online and future offline marketing success is about creating and optimizing the most persuasive scenarios.

Though the word “scenario” is already common in the metrics world, it’ll gain more traction next year. You must know how to properly define a scenario, however, before you can use it correctly. A scenario is made up of linear and nonlinear persuasive components that lead visitors to take actions toward conversion. These components focus on customers by segment, rather than on the business. With scenarios you can measure customer activity, which helps you to optimize performance.

Search Engines Don’t Need Friends

You can’t hang out and laugh with a search engine, you can’t take one to lunch, and you can’t bum a beer from it. So why spend time and dollars making everything so search engine friendly? Make pages people friendly and search engines will follow. All those spiders and search engine algorithms are designed to do one thing: help people find relevant results. So why not provide those relevant results and trust search engines to index the text and follow the links? Are you still waiting for that beer?

Web Analytics Are Sexy

Ignore your metrics at your own risk. Imagine this: A C-level executive walks up to your desk and nicely inquires how things are going. If you know your metrics, you can say, “I was just looking at the numbers today, and the new landing page scenario we planned is converting at a rate of 18 percent. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to optimize the page yet.”

Maybe It Is the Copy

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve told a client the first they should do is hire a copywriter to write more persuasive copy and product descriptions on their site. They smile and nod and agree and move on to optimize something else, such as site design elements. Only after they’ve tinkered with about a dozen other factors and experienced only incremental improvements do they say, “Hmm. Maybe it is the copy.”

Relevant copy reigns supreme; the more of it you have the better. Why is that? Because people do two things online: they read text, and they follow links. Nothing more, nothing less. They don’t come to engage in your navigation or site design. They come to find what they’re looking for; either you have it or you don’t. If you do, you must have the copy and links that will get them to it.

Yup, it’s probably the copy.

Leave Your Competitors in the Dust of Best Practices

Usually a best practice is a starting place, but sometimes it’s not even that. A best practice is a casual attempt to pin a cause on someone else’s success, a way to say, “Hey, placing this here worked for me. It could work for you, too.” Problem is, your business is different. Your customers are different, and a best practice for one can be a nightmare for another.

Challenge best practices; always view them in the light of your goals and customers.

Multiply Your Conversion Rate

The best place to begin is by asking: can you improve your current conversion pipeline’s conversion rate? Maybe some, but you’ve been working on it already, right? Chances are there’s not much room for improvement.

Now ask a different question: what set of multiple pipelines can I create that will multiply my overall conversion rate? With that question, you can really start cooking.

Have a great holiday, and let us know what you expect to get out of 2006.

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