HubSpot’s State of Inbound report is always enlightening. The just-released 2016 edition is no exception. It’s filled with insights from more than 4,500 survey respondents, the majority of whom are not HubSpot customers. And as an acknowledged fan of the company, I have to say it’s very much like them to seek the opinions of customers and non-customers alike. HubSpot wants to continue to have the most effective marketing platform possible, and that means they have to look at the big picture and not simply focus on the people currently using their system.
Laura is shopping online for a new mountain bike. She arrives at a company’s website and is immediately wowed by what she sees. The page design, the crystal clear photos of beautiful bikes, the clever copy. She’s hooked. And she spends almost 30 minutes browsing the site. Brad’s looking for a bike, too. He goes to the website of a different company and is immediately irritated. The homepage is ugly, it takes 15 seconds to load, and the product descriptions are confusing. He’s disappointed. And he spends exactly 22 seconds browsing the site. Company A just sold a $900 mountain bike. Company B just lost another potential customer.
You may believe that your customers and prospects see your company in their mind’s eye as a lushly painted, very detailed portrait. After all, you’ve gone to great lengths to “see” them through market research, the creation of buyer personas, etc. However, they have not done the same. In fact, what they see is simply a set of dots. These dots are what we call customer “touchpoints,” and they are all your audience knows about you. That bears repeating: these touchpoints are ALL your audience knows about you.
From the time I was old enough to look out a car window, my dad was playfully saying "Check out that blonde, son!" which of course "delighted" my mom to no end. In fact, that might have been my first introduction to the concept of shopping. It took me a "few" more years to realize that it wasn't I that was in control of the situation, i.e. it ultimately became clear that it was I that needed to have something to offer. But by then I had been indoctrinated to the theories related to blonde, brunette, and redhead personas. (Okay, I may not have been familiar with the term personas at that time, but stick with me.)
Storytelling… it can be the most powerful form of marketing you use. I say “can be” because in order for a marketing story to be hungrily consumed, there are certain key ingredients it must contain. And these elements are the same regardless of what you are marketing or who your target audience is.
An inbound customer experience is the quality of interaction a customer or prospective customer has with your brand online. It includes the overall impression and the degree to which your branding and messaging engages your visitor and the value he/she received from the experience. All of this is significantly impacted by the degree to which the buyer persona is understood and catered to, the overall usability of the website, the quality and relevance of the content, and how well the website and landing pages have been optimized. The quality of interaction your customer experiences is affected by how well technology has been utilized to captivate interest, solve problems, make life easier, and differentiate you from the competition. But most importantly, it's about CUSTOMERS.
It is almost frightening how little time, attention, and budget are given to website content planning, strategy, and production. While design is certainly important, it is NOT the most important part of the UX. Content, on the other hand, IS!
The costs and benefits of requiring prospects to provide their contact information before receiving your content—also known as “gating” your content—have been debated for as long as there has been the technology to do so. You produce content for the express purpose of getting your prospects to engage with your brand. But if they are never required to provide any information about who they are and why they are consuming your content, are they really engaging or just… well… taking?
When you spend much of your time focused on how to attract, engage, and inform your prospects, you can easily forget about other important audiences. While potential new customers (your identified personas) will rightfully be the object of most of your content, it’s important that you not only promote your materials to others, but also develop at least some of your content with them in mind.
The world is awash in words. As the use of social media and content marketing continues to skyrocket, so does our collective global word count.
We like to say, somewhat derisively, that “the human attention span is shrinking.” Is it that? Or are we skimming in self-defense? It may be that our poor brains can only handle so many posts and tweets and reviews and rants and...
Webopedia.com defines a configurator as follows:
You’ve finished your draft and now it’s time to run it by the dreaded editor. Writers (meaning anyone who writes) tend to think of editors as grumpy gatekeepers who determine what gets published and what doesn’t. Splashing red ink all over a printed page or using the Track Changes feature so furiously that they risk overheating their computers, they crush any and all attempts at creativity and make authors regret that they ever put their hands on a keyboard.
While there are certainly more than six types of custom apps for your website, our hope is that this list will stimulate your creativity and encourage you to explore how YOU can develop a custom application that will elevate your inbound customer experience.
While we are huge proponents of the importance of creating amazing inbound customer experiences, it occurs to me that not EVERY business needs to worry about it. Here are a few that come to mind:
- Illicit drug dealers
I mean let’s face it, while a few of them may be so bold as to have websites, their customers will likely wade through whatever they have to in order to secure the drugs, regardless of how bad the experience is.
In some situations, focus groups have value in helping companies understand the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of their target audience (although some experts now discredit them entirely). Where they certainly do not have value is in determining the effectiveness of your inbound customer experience. In fact, using focus groups to determine the effectiveness of your inbound customer experience is a really bad idea.
We often talk about the inbound customer experience and our passion for helping others make them amazing. Here are five steps you can take that will have a substantial impact on the quality of interaction someone has with your brand online.
Because an inbound customer experience is the quality of interaction someone has with your brand online, surely there are few marketing efforts that are more critical to your success today. If you are in a small- to medium-sized business, the odds are that your website and social footprint are two of the most crucial branding and marketing tools you possess. So how important is your inbound customer experience?
Landing pages customized to the needs of specific buyer personas produce measurable results, from increased “time on page” to higher conversion rates. If you’re looking for a modest bump in your numbers, a good landing page will deliver that. But, set your sights on maximizing a landing page’s impact, and you can turn modest bumps into significant spikes—or better yet, produce a continuous upward growth curve.
Your potential customers are busier than ever. When they arrive at your website, you’ve got just seconds to grab their attention. LITERALLY SECONDS! Most experts say three or four ticks. Prove to visitors that you understand their needs, and they will keep reading. Fail, and they’ll leave without hesitation to go check out someone else’s offering.
Did you know...?
While we all know a great customer experience when we witness one, many marketers have yet to make this critically important aspect of branding and marketing a key focus of their efforts. I continue to be baffled by marketers that have been doing marketing and advertising essentially the same way for the last 50 years, as if fashioning oneself after Mad Men's Don Draper will reverse the trends of the last 20. Not only is this a wildly inefficient way to spend limited marketing dollars, it ignores some of the most compelling new data on the profitability of customer experience engineering.
Did you know that consumers will not only demonstrate dramatically higher customer loyalty, but will also pay more for a great customer experience?