How to Create an Online Experience for Humans
Meegan Kauffman Jul 8 2014
The rules of Internet marketing change all the time, and it’s increasingly difficult to keep up. What animal is Google focusing on now? Your site should load in under a millisecond, right? Or should it load before your customers even search for it?
As frantic as the world of Internet marketing may seem, the end goal is always the same: create an efficient and valuable experience for your customers. With so many tools to use and rules to follow, it’s easy to forget that all this is being created for a human being.
Whether it’s rubber boots or cloud storage solutions, the purpose of marketing is the same: focus on your customers.
So how do you do that? That’s where things get strategic (and nerdy). But if you have a defined brand persona and knowledge of your customer base, that’s a great jumping-off point. And remember: everything we do here is for the end purpose of growing your business. The best way to do that is and always has been to create a great customer experience.
Let’s start by getting to know your customers.
This is the fun part, because it starts with you. Why did you start your business? Many companies build a service from their own passion but fail to communicate that online. You built a rubber shoe company because you needed a great gardening shoe – one that could stand up to the constant bending and immersion in soil. Well my friend, you found a brand persona: The avid gardener.
You may know other things: your customer’s average age, marital status, etc. These demographics are useful, but let’s dig a little deeper. We’re going to explore their psychographics, or behavioral tendencies. You already know who buys your product, and now it’s time to learn why they buy. What leads them to you? Why do they need your product? What are they looking for?
The more you know about your customers, the easier it will be to make a connection with them and build customer loyalty. Loyalty doesn’t just mean they’ll buy from you – they’ll be a lifelong customer and are likely to tell their friends or coworkers about your product. And that’s very good for your business.
There are a few easy ways to dig into your audience’s online behavior:
- Get to know what your audience is doing online. Check out your followers on Facebook, and look at other pages they like. What are they into? Do they kill zombies on the weekends or go camping with their kids?
- Sign in to Google Analytics and pay attention to behavior. Where are they coming from? If they come organically, they’re probably new customers in search of value. If they type in your URL, they are more likely to be loyal customers already. What pages do they go to? Which pages do well and which pages make your customers bounce? When you know the behavior and what is working on your site, you are better able to create a positive experience for your customers.
- Build a lexicon. This is a handy way to dig into the culture of your audience. It’s about more than speaking their language – it’s about being part of their lives. Read what they read, watch what they watch. Remember, a great online experience will connect to your users.
This is where you might start stressing out, but remember that our end goal is building a great customer experience. How do you do that?
- Help them find you. The best way to optimize your site for search is simply to make it efficient and user-friendly. Get rid of duplicate pages and duplicate content. Make sure the content on your site is text, not in images. Make the call-to-action obvious without seeming like an ad. Create navigation that’s easy to use. Keep your site simple, efficient, and with a healthy dose of personality. If you want more specific SEO advice, David is here to the rescue.
- Include a search bar. If you have a multitude of products, this is especially important. More and more people are getting used to search, and many would rather use onsite search functions than scan huge drop-down menus or filter according to need. Think about shopping on Amazon.com. Do you use the search bar or the navigation?If you follow my advice and include a search bar, test it. Pay attention to user behavior. What are they searching for, and do they use the search results or leave? Don’t get lazy with this. If your customers are bouncing from search results, don’t get rid of the function, improve it.
- Have a conversation. If you read the copy on a page, pay attention to how many times you notice keywords. You want to use words your audience is used to (again with the lexicon). When you read your copy out loud, it shouldn’t sound awkward. It should sound like a conversation.
And the dialogue doesn’t stop there. Use your blog to create a community of people interested in your product. Let’s say in researching your audience you found that a surprising number of people who love gardening shoes also love Led Zeppelin. Sweet! Create a Spotify playlist of Zeppelin songs to garden to, and write a blog post about what made this band the greatest.
Connecting with your customers doesn’t stop with your site. Think about the way you surf the web. Do you jump from one business’ site to the next? Nah. You probably also spend time in online communities, whether it’s Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or something else, you’re curious about what other people are up to.
When it comes to social media, you have to remember that your business is part of a community. Pay attention to people who follow you and what they’re talking about. This is all about providing value for them. The more interaction you have with your audience, the more they’ll feel connected to you, and that builds loyalty.
Everything is Everything
The craziest part about these online marketing details is that they all matter, as they all speak to the same end. When you know your customers and their behaviors, you have a better idea of what kind of an experience they want. When your onsite experience speaks to your audience, that enables a great social media experience. And perhaps the most surprising lesson is that all these things help your search results, your site efficiency, and your bottom line.
Meegan has been in the marketing realm since 2006. From managing print ads to writing email campaigns and producing video, she knows what works and what flops. Speaking of flopping, Meegan spends every night and weekend on the Slip 'N Slide with (or without) her kids. Read More