The evolution of digital media has changed nothing. The last decade opened a new landscape of marketing communication. And with it, great digital minds have showed us the path to success.
Increasingly narrow is that path…because few have followed it. Relationships, permission marketing, simplicity, two way conversation, brand stories. Martyrs, all of them…
No wonder people are skeptical of brand communications. Much of our industry is evil, with many businesses still committing the same old-school sins that gave us this rep. None more deadly to a brand than these seven.
1. Lust of the Email NewsLiar
While browsing the web, you read an article on a new blog or website and decide, “Hmmm, that was pretty great! I wouldn’t mind seeing more of what this person has to say.”
So you sign up for their “newsletter” hoping to learn more from this guru. Tomorrow comes, and your inbox holds a jewel of a subject line:
“This info is personal”
“Sorry Joey, we sold out!”
You open it. “Almost! This subject line is one I hope you never have to see, but if you don’t act now…”
What? It’s clear that I’ve been rickrolled by marketing email. Where’s the “news” in this email newsletter? I don’t want your product. I want to learn more about your thought leadership. You know, the reason I subscribed to your email list.
“The more you tell, the more you sell.”
“The web is a place for information. People come to our site to learn all about our product lines and our company history. Our brochures and our press releases. It needs to all be right there on the website home page where everyone can see it!”
Wrong again. I recently gave some feedback on a website that belonged to an investment firm in New York. In doing so, I actually counted over 40 links to uploaded PDFs stat-sheets, an online quiz, rollovers with videos embedded in each new slide for added site speed failure, a second smaller rollover with more online video content, news articles, and worst of all, share buttons for social media everywhere, RSS feeds and email in the main navigation to match? But only if you didn’t see these options at the top of every single page?
“So…before you read our collection of novels (all saying very similar things), please share this assortment of awesomeness with your friends and colleagues!”
3. The Greed of the Overselling Website
Running opposite to the content circus is the online brochure. More than half of company websites I’ve seen have made this their Achilles Heel of sinful content.
Getting to the point is fine, but not when you get to it over and over and over with impulse-focused “buy now” messaging. “Buy or goodbye” is a deadly approach to interactive content.Share some of your knowledge with potential customers.
Avoid the fear of telling them too much. Google is an amazing product for rewarding your relevance.
Besides, if the sum of what you know can be explained in this small of a dominion, you don’t know as much as you think. Stand for something other than short-term profit. Storytelling is the most underrated sales approach on the inter-webs.
4. The Sloth of Static Websites
The Stone Age of the “dot come boom” (i.e., the ’90s) is over. No longer is simply having a home on the web enough. A static website displays not only a lack of creativity and new offerings, it also clearly displays your lack of concern for the customer.
The market changes rapidly, as do search engine results. Customers – satisfied or not – love to give feedback. And brands that care about them adjust with the times, improve their offering, and update the brand’s hub of content accordingly. Having your company’s story or product offering outdated is nothing more than words in digital concrete.
When you’re unwilling to provide dynamic, two-way conversation – people notice. Especially in today’s market where everyone has a voice. Innovate or die.
5. The Wrath Caused by your Barriers to Connect
How much info could you possibly need? Signing up for your e-newsletter, specials, or product updates should be simple. Yet so many websites require much more than just confirmation.
Do you really need my….
- First name
- Last name
- Paternal granny’s maiden name
- Favorite Michael McDonald song
…ALL REQUIRED – just to sign up for your newsletter or download the content mediocrity that your marketing team ripped and re-templated? Or worse, need me to word verify, confirm, re-confirm, and re-verify?
No demographic or contextual targeting info is worth the significant loss in numbers for each new step you request in the process. And having customers that are loyal and motivated doesn’t compensate for the fact that when it’s all over, you’ll have less than a handful of them after they see your freebie – unless it’s a Ferrari.
Captchas are annoying. And many of them are unreadable. But at least they serve a purpose: to confirm you’re human and eliminate spam bots (yes, I have one unfortunately). The real problem with them is when they become unreadable, which many of them are. If you’re going to use word verification, make sure it has a visible word (or two words, if you really enjoy losing sales).
Would you like it if your local grocery store asked for 3 forms of I.D. at checkout? I hope you’re saying “no” at this point. Customers have options. Once you’ve got a buyer, make it easy for them to checkout.
6. The Envy of Second Place Web Content
Imagine a stranger following you for blocks, yelling at you to turn around. No matter where you go, he’s there – shouting out some story that you don’t want to hear. After running a small marathon, you come to a park where your friends are holding a conversation about your favorite topic. No interruptions.
You almost reach your friends. Finally free! Nope. The creep jumps out of the bushes, right in front of you, screaming about a “fantastic new offer!!!!!!” Would you buy from this person?
Just because a brand in AdAge, Forbes, or perhaps even direct competitor, succeeds with a new medium, gadget, or message, doesn’t mean that it’s where your digital content should be. Your presence wreaks of “me-too” – and that’s before the decision is even made on the relevance of your cookie-cutter message that they’ve already heard in every other medium.
7. Pride: I Bet You Think Your Site is About You
It’s your company’s website. We get it. But that doesn’t mean that it’s all about you. In fact, content strategists have a special place in architecture for your self-congratulatory hooplah, known as the “About Us” page. Put it there. Keep it there.
Customers don’t care about you, until they know that you understand and care about them. When telling a story, your brand should communicate first what it can do for the people. Once you’ve grabbed their attention, tell them more about you. Then you’ve earned a social connection.
Know someone guilty of these sins? Please help by spreading the word using the share buttons found in one location on this page…