Redefining the Customer

Hey kids. I’ve got my coffee, my delicious pumpkin loaf, a seat by the power outlet and I’m 45 minutes early for my session. Ahh, this is how I like liveblogging. All I need now is for my wireless to work…which seems to be an issue this morning. I will have to run to the press room after each session to post until I can track down Bruce Clay IT. It’s only 6am in California; they’re sleeping.

[Actually, Jolina from Top Rank Blog can’t her WiFi going either. Perhaps it’s not just me. That makes me feel better.]

Okay, enough whining. We’re kicking things off at the Redesigning the Customer session where Anne Kennedy is acting as moderator and Jeffrey Eisenberg (Future Now Inc.) will be speaking. Did I mention I’m also right in front of the projector and wearing my glasses so I can actually see? Bruce would be so proud. [Hi Bruce!]

Sounds like we’re starting about 20 minutes early. That’s a change.

Here we go. Oh there’s a glare on the projector screen which is rendering it useless. Fabulous. I hope I don’t need that. Doesn’t look like I will.

Marketing (r)Evolution

Every once in awhile we have a revolution that dramatically changes the whole landscape. That revolution was the Internet. If you think about marketing, marketing used to be about reaching people in front of the television through commercials. It was a very passive experience. Marketing was about broadcast. We push it out. It has changed a bit.

Living rooms look different today. People are engaged in a different way. The concept of interactive has emerged. Interactive means that you’re no longer a recipient, that you’re a participant. It means that there is a level of dialogue. When you say something, someone says something back. Every click is a question or statement.

People are doing other stuff when they’re watching TV. They’re eating, they’re Web surfing (52 percent), they’re talking on the phone, they’re reading, they’re house cleaning, they’re sleeping (36 percent. Hee) and they’re cooking. Sleeping is not good because no one can sleep and click at the same time. SuperBowl XL: Spent $2 million each for two commercials. The commercials featured a specific girl that was very recognizable. After the commercials ran, GoDaddy saw a traffic spike of 1100 percent. Their sales increased by 30 percent. By all measures, it appeared successful. Bryan Eisenberg took a look at the commercial and said it was the stupidest thing he had ever seen. Why?

When users went to, the girl they featured in the video was nowhere on the site. Users were directed to Bob Parson’s blog. When they went, there was a lame landing page that featured the girl from the commercial. That landing page is what users should have seen when they went to the site. That’s better persuasive marketing. It would have told users what to do next.

Last year the GoDaddy people did a whole lot better – probably because the Eisenberg brothers blogged about the misstep. They got less traffic but converted more. Money is better than traffic.

Traffic can be generated a number of ways. He talks about that God awful movie Gigli. That movie should have been the greatest success ever…and yet it sucked. Everyone knew it sucked almost immediately. By Sunday, 75 percent of theaters dropped the movie because no one on the West Coast was going after hearing the East Coast word of mouth. Today we are really connected. There’s an interactivity that is unprecedented. Word of mouth has grown into the muscular beast.

New Customer Definition 1: We are all connected. We want to participate I conversation and communicate faster than ever before.

We’re moving away from the current mass marketing model, away from push and toward pull. Consumers will only become more demanding. They want to have a conversation, to dialogue, to participate, to be more in control.

Waiting for your Cat to Bark?

Barking brings up dogs. Dogs have an associative clue with a bell. When you think of dogs and bells, you think of Pavlov. Pavlov was studying the digestive system, not behavioral systems. Yet, it became the basis for modern advertising.

We are no longer in charge of that bell. The customers are. They decide when and how.

The sales process has been completely disrupted. Essentially, the way we used to do sales was that we would deliver a prospect to customers, and that’s where we stopped. Marketers didn’t have to be sales people. That’s changed dramatically because customers are in control. Forbes said "Attack Of The Blogs! They destroy brands and wreck lives. Is there any way to fight back".

Jeffrey laughed. This means your brand is so fragile that people can’t say anything negative or your brand is jeopardized. As marketers, the days where you could make promises that your company had no intention of delivering ended with this type of interaction.

Customers trust other customers, not marketers.

Trust in "a person like me" increased from 20 percent to 68 percent from 2003 to 2006.

Almost two thirds of consumers read consumer-written product reviews on the Internet. 80 percent of people who read reviews say they are influenced by those reviews.

Our customers are actively ignoring marketers. Fifty-four percent of people say they resist marketing, 56 percent avoid it and 69 percent block it from appearing at all. You have to figure out how to get people to want to hear what you have to say. It’s a completely different message.

Customers Definition #2: Customers will control the conversation, not marketers.

According to the survey, 92.5 percent of adults said they regularly or occasionally research products online before buying them in a store.

We buy when we have confidence in what we want to buy. Marketers need to transfer that confidence. Customers start out with search (in their head, not search engine search). Then they ask for recommendations. Then they go to search engines. Then they evaluate, they decide, they purchase and they reevaluate.

Only 26 percent of consumers report a satisfaction with a Web shopping experience. That’s a scary number. It says that as interactive marketers we collectively suck. Twenty-six percent is not a good number. We have a definite problem.

In 2007, they released an ongoing study where they benchmark retailers (2007 Retail Customer Experience Study). Here’s what they found:

    24 percent do not allow customers to enlarge the product images
  • 37 percent offer multiple image views of products
  • 33 percent offer customers reviews
  • 38 percent had difficult to read fonts
  • 61 percent do not offer any information on the product page regarding in-stock availability
  • 42 percent provide shipping costs early in the checkout process. 35 percent have a checkout process with more than 4 steps
  • Only 58 percent correctly answer an email question within 24 hours.
  • 67 percent of consumers who visited an online store intending to make a purchase left because the retailer did not provide enough information.

There’s a gap. There are all sorts of money for attraction and to bring the client to the site. Most people would do better concentrating on converting the traffic they already have then trying to bring in more traffic. It’s a choice. There’s too much focus on bringing people to your site and not enough attention to actually pleasing them. [Amen – Lisa] You should be spending 10 percent of your marketing budget on optimization. The reason for that is because the experience is so much more important.

Brands are built on the experience, not advertising. When people come to your site, they have experiences.

Peer Insight did a 3 year study on 40 Fortune 500 companies. The results showed that companies that focused upon customer experience design outperformed those who didn’t by 10-1.

Conversion rates are disappointing:

  • 3.2 percent in 2002
  • 2.4 percent in 2003
  • 2.6 percent in 2004
  • 2.4 percent in 2005

Visitors are only concerned with how they want to buy and what is relevant to them.

People are like cats, not dogs. When you ring the bell and a dog comes, that’s one thing. The difference between a dog and a cat is that a dog has a master. A cat has staff. Hee! We don’t do things because marketers ring bells. We do things because we want to and it suits us.

New Customer Definition 3: Customers desire meaningful and relevant experiences. Your actions matter, your words less so.

Google explains relevance:

"We provide strong SCENT so users don’t lose time. We take the text from the page that is relevant to the query, and include it in the summary. Advertisers are coming to the realization that the ads must have a scent that the users will find useful" – Google rep

Jakob Nielsen: People look for the content area. If the page doesn’t seem relevant, they hit the back button.

Does your site stink? It should. You want to provide a relevant scent. That’s the key to providing a good user experience.

Studying drop-off data indicates that would-be customers visiting your site lose the relevant "scent" of what put them on the trail to your site; without that scent they are unmotivated to go on. Jeffrey says to go look at your analytics. There’s a good chance people are leaving your site within 3 clicks. That’s a problem.

Solving your customers’ problems requires rethinking what your site, landing pages, and your forms are trying to accomplish.

You have to optimize the user experience. Starting from the bottom level, the pyramid looks like this

  • Functional level: Does it work? If it doesn’t work, don’t worry about marketing. Go fix it.
  • Accessible level: If you’re not accessible, go fix that.
  • Usable level: People will buy from bad usability sites if people are motivated. Jeffrey mentions porn sites. If there’s an intense demand so people overcome.
  • Intuitive level: When users can flow through the experience without having to think about it. It makes them feel more comfortable and confident.
  • Persuasive level: Can you describe something better? Can you provide results? Can you take a better picture?

The difference between usability and marketing is simple. Persuasion is about people and motivations. Usability has to do with management.

New Customer Definition 4: Customers are in control of their buying process; this doesn’t mean they are engaged in your sales process. They don’t care about your "funnel".

Awesome presentation! I bet its cause Jeffrey is a native New Yorker. New Yorkers rock.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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