It has been a while since I wrote my last article. Much of that is tied to me launching Open Lantern, our large enterprise Marketing Technology management product that went live on March 1. More on that later.
Today I want to focus on a series of experiences online that have triggered this article. While I was in senior leadership meetings in my past, we spent endless hours talking about how we would be creating 'fantastic and delightful' experiences for our customers. After we finished patting ourselves on our backs and applauding how different we were from everyone else in digital, we then pursued technologies that would create these experiences. The creation of various committees and tactical teams shortly followed for our 24-month journey in being able to help our customers more. I have no doubt that these sorts of conversations happen in big companies all the time throughout the year. I want to provide a few examples of how the 'talk' of better customer experiences rarely have much to do with what we execute on because we still cannot place ourselves in the seat of the customer. If you have been on a variety of websites across different verticals you have seen these examples.
1.The light box when you land on a page with a 'cleverly' hidden close button that is too small or not easily clickable. Also included are the 'Did you know we have an app?" intercepts.
- We all know what this one is. The most egregious ones are on mobile devices. Either at entry onto the site or shortly thereafter a popup covers the entire page with an offer to sign up for updates or even worse an advertisement. What used to be something seen on news media sites trying to drive email captures, I find this being used by companies that clearly shouldn't be. NO USER enjoys this. Not only is it extraordinarily irritating but making the closing out of these windows complicated by moving the close window to different parts of the box, too small, and event traps exacerbate the problem.
2.Sponsored and You Might Like this links on the bottom section of websites.
- I don't think it is possibly in the online world to find more irrelevant and useless sections of websites like Sponsored or You Might Like links. Where I have seen this the worst is on tablet-based experiences. For all the time we spend talking about contextual relevancy, personalization and site stickiness, these useless sections continue to be a part of large traffic websites in the hopes that there are clicks to be had there. I would love to see the analytics on those sections of the site including the downstream actions of users who do in fact end up clicking on any of the links. As an ex WebOps guy these links slow down the general performance of websites and serve little content that is useful to people who visit the sites. Imposing how I feel to the overall population? Yes, in fact, I am.
3.Giant ads taking up valuable above the line digital estate.
- Why do some websites decide that the largest sections of their website, mobile and sometimes desktop should be advertising? Marketers are questioning why ad-blockers are more and more popular every day, but it seems obvious. People want to get content that they find interesting. Very few people wish to be bombarded by the slew of irrelevant ads that inundate them within a few seconds of landing on the page. Personally I have NEVER clicked on an advertisement intentionally in mobile. Does that make me representative of the majority of the population? Click-through rates would suggest YES! We try to justify the spend in digital advertising we make by looking at click-throughs that are in the single digits and less. Guess how you could read that data...over 97% of people DON'T CARE about your ad.
4.Buried Contact Us information.
- Many of us have sat in meetings where the push is to ensure the digital property tries to reduce the calls into the call center. There is no question that this is an important part of the digital strategy of many companies. This does not, however, mean that companies should bury the information needed by customers who simply want to call them and go to the digital asset to get that information. I have sometimes had to go back to the search engine and type in the brand name and customer service numbers to get to the page because search engine indexing does a better job than IA on the page. It is fine to want to deflect customer service calls with a digital asset. It is not fine to make it harder for customers to reach out to you. At the end of the day customer experience and potentially even goal completion, is more important than call deflection.
They key takeaways for you should be this:
1. Anyone can buy technology. Using it in a way that creates a positive customer experience AND brings in value for the company should be the goal. Too many companies focus on their goals alone even though they spend hours talking about serving the customer. Implement technologies only once you clearly understand what the customers point of view is.
2.Content is king is a load of rubbish. First, understand why people come to your website. Focus on those goals rather than trying to add irrelevant, non-contextual content because your site has high traffic volumes. There is lots of really bad content available on the web. Make sure your content is what people want to see on your site. Add personalization technology to test what is working and grow that content strategy.
3.Stop making it hard for people to get in touch with you. Websites, Mobile, Social Media should all have clear ways for customers to contact you if they don't want to use digital. The goal of the company should be completion of the customers question and not the channel that is being used. We still have not learned this lesson in companies.
Finally a closing word on Open Lantern. We have now been live for a month and already have many Fortune 100 companies both in the regulated and unregulated industries from all parts of the globe on board. Open Lantern helps marketers and business users manage their marketing technology and gets them to understand how their digital and business strategy aligns with the technology capabilities. Free for all customers, you can learn more at http://openlantern.com.