Unify the User’s Experience
Currently there are many places companies rest their hat. It used to be that having a website was sufficient, but obviously that has long since changed. Customers would come to websites learn about your products and then purchase a product. As websites gained minority, companies would inform their customers about their new virtual homes via email.
Email is still, and will continue to be, an effective marketing tool. However, new virtual homes have emerged in the past few years. There seems to be a never ending rise of new social networks, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Reddit, Digg, Delicious, etc…
Companies have been trying to keep up with the ever emerging social networks, and by doing this are fracturing their online identity. Granted the UI of each social network is more rigid than the website a company owns, however most networks allow for customization of the pages. This customization gives companies the opportunity to unify their digital marketing efforts between their website, emails, landing pages, and social marketing efforts. And just to throw a monkey wrench into the ring, all of these things need to be mobile optimized as the adoption rate of smart phones continues to increase.
With so much to consider (and we aren’t even discussing print marketing), how do you effectively build a digital presence? some people would try to just mirror their websites on Facebook, disregard mobile thinking ‘My site is optimized enough’, create landing pages and emails that lack any of the necessary visual clues that would maintain solidarity among their marketing mediums.
This type of work can be overwhelming, but if you remember this tip you will have a fundamental understanding of how to approach this whole ‘digital marketing’ thing.
Websites, Emails, Landing Pages, Social Networks, and mobile phones are distinct but require similar visual cues.
You want each of your sites to resonate a similar branding, but you shouldn’t just copy and paste you website’s layout for any of the other digital marketing mediums.There are really two things to keep in mind when developing pages the variation in form and the type/amount of content provided.
I remember my 7th grade teacher saying this to the class almost daily ‘Form Follows Function’. Though this was about different physiological traits, it still holds true for digital marketing. Users have been trained to view and interact with each marketing medium differently. Keep this in mind when you develop your website, emails, and the works. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Think of your website as your company’s very own online encyclopedia. People want to know who you are, what you can do for them, how it works, etc… If you do not supply this information in a coherent, digestible, and easily navigate-able (I know it isn’t a word but give me a break) then your website’s form will not follow the function that user’s expect.
If a person is receiving an email it is safe to say they know who you are (insofar as you aren’t a dastardly SPAMmer). Emails need to have a clear call to action that is above the fold. Best practices for emails have pushed for a eye catching design that is in the F-shape pattern.
Images are often turned off by default in a recipient’s inbox. This being the case it is important that you have a healthy ratio of text to images. If you are sending an email that is one gorgeous image done by your incredibly talented graphic designer, you will likely miss out on the chance to convert that customer since all they will see is a red ‘x’ or nothing at all.
Landing pages will have a similar feel to a website, but think of them as a highly specified ‘island’ geared at getting a particular action for anyone visiting the page. Since this is an information ‘island’ only provided the bare essentials and minimal navigation. Focus on benefits of your products, and layout the content above the fold.
Though there are many different social networks, Facebook still accounts for 95% of the time spent on social networks in the United States. If you don’t have a page get one, and if you do have a page make sure to optimize it properly. A Facebook page ought to be the following: Like-Gated and oriented vertically.
By Like-Gating your page, you will be giving exclusive content to your fan base and entice new visitors to like your page. Since people are looking for deals when they visit your page, this will help bring unique visitors into your community. From here, you will want to have a page that is vertically oriented. Facebook users are far more inclined to scroll so you do not need everything above the fold. Obviously your main call to action, whether it be a ‘Visit our website’ or ‘Sign up for our mailing list’ should remain above the fold but add more to your page. Videos have been known to keep people on a page longer, try adding rich content.
You can get away with content below the fold because Facebook has trained users that if they want more they will have to scroll. Since your page is narrow like the wall users already know they must scroll down to stay updated.
Mobile Optimization & Mobile Pages
If you aren’t considering mobile apps or optimizing your marketing efforts you are fighting a losing battle. Mobile phones, simply put, small. Websites can recognize the device that is viewing it, you should have a mobile friendly version that has large text and big buttons.
The worst thing you can do on a mobile phone is make it difficult for the user to access your content. if a user has difficulty clicking a link, they will move on. As more people are accessing all things Internet on their phones, you will need to adapt.
Final Thought on Form
Form is crucial for your digital marketing success. Make sure that you unify the experience by using similar color schemes and images. You want people to recognize your brand regardless of where they interact with you, so solidarity is key.
I’ll cover the differences in CONTENT tomorrow.