End of year stress
I don’t know about you, but I always find November and December stressful. There’s always something big happening in January that has to be ready before everyone starts to disappear any time from mid December, the days are short, there’s… well… Christmas to deal with too. All too much. Definitely no time to read stuff. And even less time to write anything.
So it was with present-opening-delight that I found some time to read Avinash Kaushik’s blog in the downtime over the Christmas break. It’s called Occam’s Razor (you can read why it’s called that on his site. Something to do with a Medieval monk).
The article I read first is called Digital Marketing And Analytics: Two Ladders For Magnificent Success. It’s got something for everyone and is as useful – in my humble opinion – for those who are relatively experienced and for others who need the basics.
Don’t raise unrealistic expectations. Get the basics right
Essentially, Avinash is saying “get the basics done before you start doing the fancy stuff”. This is both in terms of the content and marketing you develop and the way you measure success (these are the two ladders he’s referring to). It’s such a simple message, but so often there’s senior management pressure to strive on, to be seen to be making progress – before anyone’s actually ready. This might work in some sectors, but just as in the often-drawn-on analogy of house building, it doesn’t work in digital because you’ll end up raising unrealistic expectations and you’ll annoy people who won’t come back. Here comes the cliche… You have to have the foundations in place. You do. You just do. And to do this you also have to have the skill to explain (again and probably again) to senior management why you can’t race ahead…
The relative importance of lead generation
But apart from this basic message, I think everyone will get something slighly different out of the detailed content in this article. For many people it will be the message he delivers about mobile, but here’s what really pressed my buttons and it’s to do with what Avinash calls “micro and macro outcomes”. Macro outcomes are onsite conversions – the booked test drive, the quote requested – the leads. It really got me thinking about my own area of interest: automotive.
Let’s get back to management pressure for a moment. Leads = sales, right? So, make the website generate leads. The macro outcomes. It’s easy to see why this happens, but Avinash reminds us that – at best (I think in autos it’s even lower) – only 2% of visitors will become leads/complete the macro outcomes.
My controversial view about lead generation
Before I even go to the question of what to do with the 98% of people who won’t complete a macro outcome, I just want to touch on this: I know lead generation is important on car websites, but, having been a car buying customer myself (and having talked to countless more), I know that this isn’t the only reason why people come to car sites and, even if they’re very close to making a purchase, many people still want to deal with a human being either in person or on the phone.
The gist of what I’m saying is that I don’t believe we should obsess about generating leads on our sites. We do need to sell. Yes, that’s a commercial imperative, but we should want to get people to phone up dealers, walk into dealerships or email dealers as much (or even more) than we want to inflict an online form on them – with an unknown response time…
Back to the 98% of people who won’t convert
So, regardless of whether a macro conversion is a test drive booked online, a quote requested (or indeed a call to the dealer, a visit to the nearest showroom or an email inquiry sent off), the vast majority of site visitors – 98% according to Avinash - will not be ready to take this step. It’s a 98% for whom we must make the website content/experience relevant. This is where we the micro outcomes come in.
Avinash categorises all outcomes into “see, think and do”. (The macro outcome (the test drive booked online) is the most important “do” outcome.) What’s so clear is that we must not forget to provide plentiful, but relevant things for site visitors to see/think/do that require less commitment than than the “ultimate” goal our senior managment is judging us on. Configurations, videos watched, reviews read, wallpapers downloaded and so on.
Meet the needs of the less committed
The reason why this presses my buttons is because – all too often – there is so much focus on the online lead and the needs of the less committed are obliterated. Pop-ins with screaming calls to actions that might appeal to someone who’s really, really “in-market” but not to the first time browser just looking for information. This latter group will surely be put off, won’t return to the site, won’t become part of that 2% who do book online. We know there’s a strong correlation too, between configurations and lead generations. It’s so important to offer the right content at the right moment.
Personalised content – a way to meet everyones’ needs
This is surely the right way to go about it. Using segmentation, we should be able to serve pop-ins with screaming calls to action to people who will appreciate it – and softer “how can we help you” messages to the less committed, pointing them in the direction of content that will help to convince them that this new model with all its gizmos and equipment is just what they’re looking for. This is simplfied of course, but that’s what it should be: as simple as possible.
And it should also work for senior management too. Let’s hope so! Have a great 2014. Alice Morgan