A phrase that I heard and that stuck with me from my early days on the creative side of advertising was “great advertising makes a bad product fail faster.” It was an Account Director that said it to me and I guess his hope was that it would act as a brake on the youthful enthusiasm of myself and my copywriter and with regular use might curb our tendency to, well, be creative.
Photo Credit: MacDonalds Corp and Slate
It didn’t. But it’s nonetheless a useful phrase in that it gets us advertisers to think beyond a communication/action exchange with the audience.
Most advertisers ‘back in the day’ thought no further than helping the world to beat a path to a brand’s door. Then, the thought that haunted advertisers was the fear that if the world opened the door to find no ginger beer and biscuits waiting, they would be especially sure not to come to tea again, and would probably tell their mates not to bother, either.
Failing to deliver on customers’ expectations was a good thing to avoid back then, but in today’s connected world it is absolute suicide for brands to disappoint their customers. Everybody in marketing knows this and armies of marketeers are busy, right at this very moment, scrutinising reams of brand communications to avoid that happening or to minimise its impact if it does, fuelled by famous horror stories of social media faux pas, PR gaffs and product fails.
Photo Credit: eConsultancy
So much have we focused on search marketing in recent times as a means in itself, we have forgotten that getting customers to find you on a search results page (hopefully the first) and to click on your link is just the start. This is only the online equivalent of getting the world to your front door.
Let’s transport ourselves out of the virtual world and back into the real world again for a moment. Imagine you move into a new area and you ask your friendly next door neighbour (we’ll call him Graham) if he could give you clear, you-can’t-miss-it directions to a local gym. He gives you succinct directions; you thank him and walk there the next morning, credit card in hand ready to sign up.
When you get to the front door though, it doesn’t look like a gym at all. It looks like a factory. There’s no front desk and all you can see is a warehouse full of sports nutrition products. You hunt around. There’s no one to help you, but eventually, tucked in a dark corner is a tiny sign saying “Gym this way.” You follow the sign down a maze of corridors and through door after door. Still you haven’t found the gym. Eventually you see an exit sign, you follow it and you’re back where you started. Enraged and confused, it’s at that point that you give up and go home.
Photo Credit: RBNSHT
That is many, many users’ online experience. And sometimes it’s even worse. The search term could be completely unrelated to the landing page—the equivalent of going to the gym in the above scenario and finding yourself in a cake shop. Or the link from the search result could be broken altogether. That’s like the neighbour saying he knows where a great gym is but that you’re dreaming if you think he’s going to tell you.
So poor is all this as a customer experience, so damaging is it to the brand involved and so widespread is the issue that I think we should re-invent the language we use around search in order to emphasise the point so we can focus harder on the wider task.
We need to change the way we talk about Search Engine Optimisation altogether.
At iProspect Ireland we call it 360o Optimisation. We still include SEO of course, but we also consider UX Optimisation, Content Optimisation, Customer Journey Optimisation and Conversion Rate Optimisation. The SEO ecosystem is evolving, like any other vital aspect of tech, and it requires adaptation, innovation, and collaboration to help it continue to grow.
We at iProspect want to make sure that when the world comes to tea it gets exactly the ginger beer and biscuits it’s expecting, that it finds them quickly and painlessly and that it’s easy for it to buy them. We also want to make sure that it’s equally easy for you to up-sell the jam tarts to the world and cross-sell the taxi home to it and that because it’s had a great customer experience it’s really open to these extra suggestions.
Back to the gym analogy… The exemplary search experience would go like this: you ask your friendly next door neighbour, Graham, if he can give you clear, you-can’t-miss-it directions to a local gym. He points to a flyover that he’s built to take you straight to the front door of the gym because 17.2% of the previous 4,250 people he’s sent to that gym took a left rather than going straight on at the traffic lights and got lost.
When you get to the gym, it’s exactly what you’re looking for, the lights are on, you’re immediately greeted by a helpful, friendly and professional soul who’s ready to give you the guided tour and ready to take your credit card details expertly. Before you know it you’ve parted with the cash and you’re all set to enjoy a continuation of the top quality customer experience you’ve had so far and a long term relationship with the brand.
This is what an O360 atmosphere looks and feels like. Whether you’re on the hunt for tea and biscuits, the gym or beyond, you feel comfortable enough to take off your coat, stay a while, and even indulge a little.
This is the first post in our o360 Series on 360 Degree Optimisation; using SEO, UX Optimisation, Content Optimisation, Customer Journey Optimisation and Conversion Rate Optimisation to enhance the user experience to not only garner positive results for our clients, but also foster a positive experience for users that they will want to return to.