It’s a dirty little not-so-secret: as a whole, we digital marketers today are not sufficiently informed before launching a webpage. We usually lack the sufficient time or budget to listen to our audience. Our decisions on design and content are typically subjective, and are based on a best guess of what we personally think will resonate with visitors.
Do we really need to wait for live traffic in order to understand how visitors will react? Is visitor behavior something we can only analyze through seeing where people clicked and what was the last thing they did before bouncing? Ten years from now, when we look back at 2019, it will be clear: these are the Dark Ages of digital marketing.
I’m Optimizing My Sites & Tracking Every Click
All marketers are doing it, and we’re all doing it pretty well. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of tools that help us analyze our marketing funnel, optimize our sites using A/B testing, and let us track every visitor action. OK, but is that really enough?
Sure, there are significant operational and opportunity costs of running several iterations of A/B tests. Yet that’s not even going to guarantee we’ll reach a version that will satisfy our target audience. All we know is that version 'A' is better than 'B'. Isn’t it unreasonable to launch an unoptimized webpage design, knowing that it will require so many more iterations not so far down the road? Engineers don’t build the bridge first, experiment with live traffic (cars and pedestrians!); and then make iterative improvements third. Yes, seeing what visitors did on our websites is really valuable. But it doesn't address what we really want to know: Why aren't they converting?
Rear-view analysis cannot sufficiently inform our pre-live decisions. Therefore, we will always fall short of fully addressing our digital marketing needs. Without knowing why my content or webpage design didn’t lead visitors to convert, how will I know what to improve? The answer is simple. I probably won't.
Am I Listening to My Audience?
“One of the major downfalls in my companies has been when the personal interests of your marketing team or decision maker outweighs the direct feedback and demand of the customer.” Says Daniel Griggs, CEO of ATX Web Designs. “For example, you may be redesigning your website and would like a field of pretty flowers on the hero banner, but your customers would prefer to see an arrangement of flowers in your storefront.”
Without listening to our audience, we cannot pinpoint what they expect, what they're concerned about, and what is relevant to them. Click data and analytics only show us actions. Neither can tell us what our website visitors are thinking, in their own words. Collecting verbatim visitor feedback, at scale, is critical to our success.
Is My Data Actionable?
Some of us may equate having lots of data with listening to our audience. Today’s modern marketer, with a CDP, CRM, DMP, ML, AI, BI and (my favorite) NBA tools, think they must have all the necessary customer intel to launch a killer website. How can this be the Dark Ages when I have all this data on my customers?
It’s true that not too long ago we didn’t have any of these tools, any of this data (and perhaps any of this headache). But today, with so much data, and so many ways to process it, we're left struggling to actually use it effectively and to draw actionable conclusions from it. In fact, 33% of marketers surveyed by ClickZ and Fospha said that “data complexity” was their greatest challenge. All of the customer and prospect data in the world means nothing if we can’t act on it.
A Quickly Changing Landscape
Today more than ever, audiences expect that we marketers will provide them with digital experiences that are appealing, relevant, and most importantly, personalized. So we must keep top-of-mind awareness on rapid change and high opportunity cost. Our organizations must be agile enough to meet these expectations without getting bogged down by expensive and time-consuming market research. We need an efficient way to understand what will work with our target audiences. We need actionable insights to drive the design changes that launch an optimized experience. For me, relying on gut hunches, and then experimenting on my target customers to fine-tune them, just doesn’t cut it.
Intuition and guesswork are not sound design principles. But too many of us employ them before launching a webpage. And as a result, there are serious and lasting negative effects on our online acquisition, conversion and overall brand reputation. It's time to end the Dark Ages and progress into the Digital Marketing Renaissance!
Stay tuned for the follow up on this post, where I will dive into some of the consequences of launching digital experiences without first performing pre-live testing with target audiences. Please comment and share your thoughts. I'm particularly interested to hear how people feel about their preparation before launching a webpage.
WEVO is the first technology platform that optimizes digital experiences before you go live. Leveraging crowdsourced visitor insight and artificial intelligence, WEVO generates recommendations that have proven to significantly increase conversion. WEVO has successful experience working with Fidelity, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard University, Santander Bank and others.