web strategy

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David Carr wrote a piece in the NYT today talking about a juggernaut taking over print. The proposed takeover by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox of Time Warner Inc. has no print component. Multimedia is the juggernaut and print the dog yapping at the tires.

I was in a meeting last week with some creative people and we were talking about websites. Last year Brian Solis of the Altimeter Group when talking about websites  said “It’s 2013, how come they are so bad?” I propose they’re bad because we are still using a print paradigm to create them. Writers, art directors, and template jockeys are laying out the web experience. What content do we stuff above the fold? What images best reflect our mission? Which type of slide show? Where is the call to action? How many navigational elements on each page? Seems like a clickable print medium to me.

Where’s the surprise? Does the experience have a scripted beginning, middle and end? How do we surface conflict? These are the things of multimedia – of transmedia. I love print and the written word – done well there is story, richness and spark. But many websites today are 80% format, art and copy. Information. Advice. And self-aggrandizement.

Branded utility was a big thing a couple of years ago. Story and narrative are the things today. By combining these two approaches we should get beyond the print-centric view of website design. Peace.

 

 

 

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I’ve worked on a number of brands at different stages of their lifecycle. And depending on the stage, they need a different type of web site organization. Marketing is about moving a consumer closer to a sale.

A fairly common definition of steps to a sale is covered by the acronym AIDA: awareness, interest, desire, action. For an unknown brand you don’t achieve awareness just by having someone on your website; they must know what the company does. Does the brand pass the Is-Does test?

Once there and aware how does one create interest? Typically with some context about a product’s usefulness or a unique function that captures the imagination. A website home page must pass the interest test, if none exists.

Third, if a brand has met the A and the I, we must tackle the D, desire. Often ads and websites load up on benefits to achieve desire. This can border on bragging and quite often diminishes the Interest factor. Be wary of shallow, common benefits. Also beware of pile on.

Action is where the money is. The best action is click to buy. Or go to store to buy. But some actions are brand positive and moving closer to a sale, say, like a prove comparison or a feature comparison. That’s action.  Feel something thane do something.

Knowing what stage you’re in and not covering tread upon ground is key.  Coke doesn’t need to work on awareness. Know where you are — and design your web home page experience accordingly and you are doing your visitors a service.  Otherwise you are bombarding them with the kitchen sink and ceding the experience to search and whim. Peace.

 

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I’m not a pinner or user of Pinterest (yet), but recently visited the site in an effort to help out a friend with a woodworking business; my intent was to get him to display his amazing work.  Pinterst recognized the fact that I was not an active user and so popped up a quickie tour of new features.  The pop up made it sound as if they were sharing new enhancements, but it could easily have just been their way of reorienting and activating me.

Nice finesse Pinterest.  This is how the web should work.  In my world, where a website should represent the brand plan (one claim, three proof planks), pop-ups or interstitial pages that vary based upon your visiting behavior are refreshing. A return visitor that always heads straight to contacts or about should be offered a quick link there. A first time or lapsed user should be treated with special gloves. A repeat purchaser should get the special treatment — perhaps a surprise every now and again, and other delights.

But this doesn’t happen very often.

We have really kind of forgotten the website these past few years as we go all head down on shiny new social media and moble. And now “content marketing” is the haps. Often unbridled content marketing. Off-piste content marketing.  (That’s why it’s smart to use thought leaders in the practice – see Kyle Monson and www.Knock2x.com for instance.)

Fred Wilson and John Battelle in a recent video chafed at the notion of giving traffic to other’s websites.  I agree. Social and content are kind of like chumming and fishing, but once the fish is on the line it needs to come into the boat.

Websites are the biggest most important development in commerce since the telephone.  Let’s get back to optimizing them. Steve Rubel, you with me on this? Peace.

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I was working with a company recently where the main deliverables were a marketing plan and brand plan.  One of the company’s other needs was a revised website.  The ability to deliver the brand plan — a brand strategy and three supporting brand planks — in the form of a website was new territory for the company. It was a break from the past where their mindset was to create easy navigation to the diverse and changing offerings of the company. Since the company was expanding into new markets and changing the composition of its product set, its brand meaning and value were not well known and misunderstood. Rather than create an information architecture, this company needed a clean Is-Does and a succinct brand organizing principle. In other words…a strategy.

Part of the assignment was to affect change in the social space. The company, with a good blogging culture, some really smart people and lots of deeds and stories to share, unfortunately gravitated toward Pasting rather than Posting. (Pasting is sending forth other people’s content, with a yay or a nay; Posting is creating original content.)  My admonition was to provide more analysis, and less curating…and to do so on brief.  This takes time. It takes thought and context.  But it’s what readers and users are looking for in their social – in their media.

Charlene Li of the Altimeter Group posted yesterday about a lack of strategy in social media. Though I haven’t always agreed with Ms. Li, I love that she studies and commits to points of view. Charlene is a thought-leader. A Poster. She is worth way more than the price of admission. Find influential Posters and follow them. Question them, exchange ideas with them — don’t “like” them. Peace.

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