The way to earn people’s respect and liking, is usually to give. Give them an answer, give them your time, show them the direction. And so, this is essentially what the often cited ‘user journey’ online is all about: Making your visitors like you enough to follow you around. The challenge isn’t really to catch them, but rather how to make them continue their journey. I believe this requires a whole new way of thinking and a focus on their next move.
The concept of ‘user journey’ in a way questions the basics of communications, i.e. ‘Get to the point!’ Despite learnings from Amazon and others that the “you may also be interested in” actually works, many of us still employ the traditional way of looking at marketing content: There is a start and an end. People are supposed to be reached unprepared when they least expect it, get the information in a handy format, read/view/listen it through and then make a decision. But today’s communications landscape allows an approach much more tuned with the reality of decision making: A step-wise journey, guided by you.
I tend to see modern marketing communications as a system circling around two hot spots: A company’s physical outlet and its web site. Around these two hot spots, there are numerous other communications channels and opportunities to attract a customer. If planned right, the channels will help reach both current and potential customers in a smart way. A general recommendation ir to drive traffic to the hubs: “Visit us, buy now!”. Nothing wrong with that, but why not take the chance to build a longer relationship with the customer when you have the opportunity? To make them stay a bit longer, get to know you better, build preference? This would require a focus on “what’s the next wanted move” when developing content.
So is it all about adding call to actions everywhere? Well, not only. (That’s the easy part.) It’s rather to be smart in the way one employs the call-to-actions and to make sure that the call-to-action mindset is spread everywhere in the communications system – from the person developing the report or video, to the sales person in the physical outlet and the social media manager online. They all need to encourage a strong relationship between the company and the (potential) customer. In the picture below, I’ve given some examples of how people as well as content produced can contribute to building a nice journey.
The next-wanted-move mindset implies a clear focus on deliberately guiding the customer to take a next step, based on their own choice. Assuming that the ultimate goal of any interaction is sales, a critical trick is to move the customer closer and closer to the hot spots while in the same time feeding him/her with interesting information. Along the trip, new and deeper information related to the offering should gradually be served using a content marketing approach.
The content should be designed to efficiently give the answer to the immediate question you’d expect the visitor to have in mind when entering a new stage f the journey, and then it should offer them a reason to continue. Exactly as the efficient online-sales sites do it, but spread as a mindset throughout your communications system involving both content producers, format and channels, and the people meeting the customer.
Thinking ‘next-wanted-move’, the top-list should be no surprise to when you check the stats to find out where your visitors came from. You should have been able to foresee that list based on how you had designed the user journey.
Sounds difficult? It is probably at first as it, particularly if your organization is large and this mindset-change would involve several different departments. Therefore, I’d suggest to start small and embrace the call-to-action mindset yourself at first: Next time you’re in a communications planning meeting, don’t satisfy only with the content as such but be the one to ask “What’s the next wanted move?”
First published on LinkedIn February 2, 2016