Your (Customer’s) Brain on Computers, Part 3

Some of these online customer characteristics represent challenges from our point of view as marketers. However, keeping them in mind when we structure our online content can help us craft more effective messages. Here are some suggestions.

Ten (plus) tips to reach and retain the online customer

Cartoon - where is everybody?
Ever feel like that little fellow at the top? Follow these tips to capture your online customers’ attention – and encourage them to stay on your site!
photo credit: HikingArtist.com via photopin cc

Some of the characteristics of online customers represent challenges from our point of view as marketers. However, keeping them in mind when we structure our online content can help us craft more effective messages. Here are some suggestions for keeping the attention of your online visitors:

  1. Do your keyword research. The more closely your copy matches a customer’s exact concerns, the more likely he will be to pay close attention.
  2. Pay special attention to headlines and leads. Use powerful, compelling, benefit-driven headlines to draw your reader in. Get right to the point in your copy ; this doesn’t necessarily mean push for the sale right away, but you want to be sure to give the reader ample reason to stick with you.
  3. Use subheads, captions, bullets and graphics. Most web users are “power skimmers.” For max effect, use these elements to tell the outline of your story so a reader can get the gist of your message in a short amount of time.
  4. Avoid large blocks of text. These can intimidate the reader, and encourage him to click away.
  5. Provide excellent, useful information. The online reader won’t stick around if you’re not giving him something on value. He’d rather be on Facebook.
  6. Provide leadership in your copy and design. Have a clear idea of what you want your visitor to do, and include strong offers and calls to action in order to direct him there.
  7. Make it entertaining. Insert a bit of humor where appropriate. Rhyming text and alliterative language patterns are fun and can have a mesmerizing effect. (Just don’t overdo it!)
  8. Use clean, uncluttered design. Your customer is distracted enough without an overly busy web design adding to the mess.
  9. Encourage interaction. When the customer’s involved, he’s more likely to stay around.
  10. Hyperlink mindfully. Hyperlinking is very handy for providing credibility-building references and when you want to encourage the reader to visit a particular page. But hyperlinks can be dangerous, too. They can suck your reader right off your site. That’s why I use them sparingly and strategically. You might want to reserve them for internal links (say, to a landing page), and use footnotes for references as I did in parts 1 and 2 of this article. Why encourage attention deficit in your reader?
  11. Bonus! Type additional tips into the comment box below, and I’ll tweet them out. Be sure to include a link to your site!

<<Read Part 1             <Read Part 2

Your (Customer’s) Brain on Computers, Part 1

no matter how much we limit our own time online, the fact remains: our customers probably don’t. To put it bluntly, our biggest source of competition anymore may not be our competitors, but what’s going on in our customers’ heads! So we need to take special care to structure our messages to both capture and keep their attention despite any adverse effects their brains may be experiencing.

The internet is more than a way for customers to find you. It actually changes the structure of their brains. This series of articles reveals how – and offers tips on attracting and retaining online visitors.
photo credit: Saad Faruque via photopin cc

How much time do you spend online?

If you’re anywhere close to average, it’s somewhere  between 25 and 27 hours per week. 1

That’s right. We spend nearly a quarter of our waking hours plugged in, and that’s not including the time we spend on other electronic devices, including our cell phones and our kid’s handheld gaming devices (admit it!)

Now, hold onto your chair. When you surf the web, you’re accomplishing more than shopping for shoes or chatting up your Facebook friends. Behind the scenes, what you’re really doing is rewiring your brain.

It’s true.  And you may not want to hear what you’re doing to it – but I’m going to tell you anyway.

How the Internet affects our brains

Research on the Internet’s effect on brain activity indicates that it contributes to attention deficit, addictive behavior, scattered thinking, loss of focus, and reduced ability to read human emotions.  In some cases, the effects can be physically measured: one recent study of 18 college students found that excessive internet use actually resulted in atrophy of gray matter in the brain. 2

Clearly, this is a serious issue. Due to my occupation, I admit to spending far more than the average amount of time online, and I can personally attest to feeling some of the effects.  I am starting to take steps to limit my (and my kids’) time online, and I highly suggest that you consider doing so, too.

But no matter how much we limit our own time online, the fact remains: our customers probably don’t.  To put it bluntly, our biggest source of competition anymore may not be our competitors, but what’s going on in our customers’ heads!

So we need to take special care to structure our messages to both capture and keep their attention despite any adverse effects their brains may be experiencing.

>Read Part 2            >>Read Part 3

References:

  1. Millennials Up Their Time Online, MarketingCharts.com, Jan.21, 2013
  2. Does Life Online Give You ‘Popcorn Brain?’, CNN Health,  June 23, 2011

 

Do you repeat yourself in your marketing? If not, why not?

How to educate your customers effectively without causing confusion or turning them off

Part 3: Repetition Rules

Your audience may not have anywhere near your understanding of environmental issues.  Almost certainly they’re not nearly as aware as you are of the benefits your product brings to them personally and to the planet.  You may even have to overcome some deep-seated irrational or emotional barriers in your prospects.

It’s a very good idea to repeat your messaging in as many ways as you can. Try delivering the same idea via different media.  Use various examples and analogies to get your point across.  Be both persistent and consistent.

For example, you can speak about a topic at a conference, blog about it, offer an in-depth white paper about it, shoot a video about it, create an interactive survey addressing it,  put it on an audio disc, hold a workshop or teleseminar, tweet about it, etc.

Don’t worry about overdoing it.  Most people are so inundated with information that it takes a few times for a message to sink in.  Also, everyone has their preferred way to absorb information.  By sending your messages out using a variety of media (on- and offline short and long copy, video, audio, email, social media, live events, etc.), you’ll reach a much broader segment of your targeted population.