Why do we have to make things so hard?

 

make-things-so-hard

In life, whether professionally or personally, we often make things much harder than they have to be. Many people seem to reject simplicity and believe complexity is the only way, especially in marketing. Why? I think there are several reasons why this is happening in organizations across the U.S. Here are some observations of why people can’t seem to understand that simplicity is not inferior to complexity:

Confusing simplification with “dumbing it down”

I have run into this wall many times when working with technology and software companies. They believe that the complexity of their product or service is validation of its greatness. WRONG! What these types of companies fail to remove from the marketing and tone is this bias that they are experts; their customers are not. If you use words that require a dictionary then your message is not on point. Simplifying your message to focus on value and benefits to your end user will get them to listen. If they want to know more about the specifications and technology, they will ask once they are closer to making a buying decision. Strive to be simple and human in your message; not formal and condescending. This is in NO WAY “dumbing it down.” It’s about creating a message that resonates with your audience.

Creating complexity to ensure purpose

Are you the only company offering your service or product? Probably not. Maybe you have a different angle or approach, but there are always others that can offer what you offer. So to ensure your purpose, you market or write about your product’s complexity as a differentiator. I don’t think this is a good move. Competing on complexity isn’t really a winning strategy. There has to be another way to substantiate purpose; I think it’s in the “why.” The “why” is just that: why you do what you do (not to make profit, although of course that’s part of it). But defining the “why” is much more powerful to users than how complicated your product is.

Internal communication is absent or strained

Marketing is not an island unto itself. As a marketing professional, I’ve worked closely with sales, operations, R&D, ownership and almost every other department. Marketing’s job is to create messaging and campaigns to spread that message to attract leads. But marketing often has to work with subject matter experts (SMEs) or other groups to capture what is happening in the industry and what users are saying. I’ve had both great and strained relationships with these groups. And in some organizations, I’ve seen ZERO communication or collaboration. If as an SME or technical expert, you can’t explain to me why someone would need or want your product then I’m going to have a hard time translating this. It’s been such a struggle in many organizations that I have just become the SME myself. SMEs or others may not know how to effectively communicate. But marketers can teach them. By asking the right questions and pushing back, you can get some great nuggets of information. My final advice on this topic is that all stakeholders should meet regularly, learn to trust each other and of course communicate!

Goals are unclear

I have an excellent example to illustrate this point. My dog, Fawn, does not like to put her harness on. She has to wear a harness because she’s a puller. She likes to think it’s a game, but I’ve assured her it’s not. Usually trickery is involved to get her into the harness, but the reward is she gets to go outside for a walk and more than likely will also get a treat. So she completely understands what the harness means, and she does love to go outside. Yet, she always makes it more difficult than it has to be. You may be doing the same thing with your marketing. Your end user understands his or her goals. They have a problem; they need a solution. Their preferred end state is to have something in place that removes the problem. If your marketing isn’t geared to your buyer’s end goal then this is a huge problem. It really is that simple: be the reason somebody’s life or job just got easier. When you don’t align marketing with the buyer’s journey (Awareness, Consideration, Decision) then you miss the mark often. You may be making it to complex for the end user to see how your solution solves their challenge. Look at the pathway from prospect to client, where are the gaps? Is it too hard to do business with your company? If you don’t simplify the process and make it user-friendly, you will lose prospects and clients.

Parting words: simplicity is your friend; complexity is your foe! I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, and please share if you found this worthwhile.

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Are long forms killing your landing page conversions?

are-long-forms-killing-your-landing-page-conversions

Listen, I know you want a lot of information on prospects that download your gated content. But some brands need a reality check on the value of their offer compared to the information requested. I saw an offer today on LinkedIn. The asset offer was for a research paper so I understand that it took time to create it. Analysis and conclusions take work to develop. But I’d be very curious to know what their bounce rate is for this landing page. I’m going to guess it’s high because these are the things they request on the form:

  • First and last name
  • Company name
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Number of employees
  • State
  • Country
  • Currently use their products

These are all required fields! If I had to put this piece of content in a buyer’s journey stage (haven’t read it, just inferring from the little information provided), I would say it’s either awareness or consideration. I lean a bit more toward awareness because the “value” of the research paper is to prove that doing X leads to Y. And Y is something a prospect would be happy about. In the awareness stage, it makes more sense to ask for less information. It’s the getting to know you phase. I recommend asking for name and email only. With a prospect opting into email, you have a channel to communicate and nurture the relationship by providing more content and eventually a decision stage offer of a consultation, price quote or demo.

I checked other platforms. The same offer is on Twitter and FaceBook; no distinction at all between the three posts (not even a hashtag on Twitter). I also know this is a global company with thousands of employees, and I would assume a healthy marketing department and budget.

I’m sure this is a very valuable asset, but the execution and promotion are off. Here is how I’d fix it:

Does the landing page practice good conversion-centered design? I’d say no. Here are some areas of improvement.

Context: Have they considered the context of where someone might be landing from? No. By posting on social media, it can be shared with people that don’t follow their brand. And those people have no context about who the brand is. Read more on context here.

Clarity: The posts for the asset say it’s a research paper and provide a name of someone who worked on it, but none of that is on the landing page. Also, if they are going to use someone’s name then they should tag the person so that people understand he or she is a credible source.

Congruence: This is big fail. Every element of the landing page should align with the goal. The goal is to get users to download the asset. Yet on the actual landing page there is one sentence and eight fields.

Closing: This principle focuses on getting the click. There are many elements on the page that influence conversions. This landing page has little context and requests a lot of information. Its call to action is simply “submit,” which is a negative word, at least subconsciously. There are many other positive words and phrases to use that can propel a user to convert.

In addition to the improvements need to align with conversion-centered design, their promotion strategy seems to be nonexistent. They should post it on social media based on the platform: FaceBook (visual), Twitter (use a hastag and tag the writer) and LinkedIn (longer post and tag writer).

So I guess you could say I’m silently critiquing your landing pages. If you’d like me to do it out loud, send me a note and let’s chat.