Don’t Let Numbers Numb Your Work

We live in a numbers world today. People engage with them all the time whether they realize it or not, especially when it comes to social channels. How many likes do you have? How many connections do you have on LinkedIn? How many Twitter followers to you have? How many people are visiting your site and clicking here and here? How many reviews do you have?

We can get absorbed in trying to reach high numbers, but the part that we often forget to ask ourselves is “why”.  Why do these numbers matter, and what are we using them for? Some businesses tend to use numbers in the wrong way. They use it as a temporary ego lift. Yes, I did say that aloud. They have high numbers—Life is good, and they are great masterminds of marketing. Some use it as a way to measure if their marketing is working or not as a whole regardless of what other strategies they use and forget to measure. Some feel as though they are simply keeping up with the Joneses by using countless social channels; and therefore, if they have it on the social navigation bar of their website, they look like the real deal.

Numbers are often abstract, and they can be just as obsessive in checking as it is texting on our phones. However, if you are not spending the time to think about these numbers in a way that they are guiding your next marketing moves, they are purely entertainment. Let’s look at some examples and think about some questions.

Example 1: You post on Facebook, and it receives 18 likes.

Is it successful?

  • Is “18” significant compared to your previous postings?
  • What was the purpose of the posting?
    • Did you see an increase in sales from your products and services based on these likes?
    • Did you receive shares to spread brand awareness alongside these likes?
  • Are the likes from your customers or your own employees and business partner stakeholders?

Are you taking next steps?

  • Are you performing A/B testing to see what type of post may receive more engagement and intended results?
  • Are you paying attention to day of the week, time of day, and other external “noise” factors that may be competing with your posts?
  • Are you noticeably using a generated schedule of posting, or are you delivering authentic, relevant material to your audience?

Example 2: You have a news feed on your home page, but they are not receiving clicks.

Is it successful?

  • Is a click the right goal here? Did a user perhaps scan the page and headlines instead to get the gist of the news they were seeking? Think about it. Twitter is full of 140 character headlines, and this is a primary source of information for many users to simply scan and scan. Perhaps this type of user behavior is being carried over into your website engagement.
  • What type of device are they using to view your home page? If they’re viewing on a phone, perhaps they don’t want to take the time to click around much. Scrolling and skimming can be far easier and just as sufficient.
  • Are your users receiving news content from your social media channels instead?

Are you taking next steps?

  • Are you testing and reviewing your copywriting of headlines? Are they short, attention-grabbing, and descriptive enough to entice a user to click on it?
  • Have you ever asked users about what they think about your headlines and news content? Is it even interesting to them?
Take Aways:
 
When you choose to use a social channel for your business, you need to ensure your actions here have purpose and intention. It’s not something you just wing together. Each channel serves its specific purpose, and they all have their unique user behaviors and approaches. Test the waters, and stick with channels that give you impact. Consistently show up to the channels your audience will depend on as it relates to your business.

Actions Steps:

  1. Create a strategy before diving straight into social channels. Understand exactly what you want to measure and why.
  2. In order to measure success rates, ensure you are paying attention to the numbers as it correlates to your business goals. A number detached from a goal is simply just a number.
  3. Be purposeful of your time and have a balance of utilizing more work action over mulling on number dashboards to comprehend what could be endless interpretations of data. Keep it simple: review, reflect, take next steps, and move on. There is no productivity gained in staring at social numbers hours on end.
“If you do not know how to ask the right question, you will discover nothing.” 
– W. Edward Deming –

Resist the Shiny

Shiny objects are tempting. It’s easy to get sucked into the world of new things that make us feel trendy, important and relevant. But as life will have it, good things don’t last forever, and these shiny objects can fade quickly into the shadows of the next big thing.

What are examples of shiny things?

We need an app for our business. Are you really sure? There are thousands of apps submitted to app stores on a daily basis—a daily basis! If you think you’re trying hard to cut through your industry of competition in just your local landscape, don’t think that it will be easier in the app world.

According to TechCrunch and Nielson research, people spend a lot of time on their phone devices yes—but they are typically only using 5 apps regularly. They are also quick to uninstall apps they don’t use regularly. How influential is your app going to be to fit into that regular usage for a user? Are you making an app because it will actually solve a problem, or are you making an app because it will give your business the appearance of being “current” and you “think” users will love it?

Creating apps as a standalone product to solve a real-world problem is one thing, but creating apps as an “extra” just to say you have one for your business is another. Be sure it’s app-solutely a need for your audience! 😉

We need a Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, blog, and every social media channel that exists. Don’t get me wrong. Social media is great, and I personally consume and create content on many channels. I use these channels to promote my business as well. However, it’s important to understand that social media is like a garden. If you don’t nurture all the plants (social channels), they are going to wither away. And if your garden looks neglected, your image (brand) suffers. It takes a lot of work to maintain social media, and it’s hard to learn the “green” social thumb!

You know the saying that you can’t help others until you help yourself. It’s sort of the same concept here. How can you help your audience if you can’t even manage your own brand consistently? How is your audience able to trust you if it appears you can’t juggle all the social channels you have open?If you are serious about social media, you need to stick to a thought-out strategy and show up consistently in pattern to your audience. Know that it takes great time to launch and maintain any social channel in order to provide unique, valuable content to your audience.

We need our website to look like those cool scrolling kinds. Ah, the parallax scrolling and usually with a hint of some sort of bootstrap framework. It can be appropriate for some websites, but for others it just isn’t. If everyone is using the cookie-cutter scroll and template, how do you stand out? Do you want to look like every other website out there? Does it really fit your brand and match the intended user experience? It’s not always the case, so be sure to do your design homework.

I could add far more examples to this shiny list, but these are just a few. Now, I’m not implying that any of these shiny things are bad and shouldn’t be used; nor am I implying they will go away in trends. What I am saying is that if shiny features are used, there should be a valid business and user experience reason behind it with ways to measure its effectiveness.

Takeaway:

Do your serious design and business homework before diving into popular design trends and shiny features. There is a difference between purposeful and intentional website functions vs nice-to-have features that may add more glitter cover-up to your palette than actual value. All your design decisions should line up with a business goal.

Action Steps:

Prior to making any design decisions, it’s important to do research.

  • Stay connected with your audience and ask for their feedback. You are trying to meet their needs, so listen to what they have to say. Then analyze this feedback and see how it can influence your website design in a positive direction.
  • Do a thorough comparative and competitive analysis to see what others are doing. What are you doing differently, and can this gained knowledge be used to positively influence your brand?

“A company shouldn’t get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn’t last.”
-Jeff Bezos-

The Power of Indirect Complaining

“If no one is complaining about our website, then there is nothing wrong.” Have you heard this before? It’s a reactive attitude toward design and business, and it’s not a mindset you want to be in. How often had you had a bad experience at a website or business and made an effort to file a complaint? Wasn’t it easier to simply move on and take your business elsewhere? The truth of the matter is that most people behave in this way. They are more likely to quietly take their business to another competitor if they have a bad experience.

So you’re saying people who have bad web experiences don’t tell anyone, Maria? Oh it’s definitely no secret. Yes, they do tell people, but they’re not going to be filing complaints to the people who can address and/or fix the problem. We’re busy people. We don’t have time for that interaction. They will talk about their bad experience to their friends and family and in between to ensure their voice gets heard and that the “bad” business doesn’t get any new business! And the negative branding continues from there.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before—someone has a bad experience and they tell 10 other close acquaintances about it. These days, they’re more likely to also blast it out on social media channels and hashtag it up. However, despite this knowing, businesses often forget the power and realistic facts about complaining behavior. They spend costs and effort on a website as if it’s a commodity that gets done and rests on its own afterward. A website design is a living document that must be continuously nourished like a fire, or its purpose will burn out.

You cannot run a business with a mindset of assumption. Just because no one is complaining about your website directly does not mean it can’t use improvements to its user experience, content, design, and all other marketing systems that connect with it. Quiet too can have its way of speaking loudly. Don’t wait for this news to get back to you.

Takeaway:

People who have a complaint about their website experience will often quietly take their business elsewhere rather than directly address the problem to the company and give them time to correct it and try again.

Actions Steps:

Don’t wait for feedback before considering design improvements. Be proactive, and ask for feedback as an ongoing process before, during, and after making changes.

  • Make it part of your business process to regularly assess your website design with your audience users. Use this assessment to determine if your design is helping or hurting your business goals.
  • Find and make opportunities to ask for feedback about your website, whether its through surveys, interviews, focus groups, usability tests, or another method of User Experience (UX) research. This will concurrently provide an opportunity to connect with your audience, build trust, and promote your brand as doing due diligence in keeping your business relevant to their needs.
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
– Jack Welch –

Brands Have Feelings Too

You may be familiar with the quote from Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Feel is the keyword there. It taps into that emotional part of ourselves, that unexplainable and uncontrollable component of the human being. When it comes to marketing and communication strategies, this is the core you want to hit. You want to tap into one’s emotional self–because after all: “people will never forget how you made them feel”. Emotions are where impressions are made, and you need many and many impressions in order for your brand to stick with people and persuade them to take action.

What are some examples where emotion plays a role?

  • Have you ever purchased the latest fashion trend at a big brand name store because you feel it will make you a more confident person in those clothes?
  • Have you ever signed up for a rewards program because the sales pitch made you feel like you were cared for with your saving interests in mind?
  • Have you ever bought a food product simply because it had the word “organic” or “low fat” on the front of it because it made you feel like it was a healthier alternative than the product next to it?

Most often our buying decisions are made through our emotions. As you build your own company brand, emotions need to be kept in mind. You want your audience to have a positive experience with your brand, one they will remember and share with others as brand advocates. The greatest parts of your brand are the intangible elements, like emotional impact.

To revisit Maya Angelou’s quote above as it relates to brand: “People will never forget how [your brand] made them feel.” Ensure your brand is providing an experience your audience will want to return to time and time again.

Takeaway:

People have emotions about your brand. Ensure your brand experience is worth them revisiting and sharing with others.

Action Steps:

Use emotions as a measurement to see if your brand is on track with the experience you want your brand to reflect.

  • Ask for feedback from your audience to assess how they feel about your brand. Are their feelings aligned with what you want your brand to represent?
  • Revisit your company’s messaging and communication tactics and identify the emotions associated with them. Are they consistent and relevant with what you want your brand to represent?
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”
– Dale Carnegie –