I don't know how many times I've heard this advice over the course of my life, but I never really took the time to consider it fully until recently. Go with the flow. What does that even mean? And what does it have to do with marketing and conversion rates?
"Go with the flow."
For me, I've come to realize that going with the flow is about taking the time to observe what's happening at any given moment and then contribute in a way that feels most natural to who you are at the core. Going with the flow isn't about giving up or doing what's popular or playing copycat. It's about making more informed choices about how to enter a situation in order to achieve optimal results for everyone - you, your organization and your customers.
Data Versus Emotion
In marketing, when we're looking for ways to increase the conversion rates associated with varying aspects of a website, we often look immediately to the numbers. We search out statistics, pour over the data, and dissect survey results to try and find all the reasons why we might not be hitting our numbers.
While these statistics and data provide valuable and necessary contributions to our understanding of how well our marketing efforts are working, they don't provide a comprehensive solution to the marketing inefficiencies we experience.
A comprehensive solution incorporates both the logic side of the situation, as well as the feeling side of things. And yes, I just said feeling.
We get so caught up in the proof and the hard data and the graphs and charts that we often lose sight of the elements of a marketing effort that we can't measure with exact numbers--the human, feeling elements.
And this is where the go with the flow approach comes in.
Go With The Flow Approach
By taking the time to supplement the hard data with emotional intelligence, we can begin to align our marketing efforts more naturally with what it is our customers actually want to see from us. As we begin to get in touch with customer expectations, needs, and desires from a human side of things, rather than a strictly numbers side, we start to fill in the gaps of where our marketing efforts are falling short.
Needs, desires, feelings, emotional intelligence--probably not the words you expect to hear when you start looking for ways to solve problems related to your marketing shortcomings.
In fact, these ideas may sound counter-intuitive in the context of our hyper-charged, crazy fast moving world where it can sound smart to just explode out of the gate with your best first attempt. After all, we want to move as fast as possible to be the first one on the scene or to get those first dollars coming in. But in the rush to be the first, we can end up making a lot of assumptions about what will work the best.
These assumptions end up being a big contributor to why a lot of marketing people feel that they're missing something when it comes to improving conversion rates. If you build a website and coordinate marketing plans based on what you "think" without ever taking the time to really understand and "know" what's happening with your intended audience, then it makes sense that there might end up being some pretty big gaps in what you think you know and what you really know.
Have I lost you yet?
Here. Let's break it down with a list. Everybody likes lists, right?
The First 3 Steps To Incorporating a "Go With The Flow" Marketing Approach
1: Quiet Your Mind & Forget What You "Know"
Take a moment to slow down a bit and get a better handle on what you're actually doing. Sit in silence for a few minutes and then write down what it is you're trying to accomplish with the particular marketing effort you're working on.
Don't go on autopilot here and just regurgitate the company mission statement or your flashy tagline. Take the time to think it through and say it in your own words. Are you trying to get people to buy a widget? Or do you want them to download a white paper?
Take some time to consider why people would want to do these things or why they might not want to do them. This part might take a bit of time because you'll really need to let go of assumptions you're used to running with. Really try and think through the process from your customers' point of view.
2: Get Present & Listen
If you work in B2B, pick up the phone. No, seriously - Pick. Up. The. Phone.
Dial up a few of your customers and start a conversation--a real conversation. Ask them how their day is going and actually listen to what they say. Maybe even share something about what's happening with you. Then start asking questions about the things you already think you know. Ask them why they chose your product or service over the competition. Ask what they'd do differently if they were you. See if they ever use the resources you create: do they read the blog, watch the tutorial videos, click-through from newsletters?
What's their favorite part about what you do, or the product you sell? What do they find to be the most annoying/dumb/ridiculous thing about your company or product? Just start having a real conversation and then really pay attention to what they say. Don't rationalize away their answers, or justify things in your head when they make note of negatives. Just take what they say at face value.
B2C? You're not off the hook here. Take a few hours to dig into your company's Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram, and Pinterest boards to find out what people are saying and posting about you. Are they asking questions? Sharing certain content more than another? Giving praise or maybe venting frustrations? Get a feel for what's happening from their perspective.
Do the words they use when taking about your brand match up to the language and imagery used in your marketing and sales collateral? Are their concerns and favorite things addressed when they arrive on the website?
3: Reflect on Your Current Process
Take some time to review the marketing flow associated with a product on your site. Does it move through a natural marketing cycle, or is the messaging skipping over vital steps in the process and dropping customers through wide "need" gaps?
And unless you've already completed the necessary research and testing to determine who is coming to your site and how they behave when they arrive, you could be making assumptions regarding what people are seeking when they come to your site. These assumptions can lead to ineffective web design, non-useful content, and even inaccurate step placement within the marketing and/or sales cycle flow.
One of the first steps in developing a website that delivers the experience your visitors are seeking is to determine where a visitor is originating from and why they might be coming to your site.
It sounds obvious, but you'll want to make sure landing pages and calls-to-action are in sync with what visitors are expecting to see when they land on your site. If someone simply wants to learn more about your product and you hit them with flashing "Buy Now" buttons when they first arrive, it can be too aggressive an approach. (Think: Bull, china shop.)
However, if someone has clicked through from a banner ad offering 25% off their next purchase of running shoes, it might make sense to drop them directly on the pages of your site that sell running shoes and have the 25% off discount already plugged in and prominently accounted for in a visible shopping cart.
Stepping Into the Natural Flow
These steps are all about getting familiar with the ability to tune in to what's going on around you. It's about feeling out the natural flow of what's happening in a situation before choosing to step into it so that you arrive with minimal disruption.
Minimal disruption?! But we want to make a splash! We want to shock people and be edgy! We need to capture attention!
Yes. Sometimes, this is the right thing. When you're developing content that you hope will go viral, trying to design memorable billboards, or hiring entertainment for a live event your sponsoring, then yes--wild and jarring may be the answer.
But when it comes to the information flow, or marketing cycle, on your website--when you're actually attempting to drive conversions--it seems more prudent to try and meet your customers in their comfort zone, rather than jumping out like a clown from behind a door and spewing off a bunch of unrelated marketing lingo nonsense.
I mean, it's really simple when you just get down to it. We're all human beings. So there really is no excuse for not meeting your customers where they need to be met and there's no reason why your organization's messaging should ever resemble some cheesy pick up artist's lines.
We have the technology to analyze the data we gather, and we have the ability to communicate with our customers on a really human, emotional level to try and understand why the numbers are coming up the way they're coming up.
Incorporating a go with the flow approach into your marketing is about checking in with current processes to see if things feel in sync. When you really take the time to turn off what you "know" and spend time observing what's happening in your market space, does it feel like you're in the flow? Or does it feel like things aren't quite matching up?
If it feels like things aren't quite matching up, feel free to drop us a line. We work to get our clients aligned with their customers and we'd love to help you too.
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