English articles, Top Tasks

Giving attention: 4 online marketing action points

Traditional marketing is about getting attention. Online marketing is about giving attention. That’s one of the well known one-liners by Gerry McGovern. And it’s true. There couldn’t be a wider gap than between these two forms of marketing. 4 basic rules lead to successful online marketing. They all start from the customer, not from the organisation. And they are based on evidence, not on opinion.

Marketing and advertising people are attention drawing champions. That is what they are trained for, that is what they are paid for. And they often successfully bring new customers to their clients. And often they succeed in bringing lots of traffic to websites, social media pages and mobile apps.

And too often, there it goes wrong. Then they notice that visitors don’t buy, that visitors don’t do what they planned them to do. Then the marketing people don’t understand why there isn’t more conversion.

When online marketing turns out wrong, this usually is the reason:

Traditional marketing is about getting attention.

Online marketing is about giving attention.

On the web, in online, you have to pay attention. People go online with a purpose, with a task they want to complete.

Paying attention starts with these 4 basic action points:

Stop getting attention

Stop shouting, waving, making funny faces. The customers are in the website. They are in the shop. Serve them! When someone enters a shop, you don’t force that person to look at the ad or the tv spot that convinced him or her to come to the shop? They are in. Help them with the purchase. Why would that be different online? Just because the technology allows you to show that ad or video? That’s not what they came for. Serve them!

Respect the customer’s focus

So, the customers are in the shop. They know what they want to do. Maybe they want to buy. Maybe they want to know more before they making their decision.

Advertising brings people to the website. The website then serves them. No more marketing. Just service. Answers to questions such as: Can I have this in black as well? Can it be delivered before the weekend? Can I send it back if it doesn’t fit?

When an e-banking customer comes to the site to transfer money, don’t bombard him with insurances ads before he has completed the task. When a customer looks for a film at Amazon, books, music and all the rest aren’t even on display.

Help the customers to focus. Don’t distract them.

Respect the customer’s time, make conversion efficient

Attracting customers is about tempation, and (as in other parts of life) it’s okay to put some time and effort in temptation. But serving the customer is about efficiency. Online, they are all impatient (we all are). They want to get to their goal fast and efficiently

What is a good website? A good website is that website that allows the customer to do what he or she came for.

Temptation (as in other parts of life) hides, too often hides the most important. But a website that serves reveals, tells and shows everything, and fast. A very frequent customer’s top task is comparing prices. Give the price as fast as possible, not at the end of the ordering process just before entering the credit card data, but upfront.

Test the top tasks, test the paths through the website. The more respect you show for the customer’s time, the better you realize your company’s goal.

Give after-sales support before the sale

In traditional marketing, sales and after-sales are separate silos. Not on the web. Customers want to know how to install, how to send back, repair terms, compatibility of versions, detailed drawings, etc.  They don’t just want the size and measures, they want the manual before they open the box, before they buy. They want experiences of other buyers,  they want test reviews.

Before they buy, they want the complete picture, the conviction that they buy right.

In the Customer Carewords network, we have some beautiful cases showing a direct link between bringing after-sales content upfront and more sales. Plus relieving the helpdesk from a load of questions and calls.

Can’t online marketing get any attention at all, then? “We can’t have an online customer and not cross-sell,” Sales says, “We must be able to get attention. To sell. We have targets to meet!”

Correct but allow the customer to complete the task he came for, and then bring him in temptation again. Offer similar or complementary products, remind him about another offer, whatever – after the previous task is completed. Sure you can draw attention again, after you have giving the right dose.

On the web, getting attention is difficult. The traditional marketing recipes don’t work on the web.

When it looks like advertising, it will be ignored. On news sites, banners are hardly looked at. That’s why they overwhelm us with enormous formats, with noise and moving images and other irritating material that we have to click away to be able to focus on what we came to do.

Keep your own organisation’s site as sober as possible. No banners, no video spots, no carrousels, no white smiling teeth, no photoshopped happy people. No shouting, no waving, no getting attention. When it looks like an ad, it will be ignored as an ad. On the web, people are focused on their task, on what their toptask is at that moment. Give that toptask the best possible attention.

Online marketing is about giving attention.  You can measure and test. Attention giving should be based on facts, not on opinions. By finding out what their toptasks are, by measuring the tasks’ efficiency, by building the site around the tasks. And by testing and tweaking, and again testing and tweaking. Until you give the best possible attention.


About Toon Lowette

Customer is not king on the internet, he is dictator. Online services are successful if they allow the customer to do what he came for efficiently and without confusion. Toon Lowette is online publishing consultant in the Customer Carewords network of Gerry McGovern. Task management is the central issue. We teach websites to manage the task, not the content, not the technology. We teach websites to become relentlessly customer centric.


2 thoughts on “Giving attention: 4 online marketing action points

  1. I think for small internet marketing owners, the problem of how to advertise is very important for them. As they do not have big budget, how to get their website expose and create sufficient traffic to make sales is a challenge.
    What can you advise them?

    Posted by Lawrence Mak | 9 July 2014, 11:37
  2. Reblogged this on digital math man and commented:
    Some very good points. “When it looks like an ad, it will be ignored as an ad. On the web, people are focused on their task, on what their toptask is at that moment.” I touch on this in an upcoming post.

    Posted by danjamesball | 10 February 2014, 11:09

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