Tag Archive for 'Web Strategy'

Recognizing Event Wifi Sponsors – What’s the Best Way?

There’s an interesting discussion taking place on the Meetings and Expositions listserv of the American Society of Association Executives.

Someone asked: “How can we best recognize our sponsor for wireless internet during the meeting?”

There were several suggestions for doing this online as users connect to the internet:

  • Create a splash page for the sponsor that’s the first thing they see
  • Get users to complete a brief survey around the sponsor’s products and services
  • Show a brief video from the sponsor

Frankly, I think these are all terrible suggestions! Rule 33 of my new book is “Avoid Unexpected Roadblocks.” It deals with the negative emotional impact of sudden and / or annoying obstacles in the visitor’s online experience.

People accessing the Internet at a conference are doing many things at once, and generally want to get to what they need as quickly as possible. I understand the importance of sponsor recognition, but forcing people to take a survey or watch a video may backfire in that you’re taking their valuable time, and they’re not happy. This could have an ultimate negative effect on the sponsor’s image.

The least annoying of these in terms of the amount of delay is the splash page – if it loads quickly, and if there’s an obvious “get me out of here” link. But think about it – how many times have you used the wireless connection at a hotel, and been forced through the hotel’s home page? Did you stop to look at it? Of course not – you’re already staying there, and you’ve got better things to do.

Another suggestion on the listserv was to have attendees visit the sponsor’s exhibit booth to obtain the password for the wireless connection. But what if someone is really in a hurry and doesn’t have time to visit the booth? What if it’s a huge show and they spend a lot of time trying to find the booth? What if they’re trying to access the internet out of exhibit hall hours?

My preferred solution is to provide each attendee with a card or something in the program materials with the sponsor’s logo and the password for internet access. That way, participants will see the sponsor in a positive light because they’re helping them to get their needs met, and not getting in the way at the same time!

Web Strategy Audio Guides

Finally, I’ve finished my two web strategy audio guides: “Leaky Boat Websites – and How to Prevent Them” and “Web Connections that Win.”

The guides are hour-long pre-recorded downloadable audio files (mp3 format), together with complete transcripts in Adobe Acrobat format. Suitable for both new and experienced webmasters, they will work on laptops, desktop computers, tablets, MP3 players and smart phones. Sample excerpts are available and special discount pricing is offered for purchasers of both products.

The audio guide “Leaky Boat Websites – and How to Prevent Them” will help you determine if your website is missing vital opportunities for generating revenue and sales leads. The audio guide “Web Connections that Win” helps you to evaluate if your website has emotional appeal, and if it reflects the “real world” conversations that you have with your customers. Both guides are available in my online store. I also offer an affiliate program for qualified participants.

I hope that these guides will help you – small business owners and entrepreneurs to look at their websites in a different way – and to make more money when you do!”

Social Media – What’s the Cost of Not Doing It?

I just read a very interesting blog from Robert Patterson of MMG Worldwide, talking about measuring social media ROI in the travel market.

I was especially intrigued by the discussion of non-tangible factors in calculating “return on influence”.

It all got me thinking that another interesting question to ask, especially if you’re still thinking about whether all this is worth it for your company, might be: “Can I quantify the opportunity cost of *not* doing this?”

In other words, using the travel example, could a hotel somehow measure how many nights it costs them not to be doing a Twitter campaign when the comparable hotel down the street is? Hotels are very upset about negative reviews, especially those of doubtful origins or motive – do they know for sure how much damage they do?

Perhaps the only way to calculate the negative side is to jump in and see what difference it makes – but the article got me thinking . . .

“Did UPS Send Me To A For-Profit Business?”

I wasn’t going to post this to my blog, but my good friend Vickie Sullivan persuaded me that it’s a story that bears repeating . . .

I’ve been following up the leads from the cover story on effective Web strategy in the UPS “Compass” magazine for which I was selected as the sole expert (yes, free publicity is a wonderful credibility builder!)

One woman who contacted me described her business as the world leader in their field (which has to do with animal medicine). Her e-mail then said: “Sitting here reading your comments on Website functionality, and thought that I’d write and have you take a look at ours, and see what insights you can share with us.”

So I started describing my “Leaky Boat Website” review, which would provide her with exactly what I thought she was asking for.

She interrupted: “Is there a cost for this?” When I said there was, she was indignant – “Did UPS send me to a for-profit business?”

I was so stunned that I could only reply that I didn’t understand the question. In retrospect, I wish I’d asked her if she provides her world exclusive products for free!

Why Do We See Our Own Sites Differently?

So I have a new client who is a major landscaping firm in the Chicago area. And I’m talking with her last week about the plans for the reworking of their Website.

Question: “Do we include bios and pictures of our designers?”

At first, my client said that more of their business is on the maintenance side, and she thought that this type of content would be overkill.

Then I reminded her that plenty of research shows that people respond to information about a company’s personnel, their history, photographs, etc. After all, “people do business with people . . .”

And she said: “Now that I think about it, I do click on those sections when I go to a Website where I don’t know much about the business”.

Which brings up one of my favourite questions: Why are we so convinced that people will behave differently at our site? Why do we lose sight of everything that we know – even about our own behaviour – in making assumptions about what visitors will or won’t like? If we know how we instinctively move around other sites, why don’t we apply that knowledge when designing our Web presence?

After all, we’re all human . . .

Do your Online Markets Challenge your Traditional Business Model?

Last week while visiting the UK, I sat down with the Operations Director of a small academic institution.

We started to review their Google Analytics. As often happens, we were immediately faced with data that directly challenges the business strategy they’ve followed so far.

To date, the college has concentrated on delivering high-quality programming to in-person groups – and their marketing and fundraising has reflected this model. Yet without any focused online promotional efforts, their Website is attracting traffic from all over the world – far outside their physical catchment area. In fact, 35% of all Web visitors could not easily get to their campus.

This is a scenario that I’ve seen many times. There will always be visitors to your Website who at first glance don’t belong to your established target market or demographic, and your instinct may be to let them go.

However, in this case we can clearly see from the inbound search terms and the pages visited that these people are specifically looking for the college, or for the subject matter that they teach – this is highly qualified traffic. And 35% is a pretty big number of potential customers to turn away!

Of course our discussion turned to the creation of virtual courses, webinars, podcasts, e-books and other offerings that could be delivered anywhere in the world. This would be a major shift in strategy for the college, and like many non-profit organizations, they’re underfunded and tend to move cautiously.

From what we saw in the analytics, I believe that they’re missing significant potential revenue and outreach opportunities – which in my language means that their Website has some major leaks. At least there are proven visitor numbers to make that case to the Management Team and the Board – I’ll be interested to see how they go forward.

The Trap of Linear Thinking

Today I provided a “Pick my Brain” session for Gavin Burt, from the UK site Running Injury Oracle (thank you, Skype!)

Gavin is a leading osteopath in the UK, and he has developed an online system to help runners diagnose and work with their injuries. Depending on their needs, he provides advice, checklists and videos for a monthly or annual subscription. So far, the response has been very positive, and he’s about to get major PR from the British running press.

So far, so good. But today we looked at his Google Analytics and discovered a problem that he hadn’t thought of. The site was designed for visitors to start at the home page and move logically through the process of self-diagnosis to get to their type of injury.

Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. Visitors who find the site through search engines are entering at inside pages which are focused on specific keywords. These visitors don’t have any context for what they see – the content immediately jumps into the diagnosis and subscription information, which is fine if they’ve been down the logical path, but not if it’s their first impression.

Luckily, this is a new site and still very much a work in progress, so we can figure out how to make the concept of each page clear to all visitors.

I told Gavin that he’s not alone – so many people make assumptions about how their site will be traveled, and don’t think about visitors getting to pages in all sorts of random ways.

But right now, many of Gavin’s visitors who enter at inside pages are leaving the site too quickly – so we need to plug that leak!