Saturday, April 16, 2011

If More is Better, Then Less is More

I recently attended a Marketing Roundtable event at Ann Arbor Spark.  The group is a gathering of marketing and online communications professionals that provide useful business information.  

Google Analytics
This particular “Roundtable” focused on using Google Analytics to track web visitors, time on pages, conversion rates (how many of your web visitors take an action like download a paper), and other important metrics that indicate how visitors behave on your website

As you likely know, Google Analytics is a free tool that delivers web traffic reports in the form of easy dashboards, summarizing page views, the most visited pages, trends showing time on site, referring websites, etc.

Does Your Website Work?
The event was a great reminder that in marketing, if the purpose of a website is lead generation, the most important consideration is to keep tabs on how folks behave when they visit your website. 

Google Analytics is an easy way to ask: are you getting web visitors to “do something?”

At the conclusion of the event, one of the most interesting questions from the gathered attendees came from colleague Jen Jendo of IPD Solution, who asked the panel a great question about the significance of watching the behavior of web visitors when a business-to-business sales cycle is extremely long (12 – 18 months).

With such a lengthy sales cycle, she asked, how can a website support the sales process?

The presenters made the case that, even with lengthy cycles, a website is a useful marketing tool for prospects in the early stage of discovery.  Complex purchase decisions can be supported with white papers, online demos, case studies and other collateral. 

Make it Easy
The key is to make it easy for the prospect to scan over the resources, select what is of interest, and download.   

Don’t overwhelm visitors with highly technical information that folks won’t even read, since people only spend seconds scanning a website. (very hard to keep this focus with some projects I can yell you!)

Instead, provide summary titles of materials in a Knowledge Center. Make the content easy to scan and digest.  Let the visitor select the material of interest, to get to the next level of detail.  

Then be sure to follow up with a call or other outreach to move those folks to the next stage of the buying cycle.

In this way a business to business website supports the decision making for those early in the cycle, and moves them along in complex decision making.

Less is More
What hit a nerve with me was when one of the panelists made the case  “if more is better, then less is more” – don’t overwhelm with information on a b-to-b website.  

Marketers need to choose carefully how much content the website delivers, then be sure to follow up with those visitors who have taken the time to request additional levels of detail.

It’s tempting to slap a bunch of content on a website, especially in-depth details about complicated business software solutions for instance.  

Research and analytics prove otherwise.  

The best way to help your prospect is to present digestible bites of information that lead to more complete content. 

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