We recently ran a user experience test of our site, and the results were split. The audience loved our content but were irritated by our advertising – especially where it was sliding in or popping up. While the testing validated the layout of our site, ease of navigation, and quality of our content – it also pointed to something that annoyed our overall audience.
This disconnect is something that virtually every marketer has to balance, and the business case often counters the reaction or opinion of the audience. Not listening to your audience is counter, of course, to most marketing guru advisors out there that believe responding, listening and following the advice of the audience should always come first.
Here are 10 Data Disconnects and Marketing Assumptions we often make that are terrible for our business.
- Assuming All Customers Are Equal – MarketingSherpa recently provided analysis of why customers follow brands on social media. The chart clearly shows that the vast majority of consumers follow brands on social for discounts, sweepstakes, coupons, etc. However, the chart doesn't show you the value of each consumers' opinion. Pure discounting could devalue your brand and bury your company. I would be willing to bet that those consumers who saw a lifestyle match and supported their charitable work are much more valuable long-term to a company's business health.
- Assuming All Visitors are Prospects – Did you know that Bot traffic accounts for over 56% of analytics tracked traffic to your site? As you're interpreting your analytics data, how are bots impacting entrance and exit pages, bounce rates, time on site, etc.? They could be skewing the statistics so bad that you're motivated to change your site in response… but the response is to bots, not prospects! As we review our site, we pay much more attention to quality visits – people that visit multiple pages and spend more than a minute on our site.
- Assuming Customer Feedback Will Improve Your Product – I worked for a gigantic SaaS provider who had an aggressive development schedule that incorporated thousands of improvements and dozens of features into every release. The result was a bloated platform that was overly complex, difficult to implement, caused endless development conflicts, and reduced our customer retention. As a consequence, sales became more aggressive, more features were promised, and the cycle started all over. While the company grew revenue and were purchased for a very large sum, they still haven't ever made a profit and aren't likely to. When you ask a customer what you should improve, the customer immediately searches for a fault and provides their own, anecdotal reaction. Instead, you should be monitoring your customers' behavior to prioritize improvements to your product.
- Assuming Interruptions Annoy Prospects – We have tested over and over and, without apology, we almost always implement an interruptive technology to capture a visitor's attention and have them decide whether or not to engage further with our clients. Ask your visitors if they like the interruptive promotional methods you're deploying and, more often than not, they say no. But then deploy the promotional methods and you'll find the same visitors that said they didn't like them are the ones clicking through and engaging with you.
- Assuming You Understand Your Customer – Our clients often make assumptions on why people are buying from them – price, availability, discounts, customer service, etc. and are almost always wrong. When you ask a customer why they bought from you, they may even tell you the wrong reason. When you rely on first or last touch attribution, you're also making a bad assumption. Attribution data may provide evidence of a prospect taking an action, but not why they actually made the purchase. Persona research is critical to understanding who purchased from you and interviews from unbiased third-parties can answer why they purchased from you. Don't assume that you know, you may be very surprised by the results.
The bottom line here, of course, is that it's nearly impossible to segment marketing qualified leads from the rest of your analytics data. You must make marketing decisions on what attracts and engages that very segment, though. Your website isn't there to please everyone; it should be seen as a sales resource that attracts and engages its visitors, driving them through to a conversion.
I've made similar mistakes with my business. I listened to far too many people who were never going to buy our products or services tell me how I should change our offerings and expenditures. It nearly put us out of business. No longer do I listen to these people – I just nod my head and keep doing what I know works for our clients. What works for them isn't what works for you or me.
Stop making marketing assumptions by listening and watching everyone that touches your brand. Begin improving the experience to the audience that matters… the audience that will likely buy from you.