Marketers need to be mindful of their Digital foundation.
When was the last time you bought your own product? Mark Roberge the Chief Revenue Officer at HubSpot in his talks stresses the importance that every member of the HubSpot sales team must first use the HubSpot platform to create a blog and produce inbound content. It is also covered in his book; The Sales Acceleration Formula. For Sales professionals, it is important to truly understand what your customer experience is and to be able to walk a mile as if you were a marketer. The practice is common in the software space and is referred to as dogfooding. Every business is constantly changing. This rapid rate of change creates the necessity to continually experience your own digital efforts.
For most brands the digital foundation is your website
What browsers does your site truly support? Look in the mirror and admit that whichever you use, Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox, IE, is what you have everything is optimized for. If 80% of your customers use Chrome what about the 20% that don’t? What % of your customers do you not care about? I have been in meetings and have heard people say; “our site doesn’t work on Firefox but we only have 15% of our traffic using it”. Without knowing more about these visitors you are basically saying they don’t matter to you, that is nuts! If your revenue dropped next month, next quarter by 15% would you care? I bet you would. It is important that in your testing you ensure that all the browsers and devices work ALL the way through your customer journeys.
Including the two big questions:
Have you mapped out what it takes to contact you?
Have you mapped out what it takes to buy from you?
There are some tools out there that can help. BrowserStack is a site that allows you to test your site across many types of browsers and devices. There is a cost for their service – but look at it this way, what is the cost to your brand when someone can’t buy your service because your site isn’t designed for them?
Watch your visitors interact with your site. There are tools that record visitor sessions on your site. My personal favorite is HotJar. HotJar offers a free version (300 sessions) and a paid version. The paid version records more sessions (thousands). It is easy to install, just add the header code like your google analytics code.
Voice of the consumer. My go to tools at this level are YouEye and Loop11. These two companies offer powerful research tools to not only see the visitors session but YouEye also records their webcam and audio so you can see and hear the visitors session. If you are not an experienced researcher both companies offer research services to help you. Key books are; Laddering, Predictably Irrational, The Challenger Customer, and Decoding the New Consumer Mind.
Beyond the main site going Social or going Affiliate
Connecting your brand on other platforms is common. Most companies have a Facebook page, LinkedIn page, Twitter account. Depending on your industry/market/buyers you may have a Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Xing, Periscope, Snapchat, WhatsApp, or any of the other social networks that are out there. Each social network has their own rules of the road. How to post, establish brand pages, sponsor content etc…
A word of warning about automation. Be very, very careful. I agree with Scott Stratten (Unmarketing) who rails against automation. Scott says “automation is like sending a mannequin to a networking event“. You aren’t really there. There are tools like; Buffer, HootSuite, RavenTools, HubSpot and others that are good at monitoring your brand across multiple channels. They do have the ability to cross post your content for many social networks. For short form or response posts, I haven’t seen any major issues. The most common pitfall that I have seen is when someone is authenticated on multiple accounts and messages get accidentally posted as personal or personal gets posted as the brand. Long form post are where automation is a common problem. People spend all that time creating a great piece of content, a dedicated landing page and then the posts that go out are dull the images aren’t formatted correctly and the links don’t work right.
Each time you decide to expand to a new channel a new network – it is important to make sure that the fundamentals are still working. Go though as your expected customer would, with the same browser, screen resolution, connection speeds, etc… Do all the links work right? Is it contextually correct. A cross link from a deep information blog post to a product page can create cognitive dissonance with your readers.
Checking at times of change is common. You are the brand guardian, you need to verify beyond the scope of any single effort to be sure that everything is working. Schedule a time that is good for you consistently (weekly or monthly at most) and see what you find.
Random Tuesdays. Have you tried testing at your busiest times? No, why not? Because that is when the most customers are on our site, or that is when Sales and Service are swamped, that is exactly when you should! It is better to know if there are load/bandwidth issues before the emails roll in. Keep in mind that when the experience isn’t good, most people will not take the time to tell you. They will just leave and look elsewhere.
Foundation work is hard work. This isn’t something that you can just do at the launch of your site or after a redesign and then walk away. Everyone tests when they are making a major change but the key to having a strong foundation is continuous maintenance. I set aside two blocks of time per month where I put everything else aside and review my brand. Delay the quick fix. When I am reviewing I often come across things that are quickly fixed. It can be a link that isn’t pointing to the right landing page or an image that has been updated on one section and just not put into all the pages that it is used on. Note these things (Evernote is great for this) and then when you are done, you should have two lists. List one is the quick changes/fixes that you can make. List two is the larger issue items that you need to communicate to your agency or designer or technical staff to help with.