Does your website offer a “resource center”? Or maybe you’ve built a “content hub”? Whatever marketers might call it, I say it’s a content graveyard, because that’s where content goes to die.
The trouble with resource centers is that they’re passive. Most companies produce top-of-funnel content first, intending to boost organic traffic. They add gated assets (behind a form) to help collect email addresses. After they’ve promoted their content, where should it go? The standard procedure is to shove it all in a resource center. Marketers might add a search box or some filters, but do you really think people browse to the resource center and filter for “all whitepapers”? (Check your Google Analytics and let me know.) Buyers have short attention spans. They don’t peruse your archives.
If marketers promote all their content, they might as well promote none. If visitors sift past lots of irrelevant content, how can they help but conclude they’re in the wrong place? Just like a good sales rep, it’s better if marketers can listen a bit before they start talking. Wouldn’t it be great if websites could guide each visitor through a tailored journey?
A marketing concierge begins by listening. All digital marketing needs to listen to visitors and leads.
Think about it from the visitor’s perspective. When visiting a vendor’s website for the first time, which would you rather hear?
A) Here’s all our content in a giant archive, but don’t worry—there’s a search box.
B) Based on what you appear to be interested in so far, here’s one thing you really need to read. And…tell us if we missed the mark.
Option B is obviously better. It’s like a helpful, knowledgeable sales rep – except that this one has no quota-driven aggression. It’s more than website personalization. It’s a marketing concierge. The key to the concierge is that it listens, gets to know each visitor, and tries to be helpful.
A marketing concierge begins by listening. All digital marketing needs to listen to visitors and leads. Marketers and their systems should strive to understand buyer goals, even before the buyer is able to articulate them. Historically, marketers have not been great at asking questions and listening. After all, marketing is about mass communication. But things are changing.
Here’s an example of a YesPath concierge in action. Visitors to certain pages on this vendor’s website saw a pop-up message asking about their current technology. It only showed up when the visitor appeared to be exiting the site. It was a simple, multiple-choice poll, and it recommended different content depending on user input. Across YesPath customers, polls like this have achieved 14-24% response. Amazing. It turns out that buyers want a little guidance in their journey. Marketers like me know that visitors are reticent to engage with humans (e.g. live chat widgets), but they don’t mind talking to computers.
On our own website, we’ve deployed a simple concierge that asks 4 questions to help visitors decide, “Should I use YesPath?” Different combinations of responses yield different recommendations, including the unorthodox strategy of telling certain visitors that our product is not a good fit. To be truly helpful, a concierge has to offer transparency. Though our concierge is below the fold and un-prompted, it still garners 14% engagement. Our scroll-map (made with Crazy Egg) shows us that visitors spend more time thinking about their answers than they do reading standard features & benefits copy.
The marketing concierge is an example of a conversational interface, which asks questions and gets to know the user. Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, expects these interfaces to become pervasive in apps. Look at his mock-ups for how Google Analytics could surface insights conversationally, taking feedback in the form of simple yes/no answers. With each response, the software is learning more about the user’s needs. Nir calls this “stored value”—a key to building a habit-forming product. Websites, and indeed all digital marketing, can learn from this.
By using a virtual concierge, marketers help both their visitors and themselves. When they learn about each visitor as an individual, marketers and sales reps can tailor communications. When they learn about behavior in aggregate, marketers can improve their portfolio of content. For example, we use YesPath to track engagement with our own content. This has allowed us to see what topics engage different personas. It’s not always counter-intuitive; sales people do read about our sales products and marketers do read about our web products. But there are surprises too. A blog post that was written for the Sales persona has actually been more popular with marketers. Who knew?
Virtual assistants are beginning to help people in many ways. iPhones use Siri. Amazon Echo gives us Alexa. X.ai schedules meetings in the guise of “Amy” and “Andrew”. We all appreciate a little guidance now & then, especially if the guide leaves us in control and does not impose social obligations. Just by guiding prospects to the right content quickly, marketers are already seeing the many benefits of a concierge experience.