While we ultimately care about the actions of users, it’s often the attitudes that affect user actions. If we don’t like a brand, we’re less likely to buy its products. If we don’t think a website is usable, we won’t come back. If we think a form is too difficult to fill out, we abandon it.
What makes a good digital marketer? You don’t need a degree in anything. I think a true marketer – one that “gets it” – is born when they can see the full scope of the market and know the cards they could play to win their objective. They may not have all the answers but they can see the challenges and complex interplay of relationships of the people involved. The key to success is to be genuine and kind whether you’re at the 30,000 foot view or in the weeds. Marketing is an endeavor in building human relationships.
Dr. Lanning: The Three Laws are perfect.
Detective Spooner: Then why would you build a robot that could function without them?
Dr. Lanning: The Three Laws will lead to only one logical outcome.
Detective Spooner: What? What outcome?
Dr. Lanning: Revolution.
Detective Spooner: Whose revolution?
Dr. Lanning: *That*, Detective, is the right question.
from I, Robot
I love movies with a plot twist, especially one I didn’t see coming. In the movie I, Robot Detective Spooner suspects a robot is behind the murder of someone close to him. As it turns out, the murder was committed by a robot, but not the one the detective thought it was. The detective could have solved the murder sooner had he asked the right question first. Higher ed content is much like a movie with a plot twist. Most schools have a lot of great content written to tell their story. The problem is the story they tell is written to answer the wrong questions.
Do you feel hesitant or confused about where to start with your marketing? Many small business owners and marketing managers I’ve worked with feel this way. We need marketing to create the appeal that will attract our customers but sometimes we aren’t always sure where to start or how to sort out what we may have inherited on the job. For whatever reason, we decide to do nothing, or worse, plunge in and spend a lot of money with little or no return!
I did that – tried many different things and spent a lot of money for nothing other than the experience of learning. Not a good business practice. I knew I needed to find the right tools and learn how to use them in order to be successful. But how?
The job of most websites is to provide sufficient information to answer the visitor’s questions and compel them to do something. In higher ed, the action we want them to take is tied to enrollment – a business objective. The problem is, prospective students don’t visit a university website and apply as if they were buying a shirt. Their journey to that decision often travels a convoluted path. They may speak with a recruiter at a college fair, visit our website and those of other schools dozens of times, email back and forth with admissions, engage the university via social media, etc. It’s very difficult to accurately track the entire sales funnel for every prospect. So how then do we measure the effectiveness of a university website? I think we need to do it by creating a yardstick we know and trust – the KPI.
Engaging content is content that informs, entertains, and adds value. Start with the emotion your audience is feeling. Are they scared? Frustrated? Skeptical? Now ask what’s the opposite of that emotion? Poke at your audience’s emotions to motivate them to take action, whether that action is to look for more content from you, pick up the phone and call, or talk to someone face to face.