Think about the consumer – hero the search box

Google have trained us to be impatient. We go to a website and expect to find the information we want or something that will lead us to the results quickly. If we don’t get what we expect, we start to get annoyed and bounce off the site looking somewhere else for the information we need. More often than not, we bounce to a competitors website. If they have the information we need, we stay and research more. If not, we continue the search pattern until we find what we need.

As consumers, we know our own site behaviour and research habits, so why isn’t that influencing us in our website designs. Both agencies and clients get so caught up in making sure the site is pushing the best creative or as much copy as we can rather than thinking about the consumer. The consumer is the real reason we build sites and when they arrive at a site, normally, want to get in and get out of a site really quickly (with a better understanding about the product/service).

The majority of sites are developed to sell something or provide information so consumers can make an informed decision about a product/service, however, we (agency and client) try to push the information we think consumers want rather than understanding their mindset or purpose for visiting the site. One of my favourite examples of how this has been flipped on its head is with the VW UK website.

This site really thinks about the consumer and why they have come to the site. It understands the mindset and the reasons they have visited. It provides clear reference links through to deeper content that is relevant to different audiences. Those five statements show that VW understands its audience.

VW UK website as at 17 September 2008

VW UK website as at 17 September 2008

VW website audience statements as at 17 September 2008

VW website audience statements as at 17 September 2008

Another company that gets its online audience is ZAAZ. This has been one of my favourite websites since it launched last year. It is applying the Google principle that audience control (consumer control) is key when visiting a site. As soon as the site loads, you have the option of surfing through the navigation available or asking a question that will immediately take you to the search results you are looking for.

ZAAZ home page

ZAAZ home page

On the home page, I typed in what is data smog. The response to this question is in the screen grab below. It provided a brief overview and links to areas of the site that can provide more information. I love it because it means you can get in and out of a site really quickly without wasting time looking for content that you think would be easy to find.

ZAAZ home page response

ZAAZ home page response


How can we apply this to our clients? Quite easily.

  • When you get a brief for a website (even if it is just a refresh), think about why someone is visiting the site. Break it down into five key areas and see if there is a question or a statement that summarises it and would make it easy for the consumer.
  • Make the search box a hero on the site. Consumers are comfortable with search, so take advantage of it. Not only is it a great way for consumers to get the information they need quickly, but it’s also a good research tool for companies: What content is important? How can we highlight that information? Is there a campaign we can create around that content?

Key theme: think about the audience.

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Web development: 10 assumptions to think about

Palmer Web Marketing wrote an interesting article about 10 assumptions that must be considered when developing a website.  Below are the 10 assumptions:

  1. People will know how to find your website
  2. People know what you sell
  3. Everything will go as planned
  4. People know where to click
  5. People know how to get home
  6. People know where they are
  7. People know how to buy
  8. People will volunteer loads of personal information
  9. People will contact customer service if they have a question or problem
  10. People will come back

I think assumption 1 and 10 are true within most agencies: people know how to find your site and they will return. Too often we build these great sites for clients, but don’t think about how we are going to drive traffic to the site or what we are going to do to ensure it keeps back. As corny as it is, we need to think of a website being like an island, without bridges it doesn’t get any traffic. It’s our role to define what those bridges are (a combination of paid for and free traffic) and how we can generate a constant stream of traffic to the site/island.

There are so many ways that traffic can be driven to a website (I will post more about this because it is one of my favourite topics):

In regards to driving repeat traffic, this is extremely hard. Question: how many campaign sites do you return to on a weekly basis? I don’t go back to many unless it’s connected to a promotion/competition that I am actually interested in winning or it is one of my client’s competitors sites.


If there are two things to take out of this post, they are think about:

  1. How you are going to drive traffic to the site consistently (even after the campaign launch period)
  2. How you will drive traffic back to the site (what’s the incentive? content? promotion? other? Why would they come back?)
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Actionable website analytics (ZAAZ principles) – book review

Working as part of the Y&R Brands network, and in particular Wunderman, it gave me exposure to a lot of great companies that were acquired, specialising in digital, direct and data. In my opinion, there were three stand outs: ZAAZ, Knowledge Based Marketing and Fortelligent.

While on holiday (in rainy Thailand last year), I did myself a favour and read their book ‘Actionable Web Analytics’. It is co-authored by the CEO and Chief Analytics and Optimisation Officer. A good book for all those who think they get analytics or need to get it for their jobs.

There were several themes that rang true for me:

  • Data smog: How can agencies cut through the data smog for their clients? Clients are getting so many reports from so many different partners – what is important? What do they need to improve? How can they improve it? How can this information be molded into bit size chunks and usable?
  • Monetising online: How can you monetise websites? Without having a thorough understanding about how websites are performing and all of the details, this is extremely difficult to determine. However, measures can be taken to ensure this is overcome (particularly those that allow to test, test and test).
  • Results: Why understanding the results are critical? Too many people don’t understand the results. They look at them, but don’t know what they mean.
  • The difference between web analytics and web reporting – yes there is a difference. One focusing on analysing the results, while the other just highlights the findings. The hard thing with this is getting clients to understand the importance of the difference and acting on the results.
  • Consumer journeys: How do you define the conversation path? This needs to be done both online and offline. How are you attracting people, getting them to engage with the brand/company, then moving them through to transaction and into a retention cycle? So important to map this out prior to starting any campaign.

The book also made me consider the following process upgrades within an interactive agency to ensure the following are happening (and not just been given lip service):

  • Google analytics – it’s free, why shouldn’t you include it?
  • Exit survey – there is a need to understand what is missing from the site and what other content is needed. This is best gathered from users rather than second guessing.
  • Test strategies – need to be developed at the start of a campaign identifying things to be tested – offers, messaging and media.

A couple of my favourite quotes from the book:

  • ‘Your website is a series of customer processes. They’re trying to discover, learn, compare, configure, price, locate, purchase, join, discuss, etc.’
  • ‘For every action, there is an opportunity for an intelligent reaction.’
  • ‘Keywords and banner ads are highly targeted doorways to specific destinations on websites.’

ZAAZ’s focus is on performance-driven design. Most agencies are trying to achieve this, but they get lost in the big ideas. I think we should all be striving for performance-driven engagement and bring all of the consumer learnings together and understand what engages them or continues bringing them back.

In summary, the book looks at the website from the users view (who comes to your site? what are they trying to accomplish?) and the marketer’s view (how can we make the website better? what do we need to look at and what is important?). It is a great sales book for ZAAZ, but they honestly are a brilliant company that know how to make money from any site.

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Digital marketing 101 – An interactive intro

One of the most viewed posts (from this blog) and referring search terms are around digital training or advertising agency training for digital/interactive. Every agency is craving digital training and trying to up skill all staff quickly. In Sydney, there are so many digital courses and conferences out there, but it is hard to know which ones are right for the different skill sets.

Based on the iSchool sessions I ran at Y&R Brands (see previous post), I have put together an updated digital marketing introduction or basic 101 session for agency staff.


The purpose of the presentation is to provide a basic overview of digital marketing, the different facets and how companies are embracing digital. This is only a short/quick introduction to digital.


Traditional advertising agency staff across all areas: strategy, account service, production and creative.


The presentation covers very basic digital topics including:

  1. Short introduction to the Internet
  2. Customers online: a paradigm shift
  3. Advertising today
  4. Online advertising
  5. Search consumption (SEM & SEO)
  6. Blogs
  7. Social networks
  8. Website
  9. Email
  10. Benchmarks & ROI
  11. Top 3 online trends

The presentation doesn’t cover the following topics (another presentation will be created for these):

  1. Mobile
  2. RSS
  3. In-depth web development
  4. Driving traffic (social marketing)


If you would like a copy of the presentation, please send me an email (in presentation) or post me a comment.

Written by Dominique Hind

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