stm-mm-tm

Welcome to SureToMeet™! We connect you with your most compatible matches in real time with the MatchUp™ System! Watch the demo video here.

Do you want to attend or organize business networking events in your area? Click the "Sign Up" button below to join the SureToMeet mailing list, then request a Networking Membership account while they are still FREE!

Already a member?

Remember Me

Archives for Event Promotion

Web technology makes it very easy to quickly communicate with so many people that it’s easy to forget the overriding purpose of creating a powerful web site.

It’s cool to be able to interact with customers who come to a web site. We can share a great deal of information, gather more profile data than we think we can use, and provide an entertaining, informative, and educational environment.

It’s so cool that we sometimes lose sight of what we’re trying to accomplish with this technology. Sure, we want to sell products with e-commerce or generate leads for salespeople.

But how does this impact the audience? I mean, really impact them.

Many people involved in Internet marketing feel that they’re helping members of their audience improve their lives through the information and products provided on the web.

Some time back a series of TV spots ran for iVillage. They talked about women with real problems finding real help from people like themselves. Because many ailments are shared by very small groups of people, these groups are so small that local support organizations aren’t always available to help. The Internet provides access to those communities of people who share common interests and needs, and are willing to help.

Speaking of TV commercials, another company is advancing the concept of one-to-one marketing and mass customization. Xerox periodically runs a campaign with the theme, “keep the conversation going.” This campaign shows that providing personalized information to customers appeals to people – on paper, of course. Xerox makes a good case that profile data can be used to personalize more than just web sites and e-mails.

Influence Decisions

But all of these – from communities of like-minded people to personalized web, e-mail, social media, and, yes, paper-based communications – are done for one reason, and that’s to influence decisions.

Communication is a give and take. Whether it’s an online community where people share their experiences or an e-commerce site where merchants provide products (and get paid). We communicate when we want to influence those around us to be like us, respect us, and sometimes buy from us.

Internet Interaction

But how do we actually use the web to provide the kind of interaction that touches people and influences their decisions? The slogan used in the Xerox TV commercial has the answer: Keep the conversation going.

The conversation we use in everyday life is also aimed at influencing the decisions people around us make. We know that we need to speak the language of the person we’re trying to communicate with and understand what they’re feeling.

Have you watched a couple of Internet techies talk to each other? At first they ask a few questions to learn about the other person’s experience level and background. Then they shift into a very different level of talking that uses a language of their own, sometimes called “technospeak” (and sometimes called “technobabble”). They don’t care if the non-technical people around them don’t understand their TLAs (three letter acronyms), because those conversation shortcuts help them communicate better.

Building Relationships with Conversation

They can quickly form a bond of trust and understanding that frequently allows them to learn from each other. That respect can lead to learning something new that influences their decisions.

So how can we use conversational techniques on the web to influence visitors? Portions of the Xerox web site are written in a conversational style, but there’s more to making a site conversational than the style of writing.

A truly conversational site learns about visitors, saves that information in profiles, and then uses that knowledge to react to different interests.

Here’s a quick test to see if your web site is conversational:

  • Does the site ask questions aimed at learning about each person?
  • Can the site determine if someone is just starting to learn about products like yours or has researched the market and is about to make a purchase decision?
  • Does the text on the site change to match the interest and knowledge level of the visitor?

These are just a few of the ways that profiles about people can be used to make a Web site more conversational, but the real focus should be on getting in step with each visitor and matching what the site says with what people are thinking and feeling. The art of conversation is taught in books, classes, and seminars, so there is a procedure for doing it. Why not use the same procedure on the Web?

Intuitive navigation and great design help people find the right document. But taking advantage of meaningful profile data allows dynamic Web and e-mail to make an impact on members of the target market and influence their purchase decisions

Cliff Allen, cofounder of SureToMeet, president of Coravue

People visit Web sites for many reasons, but the quality and the depth of the content are the primary reasons people go to a company’s Web site.

Customers want to find out — whether through product descriptions at a consumer site or extensive product information at a business-to-business site — how products can satisfy their needs.

The quality and amount of content are major factors in the success of a site, because it’s the content — text, photos, and illustrations — that helps customers determine whether they want to do business with that company.

Can you imagine any commerce site being successful without describing the products it sells? Obviously not. Yet many sites have extremely limited product information. This leads to apprehension because customers don’t know if the product meets their needs or not.

Visitors are not interested merely in detailed product descriptions. They also want information about how people like themselves have used products successfully.

Here are several reasons why the quality and quantity of content have so much influence on the success of a site.

Content Builds Relationships

Many purchase decisions are “considered decisions” that are made over time as the customer weighs the alternatives before making a purchase. During the sales cycle, it’s important to continually provide additional content.

Some sites do this by continually providing new material, such as case studies and white papers. Another approach is to store the number of visits in the person’s data profile, then display new links to content each time the person returns to the site. This is especially effective when an e-mail campaign of messages is triggered by the number of visits to the site.

However new content is presented to returning visitors, the benefits become clear as the total number of sessions per person increases with the growth of the content.

Content Reduces Apprehension

Customers always want to feel good about the purchases they make. So any lingering questions about a product that go unanswered reduce the chances that customers will buy that product.

As they understand how they can use a product, and how it will help them, their anxiety about making the purchase is reduced.

So … the more questions you can answer, the more likely you will make the sale.

Content Creates Differentiation

You probably sell products that have a unique combination of features that make your products different from the competition’s. However, if your product descriptions are similar to those on other sites, customers can’t tell how you’re products are different from – or better than – the competition’s.

You can drive home your competitive advantages by making sure there is sufficient content on your site that appeals to people most likely to buy your products.

In other words, content should be meaningful to your potential customers. It should help readers solve problems, accomplish tasks, and, of course, help improve their lives.

A Content Case in Point

An example of how content differentiates two major competitors is the home-improvement market. The Home Depot and Lowe’s are similar in many respects. Both have large warehouse stores. Both sell everything from lumber to kitchen appliances. And, both have good prices. But when it comes to their Web sites, there is a significant difference.

The Home Depot home page leads off with products it wants to sell, but the top of the Lowe’s home page links to educational articles about how to use the products it sells.

In other words, the Lowe’s Web site is both a commerce site and an information resource.

While Lowe’s has a little less than half the revenue of Home Depot, the Lowe’s Web site receives about 85 percent as much traffic as Home Depot. If the amount of traffic to both Web sites is any indicator of future growth, it looks like Lowe’s is building a successful Web presence.

Every successful company has a continuous flow of new products and has new uses for existing products. Marketers can leverage such innovation to improve a company’s competitive position by continually expanding descriptive content about every aspect of its products.

The Content Management Challenge

Quickly creating Web pages that combine high-quality graphic design with compelling text requires exceptional teamwork and coordination. Combine that with the technology challenge of tailoring content based on profile data, and it becomes clear that new tools and production techniques are needed.

Coravue and other vendors have developed content management products that separate the design function from the authoring tasks. These content management products combine the text and graphics to automatically create Web pages and promotional e-mail messages.

Today’s content management tools help marketers take control of the workflow process of authoring, editing, approving, and scheduling content. This makes it easy for marketers to create the steady stream of quality content. But, more important, adding in-depth content to a site helps customers learn more about a company’s products and feel more comfortable making a purchase.

By Cliff Allen, cofounder of SurfeToMeet, President, Coravue, Inc.