In a Jan. 26 webinar titled Leveraging Your Online Channel, Stephen Powers, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, discussed the challenges of meeting online visitors' continually evolving expectations.
He began by laying out the evolution of the Web site, which originated basically as a repository for a company’s information. Today, Web content management is much more complex, encompassing rich media components, multichannel support, targeting, social computing, A/B and multivariate testing, and integrated analytics. Here are two tips Powers shared to help marketers leverage their online channel.
Support the Ideal Customer Experience
In order to do that, first you must know what makes an ideal online experience. This differs depending on the target segments and industries, but Powers shared some common features visitors look for:
- A site that makes it easy to drill down and search for what they want.
- Rich media, production descriptions, images and videos.
- Content recommendations, user-generated content and reviews.
- Product recommendations.
- Fellow consumer behaviors (i.e., those who browsed this purchased this, etc.).
- Mobile and e-mail applications/notification sign-ups.
Once you know what your customers want, he explained, then you must support that experience by:
- being targeted, explicitly and implicitly;
- being consistent with all other channels;
- making content easy to find;
- proving your distinction from others, perhaps by including rich media;
- connecting visitors to one another; and
- providing appropriate stakeholders a view on how your Web site is consumed.
Break Down Silos
Silos don’t work, declared Powers, for several reasons. For one, the Web is dynamic, not static, so all arms must be working together to keep up. There must be collaboration and convergence among departments and systems. And when looking for the ideal online vendor and technology, look for those that encompass as many procedures as possible. Going forward, the ideal experience should require fewer systems, predicted Powers.
When pursuing vendors, Powers suggested you:
- Understand what each vendor does well.
- Connect the dots between vendor offers and understand integration.
- Beware of buying overlapping technologies.
- Keep an eye on vendor road maps.
- Leverage and maximize what you’ve got.
- Keep in mind “closed content loop.”