Stickin’ Around Web Sites
“Stickiness” was one of the original criteria by which Web sites were judged. Marketers wanted visitors to come to their site and stay a while—look around, sign up, make a purchase, tell their friends and, of course, come back.
Over the 10-year history of the consumer-oriented Internet, much has changed about the nature of our Web experiences—they’re faster and safer, more educational, more focused and more productive—but stickiness persists as a goal. What has changed is how marketers achieve it and how we’ve grown more sophisticated in our assessment of it.
Some Mistakes of the Past
In the last five years, stickiness has meant flashiness—literally and figuratively. Sleek, beautiful intros with built-in Flash (a graphics animation software) resembled the opening credits of a movie and had show-stopping power. As consumers have become Web-literate and more purposive in their online shopping behavior, and as online advertising and streaming video have begun to make competing demands on our time and interest (comScore’s Video Metrix reports that in March 2005 alone, U.S. Internet users initiated a total of 3.7 billion video content streams), elaborate Flash-based Web site intros are experienced more as a delay, and consumers tend to look for the “skip intro” link.
Stickiness also has been about sign-up over the last few years. Web sites pressed visitors to sign up for a club, an e-mail, a sweepstakes or a mailing list. The mistake here was in creating a consumer experience where it seemed to matter less what the consumer was signing up for and more that he or she was handing over an e-mail address and other personal information.
For larger companies and organizations with multiple divisions, deep inventory or long histories, stickiness also has manifested itself as an abundance of content, as if simply saying more, and in a variety of formats, would keep consumers reading—and lingering. Some companies, for instance, offer newsletters or whitepapers, but don’t edit them sufficiently or prioritize them, so visitors experience the “paradox of choice”—more equals too much. Word count isn’t a big cost consideration (this isn’t print, after all!), and this often has led to copy that is not current and is as much about verbosity as it is about brand positioning.