Building Consumer Awareness: How to Talk to People Who Don’t Know They Need You

Posted by bridget.randolph

As a marketer, if your product is the obvious solution to an obvious problem, your job is relatively straightforward. You simply need to show the customer why your product is the best one out there. Often the easiest way to do this is by demonstrating your USP; sometimes you can also compete on price. Either way, if your customer is already looking for the product or service you offer, and not attached to any particular brand, all you have to do is convince them that your brand does it best.

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This is where the old saying comes from: “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”

But the reality is, a lot of us don’t sell products that fill an obvious need. Even if your product or service does fill a genuine need or solve a real problem… do people actually realise that they have that problem? And do they know that a solution exists?

The three stages of consumer awareness

A lot of marketers today are facing this conundrum: “How do I sell the benefits of my brand over those of my competitors when my customer doesn’t even know they need my product?” There’s no point shouting about how you are the best at ‘whatever-it-is’ if people don’t know they need it. The harsh truth is: no one cares.

How do we make them care?

This is where it gets a bit tricky. The immediate response you are likely to get when you ask this question is a fun one: “we need to increase brand awareness!!” After all, marketing blogs are full of posts about how digital marketing is all about brand loyalty, warm fuzzy feelings towards brands, brands as people, and so on. But
for this type of situation, brand awareness actually isn’t the right answer.

When people don’t know they need something, you don’t need increased
brand awareness… you need increased need/want awareness, followed by solution/product awareness, and only then should you be looking to raise brand awareness.

This leads to a 3-stage customer journey:

  1. Creating awareness of the need/problem. At this stage the customer is both product and brand agnostic; they don’t realise they have a problem or need which requires a solution. Your job at this stage is to show them that they have a problem or need. They may not be aware that this is a problem at all; or they may perceive it as an annoyance but not a problem they care enough about fixing. Raising awareness of this need or problem can be done through either an emotive or a logical message but either way the focus should be on the customer, not on you.
  2. Demonstrating the basic solution to that need/problem. At this stage the customer is still brand agnostic; they are now aware of the problem but not yet sure what the solution is. Your job at this stage is to present your solution as the best way to solve their problem or meet their need. However, the first step is simply to show them that this type of product or service is a good solution to their problem or need. Again, at this stage, you are focusing on the customer and his or her need. Don’t try to sell them on “you” just yet.
  3. Selling your solution and your brand as the best version. At this stage, the customer knows they have a problem, and they know their preferred approach to solving the problem is through using the product or service that you provide. Your job now is to show that they should choose to buy that solution from you, and to link that solution with your brand in the customer’s mind. This is the point at which talking about yourself is allowed. 🙂

Take one step at a time

The temptation which a lot of brands face is to try and create brand messaging and content which can do all three of these things at once. This can be due to a fear of inadvertently promoting their competitors, or sometimes a directive from above which dictates that we ‘push the brand’ regardless of the stage of the customer journey you are currently targeting, or any number of other reasons. Sometimes it happens because the marketers themselves are keen brand advocates and love talking about how great the brand is and what they do. But this is a mistake.


Don’t try to make your brand messaging do all the things all the time.
You will not succeed, and you will simply end up diluting the message and failing to speak to anyone’s needs. Instead, focus on one stage of the customer journey only for each piece of content or marketing activity that you do.


But wait. Am I saying we should avoid branded content in the first two stages of this customer journey?

NO.

Please don’t think that shifting the focus away from heavy brand messaging, or focusing on a different type of awareness, means that you have to avoid all branding completely! Of course any advertising, social, and website content which you produce should always incorporate your brand guidelines and include logos, straplines, etc. 
(as appropriate).

What I’m talking about here is simply the
focus of the messaging.

How does this work in practice?

Let’s take an example, Dyson vacuum cleaners, and look at how their product messaging fits into this 3 stage framework:


Dyson has a starting point
– people do know they need vacuum cleaners. But Dyson still needs to identify a problem that they solve that the other vacuum cleaner brands don’t. In this case, their vacuum cleaners have a USP of extra strong suction that doesn’t clog – but the average consumer may not realise that this is a feature that they should care about.

Stage 1: Creating awareness of the need/problem

At this stage the potential customer is happy with their current situation.

With the Dyson example: if the messaging is simply ‘buy Dyson’, that’s not enough to convert Hoover or Oreck customers. Once you’ve chosen a brand for appliance purchases, the easiest thing when you need a new one is to replace the old one with a new version of the same thing. So the average person is happy just going back and buying another Hoover or Oreck.

Instead of shouting about the Dyson brand, your job at this stage is to show them that they have a problem or need which isn’t currently being met. In this example, a problem which a lot of people have is that their vacuum cleaner gets clogged easily and loses suction over time. So our messaging for people at this stage focuses on that problem and how our product is differentiated: “others clog; ours don’t”.


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(Note that this ad is still branded but the focus is on the potential customers’ problem.)

Stage 2: Demonstrating the basic solution to that need/problem

At this stage the customer is still brand agnostic; they are now aware of the problem (clogged vacuum cleaner –> “I wish I had a vacuum cleaner that didn’t get clogged all the time”) but not yet sure what the solution is.

Your job at this stage is to present your solution (“our vacuum cleaner doesn’t clog because our cleaner has special patented technology which keeps it unclogged and maintain suction over time”) as the best way to solve their problem or meet their need. The messaging in this ad focuses on the technology as a solution to a problem: If you want a vacuum that doesn’t clog or lose suction, you need a vacuum with no bags and this special ‘Cyclone’ technology.

Image source.

Again, at this stage, you are focusing on the customer and his or her need and why your solution is best.

Stage 3: Selling your brand as the best version

In the third stage, the customer knows they have a problem, and they know their preferred approach to solving the problem is through using the product or service that you provide. In the Dyson example, they know that they want a vacuum cleaner with this special technology that keeps it unclogged and maintains suction over time.

Your job now is to show that your brand is synonymous with that solution. For Dyson, this is the type of messaging that ties the brand explicitly to the ‘solution’:

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Conclusion

When people don’t already know they need your product, you can’t just sell them on your brand right away, because your brand is meaningless to them. You create meaning and an emotional feeling about your brand by guiding people through these three stages of awareness:
need/want awareness, solution/product awareness, and finally brand awareness.

Each of these stages requires a distinct message for a different audience of people, so you can’t try to make your messaging one size fits all. Instead, tailor the messaging on different sections of your website, your social media and other digital content, and your advertising campaigns to speak to one group of people at a time. It may feel very counter-intuitive to sell your audience on why they need X product rather than why they need to buy from Y company. But you need to allow them to experience the need before selling your brand, they will care about the answer to that need.


And never try to do all the things at once.

…Unless you sell the best mousetraps ever, in which case I guess you can sit back and relax while the world comes to you.


Image source.

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Long Tail CTR Study: The Forgotten Traffic Beyond Top 10 Rankings

Posted by GaryMoyle

Search behavior is fundamentally changing, as users become more savvy and increasingly familiar with search technology. Google’s results have also changed significantly over the last decade, going from a simple page of 10 blue links to a much richer layout, including videos, images, shopping ads and the innovative Knowledge Graph.

We also know there are an increasing amount of touchpoints in a customer journey involving different channels and devices. Google’s
Zero Moment of Truth theory (ZMOT), which describes a revolution in the way consumers search for information online, supports this idea and predicts that we can expect the number of times natural search is involved on the path to a conversion to get higher and higher.

Understanding how people interact with Google and other search engines will always be important. Organic click curves show how many clicks you might expect from search engine results and are one way of evaluating the impact of our campaigns, forecasting performance and exploring changing search behavior.

Using search query data from Google UK for a wide range of leading brands based on millions of impressions and clicks, we can gain insights into the how CTR in natural search has evolved beyond those shown in previous studies by
Catalyst, Slingshot and AOL.

Our methodology

The NetBooster study is based entirely on UK top search query data and has been refined by day in order to give us the most accurate sample size possible. This helped us reduce anomalies in the data in order to achieve the most reliable click curve possible, allowing us to extend it way beyond the traditional top 10 results.

We developed a method to extract data day by day to greatly increase the volume of keywords and to help improve the accuracy of the
average ranking position. It ensured that the average was taken across the shortest timescale possible, reducing rounding errors.

The NetBooster study included:

  • 65,446,308 (65 million) clicks
  • 311,278,379 (311 million) impressions
  • 1,253,130 (1.2 million) unique search queries
  • 54 unique brands
  • 11 household brands (sites with a total of 1M+ branded keyword impressions)
  • Data covers several verticals including retail, travel and financial

We also looked at organic CTR for mobile, video and image results to better understand how people are discovering content in natural search across multiple devices and channels. 

We’ll explore some of the most important elements in this article.

How does our study compare against others?

Let’s start by looking at the top 10 results. In the graph below we have normalized the results in order to compare our curve, like-for-like, with previous studies from Catalyst and Slingshot. Straight away we can see that there is higher participation beyond the top four positions when compared to other studies. We can also see much higher CTR for positions lower on the pages, which highlights how searchers are becoming more comfortable with mining search results.

A new click curve to rule them all

Our first click curve is the most useful, as it provides the click through rates for generic non-brand search queries across positions 1 to 30. Initially, we can see a significant amount of traffic going to the top three results with position No. 1 receiving 19% of total traffic, 15% at position No. 2 and 11.45% at position No. 3. The interesting thing to note, however, is our curve shows a relatively high CTR for positions typically below the fold. Positions 6-10 all received a higher CTR than shown in previous studies. It also demonstrates that searchers are frequently exploring pages two and three.

CTR-top-30-730px.jpg

When we look beyond the top 10, we can see that CTR is also higher than anticipated, with positions 11-20 accounting for 17% of total traffic. Positions 21-30 also show higher than anticipated results, with over 5% of total traffic coming from page three. This gives us a better understanding of the potential uplift in visits when improving rankings from positions 11-30.

This highlights that searchers are frequently going beyond the top 10 to find the exact result they want. The prominence of paid advertising, shopping ads, Knowledge Graph and the OneBox may also be pushing users below the fold more often as users attempt to find better qualified results. It may also indicate growing dissatisfaction with Google results, although this is a little harder to quantify.

Of course, it’s important we don’t just rely on one single click curve. Not all searches are equal. What about the influence of brand, mobile and long-tail searches?

Brand bias has a significant influence on CTR

One thing we particularly wanted to explore was how the size of your brand influences the curve. To explore this, we banded each of the domains in our study into small, medium and large categories based on the sum of brand query impressions across the entire duration of the study.

small-medium-large-brand-organic-ctr-730

When we look at how brand bias is influencing CTR for non-branded search queries, we can see that better known brands get a sizable increase in CTR. More importantly, small- to medium-size brands are actually losing out to results from these better-known brands and experience a much lower CTR in comparison.

What is clear is keyphrase strategy will be important for smaller brands in order to gain traction in natural search. Identifying and targeting valuable search queries that aren’t already dominated by major brands will minimize the cannibalization of CTR and ensure higher traffic levels as a result.

How does mobile CTR reflect changing search behavior?

Mobile search has become a huge part of our daily lives, and our clients are seeing a substantial shift in natural search traffic from desktop to mobile devices. According to Google, 30% of all searches made in 2013 were on a mobile device; they also predict mobile searches will constitute over 50% of all searches in 2014.

Understanding CTR from mobile devices will be vital as the mobile search revolution continues. It was interesting to see that the click curve remained very similar to our desktop curve. Despite the lack of screen real estate, searchers are clearly motivated to scroll below the fold and beyond the top 10.

netbooster-mobile-organic-ctr-730px.jpg

NetBooster CTR curves for top 30 organic positions


Position

Desktop CTR

Mobile CTR

Large Brand

Medium Brand

Small Brand
1 19.35% 20.28% 20.84% 13.32% 8.59%
2 15.09% 16.59% 16.25% 9.77% 8.92%
3 11.45% 13.36% 12.61% 7.64% 7.17%
4 8.68% 10.70% 9.91% 5.50% 6.19%
5 7.21% 7.97% 8.08% 4.69% 5.37%
6 5.85% 6.38% 6.55% 4.07% 4.17%
7 4.63% 4.85% 5.20% 3.33% 3.70%
8 3.93% 3.90% 4.40% 2.96% 3.22%
9 3.35% 3.15% 3.76% 2.62% 3.05%
10 2.82% 2.59% 3.13% 2.25% 2.82%
11 3.06% 3.18% 3.59% 2.72% 1.94%
12 2.36% 3.62% 2.93% 1.96% 1.31%
13 2.16% 4.13% 2.78% 1.96% 1.26%
14 1.87% 3.37% 2.52% 1.68% 0.92%
15 1.79% 3.26% 2.43% 1.51% 1.04%
16 1.52% 2.68% 2.02% 1.26% 0.89%
17 1.30% 2.79% 1.67% 1.20% 0.71%
18 1.26% 2.13% 1.59% 1.16% 0.86%
19 1.16% 1.80% 1.43% 1.12% 0.82%
20 1.05% 1.51% 1.36% 0.86% 0.73%
21 0.86% 2.04% 1.15% 0.74% 0.70%
22 0.75% 2.25% 1.02% 0.68% 0.46%
23 0.68% 2.13% 0.91% 0.62% 0.42%
24 0.63% 1.84% 0.81% 0.63% 0.45%
25 0.56% 2.05% 0.71% 0.61% 0.35%
26 0.51% 1.85% 0.59% 0.63% 0.34%
27 0.49% 1.08% 0.74% 0.42% 0.24%
28 0.45% 1.55% 0.58% 0.49% 0.24%
29 0.44% 1.07% 0.51% 0.53% 0.28%
30 0.36% 1.21% 0.47% 0.38% 0.26%

Creating your own click curve

This study will give you a set of benchmarks for both non-branded and branded click-through rates with which you can confidently compare to your own click curve data. Using this data as a comparison will let you understand whether the appearance of your content is working for or against you.

We have made things a little easier for you by creating an Excel spreadsheet: simply drop your own top search query data in and it’ll automatically create a click curve for your website.

Simply visit the NetBooster website and download our tool to start making your own click curve.

In conclusion

It’s been both a fascinating and rewarding study, and we can clearly see a change in search habits. Whatever the reasons for this evolving search behavior, we need to start thinking beyond the top 10, as pages two and three are likely to get more traffic in future. 

 We also need to maximize the traffic created from existing rankings and not just think about position.

Most importantly, we can see practical applications of this data for anyone looking to understand and maximize their content’s performance in natural search. Having the ability to quickly and easily create your own click curve and compare this against a set of benchmarks means you can now understand whether you have an optimal CTR.

What could be the next steps?

There is, however, plenty of scope for improvement. We are looking forward to continuing our investigation, tracking the evolution of search behavior. If you’d like to explore this subject further, here are a few ideas:

  • Segment search queries by intent (How does CTR vary depending on whether a search query is commercial or informational?)
  • Understand CTR by industry or niche
  • Monitor the effect of new Knowledge Graph formats on CTR across both desktop and mobile search
  • Conduct an annual analysis of search behavior (Are people’s search habits changing? Are they clicking on more results? Are they mining further into Google’s results?)

Ultimately, click curves like this will change as the underlying search behavior continues to evolve. We are now seeing a massive shift in the underlying search technology, with Google in particular heavily investing in entity- based search (i.e., the Knowledge Graph). We can expect other search engines, such as Bing, Yandex and Baidu to follow suit and use a similar approach.

The rise of smartphone adoption and constant connectivity also means natural search is becoming more focused on mobile devices. Voice-activated search is also a game-changer, as people start to converse with search engines in a more natural way. This has huge implications for how we monitor search activity.

What is clear is no other industry is changing as rapidly as search. Understanding how we all interact with new forms of search results will be a crucial part of measuring and creating success.

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Customer Journey Maps – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by kerrybodine

At every stage in the marketing funnel, it’s crucially important to empathize with your customers’ interactions with your business, feeling great about the high points and frustrated by the lows. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, MozCon 2014 speaker Kerry Bodine shows us all about customer journey mapping—a tool that allows us to visualize and learn from those experiences.

Video transcription

Hi, I’m Kerry Bodine. I am a customer experience consultant, and I am the co-author of a book called “Outside In.” The subtitle of the book is “The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business.” That’s really what I am all about. I try and help companies to take customer knowledge, customer insights and really bring it into their organization, so that they can become more customer-centric.

What I’d like to share with you today is a tool from the customer experience world that I think is really critical for every marketer out there to understand. It is called a “customer journey map.” Really simply, all a journey map is, is it’s an illustration that shows all the different steps that your customers go through as they do business with you over time.

In addition to showing just what they do, it also shows customers’ thoughts, their feeling, and their emotions. The goal of the customer journey map is really to get a holistic view of what the customer is going through from their point of view and really what it’s like for them on a personal level, that human level. I’ll share a little bit about how customer journey maps work, and we’ll wrap up with how you can do this yourselves within your own organizations.

What I’ve got behind me here is the start of a customer journey map, what this typically looks like. As you can see, as customers interact with you, it’s not just a straight line. Some of those experiences are going to be better, and some of those experiences are going to be worse. What you want to do is you want to track what those actually look like over time. Now ideally, you are going to be understanding where those bright spots are. Those are the things that your company is really doing well to help meet your customers’ goals.

You’ve also got to understand where things aren’t going so well for your customers, where you’re not delivering the value that they’re looking for, where you’re making it really difficult just to do business with you, or where you’re just not treating them as a human being. You’re treating them as just kind of a line in a spreadsheet or maybe a record in your CRM system. We’ve got to really understand our customers at a human level.

Why is a journey map like this so important for marketers? Well, part of the reason is that, at some point as we go along this journey, we’re going through that typical marketing funnel. The customer first learns about your products and services. Then there’s consideration, and they move into actually purchasing whatever it is that you’re providing. We’re not talking with those words when we’re doing a journey map, because no customer is out there saying, “Oh, I’m in the awareness phase right now of buying shoes.”

No, they’re just saying, “Hey, I’m out there researching shoes.”

Those are the types of steps that you put on here. As you go along, your customers are learning about your products and services, and then they’re buying them hopefully. At some point, the traditional role of the marketer ends. The rest of the customer journey, maybe receiving those shoes in the mail if they’ve ordered them online and then trying them on, and if they don’t fit, maybe the process of returning them, that all happens after that purchase point. We’ve got half of this customer journey that’s really all about making promises to the customer.

This is what marketing is traditionally set up to do. They are set up to help customers to understand why it’s going to be so amazing to spend money with their particular company. All of these different touch points here are in the service of making a promise to the customer about what they’re going to get after they’ve purchased from you. All of the touch points that follow are really about delivering on that promise. As you can see in this journey, the organization really didn’t deliver well on whatever it was that was promised during this phase over here.

The interesting thing is that not only do marketers need to care about these journey maps, but everyone else in the organization does as well. While marketers might be primarily responsible for this process of making promises, there are many, many other parts of the organization that are primarily responsible for delivering on those promises. You’ve got people who are working in customer service, in retail, in finance, in operations, behind the scenes, in parts of the organization like legal and IT, parts of the organization that never even talked to a customer typically during their employment at that company or maybe in their entire careers.

These journey maps can help to unite all of the different parts of the organization. It can help someone in marketing understand really what they need to be promising in order to have expectations set correctly for the end of this process. It can also help people who are responsible for delivering the rest of the customer experience. It can help them understand really what that pre-purchase experience is like and really what is being promised to customers.

This is really an effective tool at helping to break people out of their organizational silos, getting them to understand that holistic customer viewpoint across all the different touch points, and getting people within the organization to have empathy for each other, their fellow colleagues, or perhaps external partners, who are all playing a role in delivering this journey behind me.

How can you do this yourself within your organization? What I want to do is share with you a very simple method for doing journey mapping with any group. All you really need is to have a whiteboard like this, or maybe you’re going to have a big sheet of butcher paper that you can get at any office supply store. You want to have some markers. I typically like using Sharpie markers, because you can read them from a distance. My very, very favorite tool for doing this, packs of sticky notes.

All you’re going to do is you’re going to write down each step in the customer journey on a different sticky note. Then all you need to do is put them up on your whiteboard or your piece of white butcher paper in the order that the customer would go through their particular journey.

I mentioned buying shoes before, and what I’m putting up here are all the different steps that a customer might go through if they were buying shoes from your company. They’re going to search for the shoes. They’re going to follow a link to a website. They’re going to learn about the product. They’re going to buy the shoes. They’re going to wait to receive them. Then they’ll finally receive them. They’re going to try on the shoes, and they’re not going to fit here. They’re going to go to the website, but they can’t find the returns information. They’re going to call customer service. They’re going to get the return information. I’m running out of room here. They’re going to print a return label. They’re going to box up their shoes, and then they’re going to drop the box off at the shipper, UPS or USPS, whatever it is that they’re using.

That’s really the basic building blocks of creating a journey map. It’s just going through and mapping out step by step what the customer is going through. I like using stickers for this. You can get red and green stickers at your office supply store. You can use markers. The idea is that you’re going to note where the different steps in that process are going well and then maybe where those steps start to go south. This will give you a really good depiction of where the problem points are in your customer journey and where you need to focus on improving interactions to better meet your customer’s needs.

You can go a lot further with this. You can start detailing what your customers are thinking and what they’re feeling. You can add those in on different colors of Post-it notes. You can also denote all of the different touch points that they’re interacting with. Are they talking to the call center? Are they on the website? Are they on Google? Whatever those touch points happen to be. You can even dig down deeper into the organization to start to identify who is responsible for all of those different interactions, so that again you really know where you need to be focusing on fixing the systemic problems within your organization.

What I would recommend that you do is conduct this type of exercise with people from across your organization. I mentioned that this is a really great tool for breaking down organizational silos. Really, that’s only going to happen if you get the people from all of those different organizational silos involved in creating this diagram. Hold a half-day workshop. Bring in people from all the different parts of your organization, maybe some of your key partners, and map out what you think this journey is based on your best assumptions about customers.

But don’t stop there, because, often, what we find are that our assumptions are either wrong or they’ve got big gaps in them. The second step to this process is to bring customers into the workshop and have them validate this. The beauty of this is that when you’ve created this out of sticky notes, your customers are going to have no problem going up and removing sticky notes, adding new sticky notes, moving them around so that the journey more accurately reflects what it is that they go through when they do business with you.

That is Journey Mapping 101. I hope that I’ve introduced you to a tool that you can use within your organization. If you would like more information about customer journey maps, please visit my website. It’s KerryBodine.com/CustomerJourneyMaps. Thanks very much.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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