The Attention Economy: Your Audience's Attention Is Worth More Than Their Clicks

Goal of this post: You will learn that attention is a currency and why it’s vital to your brand. You need to start paying attention to well, attention.

 

 

In today’s crowded world there are so many messages competing for our attention at all times that we have started to filter what we pay attention to.

 

As brands we can pay to have our message shown to people and can at times get our message across extremely cheaply (I’m looking at you Facebook Ads). We can design this message to be extremely focused and targeted to get the attention of our audiences but only if that message is so good that it sets you apart from every competing message in that moment.

 

Want to know what’s more impressive though? When a person chooses to visit you. Chooses to listen to you and chooses to share your message with their friends.

 

They are openly recommending you to their relationships. Do you know how insanely valuable that is? Yes, word-of-mouth marketing has been around since the beginning of time but in the digital age we can track it and put an ROI to it.

 

Think attention isn’t a form of currency now?

 

It’s so much easier to pay for a user to visit us. Yes, paid ads can be a great tactic to use (I love executing these!) to generate traffic but the end goal shouldn’t just be clicks - it needs to be attention.

 

Because here’s the thing - people are smart.

 

They know when they are getting click-baited, they now recognize Google Ads (and are scrolling past more often) and at the end of the day people just don’t want to get sold to. Plain and simple.

What do people want - especially millennials?

 

We want to identify with a brand. We want to know the meaning behind the product/cause/service,

 

Once someone has clicked to your website, your social profiles, your product, etc. there needs to be more than a solution. There needs to be a connection.

 

What will get them to come back on their own free will?

 

What will make them think of you on a random Wednesday when they suddenly have a problem only your product/service can solve?

 

This friends is the result we want to achieve.

 

This is taking our thought process from “how can we make a sale now?”  to “how can we build a relationship that creates 10 sales in a year?”. How can we keep the attention of “the sneezers” as Seth Godin calls them. A relationship with one sneezer can generate 10x the amount of business for you than 20 one-time click sales.

What's causing us as brands to lose focus?

Too many marketers, businesses and brands get caught up in the immediate results.

 

“What’s the ROI?” we ask.

 

While I value quantitative data I’m a big fan of qualitative. I would rather build 10 relationships than just 50 one time visits because in the long run those 10 relationships will create more results, however your business specifically defines results.

So how do we gain attention?

Put your customer/audience first.

 

It really is that simple. When you are creating content, crafting marketing plans or executing anything in your business first get into the mind of your audience.

 

  • What do they need?
  • What will help them achieve success?
  • How can you make their life easier?
  • How can I make them feel something? 
    • hint: this is when virality happens.

 

If you answer these questions before ever thinking about your own business you will build the relationship and gain their attention now and in the future. Make your brand resonate with them so much that they want to recommend you and come back to you when they need you.

 

But Jenny, how does one actually get attention? What do I need to do?

This is where the strategy comes into play!

 

I’m not one to make big blanket statements because they aren’t applicable to every situation. I can only give you the tools and questions you need to ask in order to apply them to your specific situation (but if you do want my help with your specific situation contact me here!).

Typically amplification is the answer.


You need to get in front of your customer. Look out for my next blog post later this week on why obscurity is the number one hurdle businesses need to overcome.

Website Redesign: How To Get It Right The First Time

Goal Of This Post: Prevent poor website designs and tell you what you need to do before starting. Sound good? Read on.

 

So you might be thinking of redesigning your website. When starting to think about a redesign for an existing website or a design for an entirely new website I’ve found a pattern to what most business owners do. It’s not necessarily wrong but there is a much, much better way to do it.

The biggest mistake I see?

 

Too often I see businesses jump right into evaluating websites in their same space before doing the work of identifying what their websites want to accomplish, determining their goals and weighing their audiences.

Here is the trap I see businesses falling into:

  1. Decides it’s time for a new website

  2. Starts looking at competitors in their space to see what their websites look like

  3. Picking out elements of each that they want

  4. Finding a website designer to work with

  5. Trying to mishmash a website together that really is a combination of 5 others

 

Why is this a problem?

Well put simply, no other brand’s website will work for you.

You shouldn’t want any other business’s website. The reason being, you don’t have the same brand values, mission, exact same customer base (hopefully not or we should work on your differentiation and audience profiles!) and you aren’t providing the exact same solution - whether that is a product or service.

Your business is inherently different. Embrace it.

So what to do instead?

 

Well, that depends but I have a process I work through with clients and have outlined it below.

  1. Identify Your Goals

    1. Identify your overall goals from you big ones like “sell X product” all the way to the smaller ones like “build attention with our audience group that is 18-24 and has X interest”. Then rank these based on importance and future business goals. This is vital to building a website that is not only designed to support you today but built for future growth. Most of the time businesses don’t dig deep enough during this part. Most tend to focus on the “conversion” part of the buyer’s journey (which is no longer linear!) and forget or don’t focus on the build up stages nor advocacy. These portions are vital to growing your business, especially organically.

  2. Identify Your Audiences

    1. Yes, there are multiple even if you have “an ideal customer profile”. Typically most small businesses are catering to 2-4 audiences at any given time. Dig deep into who these people are. No, you don’t need to create concrete avatars (those can be cheesy) but knowing a vital details such as how they do their research (such as: are they social, look for opinions, fact based, etc) is crucial to your success.

  3. Research Your Audience

    1. Once you’ve identified your audiences it’s time to do your research. This is easier if you have an existing website and analytics. You can deep dive into what your current website and digital channels are telling you is currently going on. Are you really resonating with the people you want to? It can be opening to see what your data really says is happening. Embrace it, this gives us the framework to know what should be different or kept similar in your redesign!

  4. Determine your Call-To-Actions

    1. No, it’s not as simple as  “subscribe” to your email. Call-to-actions include something as small as internal linking. This is where you set up the pathways your want each audience group to take. So if someone enters on your blog post page, where do you want them to go next? How do we weave the content together in ways that are subtle enough that they are aware that they are following a path you created but don’t mind because you are being so useful to them they want to be a part of your brand.

  5. Evaluate & Create Your Content

    1. Content isn’t just the blog articles, videos and visual content you create. It’s the copy on every page, the call to actions and everything in between. Since you’ve researched what is resonating with your audiences (and what’s not) it’s time to create and curate content that will gain and hold your audience’s attention. This is vital to growing the amount of people in your awareness through consideration stages.

  6. Layout Your Pathways

    1. I’ve seen it numerous times when people start with the navigation and maybe a wireframe (which is an ok start) but as we talked about pathways earlier it’s nearly impossible to account for all of the pages and content without all of the above work. It’s best to start at the end and work backwards.

  7. Device Analysis

    1. If you aren’t designing with a mobile first mentality you are behind - and no, I don’t mean responsive. What changes when people are accessing your website via their phone? Their behavior. This is the massive game changer when designing a mobile website. People’s behavior entirely changes on their phone and you need to take mobile habits into account when determining the pathways you create in #6. Adding in the devices to your audience research and content plans is also vital.

 

Did I overwhelm you? I hope not! I help businesses through this process to deliver all of this to a designer before beginning your website design. Trust me, they will love you if you start your project with this laid out.

Remember, people aren’t users. People are people.

We are always changing and evolving so you’re website isn’t a stagnant being. You need to grow and also know how people are growing.

This is where I help businesses in strategic planning. It can be hard to know changing consumer habits when you’re knee deep in your business. I work really hard to study buyer habits, the psychology behind why people do what they do with the goal to always be innovating new ways to facilitate their new habits.

What are your thoughts? Agree or disagree? I want to know!

How To Choose Your Social Media Platforms

When first starting a business every owner wants to get on social as fast as they can.

I love this because it’s recognized that social is a vital strategy to any brand.

What I have come to realize though is that as a small business owner (or entrepreneur) it is far too easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of energy and options presented by each platform. Layer on the fact that each is changing on a weekly, if not daily, basis the overwhelm is real.

When businesses are first starting out I almost never recommend having a presence on every platform. There are always special instances where it is possible though (say you have a team or the funds to outsource this).

You don’t need to be everywhere (unless you want to be)

Why you ask?

When you are first getting started capital and time can be limited so I always recommend spending the most time and effort on the channels that will bring you the highest ROI.

Also, with social I don’t define ROI as a purely monetary revenue. ROI on social can be in the form of brand awareness, relationship building and gaining customers in the consideration and research stages. Your strategy should account for this and include content for each stage.

 

How To Choose Your Platforms

Audience Research

Being where your customers already are is a major key to a successful social strategy.

So, how exactly do you start to find your audience?

A great place to start is to do a competitive audit. Simply measured is a great tool to start with and even provides some reports for free (they are fantastic options when just starting out). Doing a competitive audit will not only allow you to see where your competitors are putting their efforts but also provide you insights into their ROI and demographics.

Note - never hop on a social channel just because competitors are doing it. Make sure it aligns with your brand’s mission and checks the box for the rest of the needs in this post first.

Also, don’t ever assume your audience isn’t there just because many outlets are saying it. For a while it’s been trending that “kids” (under 18) aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, yet Twitter is actually the most frequently used app in certain high schools right now.

Action: always do your research within your niche/industry

 

Category

Think about your industry and category? If you are a highly visual brand or product you will naturally gravitate to Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook.

If during the purchase cycle you need to educate your consumer on what exactly your product does and how it solves their problem you may gravitate to Snapchat or Facebook. The ability to provide background, video and insights easily and potentially demonstrate your product could be your differentiator.

 

Content Production

Think about the types of content you’ll be able to produce on a regular basis. What types of images/copy/videos/articles will your business be known for? What can people come to expect from you?

Below are a few questions to get you thinking:

Are you a talented photographer or have access to one? Then producing beautiful photos on Instagram would be great.

Are you witty and have some copywriting talent? That’s a great way to stand out on Twitter.

Do you feel like you are the personality for your brand? Facebook live video and Snapchat are perfect for relationship building.

 

Have A Defined Purpose

Repurposing content across all your channels is an ok strategy to just get by but there is a better way.

Before engaging on a new channel define its purpose. Not all of your social profiles should do the same thing.

I’ll use myself as an example:

·       Facebook – I want to provide my content to learn from, inspire with quotes and thoughts

·       Twitter - I want to engage, give short thoughts and build relationships

·       Instagram - my goal is to provide an inside view into my life, travel and show my minimalist/essentialist way of life

·       YouTube (videos coming soon!) – I want to provide tutorials and insights into branding and digital strategy

 

Evaluate Your Resources

As I mentioned above some businesses will have the capacity and/or funds to be able to support a robust social media strategy. In this case, identify the most platforms that will give you an ROI on your efforts and go for it!

If you are limited on either resource (time or money) then you are going to want to make a list of everything you will need to create content and execute. Here are just a few items to evaluate:

·       How quickly can I concept content?

·       Do I have the right tools to create content?

·       Should I run ads on my platform? If so, how much can I allocate?

·       On a weekly basis when will I create content?

·       Will I have the availability to engage? (key to social!)

These are just a few of the questions and processes I pose to businesses when determining the best social strategies for their businesses.

Which of these do you struggle with? Where have you found success?

 

Branding: The most important question to ask when crafting your business

At the core of every business is a why. The why behind everything you do.

Ask the question: Why does your business do what it does?

Once you’ve identified your why it is always easier to establish who your customer is, tell your story and determine the best ways to tell your business’s story.

For example, this is my business’s why:

Business owners deserve the right short and long term strategies that prepare and position them for the future. This will enable them to attract, retain and capitalize on their customer's attention.

If you haven’t, begin to form your own mission statement or why. This may take a few tries to get exactly right.

How can you center your why with your customer's why?

At the center to any business is the customer.

Without customers you don’t really have a business, right?

The question then becomes, how do we reach the right people for our product and/or service and tell our story so it resonates so much that they instantly connect?

This occurs when you map out their buying journey. When someone spends money on anything the business is providing a solution to their want/need.

The goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe.

Not everyone is your customer.

Nor would you want everyone to be your customer. That’s when bad customer experiences occur.

You want customers whose problem is solved by your product. We don’t want to just be a solution though.

You know you are resonating with the right type of person when they want to talk about you. When a friend asks about the same problem they don’t even hesitate in recommending your business.

They have transitioned from buyer to advocate. This is the most powerful storyteller your brand can have.

By providing a product and customer experience so unrivaled by anyone else your customers appreciate you and identify with you.

This is why Apple, for example, put so much thought and effort into cultivating the right story and the right experience from the moment of brand awareness, to in store customer experience to the post purchase experience.

For reference, the buyer’s journey typically takes the following form:

  • Awareness - creating touch points

  • Consideration - generate demand

  • Decision - drive conversion

  • Adoption - delight customer

  • Advocacy - inspire evangelism

Read: Why micromoments matter to your business.

Your why causes loyalty

Ultimately this is what every brand strives for.

What To Do Next:

  1. Begin to write your mission statement.

  2. Craft your brand story at a high level.

  3. Map out your customer’s buying journey. Note: you will have different journeys for different customers/audiences.

  4. Identify the points where your story and your customer’s journey meet

  5. Every time your brand produces something (content, image, copy, etc) come back to your why. Make sure it is aligned.

 

This process is a lot of fun but is a lot of work. If you would like a deeper guide to craft your why around your customer’s journey that’s exactly why I created 30 Days To Brand Story.

I want to know - What’s Your Why? Tell me below!

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What You Should Do Before Hiring A Website Designer

So you’re thinking you need a website or your current website needs a refresh?

Your first thought may be to start researching website designers. But, what if the core issue with your website isn’t the design?

What if it’s the structure?

What if it’s the content?

I can’t count the number of times I wish I had reached a small business owner before they started working with a website designer on two hands.

Before we go on let me preface this post with this fact: website designers are amazing and talented creatives but it’s not their job to know what your website needs to do or how it needs to be built in order to achieve your business goals.

Recently I was lucky enough to start working with another great client. In our initial conversations we decided she was in need of a content strategy, brand presence strategy and complementing social presence.

Ok, let’s dig right in!


Then I visited the website (which was a work in progress) and was very surprised. The content and structure didn’t match what I expected based on the goals the business wanted to achieve which led to backtracking, reorganizing the content (more work for the client too) and a delayed launch.

The result?

A much happier, excited and more confident client and a website that has a greater chance for success.

Below I’ve outlined the steps most small business owners should work through prior to working with a designer. When you provide a designer a clear vision and foundation to work with is when the magic happens.

Outline your website goals.

Sounds obvious right? No, I’m not talking the vague statement “I want email sign-ups” because you heard you should. I’m talking concrete, revenue generating goals.  

Below are a few examples.

Ecommerce Product Website - have you established the clear sales funnels for each product? How many landing pages, retargeting ads and follow up emails will each funnel have? Will those need specific call outs throughout your website pages?

Content Website - This is a website that has no tangible product but instead the editorial content is their product (I’m looking at you bloggers, media and news websites). Have you built your website structure in a way that best supports SEO and search engine crawlers? Since content is your product this should be a high consideration.

Research

A website is never complete.

You may have a launch day but on day 30, 60 and 90 there should be an evaluation period. What’s working? What isn’t? If you are contemplating redesigning your website know the elements that are currently working for you.

With so many tools available it can be easy to see what content on your website is being read, the links clicked and more. These time periods allow for enough data to be gathered you can make sound conclusions. Below are a few of my favorite tools for website analysis.

Crazy Egg - This tool makes it so easy to quickly see a visual of what content your visitors are digesting and what links they are clicking.  Many times links and click-through rates don’t tell the whole story. Your link could be fantastic but if it’s not placed in the highest viewed area on a page the chance it’s getting clicked is pretty low!

You can see my example below.

Google Analytics Page Extension - This is an amazing time saver. When I want quick information on a website it populates the data on the page (aka you don’t need to physically dive into GA - YES!). This is great if you are also someone who doesn’t quite know the ins and outs of Google Analytics yet.

Google Experiments - Your website is a tool to accomplish your goals. Did you know that Google has a (free!) tool that allows you to rotate your content and placement on your website in order to test the layouts that get the highest goal completion rates? For someone that is always testing and validating changes this is the best tool ever.

Know Visitor Entrance Points

Did you know that most of your website visitors will not enter through the homepage?

Wait, am I telling you that all of that beautiful content telling visitors how awesome you are and how great your product is will be missed? Yes.

Which is ok! This situation is actually fantastic as long as your website has been built knowing this ahead of time. For example, when a user visits your website through a blog post first they are in the validation stage. The user is evaluating if they want to continue clicking through your site.

Have you designed your page in a way that funnels your new visitors to the page you want them to visit next?

Are you providing too many options?

When you design a clear path with your most prioritized options is when your goals become active. Your newsletter growth happens. Your social follows happen. Products are purchased.

Work With A Strategist

A digital strategist is trained and lives and breathes optimizing websites and digital presence. I highly recommend this step when creating websites. It saves you, the small business owner, precious time, money and stress. I truly believe it is invaluable to have your website work from day 1, not day 273.

Strategists specialize in seeing patterns in:

I get to help small business owners every day optimize their website to achieve their goals and generate revenue.