Success Means Narrowing Your Customer Gap P

Success Means Narrowing Your Customer Gap P

What is the Business Gap?

 

I’ve written about creating a gap between your company and your competition.  This is how most businesses judge their success in their relationship to competitors.  If you were widening the gap, it meant that you were outdistancing the competition and gaining market share.

 

Instead Narrow Your Customer Gap

 

It’s a pretty simple strategy to widen the gap between you and your competition.  Instead it might be a better strategy to narrow the gap between you and your customer.  

This isn’t about growing your market share and adding new customers.  It is about developing stronger customer loyalty.  Think about it this way.  The closer you get to your customer and the more you meet their needs, the smaller the gap becomes between and your customer.  

That ultimately puts a wider gap between you and your competition.  What a simple way of looking at building customer loyalty to your brand.  The closer you come to your customer, the more you will learn about your customers.  Very specific things such as buying patterns, special needs and more.  The more you know, the better equipped you are to deliver what you sell the way they want it.

 

It’s About Product Share

 

Market share may be about getting more customers, but “product share” is about a customer buying all of their products from you, and no one else.

 

It’s About Wallet Share

 

A stockbroker sells investments.  Market share for a broker would mean more clients.  But “wallet share” is about an individual client having the confidence and trust to invest with just one broker, who becomes the trusted advisor to take care of all of the client’s financial and investing needs.

 

It’s About Body Share

 

Coca-Cola sells soft drinks.  Market share was getting more consumers to buy their soft drinks.  Then they came up with the concept of “body share,” which is about how much Coca-Cola product is consumed by an individual.  

That is why Coke’s list of products continues to grow, even including fruit juices and water.  Their strategy is that if a consumer drinks anything, it should be a Coca-Cola product.

 

It’s About Your Customer

 

Focus on what your customer wants and needs.  What are they asking for?  Narrow the gap between what you offer and what the customer wants and you will widen the gap between you and your competition.

Use These Customer Service Tales to Make Your UX Better P

Use These Customer Service Tales to Make Your UX Better P

7 Unforgettable Customer Service Stories

 

Inspirational Customer Experience Stories

 

Why do consumers enjoy reading stories of great customer experiences?  It might be that these stories personalize your business and provide a constant reminder that there are amazing professionals and companies who create a customer experience with their unforgetable customer service.

Every company says that they put their customers #1 on their priority list.  However stories like these show us that some businesses actually go the extra mile for each and every one of their customers. 

As Benjamin Franklin would put it: “Well done is better than well said.”

We wholeheartedly agree, and throughout this post, we’ll take a close look at some memorable stories in an effort to highlight those businesses who “walk the walk” when it comes to delivering the kind of service that wins a customer over for life.

Along the way, you’ll find insights for your own business to consider and some exceptional inspiration to pass on to your support team.

Enjoy!

Trader Joe’s Actually Delivered

 

A woman was worried that her 89 year old father was snowed in at his Pennsylvania home and wasn’t going to have enough food for the holidays because of the bad weather in the area.

She frantically called multiple stores in a desperate attempt to find anyone who would deliver to her father’s home.  She finally reached someone at Trader Joe’s.  The Trader Joe’s associate politely told her that they do not deliver … normally.

 

Trader Joe's said that given the extreme circumstances they would gladly deliver directly to his home

Given the extreme circumstance, they told her that they would gladly deliver directly to his home, and even suggested additional delivery items that would fit perfectly with his special low-sodium diet.

After the daughter placed the order for the food, the employee on the phone told her that she didn’t need to worry about the price; the food would be delivered free of charge.  The employee then wished her a Merry Christmas.

Less than 30 minutes later the food was at the man’s doorstep — for free!

In refusing to let red tape get in the way of a customer in need, Trader Joe’s shows that customer service doesn’t need to be about the fanfare.  By empowering their employees to act outside of company guidelines, Trader Joe’s shows that their company philosophy is customer focused rather than operations focused.  

Their employees embrace making the customer the heart of their customer experience.  Your companies core values are integral to making your customer experience simply about doing whats right.

 

Dying Mother Changes United Airlines Flight Schedule

 

It’s always heart-wrenching when a close family member passes.  Sharing the final moments with a person we love can be a small respite in a truly difficult situation.

 

When Kerry Drake got on his United Airlines flight, the mother he was en route to see was facing her final hours.  To add an extra layer of distress, Drake knew that if he missed his connecting flight he would likely not see her before she passed.

After his first flight got delayed, Drake broke down into tears on the plane.  The flight attendants soon noticed his state and quickly found out what was wrong.  Within minutes, Drake’s dilemma was re- layed to the captain, who radioed ahead to Drake’s next flight.

The flight’s crew responded by delaying the flight’s departure to make sure he got on board.

“I was still like maybe 20 yards away when I heard the gate agent say, ‘Mr. Drake, we’ve been expecting you,’” he said.

When Drake finally sat on the second flight, he realized how much went into getting him onto the plane.  He realized how the United Airlines flight crews had put his needs above their flight schedule.  They were able to do this because they felt that the customer’s needs were greater than any company mandates.

Kerry said, “I was overcome with emotion!”

 

United Airlines staff members working together to go above-and-beyond the call of duty to help this customer was that Drake made it to the hospital in time to see his mother

The result of many staff members working together to go above-and-beyond the call of duty.  They helped this customer, Kerry Drake make it to the hospital in time to see his mother.

“At one point she opened her eyes, and I think she recognized me,” said Drake, who spent the night at the hospital.  “Around 4 a.m. she had a real moment of coherence, a last rally, although we didn’t know it at the time.  It was the last time.”

She died that very morning.

Drake wrote the staff a heartfelt thank you letter expressing his immense gratitude for a team who was willing to pull together and pull out all the stops to assist in any way they could.

 

Son Thanks United Airlines for the opportumity to say final goodbye to his Mother

In the coverage of this story on CNN, consumer advocate Christopher Elliot said:

“Airline employees are evaluated based on their ability to keep a schedule.  Airlines compete with each other on who has the best on-time departure record.  When the crew on this flight heard about this distraught passenger trying to make his connection, they must have said, ‘To hell with it’ … and they made the right call.”

We think so, too.

 

Joshie the Giraffes’ Extended Vacation at Ritz-Carlton

 

Ritz-Carlton is one of those few large companies that is held to high standards from their consumers.  With an almost legendary reputation for service, one has to wonder: Do they really live up to the hype?

 

The story of Joshie the giraffe certainly presents a compelling case for “yes!”  In case you’ve never come across this fantastic tale, the story begins when customer Chris Hurn’s son left his favorite stuffed giraffe, “Joshie,” in their hotel room after a recent stay.

 

The story begins when customer Chris Hurn’s son left his favorite stuffed giraffe, “Joshie,” in their hotel room after a recent stay.

Mr. Hurn assured his distraught son that Joshie was just staying a few extra days on vacation.  He then called the staff at the Ritz and relayed the story he had told his son.

In an all-star effort to make everything right for their customer, the staff at the Ritz created a series of photographs that included all of the activities Joshie had been involved in during his “extended vacation.”

First things first.  They knew Joshie couldn’t just be aimlessly wandering around the Ritz without a staff card … so they made him one!

 

They knew Joshie couldn’t just be aimlessly wandering around the Ritz without a staff card ... so they made him one!

After that, Joshie headed over to the pool area to relax.

 

After that, Joshie headed over to the pool area to relax.

Not one to sit around and do nothing, Joshie helped out in the loss prevention department.

 

Not one to sit around and do nothing, Joshie helped out in the loss prevention department.

Joshie then decided to melt away some stress with a spa day.

 

Joshie then decided to melt away some stress with a spa day.

To top it all off, the Ritz sent Hurn and his son a booklet filled with information about Joshie’s stay as well as a host of pictures showing what a good time he’d had.  What a story!

 

The Ritz sent Hurn and his son a booklet filled with information about Joshie’s stay

Bungie Studios Created a Holiday Smile

 

The belief that you should do your best to “make things right” with customers in tough situations is a recurring theme among those companies with legendary customer service.  That said, even the greats of the customer service world will have a hard time topping this next story.

In another outstanding example of taking care of customers, Bungie Studios, one of the most beloved game developers in the industry, raised the bar for their willingness to take care of their fans.

The story begins with a distraught father whose son had to receive liver transplant surgery around the holidays.

Since being in the hospital left his son unable to play the newest release of his favorite video game franchise, Halo, his dad reached out to Bungie.

The response he received from the company went far beyond what anyone expected!  First, the entire Bungie team signed and sent a card with get-well wishes.

 

First, the entire Bungie team signed and sent a card with get-well wishes.

To make up for missing out on playing Halo, the team built him a custom helmet based off of the main character and sent it along with shirts, toys and custom art from the game’s designers.

 

The team built him a custom helmet based off of the main character and sent it along with shirts, toys and custom art from the game’s designers.

His father later posted a thank you thread and a collection of images on Christmas day, which was when Bungie visited his son in the hospital and brought the gifts.

 

Bungie, you have played a huge part in making this smile!

“He was absolutely shocked when he saw the custom helmet from Halo Reach!  Bungie, you have played a huge part in making this smile!  My family can’t thank you enough!”

 

A Loyal Customer is ‘WOWed’ by Gaylord Opryland

 

It doesn’t take a lot of consumer data to support the argument that your regular customers are the rock you build your business on.  Taking care of them is not just the right thing to do.  It’s also good for business.

Let’s look at the case of regular Gaylord Opryland hotel customer Christina McMenemy.  She stayed at the resort three years in a row for the annual BlissDom conference.

During each stay McMenemy found herself entranced by one of the features in her hotel room.  She loved the alarm clock that played light music, much like the kind of music that you’d experience in a highend spa.

McMenemy loved the clock radio.  She felt that she had never slept better than she did while using it.

For three years McMenemy tried to find the exact model clock from her hotel room, but to no avail. McMenemy had nearly given up hope when she messaged the company’s Twitter page during her most recent trip to Opryland.

customer user experinces,customer service,customer experience,user experience,make your ux better,ux,cs,customer service stories,trader joe's actually delivered,united airlines,extended vacation,joshie the giraffe,ritz-carlton,bungie studios,holiday smile,loyal customer,gaylord opryland,lego,ninja,ninjago,auto service,customer user experiences,

Christina from OH@mommystory

@GaylordOpryland Where can I buy this Sharper Image clock radio in my room? None in stores have the “spa” sounds & I’ve never slept better!

See Christina from OH’s other Tweets

customer user experinces,customer service,customer experience,user experience,make your ux better,ux,cs,customer service stories,trader joe's actually delivered,united airlines,extended vacation,joshie the giraffe,ritz-carlton,bungie studios,holiday smile,loyal customer,gaylord opryland,lego,ninja,ninjago,auto service,customer user experiences,

Gaylord Opryland Resort@GaylordOpryland

@mommystory Unfortunately, our version isn’t available to the public, but here is a Shaper Image alarm clock like it: http://amzn.to/ADMXzL .

See Gaylord Opryland Resort’s other Tweets

customer user experinces,customer service,customer experience,user experience,make your ux better,ux,cs,customer service stories,trader joe's actually delivered,united airlines,extended vacation,joshie the giraffe,ritz-carlton,bungie studios,holiday smile,loyal customer,gaylord opryland,lego,ninja,ninjago,auto service,customer user experiences,

Christina from OH@mommystory

@GaylordOpryland Yeah, that one doesn’t have the spa sound.  Been looking for one after loving the 1 in my room for 3yr now at Blissdom. 🙁

See Christina from OH’s other Tweets

Resigned to her fate, she attended the conference and let the alarm clock hunt go.

But upon returning to her room she was surprised to find not one but two spa clocks and a letter with her name on it.

 

But upon returning to her room she was surprised to find not one but two spa clocks and a letter with her name on it.

Opryland recognized an opportunity to make sure a long-time customer had one of the best experiences ever.  And they didn’t just win a customer for life, they also bought plenty of goodwill with folks at the conference and beyond who subsequently heard about the story.

 

You’ve made a lifelong fan out of me.” –Christina McMenemy

“You reaffirmed that there are still companies out there focused on great service, and you’ve made a lifelong fan out of me.”–Christina McMenemy

 

Luka’s Day is Saved by a Lego Service Rep

 

Losing a favorite toy feels devastating to a young child.  Longtime Lego fan Luka Apps spent all of his Christmas money on a Ninjago (Lego ninja) named Jay XZ.  Against his dad’s advisement, he brought his Ninjago on a shopping trip … and lost it.

 

Luka wrote a letter to Lego explaining his loss and assuring the Lego staff that he would take extra-special care of his action figure if they sent him another one.

 

Luka wrote a letter to Lego explaining his loss and assuring the Lego staff that he would take extra-special care of his action figure if they sent him another one.
Hello.

My name is Luka Apps and I am seven years old.

With all my money I got for Christmas I bought the Ninjago kit of the Ultrasonic Raider.  The number is 9449.  It is really good.

My Daddy just took me to Sainsbury’s and told me to leave the people at home but I took them and I lost Jay ZX at the shop as it fell out of my coat.

I am really upset I have lost him.  Daddy said to send you a email to see if you will send me another one.

I promise I won’t take him to the shop again if you can.

– Luka

 

The response he received from Lego customer representative Richard was nothing short of amazing.  Richard told Luke that he had talked to Sensei Wu a Ninjago character, and wrote:

Sensei Wu told me to tell you, “Luka, your father seems like a very wise man.  You must always protect your Ninjago minifigures like the dragons protect the Weapons of Spinjitzu!”

Sensei Wu also told me it was okay if I sent you a new Jay and told me it would be okay if I included something extra for you because anyone that saves their Christmas money to buy the Ultrasonic Raider must be a really big Ninjago fan.

 

The response he received from Lego customer support representative Richard was nothing short of amazing.
So, I hope you enjoy your Jay minifigure with all his weapons.  You will actually have the only Jay minifigure that combines 3 different Jays into one!  I am also going to send you a bad guy for him to fight!

Just remember, what Sensei Wu said: keep your minifigures protected like the Weapons of Spinjitzu!  And of course, always listen to your dad.

It’s so rare to see such a thoughtful, creative response to a distraught customer that this story went viral.

 

A Lego Service Rep Saves the Day

Jim Shukys’ Auto Service Sweats the Small Stuff

 

Many of the memorable stories that we’ve covered so far focus on a company’s stellar response to an usual situation … but what about those day-to-day service stories?

Superb service is not limited to out of the ordinary circumstances. It can be incorporated into the very fabric of your business, showing up in even the most common of instances.

That’s why we love this next story shared by a customer in Streetsboro, Ohio.

 

The story was posted on Reddit under the appropriately titled topic of “I have never in my life seen this level of customer service” and included this genuine, thoughtful thank-you note.

 

Jimyz Automotive story was posted on Reddit with the appropriately titled topic of “I have never in my life seen this level of customer service”

The best part of this tale is that despite the fact that this image was shared on the internet, random commenters started pointing out that they knew who this was:

“I used to live in Streetsboro and I know exactly who that is.  He’s a good man, stay with him!”

 

Now that’s the definition of memorable service!  The praise continued with noncustomers, too, with one commenter saying,

“It’s little things like this that earn business.  If I got this card I would never use another mechanic in my life.”

Do you have a great customer service story you can share with us?  Tell us how someone went ‘above and beyond’ to give you a truly memorable, remarkable and relatable customer service experience….

 

11 Steps to Receiving Better Customer Feedback P

11 Steps to Receiving Better Customer Feedback P

Would You Like to Improve Your Feedback?

 

There’s an old adage that “You can’t fix what you don’t know about”.

In the digital age, customer feedback is more important than ever.  It’s exciting to see so many companies do post-purchase customer surveys.  However, it truly amazes me how many businesses don’t bother to do any customer surveys.

Many of the customer feedback collection methods rely on the Net Promoter Score system.  This ia a simple zero to 10 scale that asks the customer how likely they are to recommend the business to a friend or colleague.

NPS was developed by Fred Reichheld, and is often referred to as “The Ultimate Question.”  NPS has been widely adopted with more than two thirds of Fortune 1000 companies using this method to survey their customers.

 

The Net Promoter Score divides survey respondents into promoters, passive and detracters

It’s easy to calculate your Net Promoter Score from any survey you do.  All yo do is subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.  The calculation is that simple.  If 50% of your respondents were Promoters and 10% were Detractors, your Net Promoter Score is 40.

The importance of the Net Promoter Score is that it gives you insights into your customer loyalty spectrum.  As you move up the scoring scale, from 0 to 10, customers defect at lower rates, will spend more and will move from negative word of mouth to positive.

By measuring your customer loyalty you can identify customer experience weak points that need to be improved.  However, to do this you need to know how to conduct Net Promoter Surveys.  As the Net Promoter Score’s strength isn’t it’s ability to measure customer loyalty, but it is how easy it is to measure loyalty, which is crucial.

 

Net Promotor Score Analysis garphic by Relently

We all get NPS surveys in our email.  I recently was sent two NPS queries in a 24-hour span, by two very different companies.  Even though they are asking the exact same question, how they ask is very different.    Comparing how they asked made me think about the best ways to design my future questions.

Listed below are 11 ways I think you can improve the Net Promoter Score surveys that you send.  But first, lets look at two NPS surveys that handle their questions very differently:

 

MGM Grand Net Promoter Score Survey

 

I recently visited the MGM Grand for a conference, and received this feedback request 48 hours after checkout:

From: MGM Grand <mgmresorts@express.medallia.com> (note: Medallia is a third-party research firm that handles many NPS surveys for brands)

Subject: Tell Us About Your Stay at MGM Grand

 

The MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas Nevada

I suspect Medallia has done subject line testing on these NPS emails.  However, but I don’t personally love the subject line here, “Tell Us.”  It feels like a command, and lacks warmth and empathy.

Other observations:

  1. They did a good job of personalization.
  2. It’s a clear statement of the actual question.
  3. Ability to provide feedback in Spanish is a nice touch here, rarely seen.
  4. Humanize the organization by mentioned the person in charge of feedback collection.
  5. I do not understand why this sea of logos is included here.  We know MGM Grand is where I stayed.  However, it is not relevant in this interaction to collect feedback.  Reminding me of all the properties in their portfolio, the name of their rewards program, etc. is a waste of space, and robs attention from the reason for the email.
  6. I appreciate the inclusion of an opt-out mechanism in the footer of their email.

 

The worst sin their email committs, it’s not mobile-friendly.  This survey on my iPhone, required a side-scroll to participate.  The survey itself would be very easy to make work in mobile.  The spacing required putting on a sea of logos creates the problem!

Anything that you want to receive a response to must be kept as simple as possible.  The K.I.S.S. principle really does work.

 

More of your customers are using mobile as their primary or only email access point.

This is certainly an issue, as more and more customers are using mobile devices as their primary or only email access point.

Also of interest is the reminder email that MGM Grand sends out two days later to people who have not yet participated in the NPS survey.  This email has the same subject line with the addition of “Reminder:”, similar body copy, but a more compact footer.

It’s still not mobile-friendly.  It appears that perhaps the flaw lies with the email templates used for the initial NPS appeal, rather than the reminder.  I feel that this second email should have a completely different tone, message, and subject line.  

If you didn’t participate the first time, it’s probably not because you forgot and need a “reminder.”  Their second email “reminder” reminded me how my six year-old grandson can stay on message when he wants a snack because he’s hungry 10 minutes before we serve dinner.  

The reason you didn’t respond was because you chose not to do so.  A better strategy would be to change your approach and message in any follow-up email.

 

ClusterTruck Net Promoter Score Survey

 

ClusterTruck is a mobile restaurant and food delivery service with locations in Indianapolis, Bloomington, with several more cities on the way.  My wife received this NPS survey from Clustertruck the morning after food delivery.  

From: Chef Tim <customerservice@clustertruck.com>

Subject: Alyson, how was your ClusterTruck?

I love the personalization and humanity right up front on this one. The email is “from” the Chef, not the company.  Terrific!  Plus, using first name personalization in the subject line itself is a smart move that typically increases open rate.

 

ClusterTruck is a mobile restaurant and food delivery service with several locations

Other observations:

  1. Outstanding addition to the personalization and humanization by using photo of the real Chef Tim (presumably).
  2. Excellent emphasis that this feedback is ACTUALLY READ by a real person.
  3. I do not like the vagueness of the query here. “How did we do?” followed by a NPS scale is not confusing necessarily, but is too imprecise.
  4. Terrific reminder of what items were ordered.
  5. While not particularly offensive, inclusion of social media logos in the footer is perhaps superfluous, especially without a request to follow on those platforms.
  6. No opt-out available, which is a problem, and perhaps a violation of CAN-SPAM regulations.

The Clustertruck email renders perfectly on a mobile device.

 

The Post-Click Experience

 

Upon clicking somewhere on the zero to 10 scale, both emails take you to a web page.  The MGM Net Promoter Score survey asks you for a reason why you gave the score you did, and then takes you to the front end of a VERY long survey.  

It’s largely a marketing wolf in market research clothing.  The MGM Grand comes across as being full of themselves.  It’s as if they are telling us, “you’re lucky we let you stay in our hotel, now sit down and answer our damn questions.”  That doesn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

However, ClusterTruck handles their survey very differently.  After picking a score on the ClusterTruck email, participants go to a web page where you are asked to provide commentary.  After submitting some, you are asked to rate ClusterTruck on Facebook.  The survey then concludes.  ClusterTruck understands the K.I.S.S. principle.

Which approach would be more likely to get your response?  

Which survey would get the better response from you?

 

How You Can Improve Your NPS Surveys

 

What have we learned, and what are the recommended elements of good NPS surveys:

  1. Ask in your subject line; don’t command.
  2. Personalize wherever possible, including the subject line.
  3. Humanize wherever possible, including in the “from” line. Also, add a photo of a company representative.
  4. Make clear that one or more real people will be reading these responses if that’s the case.
  5. Provide an easy way for customers to participate in other languages.
  6. Make the NPS survey email mobile-friendly.
  7. Remind customers what they ordered or purchased.
  8. Don’t clutter the email with icons, logos, or other unnecessary visuals.
  9. Provide an opt-out mechanism.
  10. If you send a second email to non-participants, change your approach.
  11. Make their post-click experience simple and straightforward.

 

How You Can Make Your Content Amazing by Analyzing It P

How You Can Make Your Content Amazing by Analyzing It P

We All Feel That Our Content Matters

 

As we write our Blog posts, articles and other web content we do so with one thing in the back of our minds.  Admit it, we all worry because everything we produce will be ranked by GOOGLE!  Whether our content lives or dies depends entirely on how Google ranks our content.

 

Google’s Analysis Begins With Our Headline

 

My headline for this article, “How You Can Make Your Content Amazing by Analyzing It” suffered through several versions before I felt it was good enough to publish.  By the way, my headline scores an 80 when I tested it in CoSchedule’s Free Headline Analyzer.

 

CoSchedule's Free Headline Analyzer Gives your title a numerical score

CoSchedule’s Word Balance gives an analysis of your headlines structure, grammar, and readability.

 

The Free Headline Analyzer Does so Much More

 

If all CoSchedule’s Free Headline Analyzer did was give you a score it would be a great free tool.  But it does so much more than that.  It also analyzes the words that you choose and breaks them down under what it calls Word Balance.

 

CoSchedule's Free Title Analyzer gives a Word Balance score

Coschedule’s Word Balance breaks your words down into four groups.  These groups are common words, uncommon words, emotional words and power words.  It also gives each group a percentage that it composes of the headline.

 

How Does Word Balance Help You?

 

What Word Balance gives you is a breakdown of the words in your headline and what group they belong to.  It tells you how many common, uncommon, emotional and power words are in your headline.  However it goes beyond that by giving each group a percentage.

 

CoSchedule's Word Balance breaks words into four groups

In our headline, “How to Make Your Content Amazing by Analyzing It” the breakdown of the words into their groups is:

  • Common (33%) – by, how, it, to your.
  • Uncommon (0%) – make.
  • Emotional (33%) – how to make.
  • Power (11%) – amazing.

The free headline tool does so much more for you…..

 

CoSchedule’s Free Headline Analyzer Does More  

The Free Headline Analyzer Also Does a Length Analysis

 

CoSchedule’s Free Headline Analyzer’s Length Analysis provides an analysis of the overall structure, grammar, and readability of your headline.

 

CoSchedule's Free Headline Analyzer also does a length analysis

Your headline is the right length:

  • Your headline is 48 characters, headlines 55 characters long or less tend to earn the highest number of click-throughs.
  • Your headline is 9 words, headlines with about 6 words tend to earn the highest number of click-throughs.

 

Your Headline Needs to be Skimmable

 

When skimming an article’s content, most readers tend to read the first and last three words of a headline. 

 

Your Headline needs to be skimmable

Your headlines should include searchable keywords

Your headlines should include searchable keywords and phrases so that readers can find your content easily in their search queries.  In this case the analyzer has determined that the searchable keyword in the title is content.

 

The Analyzer Also Determines Your Headline Sentiment

Our headline, “How to Make Your Content Amazing by Analyzing It” expresses a positive sentiment.  Headlines that convey positive emotion tend to perform the best.

Your Google Search Preview

 

CoSchedule’s Free Headline Analyzer also previews the appearance of your Google Search and your Google Featured Snippet Box.

 

The Title Analyzer shows your Google Search Preview

The Analyzer Provides Your Email Subject Line Preview

 

This is what your headline will look like as an email subject line.  The optimal reading length is around 20 characters.

 

The Analyzer Provides Your Email Subject Line Preview

The Analyzer Can Do Even More

 

I use the free CoSchedule Free Title Analyzer to also give me information about sentences I write in my content.  Enter any sentence you’ve written in your content and it will perform the same analysis.  It helps you to write better and more engaging sentences that your audience will like.

Put CoSchedule’s Free Title Analyzer to the test.  Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.  Did it help you write better titles?.

 

You Can Avoid Usability Mistakes in Your Website Design P

You Can Avoid Usability Mistakes in Your Website Design P

Don’t Make These Website Usability Mistakes

 

Great designers and developers understand how important usability is in everything they produce.  If a website is usable it offers visitors a great user experience.  And, great user experiences lead to happy customers.

It just makes sense to delight and satisfy your visitors by engaging them in a great experience.  That’s so much better than frustrating them with bad design decisions.  Below you will find 9 usability issues that many websites share.  I’ve also included some suggested solutions for each of the problems.

 

 

Avoid Tiny Clickable Link Areas

 

Hyperlinks are designed to be clicked, to make them usable you need to ensure that they’re easy to click. Below is an example of links that are far too small.  Clicking these links would be much harder than it should be. These are the comments links on Hacker News, a social news website.  The clickable areas are highlighted in red for clarity.

 

Avoid Tiny Clickable Links

This is an example of the same interface element, the comments link, however with a much larger clickable area this time.

Embrace and Use Larger Clickable Links

Larger Clickable Links Just Make Sense.

 

Can you think of a good reason why you wouldn’t want to provide your visitors with a larger clickable area?  It’s really very simple.  A larger clickable area is desirable because mouse hand movements aren’t precise.

Having a large clickable area makes it easier for your visitors to hover their mouse cursor over your link.  Everything we do in our web design needs to use the best fundamental practices and make every visitor interaction as easy as possible.

Ensuring that we provide a large clickable area can be achieved in two different ways.  Either we could make the whole link bigger or we could increase the padding around the link using the CSS “padding” property.  

 

Use Correct Pagination

 

Pagination refers to using several pages for extensive content rather than placing it on one long page.  This is often used by websites whose content includes a long list of items.  A good example of this is the products in a store or pictures in a gallery.  Using pagination for this makes sense because displaying too many items on one page would make the page slower to download and process.

 

Use Correct Pagination

FeedMyApp uses pagination in the right way: to display its vast list of apps in digestible chunks.

 

Pagination can also be used to increase page views

 

But there is another way that pagination is used on the Web today.  Content pages, like blog articles, are sometimes split into several pages.  Why is this done?  What’s the gain?  It’s unlikely that the article is so long that it requires pagination.  It is often done to increase page views.

Because many blogs and magazines make much of their revenue through advertising, getting more page views increases their viewing statistics and allows them to charge more for their ads.

 

The Wired article about Google’s logo is split into eight pages, making it very difficult to read.

The Wired article about Google’s logo is split into eight pages, making it very difficult to read.

 

Don’t create barriers for your visitors

 

While this may seem like an easy way to squeeze more money from your ads, it poses two problems.  The first is that it’s just really, really annoying.  Having to load several pages just to read one article isn’t fun.  You’re creating an unnecessary barrier for your visitors, which could cause them to just click away.

 

The second reason has to do with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Search engines examine your page content to determine what it is about and then index it accordingly.  If your content is diluted by being split into several pages, each page makes less sense on its own and also holds fewer keywords about its topic. This probably would negatively affect the ranking of the article in search engine results.

 

Avoid Duplicate Page Titles

 

The title of each Web page is important. Page titles need to be unique for each page to improve your search results.  Often people create a generic title while working on their website’s template, then re-use the same title across the whole website.  This robs each page of several key benefits.

 

The first benefit is that a good title communicates to your visitors a lot of information about what the page is about.  People can quickly figure out if they’re in the right place or not.  Remember that this title doesn’t just show at the top of the browser window.  

The page title is also shown on the search engine results pages.  When people see a list of results on a search engine like Google, they read the page title to figure out what each page is about.  This is a good reason to spend a little time optimizing your page titles.

 

The second reason has to do with SEO.  Search engines need different information to rank the results of a particular query.  Your page title is an important piece of information used to gauge how relevant your page is to a particular search term.

This doesn’t mean you should load as many keywords as possible into the title.  Doing this defeats the first benefit, but you should ensure that each title succinctly describes the content of the page.  It’s also important that your page title includes a couple of words you think people will search for.

 

Here’s an example of a good page title. This is a Smashing Magazine page title as seen in Safari:

 

Here we have the title of the article, the category of the article and the name of the website

Here we have the title of the article, the category of the article and the name of the website. Putting the name of the website last puts more emphasis on what the page itself is about, rather than on website branding, which is still there.

And here’s how the page is displayed in a Google search result:

 

Google Smashing Magazine here’s how the page is displayed in a Google search result

Make Your Content Scannable

 

To ensure that your website is usable, you cannot only have a good design; you also need good copy.  Copy is a term used to describe all of the text content on a website.  Yes, good design will guide your visitors around the website, and focus their attention on the things that matter.  

It will also help them make sense of information chunks.  But your visitors will still need to read the text to process information.  This makes your copy an essential part of your overall website design.  Before you can write good copy, though, you need to understand how people will actually view your website.  

Don’t assume that your visitors will read everything from top to bottom.  That would certainly be great, but unfortunately, that’s not how it works.  The Web bombards people with information, and most of us try to consume as much of it as possible. This leads to very frantic browsing behavior causing us to jump from one piece of content to another, from one website to the next.

People tend not to read websites top to bottom; they start reading whatever pops out at them first and then move to the next thing that captures their interest.  The pattern may look a little like this:

 

Basecamp Landing Page To ensure that your website is usable, you cannot only have a good design; you also need good copy

The red circles indicate the areas where visitors tend to focus their gaze, and the numbers indicate the order in which they look at these elements.  Users dash from one interesting part of the page to another. To take advantage of this chaotic browsing pattern, you need to structure your copy a certain way.  Here are a few pointers:

 

  • Have several points of focus.  These are the parts of your page that attract the attention of visitors. This can be achieved by stronger, higher-contrast colors and larger fonts
  • Each focus point should ideally be accompanied by a descriptive heading.  Without reading the copy any further, visitors should be able to understand what this bit of content is about.  
  • Any other text should be short and easy to digest.  Provide just the essentials, and strip out the rest.  People will read bite-sized pieces of text but are put off by long paragraphs.

 

Things app’s features page splits up each feature into little bite-sized segments, each with its own icon and heading. This makes the list easy to scan

Things app’s features page splits up each feature into little bite-sized segments, each with its own icon and heading. This makes the list easy to scan. To make copy even more effective, list actual benefits rather than feature names.

 

Include Contact Information

 

User engagement is important if you want to build a successful community.  Building your community is important if you want to build successful websites and social Web apps.  User engagement is also important if you want to build loyal customers.

Quickly answering people’s questions and fixing their problems doesn’t just mean that you have good customer service.  It means you care, and your customers and visitors will appreciate it.

 

But many websites still don’t give visitors an easy channel for getting in touch with the company. Some websites don’t even have an email address or contact form on them.

 

When you click on the contact link on the official Coca-Cola website, you’re presented with this page. It has no email or phone number

When you click on the contact link on the official Coca-Cola website, you’re presented with this page.  It has no email or phone number.  Most of the links lead to automated FAQs.  The feedback form requires your address and age and has a 500-character limit.  The “Submit an idea” form is two pages long, with terms and conditions attached.  It doesn’t look like Coca-Cola really wants you to contact them.

 

Sure, putting your email address on the Web will likely attract a lot of spam, but there are a couple of solutions.

 

Enkoder is my favorite solution for putting email addresses on the Web.  Enkoder is an application that comes in two flavors: a free one for Mac OS X, and another free one as a Web app.   It encrypts any email address that you give it and gives you a bunch of gibberish JavaScript code to place on your web page.  When the page with the code loads, your email magically appears as a clickable link.  Bots scouring for email addresses won’t be able to interpret the code.

 

You could also use contact forms to bypass the problem of showing your email address on a page.  You’re still likely to receive spam unless you put some good Captchas or other spam protection mechanism in place.  Keep in mind that things like Captchas are barriers to user interaction and will likely degrade the user experience.

 

Forums are a terrific alternative.  Online forums are a great communication channel that can be an alternative way for users to get in touch.  A public forum is better than a simple contact form or email because your customers can help each other on a forum.  Even if you don’t personally respond to a customer, another helpful customer may help that person out, solving his or her problem.

 

GetSatisfaction Acts as a Forum

 

GetSatisfaction is a Web app that works like a forum.  Users can post their problems and feedback as topics on the board.  Customers and staff can respond to them.  Users can add comments to elaborate on their problem.

Whether you go with a hosted solution like GetSatisfaction or roll your own message board, a two-way communication channel like this is a great way to keep in touch with your customers.

 

GetSatisfaction is a Web app that works like a forum. Users can post their problems and feedback as topics on the board

The former GetSatisfaction forum for Apple.

Include Search Capability

 

A lot of people start looking for a search box as soon as they arrive on a page.  Perhaps they know exactly what they’re looking for and don’t want to spend time learning the website’s navigation structure.  Jakob Nielsen calls these people search-dominant users:

 

“Our usability studies show that more than half of all users are search-dominant, about a fifth of the users are link-dominant, and the rest exhibit mixed behavior.  The search-dominant users will usually go straight for the search button when they enter a website: they are not interested in looking around the site; they are task-focused and want to find specific information as fast as possible.”

Jakob Nielsen

Whether you run an online shop or blog, you need search.  People may come looking for a particular product or for an article they remember reading a while back, and chances are they’ll want to find it with a quick search.  The good news, if you haven’t already implemented search on your website, is that it’s very easy to do.

You don’t need to code your own search feature because search engines like Google and Yahoo have very likely already indexed most, if not all, of your website’s pages.  So all you need to do is pick the one you want to use and plug in a search box.

 

Functionality Should not Require Registration

 

Your website may have some content or features that require visitors to register before using.  That’s great, but be careful how much content is put behind this registration shield.  Very interactive Web applications, such as email, document editing, and project management, restrict 100% of their functionality to registered users.

Other websites, such as social news websites, do not.  I can browse all the stories on Digg and Reddit without having to log in.  Users do not have to identify themselves to enjoy some functionality.

When you implement a log-in barrier, be careful that you don’t lock away features that don’t really need user identification.  Some blogs require people to register before posting.  Sure, that will significantly decrease spam, but it will also significantly decrease the number of comments you see, too.

User participation on your website is affected by how many barriers there are.  Removing barriers such as registration will almost certainly increase user participation.  Once users start using your website, they will more likely sign up, because they’re already involved.

 

The former GetSatisfaction forum for Apple Login

The GetSatisfaction interface allows you to fill in your comment about a company or product and then click the “Post” button.  Instead of seeing your feedback posted, you’re greeted with an unexpected “Log in or register” message.  Not good, considering the customer may already be frustrated.

 

Remove Old Permalinks Pointing Nowhere

 

A permalink is a link to a page that isn’t meant to change, such as a link to a blog article such as the one you’re reading now.  Problems occur when a website moves to another domain or has its structure reorganized.  Old permalinks pointing to existing pages on the website become dead unless something is done about them.  That something is called a 301 redirect.

 

301 redirects are little instructions stored on your server that redirect visitors to appropriate pages.  If someone arrives on your website using an old link, they won’t see a 404 error page, “Page not found”.  Instead, the 301 redirect forwards them to the right location.  Provided that you’ve set it up correctly.  The number “301” designates the type of redirect that it is, permanent.

 

Whoops looks like we lost something 404 error

There are various ways to do 301 redirects.  How they’re implemented depends partly on the Web server you’re using.

 

Avoid Long Registration Forms

 

Registration forms are barriers.  They are barriers because it takes effort to fill them in, and the task itself is no fun.  People have to invest time and effort to register, and then they have to invest even more time and effort in the future to remember what user name and password they used.

We can shrink this barrier by making the sign-up form as short as possible. At the end of the day, the purpose of a registration system is simply to be able to identify each user; so, the only requirements are a unique identifier, such as a user name or email address, and a password. If you don’t need more information, don’t ask for it. Keep the form short.

 

ReadOz Registration Form If you don’t need more information, don’t ask for it. Keep the form short.

The ReadOz sign-up form is very long.  On closer inspection, we find that half of the fields are optional.  If they’re optional, they don’t really need to be there.  Such a form would likely scare off a user seeing it for the first time.  Show only what the person needs to register; the rest can be filled in later.

 

Tumblr has one of the shortest sign-up forms around. Just three fields: email, password and the URL of your new blog

Tumblr has one of the shortest sign-up forms around.  Just three fields: email, password and the URL of your new blog.

 

The Basecamp sign-up page has a smart trick. It has no website navigation aside from a home-page link. This keeps the user focused on the sign-up process

The Basecamp sign-up page has a smart trick.  It has no website navigation aside from a home-page link.  This keeps the user focused on the sign-up process, without any distractions or means of leaving the page.

 

Usability Should Make Things Easier

 

Usability is all about making things easier to use.  Less thinking, less frustration.  A website should do all the work and present visitors only with the things they’re looking for.

 

Usability is About User Experience

 

Usability is also about the experience people have using your website, so attention to detail matters, as does the presentation and feel of the page.

 

How Emotional Ads Work Best to Engage Your Customers

How Emotional Ads Work Best to Engage Your Customers

Emotional Ads Work Best to Engage Customers

 

Most of us understand that the ads which engage us emotionally work better than those that don’t.  I could hear many marketers utter a simultaneous “duhhhh!” when they read that.

You might find it surprising that many business owners still don’t believe that they are swayed by messages that speak to their emotions when making purchase decisions.  These individuals continue to believe that buying is driven by facts.

For these super-rational decision makers lets look at some hard data….

 

How Brands Survive and Grow

 

I was discussing the book Brand Immortality by Pringle and Field with some colleagues earlier this month.  An interesting finding from that book that I’ll share with you is an analysis of data from the IPA.  This is the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

Included in the IPA dataBANK are over 1400 case studies of successful advertising campaigns submitted for the IPA Effectiveness Award competition over the last three decades.  This analysis of the IPA data gauged the increased profitability of ad campaigns using emotional ads compared to using rational ads and using information to increase profits.  The chart below compares the campaign results.

 

Advertising campaign profit gains chart showing emotional 31%, combined 26% and rational 16% increse in profitability

Analyzing the existing data, it was discovered that campaigns with purely emotional content outperformed those with purely rational content by nearly 2 to 1.  They found the gap of to be 31% vs. 16% in favor of emotion based ad campaigns.

They took it a step further and compared emotion based campaigns to those that mixed emotional and rational content.  Purely emotional campaigns still out performed these by 31% vs 26%.

 

Our Minds Process Emotions Unconciously

 

Why do ad campaigns based on emotions work better?  Pringle and Field attribute these results to how our brain’s process emotional input.  Our mind’s do this without conscience processing by us.

The authors do note that using an emotional marketing campaign may be more effective.  The downside is that it’s not easy to create ads that effectively engage consumer emotions.  However it’s is pretty simple to base a campaign on an “actual killer advantage”.

If you conduct an emotional campaign that is not based in reality, your brand can suffer actual damage to it’s reputation.  Pringle and Field suggest that an emotional branding approach be “hard-wired into the fabric of the brand.”

This requires a major commitment as well as a good understanding of consumer motivation.  They cite Nike’s overall theme of “success in sport” as an example of a brand that focuses on a key emotional driver and builds advertising, sponsorships, etc. around it.

 

Market Leaders Dominate Emotional Branding

 

Pringle and Field note, smaller brands can’t successfully follow the same emotional branding approach as the market leaders.  However you may be able to segment your marketing and find a group of consumers that will respond to their unique appeal.

Ben & Jerry’s and Jones Soda, for example, aren’t the biggest players in their fields, but they have achieved success by appealing to smaller consumer segments.

 

Small Businesses Face Unique Challenges

 

Smaller brands do face additional challenges.  Their brand name recognition is likely lower.  An emotion-based campaign may confuse consumers who don’t connect the brand and product category.

Budweiser can run amusing and engaging commercials about Clydesdales and Dalmatians because 100% of the audience knows their products.  A small business might have to take a “combined” rational and emotional approach even if it is slightly less effective.  Or their emotion-based ads must clearly identify their product.

Emotion-based ads may be more difficult to create, but statistics tell us that it’s worth the effort.