In Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, the central character, Sydney Carton, was one man in London and quite another in Paris. So, too, can a website be two different things in the hands of two companies.
Two competing companies are going all out to succeed online. They create and launch new websites. Both websites are the work of the same talented web designer. Both are visually attractive and easy to use. But the results they produce are as different as Paris and London.
- Website ‘A’ attracts few visitors, and those who do find their way to it bounce off as quickly as they arrive
- Website ‘B’ attracts visitors from search engines and social media. What’s more, a fair number of visitors become leads and customers.
Why does one website work so much better than the other? The difference is content.
Content on Website ‘A’ is a digital pat on the company’s back that doesn’t fully address their audiences’ needs or interests. While it attempts to sell the visitor on their products, it reads like it was written for a search engine instead of a human being.
Content on Website ‘B’ provides essential content their visitors need. It provokes a laugh, touches a nerve, builds and strengthens relationships. It also tells the brand story in so compelling a way that the audience wants more.
Both companies went all in. They dedicated the money and time to the project to get it right. But they went in two very different directions.
Company A (Carton, Inc)
Carton has always been known as the cleverer of the two businesses. Recognized for their engineering prowess and being ever quick on the sale, they plan to profit from the web’s efficiency and the latest technologies.
On every page, Carton explains why their products are the best. Animated videos showing off their products are accompanied by detailed specifications. There are lots of facts. It looks great.
Like their sales team, the website never stops closing. The content focuses on making a decision to buy, because after all, everything else is irrelevant to their mission. A prospect is provided with numerous ways to contact sales via phone, chat, skype, etc.
Social media platforms are used to announce special offers.
Five months after launch, Carton is rocking it. But, alas, things don’t end well.
Company B (Darnay LLC)
Darnay enjoys an excellent reputation, if a bit “button down.” Darnay decides that, even on the web, they will be true to who they have always been as a brand. They will focus on their customers.
Darnay kicks off their project with a brain-storming session that brings together members of the sales and marketing departments. During the session, they map all of the various customer touch points.
Making sure they haven’t missed anything, interviews are conducted with a number of Darnay customers (and even a few buyers whose sales they lost) to determine exactly why people choose to buy from them (or not).Meanwhile, a study of competitor websites reveals a few things they could learn from the competition and how Darnay should position itself online.
Once all the information is compiled, analyzed, and reported, Darnay chooses to use their website as a relationship-building platform that engages all potential prospects and customers by providing content for every buyer and influencer based on their stage along the buyer’s journey. No one, and no touch point, is left out.
Darnay presents all content with a human voice, true to the Darnay brand.Social media is used to engage customers and prospects and attract them to the website for more detailed information about Darnay people, services, and products. For Darnay’s audience, this is essential content.
The first five months after launch are troubling, as little progress is reported. But Darnay sticks with the plan and continues to publish essential content on a regular basis. Beginning in month six, Darnay skyrockets past Carton and continues to climb. Even Google has noticed them. By month 12, Darnay is launching an employee advocacy program to deepen relationships with customers and prospects.
They are on their way.
As marketing becomes more and more data driven, we can sometimes lose focus of one seemingly very basic point. In spite of being a collection of technologies that connect devices, digital networks are about the people who use them. Real people who work and play, laugh and cry, buy or go elsewhere.
This is not to say that data isn’t important. Nothing could be further from the truth. Data tells us how successful we are in our efforts to attract, engage, and persuade people. It can tell us, by their actions, what individuals really prefer (in spite of what they might say). It can even help us deliver the right message to the right people at just the right time.
But the whole point of data and digital networks is to help people and the brands they represent communicate and connect with other people. Now, as ever, businesses succeed by focusing on their customers. Online, that means providing essential content for people.