Conversion Heuristics – the new formula in marketing – typically looks at your marketing experience with the goal being to drive conversion. But if you’re in marketing, you know that there’s a much bigger picture. Your day to day isn’t about the single point of conversion. Your day to day is about wrangling the beast that is your marketing department. So the question is how do you do apply the genius that is conversion heuristics to your entire marketing department? Contrary to how we’ve been talking about Conversion Heuristics so far, when it comes to your marketing department, you’re not going to be looking at the whole formula, but rather parts of the formula, with “a” and “f” being divided by the other variables in order to get c. So there’s a little bit of algebra and reshuffling of values, but the values are still the same. So now we have anxiety and friction as the first figures we tackle. The question is how do you tackle that in your department? In the consumer sense, “anxiety is defined as any psychological discomfort that a user experiences when they are visiting a website at any stage of the buy cycle. Anxiety results in no conversion action taken.” Your department can still be seen as a consumer, in the sense that your team members are consuming the back end of your brand – and that brand is defined by the day to day running of the business. I’ve worked in at least 3 different marketing agencies and I’d say that psychological discomfort is a pretty big player in any dysfunctional marketing department. That’s not to say that the feeling reflects your brand, company, values or even capacity. It means that if your marketing team is suffering psychologically – through stress, uncertainty, misdirection, etc. – then you’ve got an anxiety problem. Anxiety is still the symptom of a greater problem, and that great problem is friction. If your marketing department suffers from friction, then you’re going to have more than just anxiety to deal with. Other results of friction in this integral department include reduced sales, unhappy clients, and lowered productivity. Marketing departments are the mitochondria of any business; if it suffers so does the entire cell. So what exactly causes friction in a marketing department? Luckily, the answer to this is quite simple: processes. Processes, a necessary structure in even the most creative environments, allow for seamless communication between different parts. People know what to expect, how to behave, who to turn to. A process is a guide or a template of behavior that really takes the guess work and frantic communication – and subsequent errors – out of the equation. You know where you can be creative in marketing, and that’s in actually doing the work and coming up with the ideas. But a bulk of marketing work isn’t about being creative – it’s about managing creativity and expectations, and that’s where processes come in. Having a process in place reduces a lot of the anxiety among team members in a marketing department. They’re not being drained by what’s essentially unreasonable and unnecessary worry. Chances are you have a highly talented team, but anxiety in your department is going to hold back potential. Tackle the friction and you’ve tackled the anxiety.
Earlier this month, we introduced a new marketing formula introduced at the 2016 MarketingSherpa Summit. It’s called Conversion Heuristics, and it’s defined by the end goal: conversion. C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) – 2a The best way to understand the formula though isn’t by the “C” for conversion – it’s at the opposite end; 2a is where the formula starts and the “a” stands for anxiety. So what does anxiety mean exactly? When it comes to email marketing, you can’t sell products in an email; you can only sell a click. So when a consumer is at your email campaign, it needs to make sense. All efforts need to get toward the conversion point. And in email marketing, that big “C” looks a little different than it does, say, on your web page. When your reader is in their email, looking at your message, the goal isn’t to get them to buy the product. Buying the product would mean they’re on your website, they’ve put things in the cart and are about to check out, or they’re ready to pick up the phone or contact you via email. On your website, that conversion is about the final point of contact before that consumer is now a customer and invested in your brand. In an email marketing campaign, you’re not selling the final point of conversation. In an email marketing campaign, you’re selling that click to the landing page. That landing page can be your website, it can be a further page in the funnel to get them to convert. Whatever it is, you’re selling the click. Our next question is, what does anxiety look like in an email campaign? In an email marketing setting, anxiety comes in the form of a click. The term “heuristic” in “conversion heuristic” is defined as enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves, and guiding them through a process to achieve that end. In that vein of thought, each symbol in the equation guides marketers to consider all elements of decision making before conversion is secured. Not having this means your reader is reaching (or has reached) a point of anxiety – in other words, uncertainty. The anxiety can be driven by a number of factors. The most common points of anxiety in an email marketing campaign is content. People think it’s design or brand, but no it’s content. First and foremost your content shouldn’t need Sherlock Holmes to figure out what you’re saying. Your content should be clear and concise, answering the questions of what, why, and who. While some companies answer this question, they lose all imagination when it comes to this. Email marketing is no different than any other kind of marketing when it comes to delivery – which means people still want to be courted. You should dump the info on a plate and push that slush up to your reader, either through a tone that evokes laziness or hurried panic. Neither is appealing, but both do trigger anxiety. Keep your message short and sweet and let the template, graphics and overall design tell someone about the “who.” All you need to worry about is what and why. If your content is longer than the usual email, then give the person the courtesy of providing a direct URL above so they can visit the page or save it for future reading. Offer a list of bullet points at the top or a summary that defines key points in the piece. The idea is that just because you have your reader’s attention, doesn’t mean you don’t owe them the courtesy of treating them like a guest in your digital space. Value their presence and their time to reduce any friction in their experience with your brand.