Everyone always asks me for places to look for ideas in content marketing. Well turns out, there are some great examples of content marketing happening in the b2c/ecommerce space. Scott Albro talks about them in this truly interesting short video.
Ok, it this video does include me along with some awesome takes from other thought leaders. Note to self: I misunderstood the question and thought we were only talking about video. I still made the cut so there you go.
PS my hair looks terrible.
Background: Shoedazzle is a smoking hot internet site. Basically, you pay a monthly fee and you get to pick between a variety of shoes and now accessories allegedly curated by Kim Kardashian and other stars. In August they hit 13 million members. I told my wife about it and she asked to check it out.
Now maybe it’s because I don’t sign up for women’s apparel sites but the site and registration user experience was thought-provoking for me. That’s right, thought provoking. Before I go any further, think about this:
B2B people always say: “b2b is different that b2c”
B2C is always five years ahead of B2B aka five years later b2b adopts progressive b2c ideas
The same people that buy on Shoedazzle are business buyers. (I know this from the Facebook “like” box on the shoedazzle site which had some of my b2b colleagues on it.)
AND LETS FACE IT:
Great UX is great UX
B2b marketers should try to stay on top of b2c marketing and advertising techniques and get ahead not behind.
Let me walk you through my user experience than provide some commentary.
Step 1: Homepage
Question #1 for any marketer is “what do I want the user to do?” In this case, they want users to go through a multi-step registration process known as the style profile. That is what dominates your eye site. Make no mistake, this is a registration profile that will determine what shoedazzle wants to sell you. Shoedazzle presents the profile as a way for the site to deliver customized offerings and advertises the fact that it will be painless: ”Membership is free and effortless” (love that) . Now, think about how present ourselves in b2b: “We need you to fill out this form because you want this piece of content. I need all of this data for my database to make it easier when my inside rep calls you.”
Step 2: The personal style profile
The personal style profile “quiz” is not an ugly series of drop downs, but instead a set of multiple choice graphics which you click to represent your likes/dislikes. It’s more fun, visually appealling, and made my wife really believe they could figure out what to send to her. PS I still have not given up any information to shoedazzle yet.
Step 3: Initial Registration
Check out the easy registration. In b2c, it’s all about getting your email address. Guess what? In b2b: It’s all about getting your email address. So why make it hard to get? If it’s the top of the funnel and the beginning of the relationship, then can’t we move from free to email address and THEN to more data?
BOOM. I’m in and now have access to shoe choices. When we order one, we are then prompted to add more data to our account.
Why did I just show this to you?
1. That was fun — Why the hell do b2b websites think they have to be so boring? We roll around talking about how b2b marketers have to compete for buyers time, isn’t fun and excitement a pretty good emotional trigger to hit?
2. Rethink reg pages and profiling — If you ask me if I advocate moving to Shoedazzle’s model of the graphical profile, I am not sure yet. Truthfully, I went to the site tonight randomly, and I just started re-evaluating. In other words, I am not sure yet…but I do believe in thinking outside the box. I enjoyed helping my wife click the boxes…it was fun which is very unlike b2b where you make me look at any ugly box, type in a bunch of seemingly meaningless data which I make up sometimes, and sometimes make me scroll through a list of 12 roles to choose for myself or sift through and choose from an industry list that I am pretty sure doesn’t have my industry on there.
3. Shoedazzle costs as much if not more than a license of ZenDesk or a GoogleApps license– Have you heard of the consumerization of IT? Then why can’t we talk about the consumerization of IT marketing?
4. Build your list, even if you sacrifice some data initially — go to any progressive b2c website and many hit you with a pop-up box asking just for your email. They want that email and they don’t pussyfoot around. Eventually, we want more data, but right now, can’t we make some sacrifices to start the relationship. I am sure some inbound marketing clone will tell me: “Create great content and they will come back”. Really? Is that why the core features for marketing automation systems is email marketing functionality? According to a preso by email expert, DJ Waldow, popping up a request for email grows list exponentially. Funny or Die moved to a pop-up box and gets thousands of new emails daily. Companies have seen 75-80% growth in email subscriber optin lists as a result of the pop-up box. Check this preso out for more.
5. More on the home page: Remember when you first signed up for Twitter? — Let me help you. Twitter wants you to sign up for their service. There is not much else to do on their home page but register. By the way, three fields total on the reg form.
6. This is for fun, but is there something here? — As I mentioned previously, I don’t know where I am going to take this, but I learned a lot from this experience, and I look to b2c for inspiration not to “poo-poo” it as irrelevant.
PS I am not crazy
PPS Yes it is Friday night
I am currently trying to buy a couple pieces of technology (true story). I won’t tell you what kind of technology (to protect the innocent). But I will tell you that I am learning how much it sucks to be a b2b buyer. I wrote a little about my experiences and recommendations on the Savvy b2b marketing blog.
It’s really eye-opening to go through the process of trying to buy something in a comparable industry. As I live through my pain, I will chronicle our experiences. (I am including my partner-in-crime Lori Janjigian as she helps me in the buying process and is supplying me with her observations, aka complaints, about the process.)
Here are some important points:
- “The biggest innovation Marc Benioff made was to allow b2b buyers to buy complex software with a credit card.” (via Scott Albro) I have a couple of witty quotes from Scott on the issue of “ease of purchase.” This is so true ‑ think about how hard it was to buy enterprise software before the Salesforce.com/SaaS cloud revolution. It was big and complicated, and still is for many companies. Now, many “smart” companies make their pricing transparent; you can order without a salesperson or if you do, it’s easy. Here’s one: I just talked to my buddy who works at at a major software vendor where he sells business applications. He told me that he has to wait for legal to approve his contracts and it can take 30 to 60 days. Not exactly “easy to buy”
- Create “buyer-helpful” content, but don’t forget people also need to be able to actually buy your product. I am the biggest advocate for content that buyers want ‑ particularly third-party content. If you have read this blog in the past, you should know this. On the other hand, the goal here is sell people stuff (sorry, it is). A tip that you can act on right now is to ask yourself one thing: “If someone wants to buy from us, what do they have to do?” I know everyone is going to say “but b2b is so complex.” Sure, but most products are going the other way. Google Apps costs something like $50 per year per user. Pretty complex? I don’t think so. Guess what, there are times when we want to talk to the sales rep and we want to know that this part of the process will not be painful.
- “A perfect example of a complex product made simple is automobiles.” (via Scott Albro) Scott likes to say, “There is more technology in cars than a data storage box.” He’s right. Consumer marketing is so refined that it’s both marketed and packaged so you and I can understand what it is we are going to buy. Consumer sales is such that I can walk in and walk out with a car in a couple hours, even though it is a gigantic piece of technology and engineering.
- Oh, and the “contact us” box sucks. I see that, and I just think black hole. The dropdown you provide doesn’t make me feel like I am going to go in the right direction. When you walk into a good store, someone asks, “How can I help you today?” How about taking that methodology to the “front door” of your buying process? As you consider what it’s like to buy, “How do I get started?” is a good question to answer.
Let’s call this my take-away: If someone wants to buy your product, what must they do? Remember that this is not a question about downloading content and so forth, this is about buying. Is it frictionless, easy to understand, easy to find, easy to figure out? That is the question. More on this in upcoming posts.