Category: Research

Findings that can guide communication efforts.


Proven Ways to Test Your Content

All the content you develop for your audience can be made better by user testing. Yet, this is a step we often skip because it seems hard to do. Here are some strategies to consider to test your content in a way that gets the best results.

Recruit the Right Participants

You should always aim to test your content with people that align with your target audience. The people evaluating your content should truly be representative of your audience demographics, mindset, situation, and goals. Whether content works well depends heavily on who it’s written for.

The best feedback comes from people who react from their first hand, actual experiences. Asking people to imagine something applies to them is not nearly as effective.

Tailor Tasks

You don’t have to give every tester the same content. Consider the tester and give them content that they are best able to react to. Prepare some generic questions, but be willing to modify or craft new ones on the spot as you learn more about the participant’s situation. Pertinent questions will lead to the best insights and feedback.

Similarly, allow the focus of the user input to change. You may want to focus on one piece of content, but if the user’s interest leads to other items explore those as well. You don’t want to frustrate someone whose interest your have piqued. Share what they want, and be open to the additional insights that will bring.

Social Media Becoming an Expected Source for Customer Service

I’ve noticed lately that people expect (demand, really) customer service from brands on social media. Is your social media monitoring and management plan up to the challenge?

Research Shows Expectations

First, some data. Sprout Social’s latest “Index Report” finds a disconnect between consumer expectations of brands on social and how brands prioritize their channels. Consumers increasingly expect great customer service on social, according to the report, which surveyed over 1,000 consumers and 1,000 marketers for the study. Social media is the most-preferred channel for consumers to share feedback about a product or service (31%) and raise customer service issues or questions (33%), with nearly half (47%) saying strong customer service is the top trait that makes a brand best-in-class on social.

Wow.

First Hand Proof

Like many people, I’m still dealing with the fallout of canceled travel plans in 2020. I recently got a notice that credit for one airline was expiring. Since air travel is still iffy these days, I wanted to ask for an extension. Tried to email, no response. Tried to call, hours later, no resolution. Tweeted about the issue and, voila! expiration extended.

Wow again.

Customer Service on Social

You likely aren’t as large as the airline in my story, but their customer service response on Twitter is making me and other consumers look at social media as a platform for getting help from brands.

Moving away from social is as risky for brands as not having a customer service strategy on the platforms. The Sprout Social data also found that nine out of 10 consumers will buy from brands they follow on social, and 86% will choose that brand over a competitor, while 85% will buy from that brand more often. If you are not on social, all of these opportunities fall to 0%.

It’s time to look at how to provide customer service on your brands social channels. What can you offer? What response time can you provide? What resources will you apply to the effort? These and other questions need to be asked and answered.

Just as you have an online marketing strategy, define your online customer service strategy. Map out what you will do and commit to following the plan. Then, let your social audience know how they can engage with you for customer service. Often, setting the right expectations is the key to success.

Get a Leg Up with the Right Website Footer

Footers can be found at the bottom of almost every web page. Their presence is critical and highly underrated, according to research from the  Nielsen Norman Group.

Use the Footer Element Wisely

Footers serve as an important reference point for people as they complete a variety of tasks on websites. While footers get less attention than the top of the page, they still receive a fair amount of use.

NNG found two common uses:

  1. Users scan or read the page and either don’t find what they want, or need more information.
  2. Users scroll to the footer to find information they expect to appear there, such as contact information, details about the company, and social media posts or links.

Best Footer Elements

The best footer elements for your site depend on your goals. NNG lists these as the most common footer components and recommended situations in which to use them:

  • Utility links, such as contact information, customer service, privacy policy and terms of use
  • Repeat of main navigation
  • Links to items not in the main navigation but of high interest to certain audiences, like apply for a job or investor information
  • Site map showing a combination of the global navigation and other important pages not present in the global navigation
  • Testimonials or awards
  • List of other brands within the organization
  • Customer engagement (email newsletters and social media)

Footer Pitfalls to Avoid

  • Too much content: A footer should be devoted to only important information that should be discoverable.
  • Unclear link names: Adhere to conventional, clear terms.
  • Tiny text: Sometimes companies opt to use a tiny font size for footer links, but people use it and rely upon it, so make it legible.