Inferred impressions

Newgate Lane

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is a time-honored cliche. Yet we also hear not to judge a book by its cover, that beauty is more than skin deep, and a variety of other cliches advising against snap judgement. What’s a marketer to do?

Impactful first impressions are inferred impressions; what you take away from an interaction creates an inference for subsequent interactions.

For example, if you’re a hotel and your lobby is unclean, the inferred impression is the rest of the hotel is unclean.

If your sales staff is surly before the sale, imagine what customer service will be like after the sale.

First impressions containing non-relevant data won’t create much of an inference. A restaurant’s poor graphic design on its menu doesn’t create an inference about the quality of its food or the service. After all, graphic designers are not cooking your food.

A business that delivers freight and cargo won’t be affected much by a driver’s wrinkled uniform. In fact, a slightly shabby looking driver might create a mild positive inference that the person is working so hard, he’s not had time to do laundry.

Wells Fargo bank made a huge splash in the bank marketing world years ago when they eschewed the expansive lobbies and giant buildings in favor of normal, average offices. Why did they make such a bold leap? The quality of the decor had little to do with the services they provided.

When contemplating what first impressions you’re creating, consider whether they create an inference about the product or service you deliver. Worry about it only if it creates an inference which runs contrary to the promise of what you serve your customers.


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Use Google Analytics to find digital walking paths

There’s an urban legend from several different colleges about how a school didn’t pave sidewalks in the first year of its new construction. The school simply let students wear paths in the grass and then paved over where they walked later, in order to create a campus that felt the most natural.

VISIT TO THE NEW DIT COLLEGE CAMPUS [GRANGEGORMAN] REF-104083

While apocryphal, the concept is a sound one. Pave and expend resources where people are, rather than where you think they should go. What if you could do that with your website?

Using Google Analytics, you can. Google Analytics provides a tool called Event Tracking in it. Event Tracking has nothing to do with real world events; rather, it’s a way to track interactions by users with your content. By adding code to various pieces of your website or to Google Tag Manager, you can track the worn paths through the digital grass of your site.

When implemented, you’d be able to tell what people were or were not clicking on, in real-time and in legacy reporting:

Events_-_Google_Analytics.jpg

What could this tell you? You’d know how much of your navigation you could de-emphasize or remove entirely. You’d know what content was getting clicked on. You’d know what interface elements weren’t contributing to clicks at all and remove those as well. In the end, you should have a cleaner, more functional website.

If you’re using Google Tag Manager and your website identifies its content and navigation elements by classes, this is the configuration you’d use for Tag Manager to track those clicks:

Google_Tag_Manager.jpg

Otherwise, you’d need to make interface changes to your website’s code in order to do the tracking. Google has provided instructions for this procedure here.

Understand your digital walking paths and you can make a website which will serve your visitors’ needs best and make them feel comfortable, as though they’d built the site themselves.


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Vanity metrics are the top of the funnel

About once per marketing conference, someone on stage derisively remarks about certain metrics as vanity metrics:

Twitter followers don’t matter.
Facebook Likes are unimportant.
Website visits don’t mean anything.
Who cares who re-Pinned you?

Now, imagine for a moment you owned a coffee shop. Inside you served the world’s best coffee, hand-picked single estate reserve beans custom-roasted on premises to perfection, made by baristas with doctorate degrees in chemistry. You track the number of people who purchase cups of coffee – a vitally important metric if you want to stay in business. One might call that a key performance indicator.

You track the number of people who walk into your shop, and separate those people into folks who buy and folks who don’t buy. These are important diagnostic metrics to understand; if no one buys, you’re going out of business.

A vanity metric might be the number of people who walk past your shop and wave hello.
A vanity metric might be the number of people who check in on the location-based service of your choice.
A vanity metric might be the number of people who retweet your coffee specials.

Do these metrics matter? Yes. They’re at the very top of the funnel. They’re proxies for attention.

Spiders in the funnel

If no one ever walks past your shop, certainly no one’s walking in it.

Attention is the very top of the funnel, and vanity metrics hint at whether you’re capturing any attention at all. If no one can even be bothered to press the Like button, what are your chances of convincing them to make a purchase?

Should these metrics be your goals? Of course not. Measuring the success of your marketing on attention only is foolish. Those who criticize marketers for such measurement have valid reasons to do so.

The bottom line on vanity metrics is this: if your business isn’t getting attention, you’re probably not generating any business. Measure the entire funnel, not just the bottom!


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