The digital universe is a vast yet crucial place marketers can interact with current and prospective customers. Building a positive experience for your customers in that digital space, however, is a whole different ballgame. As a critical component of any marketing program, it is imperative communicators understand the tools, features and best practices that should be implemented in order to create an online experience your customers find both easy to navigate and enjoyable to interact with. Thankfully, there are a few easy ways you can incorporate these features into your own marketing programs to create a more seamless and positive digital experience for your customers.
RESPECTING AND PROTECTING CUSTOMER PRIVACY
One of the first opportunities to make a positive impression on consumers is through your business’ website, so it is imperative that your site operates properly, looks secure and is protected for privacy to show visitors your business is legitimate and can be trusted. According to BizJournals.com, 38 percent of consumers’ budgets are being spent online rather than in-person, so if your business allows for professional services to be purchased online or if it has a customer account and payment portal, it’s important your website is safeguarded against any potential threats. Luckily, there are a few easy steps business owners can take to protect their websites.
Installing security updates and regularly monitoring for viruses or anything out of the ordinary will keep your website running smoothly and safely. You can easily install a program that completes these scans automatically and alerts you of any problems or security breaches in real-time. Additionally, using SSL certificates enables you to verify your identity and gives the site a level of trustworthiness that consumers are looking for, according to BizJournals.com. Having an SSL certificate ensures the website URL begins with “https” and that a small padlock symbol displays in the URL bar next to your address. To underscore just how important this tiny symbol actually is, the Certificate Authority Security Council conducted a survey that found more than 50 percent of respondents recognized the padlock icon and actively use it to confirm they can trust the site they are on, while only three percent said they would share their credit card information on a site that did not have the icon.
REACHING OUT THE RIGHT WAY, AT THE RIGHT TIME
If you’ve been on the receiving end of spam emails, then you know they can quickly become a nuisance as they inundate your inbox. When sending promotional emails, marketers must find a healthy balance between useful and incessant and establish a healthy cadence of thoughtful messages customers actually want to receive. According to a study by ExactTarget, 77 percent of consumers prefer to get permission-based promotional messages via email, all of which should include an unsubscribe option, particularly if you are sending a message without first asking for permission.
A general rule of thumb, according to Campaign Monitor, is to send weekly promotional emails. Weekly emails ensure you are effectively sharing important news and remaining top-of-mind with your customers without flooding their inboxes. It’s important for marketers to understand, however, that when sending these messages, they need to follow the guidelines put in place by governing bodies to guarantee ethical marketing practices. For example, the CAN-SPAM Act is a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for messages and gives recipients the right to opt out. According to the act, every email a company sends out must include instructions for recipients to unsubscribe from emails. For small business owners sending out promotional emails, a best practice is to have an “unsubscribe” link placed in the footer of the email.
DON’T FEAR THE POP-UP AD
Consumers are constantly flooded with advertisements—from online ads and TV commercials, to billboards and beyond, advertisements have become ubiquitous, making it harder to capture viewers’ attention. According to Forbes.com, Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads each day. As such, it’s important to deliver ads that are smart and strategic in order to effectively capture that target audience instead of turning them away. The line between strategic and overwhelming, however, is razor thin. While many shudder at the mere mention of pop-up ads, these types of ads can actually be incredibly successful if used correctly.
Hover ads, also known as “lightbox” ads, appear when your mouse moves across an area on the webpage. These types of ads are preferable over conventional pop-ups that open a new window and disrupt the user’s experience on your site. Lightbox ads also have a 100 percent view rate, as users have to view them in order to close them. And, because they only appear when a visitor hovers over a certain area, lightbox ads are guaranteed to deliver relevant content to engaged users in real time. For example, try implementing a lightbox ad for a free termite inspection that only appears when users hover over the word “termite” on your webpage. By tying your ad content to the content on the webpage, you’ll increase conversion rates and start to turn browsers into buyers.
One of the most important jobs marketers are tasked with is creating a safe and seamless digital experience for their customers. From implementing adequate privacy measures to developing an appropriate cadence of well-thought-out email messages and employing a thoughtful and deliberate ad campaign, marketers can help create a positive experience that users will want to engage with time and again.
Cindy Mannes is the executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance. Visit www.npmapestworld.org/ppma for more information.