Sometime in the last 10 years, we’ve allowed technology folks to make marketing decisions. And, not surprisingly, the fallout has been customer and prospect frustration with the brand.
Take account passwords, for example. How many times have you been:
- Forced to register on a website before you can simply “take a look around”?
- Required to set up a user name and password, only to receive error message after error message because you didn’t follow the set up protocol (which, by the way, was never revealed to you until after you tried to set up your account)?
- Placed items in your cart, completed the check-out process only to get a message that there is already an account with your email address (and been forced to spend an hour trying to find the password or reset the password so you can complete your purchase)?
Marketing in the digital age is hard enough. You need to build a website and then spend a lot of time and money figuring out ways to drive traffic to it—so why are the technology folks making it so damn hard to do business on the site?
You may be reading this thinking that it’s not always the techno geeks fault, and you’d be right. There are plenty of unsophisticated marketing types out there who make bad customer experience decisions, and shame on them too.
But if any of my recent experiences are an indication, the technology folks are equally, if not more, guilty of building sites without consulting the marketing team on many of the key strategic decisions that will affect user experience.
Most recently, I was working with a client on a landing page that was supporting an acquisition email. The B-to-B email effort was designed to drive prospects to download free content. We spent hours pouring over prospect list selection. We spent countless hours discussing whether the content should be “locked” or “unlocked,” carefully weighing the pros and cons of each option. We carefully considered email subject lines, headlines, image selection and the call-to-action. We argued over the most effective title for our content piece, and carefully designed the front cover and rest of the research paper for optimum interest.
When all that work was complete, we turned it over to the technology team to implement: HTML code the email and landing page, and put all the tools in place for a positive user experience.
After we thought we had tested every possible aspect of prospect behavior, we blasted the email and waited … and waited … and waited.
Our email open rate was above the norm—and the click through rate better than we had forecasted. But the take rate (number of prospects downloading the paper) was miniscule. What happened??
It seems nobody gave the business rules to the technology guy building the landing page … and he took it upon himself not to ask. Knowing that the purpose of the campaign was to drive prospects into the sales funnel, he took it upon himself to make sure the site rejected anybody who tried to register and download if their email address was already in the prospecting database. After all, in his mind, we were looking for new prospects … right?
Considering that more than 75 percent of those we were blasting were from our house file of past inquirers, you can easily see the problem.
You could say the communications between marketing and IT were lacking, and you’d be right. But the IT guy knew he needed to make business rules and yet he thought he was in charge of those—and it never occurred to him to ask anyone else—and it never occurred to the marketing manager that she’d need to fill in the IT guy with all the strategies and tactics she was utilizing in her campaign.
And while we’re on the topic, which IT guy decided that user passwords needed to be so damn complicated? Security professionals tell us to create a different password for every site (yeah, right) and the likelihood of my remembering each site password is remote, at best. But honestly, a simple site that does NOT collect my credit card information does NOT need me to create a 16-character password that consists of at least two alphas, three numerics and four symbols! Isn’t it enough for me to use my cat’s name and zip code if I don’t care if someone breaks into my account?