At PracticeWeb, we like to stay on top of trends and best practice in marketing and share what we’ve learned with the accountancy firms we work with.
Here’s what’s grabbed our attention and got us talking in the past month, from a reminder on the importance of measuring the success of your marketing campaigns to the strange new ways people use search engine results.
ROI: Measuring and evaluation is vital
Everyone knows they ought to measure and evaluate the success of their marketing campaigns, I think – I hope! – but this piece for Marketing Week by Tanya Joseph reminds us why it’s best practice:
I admit I used to take a more cavalier approach. A more ‘we had loads of positive feedback, let’s carry on’ stance. I might even have been guilty of once or twice taking a ‘nothing bad happened last time, let’s do it again’ position. But then some years ago I had a damascene moment… I realised that if I wanted to be bold, to be brave, if I wanted to do impactful and outstanding work, I would need to prove its effects. I would need to prove it to the boss (or client), to the board, to internal and external stakeholders.
SEO: Interaction with search results
Nielsen Norman Group (NNG), a research company focused on user experience, has recently shared insight into the way search engine users are viewing search results in the era of ‘universal search’. As the layout of search result pages becomes more varied and less predictable, with inline video results, maps, information boxes and so on, NNG have observed what they call ‘The Pinball Pattern’:
Today, we find that people’s attention is distributed on the page and that they process results more nonlinearly than before. We observed so much bouncing between various elements across the page that we can safely define a new SERP-processing gaze pattern — the pinball pattern… In a pinball pattern, the user scans a results page in a highly nonlinear path, bouncing around between results and SERP features… In the old days, the advice for search-engine optimization (SEO) used to be “If you’re not first, you’re last.” That’s because at that time you weren’t likely to get many people clicking on your link — or even glancing at it — unless you were at the top of the list. Times have changed; we found a wider distribution of both clicks and looks further down the results pages.
UX: The rise of the experience economy
The American firm UserTesting which specialises in, erm, user testing has just published its 2019 industry report with some fascinating data on the increasing expectation on the part of clients that the businesses they buy from will provide a meaningful customer experience (CX):
Buying a cup of coffee, for example, isn’t just about the coffee. It’s about the cup, the layout of the store, the length of the line, the friendliness of the barista, the ability to order ahead and pay with an app… How the shop streamlines its ordering process, the systems it uses to process customer orders, its payroll systems, and even how its website and app are designed, managed, and improved all play a part in the overall Experience Economy… The success or failure of that coffee shop depends both on the quality of the experience it provides and how effectively it manages its business internally. Everything from the taste of the coffee to the accounting software they use will determine their ability to keep up with the ever-changing needs and demands of customers and technology
Ambitious accountants ought to be thinking in these terms too, not just about selling services or products.
Marketing: Out-of-office as marketing opportunity
I recently came across this piece by Michelle Gielan from the Harvard Business Review from 2018 and it made me think about how smart marketing people use every single opportunity to get their message across:
OOO messages can be an incredible tool to fuel your success. Using these autoresponders — whether during vacation, a conference, or the big moments in our lives like the birth of a child — can create social connection with recipients including colleagues, clients, and vendors… Sharing a small piece of information about you, your trip, or your company’s product or service can serve to deepen a business relationship or the connection a client feels toward your company.
Websites: The invisible science of good design
I’ve continued down the rabbit-hole of grid-based design in the past month and loved this eye-opening article by Reinoud Schuijers. It suggests a halfway point between the complete rigidness of grids and the totally freeform approach that can make layouts seem untidy:
What I like to do is approach a design gridless, and then as I progress, a logical structure resembling a grid will appear slowly.
The next step is to align certain things that were already nearly aligned in the first place. If the extended lines of one object are only a few pixels or mm away from the lines of another object, you merge them. Taking out these small inconsistencies and weird gaps can suddenly bring calm to your design because you are significantly limiting the number of lines, making the composition easier to comprehend.