How To Use Traditional Marketing Techniques In Your Online Business
Marketing tactics have been around since commerce began thousands of years ago. Well before the explosion of public relations and Edward Bernays in the late 1920s, ancient Egyptians would nail papyrus to a wall or tree advertising their businesses.
Until the mid-twentieth century most ads were simple statements, not emotionally charged phrases chosen based on the responses of focus groups. Marketing has embedded its tactics in human commerce from ancient Egyptians in a crowded marketplace to modern day moms with 4G connections.
Several marketing tactics of the past are in use today, and deployed by the most successful companies. We will explore two marketing techniques. One of them, infinite page scrolling, is Internet-era specific and caters to a certain percentage of Internet users. The other, keeping content "above the fold," was around decades before the Internet. Both are valuable in the online marketplace.
Infinite Page Scrolling
What is infinite page scrolling? It allows a page to load more content automatically when a user scrolls to the bottom. Like Google Images or a Twitter feed, more content loads by itself instead of a visitor having to click links to content on other pages. According to Google Vice President Marissa Mayer, the type of content should be a major determining factor in whether to use infinite scrolling or more traditional pagination.
Infinite page scrolling is easy to set up with jQuery. The code can be set to auto-load more content once a user scrolls down either to the very end, or to an arbitrary number of pixels (or a certain percentage) before the bottom of the page. Once a visitor scrolls to that defined threshold, a function gets called, reads the last ID, sends a query with that ID, and returns by adding proper content to the page.
It is wise to not let the navigation buttons disappear when a visitor scrolls down the page. Keep it visible so visitors can search the rest of your site without having to scroll all the way back up. Patience is a virtue, but in this age of instant information if your site is not responsive enough to the user, he or she will find a competing site that is.
To avoid upsetting your visitors, it is a good idea to let them know when content is loading. Some content takes a while to load, even if that content is hosted on a CDN, but especially during peak traffic. A simple message like "Loading..." is sufficient, but the lack of a message can leave a visitor wondering if your site is worth the wait, and can result in lost sales.
A possible downside to infinite scrolling, if you have a lot of content, is that some users cannot experience all the content in a single sitting. They may have no idea how far down the page they are because whenever they reach the end, more content loads. A "More" footer is a good idea if your users do not like automatic loading; it will load content when the user wishes instead of automatically.
Another potential downside is that some visitors grow frustrated when a page has no end in sight. Remedy this by letting the user know how much content has loaded already, and how much is left to load. This way, the concerned user knows exactly where he is.
Web Strategies Manager for UCLA Marketing & Special Events, Mike Takahashi, warns that the Back button is a big issue as well. Let's say you read a very long page, 2,000 words, and somewhere between halfway and two-thirds down the page you click a link to another page that explains something.
Conversion Rate and Calls to Action
With the advent of newspapers, a notion of "the fold" entered the vernacular. The fold refers to how newspapers were folded, offering a view of the top half of the front page. This is where editors place the catchiest graphics and headlines, grabbing enough attention to convert passersby into paying customers. Apply this tactic to your website, and ask yourself what your site's conversion rate is.
When a visitor scrolls down a page, do your targeted ads remain visible? Out of sight, out of mind; keep those ads in view. Do you have a "call to action" visible on the page, convincing the visitor to become a customer? Does that call to action remain visible when a user scrolls down? Have a call to action phrase appear when the page is loading more content.
If you made a sales pitch face to face for your product or service, how long would it take to complete the sell? If it would take three minutes to convince a buyer in real life, it should take about three minutes of convincing in cyberspace; not much more or less. Keep it realistic.
How far visitors scroll down your pages is an issue too. If you are unsure how far your visitors scroll down a given page, use tools like ClickTale to see that data. The numbers differ for each site, but there are plenty of users out there who don't scroll, for many reasons. After determining why some users don't scroll as you would like them to, setup a split test with multivariate software to help determine actions to take.
Other options are to have at least one page element extend "below the fold", maybe use an eye-catching background that extends beyond the fold. Mention to the visitor, somewhere in the text or with a graphic, the need to scroll down, or add a "Scroll for More" button to the bottom of the page. Lastly, no horizontal scrolling; that drives people away in droves.
Keep 'Em Smiling
It may be tough, some would argue impossible, to keep every visitor happy, but using proven tactics like placing your most gripping content above the fold makes the job easier. It also helps to market your online business in person. A few fliers or business cards and handshakes go a long way. Telling people about your site in person gives those potential customers a friendly face and personality to go with your website.