What Customers Want
It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Mark Kirkpatrick– Enjoy!
The only consistent in the wants and needs of internet users is change. This has less to do with finicky temperaments and more to do with the change of the infrastructure of the internet itself. The gap in demands of internet users now compared to ten years ago is just as vast as that between the technologies of each of these two eras.
For online entrepreneurs—or anyone with a website, really—this means that incorporating what your customers want to see online is determined just as much by human nature as it is by keeping current with internet trends, and updating accordingly.
Fortunately, the things people want are not fundamentally different from moment to moment, and are grounded in a few fundamental principles. Knowing these will help optimize the changes you do choose to make in accordance with new developments.
While the idea that making sure your site or content works on the device being used to access it sounds like common sense, this becomes a little bit more complicated in practice. Currently, internet access occurs from two primary categories of devices: computers and mobile devices. As most are aware, computers are on the decline and mobile devices are gaining popularity.
This is worth noting because, while making sure your site had a mobile component was good enough in the past, in certain cases, mobile should now be the focus of your site’s design. A quick look at a few sites, both big and small, offering currently popular services will reveal a clean, minimal design, ideal for mobile devices.
While mobile access is the biggest factor in the current look and function of the internet, it’s worth looking ahead to new developments, such as 3D printing or “the internet of things” for an idea of how internet use might look in the future. While these two innovations might not necessarily determine the look of the internet in the future, keeping up-to-date with these and other new technologies and offering functionality before other, similar sites, is one way to offer an edge over competitors.
Easily Viewable Content
When providing content to your customers or viewers, your goal is likely not just for it to be viewed, but for it to be understood. This is how content generates sales: with new information, customers now want what it is you’re offering. Accomplishing this is a multifaceted feat: form is just as important as function. While creating quality content has its own set of best practices, the currently dominant shape of popular content is in videos.
Some cynics believe this to be due to a decline in attention span. However, for younger generations, short videos fit into a schedule determined by short periods in between classes or brief study breaks. While a detailed article can likely only be skimmed in that period of time, a short video will get its point across, and, if it’s good, be shared with other young consumers on their breaks.
However some surveys even suggest that people watch even long online videos without any qualms. Small videos are nowadays being incorporated not just on websites and social networks but even within ads. Videos have been popular since the early days of YouTube, but with Instagram, Vine and Snapchat each changing how videos are viewed, and in turn increasing their relevance in consumers’ lives, video marketing is expected to be more important than ever.
Social Media Relevance
In the case of Snapchat specifically, these are not just videos but disappearing videos. With messaging apps on the rise, private, individualized content is likely to be the shape social media will take in the future.
Whether or not things continue in this direction (sites like Ello offer alternate, privacy-centric solutions), staying up-to-date with social media trends is key for business relevancy. While creating a Facebook page was a great tactical move for businesses in the past, Facebook is beginning a slow decline. And when knowing what customers want before they do is starting to determine the speed of marketing, starting a new campaign on a site that’s even just beginning to go stale could offer diminishing returns.
While the ideas above offer some ideas of how to meet customers’ needs, both conscious and subconscious, new news could leave internet users suddenly wanting something they never knew they wanted before. To market to this group successfully, staying ahead of this news, when possible, will ensure your campaign exists even before your customers know that you have something they want, offering an immediate source of gratification. In a constant state of change, keeping one step ahead of that change, while requiring a little more risk, will also lead to the highest rate of success.
Mark Kirkpatrick is an online writer and tech enthusiast in Los Angeles, California. In addition to researching how technology affects every industry, he also contributes to 1800-Number.com’s blog with his knowledge of business communications and innovations in virtual office tech.