The dating game. To be honest, I’ve been out of the game for a while now, and the game has changed a bit in the past few years I guess with new elements like the whole online industry playing a big role. One thing I have been working on a lot in recent years however is the ‘online dating game’. And in this case I do not mean the ‘online dating sites’ but the way marketers interact with their (potential) audience.
I’ve spoken and written a lot about online consumer psychology and there is an interesting pattern to recognise when it comes to attracting new visitors and keeping them interested in your websites, products and services. It is truly a dating game. So let’s take a look at some dating rules which apply to marketing when it comes to the wooing of their audiences.
You can only make one first impression
A first impression is hugely important. We as humans decide on whether or not we like each other in the first few moments we meet. This means that in dating you wear the right clothes and say the right things. Do we give the wrong first impression we will never lose the image someone else has over us. It will always be remembered.
When it comes to marketing and websites this isn’t any different. The first impression of the site makes or breaks if someone sticks around or not. It is even more important than in real life because you really don’t get a chance to make up. Within seconds a visitor decides whether or not he or she is comfortable on the site and looks further or if they go and find ‘love’ elsewhere.
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How to make a good first impression
Making a good first impression means you landing pages have to be in order: they have to ‘speak’ to the visitors and tell them what they can find on the website. It shouldn’t be too full so people will not know where to look and very important: it needs to answer the question they have why they got onto the site in the first place.
Understand your dates motives
You know those dates where one is looking for eternal love and the other only for a ‘good time’? Awkward..! In dating it is good to know what the others motives are for dating. The same goes online when it comes to your marketing: understanding your audience is vital, especially if you want to make that good first impression.
A website for example or a Facebook page should not be filled with information the visitor isn’t interested in. It needs to be content that fits their needs. And with search and social playing a huge role in peoples decision making people come in to a website for very specific reasons, on very specific pages.
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How to understand the target audience
The modern web has many tools available which can help you get a grip on the motives of your visitors. Even though with recent developments around Google keywords are a ‘hot item’ they still give valuable information about your visitors. Not just the (few left) ones in your analytics, also the ones that for example Google delivers in Adwords. Or tools like Ubersuggest can help you. But a very valuable tool is social media: create a profile of your target audience and find out what they like, monitor what they say or do, get an understanding of their ‘lingo’ and what makes them ‘tick’ and what makes them ‘fall in love’ and adapt your content and landing pages to those needs.
Do not talk only about yourself, keep it exciting
Oh the horrendous dates where you have to sit through a dinner or drinks with someone who just cannot shut up about him- or herself. They can only say how fantastic their lives are, how great their friends are and how amazing their skills on whatever topic (whether its cooking, sports or skills between the sheets) are. What happens if you are on a date like that? You do not only get sick of the person not being interested in you and only discussing their own lives, you start mis-trusting them. You don’t believe the story they are telling you about their lifes. It is just too good to be true. It must be a lie. And it usually is.
Marketers in many cases have the same attitude. On their website or social channels they talk about themselves all the time. How great their products are, how great their clients are and how you so should buy their products. The fact that you are talking about your own products is not the problem here, it’s you praising the products and especially the number of times you do it. Research shows that the more a brand says about their own product, the more it praises it, the less likely people are to trust the message.
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So what do you say?
So how should you as a brand act then? If you can’t talk about yourself on your own channels? It is actually quite simple. As with dating you don’t want to say nothing about yourself, you do want to show off a little. Just don’t overdo it. Make sure you highlight the important parts, but be modest about other things. Let them find out themselves. Get them to click through based on the bits of information you give them, make them curious for more, but don’t give it all up all at once, keep it exciting, make them crave for more instead of giving them too much of you.
Don’t be a stalker
Wow, that was a fun first date! You wouldn’t mind seeing that person again! How exciting! Oh wait, a text message, already..? We only just said goodbye! Oh well, it was fun indeed, so I’ll answer. And the date continues via text messages. But the day after the texts keep on coming and coming and they want to see you every single day and within a few weeks the other one says “I love you” and you feel smothered.
I get the same feeling with some brands. They seem to be stalking you wherever you go. This mostly because they feel they need to do ‘retargeting’. And I’m sure that in some cases retargeting actually works. But many are (there’s a pattern here:) overdoing it. You can’t go onto another website, social network or even an read an e-mail without their ads popping up all over the place. People will be more annoyed than anxious to see your products.
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How to keep them interested
You can keep your audience interested without stalking them. Again not overdoing it is an important element here. Retarget, but with caution. Next to that anxiety can play a role again. Keeping them on their edge because you might be giving some new important information that might help them. Or some funny videos. As long as you don’t overdo it. Be the mysterious date where you want to find out more about.
Be good to your date’s friends
Finally the most important dating rule, both in real life as in marketing: be good to your date’s (or your target audience’s) friends. Because friends are the most important part of someones life.
If you neglect your date’s friends and try to keep your date away from them, sooner or later someone will complain. Maybe it is not your new found love which will complain first, but their friends. And as soon as the friends start complaining, the end is near. Because in the end people will trust their friends the most.
Research shows that we trust those around us most and that we base our decisions on a relatively small group of people who are closest to us. This means that we look at others for recognition and confirmation. So why do marketers then try to directly target people? Why are they forgetting about their friends? Ask 100 marketers what their target audience is and at least 96 or 97 will tell you the audience they want to sell to. Only a few will realise that the friends of those you want to sell to are equally, or even more important to target.
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How to woo their friends
So how do you ‘woo’ the friends of your target audience? That is a tough one for marketers, because they are used to trying to sell a product. And instead a marketer should work on making the friends trust you. You don’t want to sell to them. You want to make them happy so they will talk about you in a positive way. So, like the talking mentioned earlier, don’t talk about yourself. Try to figure out what makes them happy and give them that. Make them feel comfortable. And they will be selling your products for you.
Conclusion: dating is not about you
So to conclude the dating rules let’s take a look at what we’ve learned: you need to make sure you look good for your first impression, be ready, you need to understand who you are dealing with and stop talking about yourself. You need to be careful not to overdo things and finally you need to not just make your date fall in love with you, but your date’s friends as well.
But the most important lesson as far as I concerned (and then I’d like to hear yours in the comments): dating is not about you, it’s about your date. Whether it’s a ‘real date’ or a ‘marketing date’.
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Over to you!