December 01, 2016

Why putting anything on the internet is a big mistake

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Straordinary, really. But, in this quick-spinning realm of the internet, this hyper-real world of new media (that’s incidentally now been around for decades), we’re rushing to include everything. And in doing so, we’re missing something.  

We’re looking at things all wrong. We’re imagining that something is finished. It isn’t. Or rather, it shouldn’t be.

The digital realm is very fast paced. Pages, images, films, blogs and the like get swiped past without a thought. A dainty digit sweeps across a screen and it’s gone. Disregarded.

Communications are dispensable. Attention spans are low. In fact, they’re almost non-existent. We’ve developed into a blinkered world of people on smartphones and tablets with ADHD.

So we need to remember this when we’re creating work online. It’s a constantly moving feast. Especially on websites. So we need to constantly evolve the work we do.

They used to say that yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s fish-and-chip paper. It’s the same online. But face it, tomorrow is here.

(And health and safety legislation dictates you can’t serve chips in newspaper any more. Maybe Brexit will change all that, but hey, I’m digressing.)

We need to set the goal of undertaking repeatable processes to make continuous improvements.

So incrementally, we can achieve something a little more perfect.

Create. Test. Learn. Whittle. Hone. Polish. Trim. Refine. Repeat.

Right now, we have no less than 18 different live iterations of our website. These form part of five experiments, giving us detailed measurements on what colours work, which copy makes you want to discover more and which of our initial ideas have not quite given us the results we expected.

The more you experiment, the more you know. And the more you know, the more you can change. Marketing anything based on opinion, without the evidence to back it up can result in poor user experience. And that can result in a poor return on investment. Don’t get me wrong, we all have opinions. Some are based on experience. Some are based on instinct. But this world is moving fast, so it’s better to move with it, testing accurately as you go.

A long time ago, in the early days of the internet, I created an email campaign for a client. A large recruitment client incidentally. I won’t say who. It featured a movie with an animated character in some funny scenarios at work. It made people laugh. We convinced the client it would get her dramatically increased CV applications.

It did. People passed these funny films on to their friends. And they passed them on to their friends. And so on.

It was so successful, it brought the client’s server down.

The client was livid and told us they would never run anything like that again. In their opinion, it didn’t work. And would not be convinced otherwise. I’m still in shock after almost two decades.

Anyway, opinion means nothing when there’s cold hard fact. Once you can identify exactly which parts of a marketing channel are not performing you can change direction.

Fast.

After all, time is money. And given that today’s economic climate is shall we say, challenging, plugging gaps is an essential process in creating the best online content possible.

We just need to get on with it. And make miskates. 

 
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Alan Stobie

Associate Creative Director

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