How Digital is Changing the Consumer Experience

Let me give you a few real world examples that happen every day.  You’re at a stop light for all of 30 seconds and you start to get antsy because the light hasn’t changed.  You are going to make a right on red and there is someone in front of you who does not turn right away, and you lay on the horn.  You’re in line at the store waiting to check out and it’s taking forever.  Forever being about 3-4 minutes.

Why are we so impatient?

Maybe these examples will help. You’re surfing the web and a page doesn’t load quick enough so you try another website.  You want to buy a product online so you do a search and you click on the first result and it doesn’t load quick enough, so you go to the second result.   You load an app and it takes forever (10 minutes) and you immediately start thinking of your next computer purchase with more memory and more processor speed (whatever that means).

What’s happening here?

The web has conditioned us to want everything quicker and faster.  We are become a bi-product of always on.  Meaning that when we are on the web, we expect the delivery of the experience to match the level of our expectation.  The result?  That expectation starts to bleed into our offline universe.  Our consumer experience is on hyper please

The result?

Everyone suffers.  Think about it like this. The more it takes to satisfy us, the more we need- and the less it satisfies.  In a sense we’re becoming junkies for a good web experience which again as I said earlier is starting to bleed into our personal offline lives.  Is that a good thing?  In a sense it is but it’s also unrealistic to think that waiting at a light for a whole 1-2 minutes is unacceptable.  Just as it is unreasonable to think that just because it took 15 seconds for a page to load-is a bad user experience.  The web experience, and I’ll include mobile in this, is now as much about the pulleys and levers as it is about the finished product.  So how do people respond to a bad online customer experience?  They click and go somewhere else.

Too bad for the visually appealing site that is hampered by it not possessing what the user wants- Be it access to the proper social channels, free stuff, or the right check out page, or access to a contact page that provides a direct link to customer service.  If you don’t have that, you’ve crashed and burned before you’ve even taken off!  Consumers indeed.

Google stats for November, no surprise here.

Google accounted for 65.1% of all US searches in the four weeks ending Dec. 1, while Yahoo Search, MSN Search and received 21.2%, 7.1% and 4.6%, respectively, reported Hitwise. The remaining 46 search engines it tracks accounted for less than 2.0%. Thus if you’re an internet SEO/marketer and you’re strategy is to concentrate on the second tier SE’s, you might want to rethink that strategy. Furthermore, if you are tempted to pay money to be registered in “thousands” of search engines, our question to you would be, why?

Further enhancing marketers claims that niche based selling is the way to go, Google is also growing as a source of traffic to key industries, Hitwise said. Search engines remain the primary way internet users navigate to key industry categories, with Google leading the way.

Three categories – Travel, Entertainment, and Business and Finance – had double-digit increases (Nov. ‘06 to Nov. ‘07) in the share of traffic coming directly from search engines. These three categories revert back to a comment I made in an earlier post about the top 15 web searches: We as a society only care about being entertained and making money.

We can learn from Porn, Or If you build it, will they come?

Let’s look at the numbers first.  The monthly search volume for the word, “porn” last month was over 13 million. That’s the number coming from Google, Yahoo and MSN combined.  The term sex? Almost 22 million times last month. What does this tell you? Let’s put into perspective real quick. So you know that there is a major housing/mortgage crisis going on right now. It’s been in the news a lot lately. Well,  the term mortgage had been searched on a mere 7 million times as of last month. The Iraq war you ask? 189,000 times. I know, how about Britney? She has been in the news too much and the numbers don’t lie. Try 14 million times last month, now that’s more like it.

Ok so the point is this, in the porn industry, the ultra competitive  nature drives internet marketers to be on their game.  The reason why is for the simple fact that tastes and technology change quicker than the bath water. Think about it, leaving out the fact that porn marketers are shameless and unethical, with over 30 million searches combined for the terms sex and porn, there is money to be made. Lots of it. They know this. They also are accutely aware that they either can change quickly, either with the content or the technology, or be eaten alive. Good porn marketers are better than your average internet marketer because they push the technology as far as they can, and then find new ways after that. They take chances because they have to.

Because attracting eyeballs online is the name of the game internet marketers have to use every tactic and trick to get you there and keep you there. That’s why porn marketers are willing to try any and every new technology to achieve that. They are months ahead in some respects to what some traditional marketers might employ for user attraction and retention.

Starting with the user experience, porn marketers realize that content is king but too much “free” content will make them a pauper, thus the usage of creating crumb trails to the main paid content is the objective. In fact, porn price points for entry are almost nil, but, the usage of a recurring billing model and and the ability to accept any and all forms of payment in any and all currencies make it an ideal business model. Customer service doesn’t really exist in the porn game, except to the extent that they make it difficult to cancel an order, so to dwell on that aspect is a moot point.

Another reason  good porn marketers are better, is because they study the competetiton. They recreate what works best, and when that doesn’t work, they test something else, when that quits working they move on.  I can point to some normal sites that haven’t changed their GUI in 3 years and still pull a 9% conversion rate. But it always begs the question, what would a new look and feel pull? Guess they’ll never know. Good porn marketers will have days, weeks, months and years of data for you.

Another thing that traditional marketers could learn is that porn is as niche based as it has ever been. The more niche based, the better the audience retention is.  We will avoid naming for you specific niche examples, but I’m sure you can use your imagination.  The bottom line is that the recurring revenue model  in this situation is perfect as long as content is updated regularly but still retains the integrity of the niche. If you change the niche, they are gone.

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Wow this person certainly knows the porn business well.” Actually, I will leave that comment as is. As someone who studies any and all online business models, I would be remiss if I did not look at why the porn business model is so successful. The majority of that success of course will always stem from peoples’ utter facination with sex and the search numbers that support that. But one caveat would be assuming the, “If you build it, they will come…” (no pun intended although it seems very appropo), model. That  business model would not last long in the hyper-speed nature of porn business models. At the advent of the internet, it probably worked very well. Now though, you need top programmers and savvy business people who understand the online marketplace backwards and forwards to be successful.

So if you think porn marketers operate in a vacuum and have no clue what they are doing. Rest assured, they are doing things from a technology standpoint, that the rest of the online marketing world would love to learn. Why? What do you think the PPC model might look like in the porn universe? If porn marketers relied on ppc, they would shoot their wad in one day(again excuse the pun) and be out of the business in a week. Instead they have to use not only traditional methods of internet marketing coupled with SEO best practices but they also have to test, test and test and then act at a moments notice.

Although I don’t expect you to rush out and go “study” porn sites, from an internet marketers standpoint. If you should uh.. stumble upon one, do take the time to study the structure and the messaging and the content… and then read the articles.