Our approach to UX is changing.
Why you may be starting your SEO too late!
As data, programmatics and machine learning revolutionize the way in which we target customers, it is also changing the way we look at the user experience (UX) and website development. As we learn to detach ourselves from media buying habits born in the heydays of traditional media, search engine optimization (SEO) begins to take on a whole new importance. If you are still doing SEO AFTER your website is built, you are likely doing it too late. Let me explain.
How media used to work
In the not-so-distant past, media buyers would spend a lot of time and effort creating a single target-market profile for their client’s product. They would call her Susan or Samantha. The ad agency would then work equally as hard to refine a single product message meant to motivate all of the Susan’s out there to buy that product. The reason for all this work was simple: to reduce waste. Waste was once an accepted part of the traditional media buy. High production costs meant that most advertisers could only afford to deliver one key message at a time. Furthermore, the limited measurability of broadcast media meant that buyers had to choose a mix of channels based only on viewership research. The result was one brand message broadcasted out to an audience based on the estimated average concentration of Susans within that audience. Having to assume the cost associated with the number of collateral Franks and Ediths also reached was simply par for the course. What’s more, advertisers took the risk with each campaign of potentially delivering the wrong message to the Susans in the crowd, thus negating all that effort.
Today, data, programmatics and machine learning allow us to very specifically target any number of potential customer profiles at multiple occasions along their path to purchase (each profile-occasion is called a micro-moment). What is more, as production costs drop, we can now afford to match each micro-moment with its own specific message. This makes every dollar invested significantly more productive. It is also worth noting that Demand Side Platforms (DSP), which manage ad inventories, now provide access to a greater variety of tactics than just digital banners. They now apply to a wide variety of media and tactics, including rich video delivered through social, pre-roll, streaming and television services. Click here for a more in-depth read on programmatics.
OK so today we can communicate a greater number of micro-messages towards an equally greater number of micro-moments. What do these changes in the media landscape have to do with UX strategy and SEO? Add to the mix the role played by Google and search and the answer is - a lot actually!
“the development of an optimal
brand presence on-line begins with SEO”
Let’s stop calling it a website
Mobile services, social media, and geo localisation, to name a few, are services that have changed the way we interact on-line. Google has changed the way we navigate. For example, when is the last time you typed a url you saw on a poster into the navigation pane of a browser and then clicked a bunch of menu items on your way to the information you were seeking? Exactly, me neither.
Passive websites need no longer apply. The word “site” seems static somehow. It implies a place in which one waits for one’s customer to enter. Programmatics and search algorithms are forcing us to break free of the confines of the website and to go seek out our customers where they are. Consumers don’t want to have to work to find you. In fact they have already become quite used to having their needs anticipated and intercepted. The solution is to now create information hubs with as many targeted answers to as many questions asked by as many profiles of consumer as the market demands. This is significant. As a brand, we no longer broadcast one all-encompassing brand message to the masses. We now have a myriad of micro-conversations with a plethora of potential customers as they make their way through their decision making process. And the webhub is the centrepiece of that strategy.
And that is where SEO comes in.
Marketing 101 - know thy customer
The other day, AT2 Media - the marketing intelligence team at Attitude, presented the results of an SEO audit to a CPG client of ours. We revealed 6 distinct segments of potential customers across 8 potential usage occasions and within each intersecting micro-moment an accompanying query (or two). The client was happy with the results, but more importantly, they were surprised by the findings. The insights our team were able to provide by studying the search behaviours of people on-line, mirrored the results they had received the week before from an intensive qualitative research study they had commissioned. The lesson learned? When you get to know what questions your target market is asking, you get to know the needs of your target market.
This anecdotal occurrence just reinforces the idea that the Attitude team has been preaching for some time now. That the development of an optimal brand presence on-line begins with SEO. Our UX teams now work hand-in-hand with our market intelligence strategists and digital marketing team at the very beginning of the web development process.
As the last hold-outs of the traditional media buying model fade away, so too does the way we look at website development and UX. SEO has shown itself to be more than a means to identify information on a web site. As data, programmatics and machine learning transform media, it has turned SEO into a veritable tool to improve market intelligence and, by extension, the way we approach web design.