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You’re Adding Too Many Marketing Components to Your Website

…Here’s the solution.

For a user, visually parsing a busy page is like looking at a pile of Legos and wondering where to start.

Creating a differentiated online offering today means eye-popping graphics, coupled with social media integration — at minimum. Then there’s personalization with social, local, and mobile-specific features; live chat; pop ups or pop-ins with offers; and video media and display ads.

Phew – that’s a ton.

Increasing complication is simply the nature of the beast for digital marketing.

Every year, at every big conference, some new product or service appears that promises to increase conversions.  From a marketer’s standpoint, the new widget could be the key to hitting their goals this quarter or year — they won’t pass up a chance to get an edge, lest they miss out and fall behind a key competitor.

When features become clutter

A new challenge is emerging as a result of this complexity: figuring out how to focus visitor attention in the right places and avoid an overwhelming experience. On a complicated site, visitors can be distracted or and led astray from the direct paths to conversion or purchase that marketers have painstakingly created. Or worse, they become irritated or confused to the point where they bounce away in search of a cleaner, more welcoming site.

It would seem that the solution to busy pages is to get rid of features. In practice, though, that’s harder than it may seem. It’s much trickier to positively identify a busy page as the culprit for slacking conversions than it is to test small variations of copy or design.  Marketers would rather A/B test ad infinitum than take a hard, holistic (and time consuming) look at a page.  And even if it were agreed some features had to go, deciding which ones were on the chopping block would be another protracted process on its own. There will always be an abiding fear that removing any one feature might actually lower conversions. Better to keep piling on more complexity.

Don’t Delete Features, Sequence Them

Given how hard it can be to regress the feature set, we suggest a solution that’s a win for marketing, IT, and users: sequencing page elements. It’s a relatively new approach to optimizing websites that works by reorganizing the order and timing that page elements are displayed. This allows site owners to gain control over when and why their features appear, so as to provide a “choreographed” experience for the visitor.

Let’s take an example.

A visitor arrives on the home page of an eCommerce site selling furniture.  Assuming the page loads quickly (which is far from a given, as complexity also presents performance challenges), the visitor still needs time to process the visual information, get their bearings on the page, and do some reading to decide where they are going to click next. What use, then, is a chat widget popping up in the bottom of the screen in the first few seconds on a page?  Certainly the visitor will not find that feature useful until they have made some inroads on exploring the site.  With sequencing, you can delay-load that asset or have it pop up after a predetermined set of actions have been completed, like scrolling to a certain point or moving the cursor to a certain area.  That way, it appears for the user when he or she may find it useful, and won’t distract them before that point.

It may seem like a small change to make, but across many pages and many different elements — images, navigation elements, social media tags, ads — it provides an overall experience that feels responsive and interactive.  Sequencing doesn’t have to involve parallax scrolling, moving graphics, or any other fancy effects.  It just means page elements appear when they are expected and needed, not sooner, not later. It’s content presented just-in-time.

How does it work?

To do sequencing manually, a developer can program onclick events, hover events, delay loading, and lazy loading with JavaScript. Sequencing works best, though, when it is applied on the fly in response to context, which is why we built sequencing features into Yottaa. That way, the process is more scalable and more easily tuned — marketers can test and retest to find out what works best without touching the code itself. 

Photo courtesy of Flickr user lucidtech.
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