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Gerry McGovern: Keywords bring you to a website, carewords bring your through a website

1 December 2011 BY

Gerry McGovern is one of the speakers at the Fusionmex conference tomorrow in Antwerp. Gerry is the founder and CEO of Customer Carewords.

He is widely regarded as the number one worldwide authority on helping large organizations create more customer-focused websites. Organizer Jean Paul De Clerck talked to McGovern. Part of the interview you can find below.

When I talk about Gerry McGovern with experienced marketers, they immediately think about content management, killer web content and so on. But is that really what you stand for? It seems to me you are in a way a warrior with the mission to make people’s lives online better and thus by definition increasing the conversions and reputation of brands online.

The single most important thing I’ve learned about online marketing is that it is about paying attention. Offline marketing is about getting attention, but once someone is on your website they know what they want to do, so your first job is to help them do what they came to you website to do as quickly and easily as possible. That’s why I talk so much about tasks. You focus on your customers tasks. You seek to make them easy to complete. Will you need content to do this. Sure. But content is not the focus. Content is not the strategy. The task is the focus. The task is the strategy.

Can you explain what customer care words are and why they are so important.

Keywords bring you to a website but carewords bring your through a website. For example, we have done a lot of work with finding out how students choose a university. We found that concepts such as “prestigious, well recognized degree” and “advance your career” were very important to them. Now, people will not search with these type of words, but these words become very important once you arrive at a website. These are the words I call carewords.

You always very rightfully focus on the tasks people want to achieve when online. I wonder what you think about the whole social phenomenon in that respect. Do business have their place in what we could call ‘social tasks’ and, if so, what is it?

Here’s one thing I’ve noticed a lot in social media. It’s often used as an elevated support request tactic. So, a customer has gone to the website, sent an email, or whatever, and they’re still not happy; they haven’t solved their problem. So, they turn to Twitter or Facebook as a last resort. “Is anybody listening?” they’re saying. So, you could say that social media is often used for customer support tasks. There’s always a task. There’s always a reason.

In order to understand what people need and what content they want, and thus improve conversion, we need to listen and measure digital footprints. What should businesses do to get a more integrated voice of the customer program that leads to better content and tangible improvements?

The single most important thing is to observe real customers try and complete real tasks on your website. Watch people try and use your website. That is so powerful. Web marketers are like blind men trying to conduct an orchestra in New York while sitting in a taxi in Amsterdam. We have to bring the customer in, make the customer present.

You are not always appreciated by the website designers. “Ugly often works best”. “No Flash intros”. But obviously it’s all a matter of business goals and context. Where do you think design matters most?

Design is different on the Web. Amazon, Twitter, Google design. Design is much more about function than visual. The way Amazon has designed its customer rating system is amazing. The purely visual has a role but it is not nearly as important on the Web, and when we go to mobile, the design needs to be even simpler, more bare, more functional. The Web is largely a functional place, a place we go to get stuff done. And yes, many of the greatest web brands are ugly and functional (Amazon, Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc., etc.)

You look a lot at the websites of businesses. I wonder what your view is on recent evolutions in the channels via which people can find content or interact with businesses such as email, social, etc.?

Social media has been around from the very first days of the Web. Email was, of course, there long before the Web. In fact, I learned much of the basics of web marketing back in 1994 on email discussion groups. So, in some ways, the Web has deepened rather than radically evolved. Web pages haven’t actually changed that much. We still search with words. The Web reflects the rise of customer power and with the new social media tools that power has only risen. Great business websites are constantly adapting to the needs of customers.

Is good marketing possible without a single customer view?

A lot of marketing is much harder on the Web. It’s hard to create needs, to get attention. If I go searching for a return flight from Dublin to Rio, what are the chances I’ll buy Ford Mondeo car or a Nikon 5100 camera? If I want a Nikon 5100 camera, I’ll search for it. So, knowing your customer has never been more important.

AUTHORED BY:
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Bas van den Beld is a speaker, trainer and online marketing strategist. Bas is the founder of Stateofdigital.com. -- You can hire Bas to speak, train or consult.
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