How X-Factor Can Help You Win in Online Marketing

How X-Factor Can Help You Win in Online Marketing

3rd October 2011

The end of September / early October is the time of the year in which in many countries the talent shows start again. Usually (you can never be sure again in these days so it seems) the weather turns bad an people want to stay inside on the weekend nights.

So shows like the X-Factor and “The Voice” in the Netherlands are pushed onto the TV channels to give the viewer what they want: entertainment, competition, the idea you could have been one of the winners and the social element: something everybody talks about. But what could these shows tell us in our online marketing jobs? Quite a lot actually. If you look carefully they can teach you how you can win, in online marketing.

Pick the right song

Much like many of you I presume I get surprised over and over again by the songs some of the contestants on the shows choose. Why on earth choose a unknown song which nobody likes? The choice of the song is very important to get the love of the audience. If the audience hates the song, your chances will drop with it.

In online marketing it is not very different. Many site owners still don’t think about their audience. They don’t care if their audience will like what they see on the website, as long as the message is being sent out. Wrong. You have to think about your audience. Make sure you give them what they are looking for. It is not about your opinion, it is about how your product can help the audience with the problem they have.

Be aware of your competition

Don’t you like it how all contestants on one of these shows seem to be all best friends? They cry when somebody gets kicked out and they all want the other one to go trough to the next round. Still, they are each others main competitors. So they will be looking at each other: if she picks a song with a lot of beat, should I pick a ballad? The contestants, with their coaches, make choices, not just based on their own performance, but also based on those from their competitors. Making the right choice there can make the difference between the next round or elimination.

In online marketing, and especially search, you have to be very aware of your competitors. What are they doing, where are they moving? But more importantly: what works for them and what doesn’t? You have to stand out in comparison to your competitors so you have to do things differently. And better off course. But you can also learn from your competitors to see how they persuade the audience to vote for them…

Looks do matter

Off course the main thing that can win you “X-Factor” or “The Voice” is your voice, your talent to sing. But no matter how you look at it: looks do matter. Yes, Susan Boyle can win, but have you looked at the way she looked when the shows started compared to when the shows ended? She really ‘improved’ so to speak. People like to vote for something they like. And if they don’t like the way you look, they won’t vote for you.

I still see many websites come by from which my eyes start burning. And I have seen designs being made based on the preference for the color purple or yellow or even pink from the website owner. People want to feel at ease when they ‘land’ on your website. Please don’t scare them away by forgetting your looks…


You think the contestants from X-factor sing once a week? Think again. The entire week they are practicing. Practicing their song to remember the lyrics, practicing the dance steps. Trying out if a certain ‘timbre’ in their voice works or doesn’t work. Trying to make their performance as perfect as possible.

In online marketing you have to do the same. Try out stuff. Figure out if something ‘works’ or doesn’t work with your audience. Try optimizing your texts, change them, work on your code. Online Marketing and search is not a one-trick job. You cannot turn it on or off. You have to keep working on it to improve.

Be kind to the judges

Oh people like Simon Cowell… you just have to either hate him or love him as a viewer. But as a contestant you cannot hate him, you MUST love him. Because if you don’t… A judge can make or brake a contestant. If he says you suck, the audience will think the same and vote against you. But even when you didn’t sing that well, but the judges say nice things about you, the audience is tempted to vote for you anyway.

In online marketing you have to be aware of the judges too. But in this case the judges are the ‘filters’ people use to get to their content. Google is one the biggest filters. If you rank well in Google, more people will ‘like’ your content. I have heard people actually say they believe the number one result in Google is ‘the truth’. But there are more ‘judges’: make sure your content is open for networks like Facebook and Twitter, make sure it can be read by many people and let the right people and networks share and carry your content.

Be social

Finally, if it comes down to the final and there are two contestants who sing almost equally well and perform almost equally well. Who do you think will win? The person who ‘connects’ the most to the audience: the one they have the most ‘feelings’ for. And if a contestant would be an “obnoxious piece of…” they wouldn’t win. A contestant has to be social.

The same goes for online marketing: if you want to win you have to be social. You have to be lovable. That means you have to get out there and communicate with your audience. Make sure they not just know you but also love you. By giving them free stuff or making sure they have some sort of a ‘connection’ to your brand. You have to make it personal. And that is where social media can help you out a lot.

So, what do you think, who will win X-Factor and who will win the Voice…?


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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