My right hand was turning a weird shade of eggplant-blue. My seatmate (let’s affectionately call her 3F) was clawing so hard and so fast, it wouldn’t be too long before her pointy nails laser-sharpened talons reached my wrist bone.
Like many others on the plane, she was praying out loud, hailing Mary, Maria and any other M she could think of.
Me? Not. So. Much.
The odds of dying in a plane crash are in one in eleven million. (About the same as me getting married. In other words: NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.)
I had exactly zero concerns about dying in a plane. 3F amputating my body parts before we stopped our turbulent freefall and leveled off? 90/10, in the scrappy grandmother’s favor.
To distract myself from the possibility of losing my right limb in battle, I looked around. The seats in front of me were all filled with men. My inner-Jack from Lord of the Flies noted there wasn’t an Alpha Male in the bunch.
If we do crash, I thought to myself, please let us all die because Lord love a duck, I don’t want to live a LOST-style-island life with any of these blustering yahoos. It’d be like a Shahs of Sunset Survivor.
I looked to the back just as the oxygen masks fell.
Have you ever been on a plane when the oxygen masks come down like a swarm of jellyfish? (For those of you who haven’t been in the ocean, it’s sort of like the ceiling at the Bellagio after you’ve had a few too many cocktails.)
It’s fast, messy and disconcerting.
What I noticed though was interesting.
PEOPLE DIDN’T FOLLOW THE SAFETY DIRECTIONS AT ALL.
As in they completely ignored them.
I know. I know. That part wasn’t really a surprise – even the 80+ year old, perfectly-coiffed, impeccably-dressed gentlemen traveling in suits don’t pay attention to the flight attendants’ IMPORTANT SAFETY BRIEFINGS any longer instead preferring their Kindles set to 100-point font (one word per page.)
When I looked around, I saw a bunch of mothers & fathers (and a few abuelas too) putting on their kids/loved ones’ oxygen masks before they put on their own.
Apparently “SECURE YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK before you help others” sounds very good in theory but just doesn’t turn out all that well in practice.
It’s, well, EXACTLY like marketing. What people spout in theory is often completely meaningless (read: craptastic) in practice.
Here are a few of my favorite marketing things that sound smart but aren’t:
THEORY: THEY’LL SCROLL SO YOU CAN PUT THE ACTION DIRECTIVES (BUTTONS) WHEREVER YOU WANT.
Fact: Users will scroll but with scrolling comes a loss in brain focus/attention. The first view they see is HEAVILY weighted in their heads. Use it wisely.
What Should You Do? Make sure you have an action directive on every single view. This is ESPECIALLY important in mobile.
THEORY: COPY DOESN’T MATTER BECAUSE NOBODY READS IT.
Fact: People do read copy but they read it the way they want to read it, not necessarily the way you want them to read it. (Or the way Google reads it either.)
What Should You Do? Focus on your headlines, subheads, and picture captions (very important and sadly underrated.) Next, look at your BENEFITS – not the technical specifications, not the this-item-requires-batteries or you-can’t-get-this-if-you-live-internationally – the 4-5 things you would use to SELL the product. There’s a lot more that a user reads but those are a very good start. (If you’re in ecommerce, pay special attention to what you call (title) the item, where you present the pricing and the availability information as well.)
THEORY: MY CUSTOMER IS TOO OLD FOR MOBILE.
Fact: The people who seem to be struggling the most with mobile are actually the millennials (aka the new homeless.) Regardless, mobile is here whether you like it or not. (Mostly because about half your users read their emails – including the spray-and-pray ones YOU SEND — on their phones.)
What Should You Do? In 2015, the key to mobile, will be figuring out the very best place you need to sell the user and it’s likely NOT going to be on a handheld. Get people ON the phone (as in calling your call center), use live chat, answer questions via text message, consider v-chat, use triggers to “carry their cart” over to your desktop site, or do all of the above – do whatever you can to get the order.
THEORY: REMARKETING IS A WASTE OF MARKETING DOLLARS.
Fact: Remarketing can be one of the best tools in your arsenal. I hate – and I mean, VEHEMENTLY DESPISE – remarketing ads – but they can really work ESPECIALLY for new PPC/PLA/syndicate-type traffic.
What Should You Do? Build killer banner creative or get an outside freelancer to help you. Develop lots and lots and lots of banners – not just one – you can rotate the ones that work in and out of your schedule but banner fatigue is a real thing. Look at how you can use frequency capping. Segment your target audience – it’s possible that not everyone on your file should be remarketed. Work your landing pages – remember, if people left because they were struggling it’s often an exercise in futility to drop them back into the same situation.
As an aside, I recently saw a funeral company’s remarketing ads. Even I would have trouble approving that campaign and I’m Bad Grown-Up numero uno. Apparently they have definitive answers about whether or not there is a God.
THEORY: IF SOMEONE SEARCHES (ON YOUR SITE) AND YOU SHOW THEM RESULTS, THE SEARCH IS “SUCCESSFUL.”
Fact: Sorry about your luck but that’s not at all the case. Users consider a search to be successful ONLY if they find what they were looking for.
What Should You Do? The easiest way to figure out whether or not you’re handling search well is to look at the subsequent page views, adoptions and completions you get from search. Another good exercise is to take the top 50 most popular searches in the last x months (x depends on your seasonality) and conduct them yourself. Evaluate whether or not the search term was in (or should be) your navigation and what people get when they search for that term. Make sure the search results are prioritized – the order in which the items are presented has a huge impact on whether or not they clicked.
What have you heard lately that sounds good in theory but sucks in practice? Anything you want to add to the list? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. We didn’t crash. After the oxygen masks came down there was about 4 minutes of sheer panic – mostly from the purser who didn’t shut the glasses/mugs door in the galley properly and had about 100 breakables smash at her very Frederick’s of Hollywood shoed feed. Then, we stabled off and I untwisted my paw from 3F who went on to get completely crackerjacked off, you guessed it, Bloody Mary’s.
P.P.S. I’m honored to be one of the featured keynotes at the Conversion Conference this year. I am not speaking much any longer mostly because (a) I’m sick of hearing myself talk and (b) although orange IS my color, I am not interested in going to prison at this time. Most conference speakers – especially the conversion ones – make me want to HULKSMASH. Between the blatant sales pitches, the navel pontifications, and the sheer BS, I’m THISCLOSE to bopping one of these wackasses right in the nose.
The Conversion Conference is different though – Tim’s group (especially my buddy, Casey) puts on a solid show. It’s packed with solid information and the majority of the presenters are folks I don’t want to bury in the desert. You can learn more about it here: http://www.conversionconference.com.