By: Gene Bedell, VP Marketing and Business Development
Educated audiences convert at a higher rate. And as the experts on our clients' business strategy, market and competition, it's our responsibility to give their target audience everything it needs to know to take the next step (and do it in a smart, magnetic way).
Know this up front: When iostudio did this, we more than quadrupled our client’s average conversion rate. And there’s no reason you can’t do it, too.
For our Army National Guard client, we’ve learned that one of the biggest roadblocks for potential recruits is uncertainty, both about the enlistment process and the long-term career benefits the Guard has to offer. Our client can't be successful unless its audience feels confident and empowered enough to join the force. Here's how we decreased doubt in would-be soldiers' minds—and increased conversion rates by more than four times our previous average.
1. Diagnose your audience's pain points.
Think of yourself as a doctor, and your client as the patient. They’re counting on you to use the tools of your trade (market research, data analysis, UX strategy, etc.) to solve problems they don’t even know they have.
- Know your audience. Yep, this is obvious. But if you’re off the mark, nothing else you do will matter. Invest the time, resources and money to understand who you're talking to—and way beyond demographics. After more than a decade of partnership with the Army Guard, iostudio understood what motivated prospective soldiers, what concerned them, and who else was vying for their commitment.
- Constantly analyze data. Doing so will reveal the symptoms that need to be treated. On what pages does your audience spend the most time? This is the info they’re hungry for. Where are you losing them? In our case, we needed more visitors to click the “Get Started” button at www.NATIONALGUARD.com, which marks the first step in the enlistment process—the site’s raison d’etre.
- Maintain a close connection with the field. Here, iostudio has a definite edge because we have access to invaluable feedback from nationwide recruiters and in-house Call Center operators. From these “ears to the ground,” we learned that potential recruits A) had a good, old-fashioned fear of the enlistment process and Basic Training, and B) lacked an understanding of the Guard’s career benefits.
2. Administer pain relief.
Once you’ve determined your audience’s needs, it’s time to let the healing begin. Our salve took the form of twin apps, built from the ground up specifically to help users move past the two hurdles we’d identified. My Enlistment Timeline demystifies the process of joining the Guard, breaking it down into five easy-to-digest chunks. My Career Timeline enables users to map out a 20-year Guard career, see pay and skill advancement along the way, and how those skills translate into promising civilian careers.
- Don't be afraid to try a fresh approach. When conceptualizing the timelines, we asked ourselves what we would do if we were starting from scratch. What was the best solution, current site and infrastructure notwithstanding? For the Guard, this “alternative medicine” was a web-based app, fully functional on desktop and mobile.
- Keep it simple. From easy navigation to visual storytelling to Calls to Action (CTAs), UX is paramount. Both timeline apps incorporate videos, bite-size information and light gamification to move prospective soldiers along and tout the ease and benefits of committing to the Guard.
- Be authentic. Don’t underestimate today’s savvy users; they can tell when you’re blowing smoke. Plain language, with plenty of specifics, is best.
3. Improve your bedside manner.
If the experience isn't personal, you'll lose the audience. That’s why the trajectory of each timeline is determined by the user’s answers to a series of questions. What are your interests? Your strengths? Your goals? Do you want to go to college? In what environment do you thrive? From beginning to end, the timelines are two-way conversations. You can’t educate someone without engagement, and you can’t engage them without interaction.
Educating your audience is key to boosting conversions.
Making this a cornerstone of your content strategy will pay dividends to your client and to the people interested in the product or service they offer. The numbers for these apps are hard to argue with:
My Career Timeline users become recruiting leads at a 30 percent higher conversion rate than non-users
My Enlistment Timeline users convert at a rate 4.38 times our visitor average
They also rack up more pageviews, spend more time per session, and watch more videos.
But remember, delivering good news to your client about increased conversions isn’t where this treatment stops: your job is not done. Conversion is a relative metric that must be tracked over time. Routine checkups are a must, so constantly monitor data and tweak strategy when needed to ensure the success of your clients—and the health of your accounts.
Gene brings more than 14 years of cross-platform content marketing, strategy, publishing and project management experience to clients that include U.S. Navy, U.S. Army National Guard, U.S. Air National Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, State of Tennessee and UPS. Through these clients, Gene has led efforts in more than 50 brand publications and integrated marketing campaigns. As an active member of the Content Council, the leading national association for content marketers, Gene currently serves on the Council’s Strategy board. Beyond marketing experience, Gene served for eight years as an infantry Sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserves.