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Expecting Visitors? It’s Going to Get Messy

    Setting the stage for our expected visitor

    Did you ever wonder how you went into the store for a bag of pasta and came out with six other items? Possibly you forgot to get the pasta. How about the time you set up a sweet social media post and no one liked it on Twitter, but everyone did on LinkedIn. Are your best-laid plans not always winners? Perhaps you forgot to get messy.

    Setting the Stage for Our Visitors

    In class this week, we looked at the many ways we try to get people’s attention. We might have a new book on the shelf (Yes! together with Bridget Willard, I actually do!), a new service, a sale on a product, or perhaps we just want to get people into a conversation on social media.

    At the end of today’s class, one of the students sighed, “It’s hard. It’s also messy!” And she was right. Getting people onto our website is difficult, and very often it’s not really at all our fault.

    What do people want? Why do they want it? Is that a short or long-term need? Where are they? When will they want access?

    The layout, structure, purpose, and content of our website need to be regularly updated and analyzed, as do the activities and needs of our visitors. It can feel messy. It can feel exhausting. You do this to your wardrobe almost daily though, so don’t neglect your website.

    Where Did Our Visitors Go?

    All the time, every day, everyone is looking to make a decision about something. Setting the stage for our expected visitor with content, page layout, structure, call to actions, and media is often talked about in terms of understanding the context of their visit.

    Often that goes south on us. I mean, literally, our expected guests don’t show up. Sometimes some unexpected people show up in their place, and sometimes no one shows up at all.

    Context is important and goes hand in hand with things like loyalty and recognition. Sometimes however the trump card is actually something we have less control over. It’s emotional.

    We make hundreds of decisions every day. Sometimes when we go into the shop for that pasta, we bump into someone going the wrong way with their shopping cart, then bump into our sexy neighbor, drop a glass of pickles in aisle seven, and see the display stand of taco dips. In the end, pasta was our intent, and all the odds were on our buying it – but it in the end it got messy, and our heart took over from our brain. Happens all the time, right?

    How Do We Know How Many Places to Set for Dinner?

    Who’s coming to dinner? A very good question. If we have mapped out the expected decisions of our customers and they don’t show up, what’s a hard-working host to do?

    Multiple entryways. All roads lead to Rome. There is no point putting in a menu when a full-width search bar will do.

    Semantic Signifiers. Selling Donuts? Sugar is sugar; why not add cookies and granola bars to your keyword list?

    Be sensitive. It’s emotional. Where DID they go? What’s trending? Go where your customers are. If they are at another party, that’s okay. If no one comes to your party then perhaps you should put on your dancing shoes and go to theirs.

    Testing testing testing. Toss a dollar a day into the pot and see what data Google Ads deliver. You may be surprised. Got Solr or Elasticsearch? Now that you’ve ditched your menu, see what people search for when they get to your site.

    Thanks for the use of the Photo, Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

    More Reading

    Interested in how you can up your Online Marketing game for your small business? Check out the book Bridget Willard and I wrote especially for you!

    Online Marketing for Small Businesses by Warren Laine-Naida and Bridget Willard available on amazon