Bounce Rate Revisited: How It Applies To The New Buyer Journey

bounce-rate-marketing-living-edge-road-traveledThere are a lot of differing opinions about bounce rate:  The factor assigned to the duration of an individual’s visit to a particular website. The general consensus is that VERY low or VERY high bounce rates are bad and that optimally, bounce rate targets should be set, based on industry, between 40%-60%. I’m not disputing whether organizations like 21Handshake are right or wrong. I’m simply asking if it’s not time to revisit bounce rate guidelines now that so many functions of business and industry can be segmented into molecule-sized units.    

BOUNCE RATE ASSESSMENT IN A RETAIL SALES ENVIRONMENT

I’m not a fan of shopping.  In fact, I prefer to spend as little time doing it as possible.  When I need something, the first place I look is online—either at branded websites or on Amazon.  If I MUST go to a store to touch or try on something, I know EXACTLY what I’m looking for and make a beeline to that department.  I’ve gone through the selection process before ever leaving home.  All that’s left is FINDING AND PURCHASING THE ITEM  THAT’S IN MY HEAD.

If a bounce rate could be assigned to that shopping experience, what would it be?  70%?  80%? 90?  Based on what you learned about me as a CONSUMER, where would the bounce rate fall on a scale from low to high? How many consumers do you think likely share the same attitude?

A good friend, Nick Westergaard, wrote a BRILLIANT post a few years ago called “The Age of Interruption Is Over“.  It describes the opposite scenario—where a high bounce rate is bad.  More importantly:  What causes it to be bad. How convenient, as holiday shopping season is right around the corner!  In Nick’s post, the only bounce rate is the one in which those mall doors are BOUNCING OFF THE HINGES!  

BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS VERSUS COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

If money were not a concern, how many people prefer to spend time engaging with community members instead of transacting business? In other words, would most people prefer the recreational weekend activities or working in their offices?

The answer is obvious unless you have a career that allows you to work like you’re on vacation.  Here’s the quandary:  The purpose of marketing has always been to distract consumers and keep them in the buying environment/mindset.  Why are so many displays set up in retail environments?  Why are people staffed at mall kiosks handing out “free samples” to anyone who passes by, whether they want them or not?  To DISRUPT consumers.  This contradicts the objective of people like me who know what they need and want before they even leave the house—to get in and out as quickly as possible.  Why?  So I can spend MORE time engaging with members of my community that I want to be around.  For many people, this community is our family.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to set bounce rate targets for transactions as high as possible (85% or above) and bounce rates for community engagement targets as LOW as possible (15% or below), with anything in the middle considered NOISE?

LIVING ON THE EDGE

We’re experiencing great change across a multitude of industries. Consumers are making purchase decisions before they ever leave the house, if they ever need to.  Most people say that others they know, like and trust influence their decisions more than branded store personnel. Yet businesses continue to try to influence purchase decisions using distractions to entice and convince consumers to consume.  I get it…that’s how a consumption-driven economy survives and thrives.  On the other hand, streamlining transaction processes (especially automated ones) would accomplish the same outcome.   HIGH bounce rates will reflect the efficiency of those processes.  Conversely, LOW bounce rates would reflect the effectiveness of relevant content stimulating deeper community engagement.  Wouldn’t the integration of these two strategies benefit all parties involved?

A great mentor once said to me:  “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”  His wisdom is quite relevant to this post. Many activities in the middle are generating a lot of noise. Breaking through has become extremely challenging, yet many insist on staying the course.

Perhaps it’s time to check the date on that map…

Artificial Intelligence and Its Impact on Jobs

jobs-marketing-future-change

Before we start yelling “the sky is falling!”, let’s ask ourselves what functions artificial intelligence will realistically be performing: Repetitive, mathematical, formatted jobs.  Jobs that make an 8-hour workday feel like a decade.  Instead of worrying about that robot taking your job, how about focusing on what technology CAN’T DO (yet)? Things like showing emotion or displaying empathy and sympathy are great places to start.  In fact, I’d make this your PERMANENT job description, no matter where you end up: 

TO PROVIDE EXCEPTIONAL HUMAN VALUE TO EVERY PAST, CURRENT, OR FUTURE CUSTOMER THAT COMES IN CONTACT WITH ANY BRAND I REPRESENT.  

If you don’t like your brand or the role you play within that brand’s organizational structure, AI is irrelevant.  It’s probably time to find a new place to land.  

Selective Integration

Nobody ever said change was easy, and it’s certainly not slowing down. What many fail to see is the forest through the trees.  In the paranoia surrounding AI, IoT, VR, AR, and robots,  one very important fact remains: People NEED each other.  People CRAVE human contact.  There are some interactions when machines could effectively replace humans, but a solid argument can be made that most people would still prefer a living, breathing soul to interact with, especially in times of stress or crisis.

Something AI and IoT bring to the table that actually empowers human interaction is intuitive segmentation.  This process, executed in milliseconds, will give people more time to build deeper human-to-human relationships. While individual reps may be serving fewer people, their compatibility with them will be much higher. It’s the perfect breeding ground for both employee AND customer advocacy. Think about classroom size in schools: Smaller classes usually mean more personal attention for each student. In a marketing scenario, smaller brand tribes will equate to greater retention and ultimately increased revenue. As trust expands, more permission is granted. A tangent to this trust is stress level related to work: When smaller, more tight-knit communities form, stress levels diminish because more open communication is taking place.

Where integration needs to be selective is dependent upon CUSTOMER, not ORGANIZATIONAL, perception. Integrating technology where the CUSTOMER’S PERCEPTION of value is the least volatile frees humans to engage in situations where emotional connection is non-negotiable.

Jobs in the NEW WORLD of Work

 

A few months ago, I wrote this blog post about organic SEO growth that mirrors the advocacy model. It introduces the idea of individuals having very specific communities across networks rather than trying to be “all things to all people”.  No one advocates for anything or anyone they dislike or distrust. They only advocate for people, groups, organizations, or brands they are passionate about. The key to organic growth and reach is the intensity exhibited by both the community organizer (seller) and each community member (potential buyers and/or customers). Committed advocates then channel their passion into building deeper relationships that encourage individual community growth through INTRODUCTIONS from other passionate members, netting a far greater level of loyalty than the referral process.  As community membership grows, the advocates’ value to the organization increases.      

Introductions are Referrals That Don’t Need To Be Requested

The key to the advocacy concept working is pride in the association with brand communities and other members. Pride drives engagement activity and results in a higher propensity for personal introductions than the traditional referral process.  How do most referral processes begin again?

“Hey, Fred, may I ask you a question?  Did you find value in our conversation today?  If so, I strive to bring value to others in the same way, so would you be willing to give me the names of 3 people you feel could benefit as well?”       

That script is in every referral textbook.  The problem with it is determining if pride in the relationship is actually DEEP enough for the customer to put their friends’ names on the sheet of paper. That’s a risk in this day and age that most people are simply not willing to take.  The alternative solution is to be EASILY ACCESSIBLE.  When people recognize the value in what you do, they tell others about you ON THEIR OWN.  This admittedly changes the focus of your marketing strategy, but it results in deeper levels of trust when the long-term focus is on retention.

Ease of Accessibility

The idea of being easily accessible was more labor intensive just 6 months ago.  It required diligent effort around SEO, organic and paid reach, consistent keyword activities, editorial calendars, etc.  It ultimately paid off for those who stuck to it, as I can attest.  Here’s a personal example you may have seen before:  When you enter “Gary, Iowa” into your Google search bar and enter, the first result anywhere in the world will be mine. No gimmicks, no paid or manipulated SEO, no ads, no nothing. A decade of persistence made that possible.

Although execution of those things is still very important, there’s something you must know:  If you haven’t been doing ANYTHING even remotely systematic on the Internet, YOU DO NOT EXIST.  Search will soon incorporate AI in ways unimaginable to most people.  Check out these links:

This post from Sam Hurley actually has a little surprise inside…He was kind enough to link to one of my pieces last month.  

In this one, Diana Adams of Adams Consulting in Atlanta offers similar insights.  

Getting Found

In the future, AI devices like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa will fulfill requests such as this:

Customer:  “Alexa, find me a professional services provider that aligns with my personal values and beliefs.”

Alexa’s AI scans the Internet for all inputs and insights created, shared, or commented on by anyone in the desired market area with a comparable professional services tag. Two years ago this assessment took 3 hours.  Alexa’s highly-intuitive search algorithm will take less than a minute.  And the technology will be here within 6 months.  

Alexa:  “I have three professional services providers for you.  They are _____, ______ and ________.”

Customer:  “Thank you, Alexa.  Please connect me to ____________.”

Alexa dials the phone via VoIP and connects the customer to the provider.

Question 1:  How does Alexa find a provider that hasn’t set up even ONE social profile?

Answer:  IT CAN’T.

Question 2:  How long will it take Alexa to find someone like me?

Answer:  Because of the activities and content created over the last decade, it’s done before you finished reading this.

No Time Like the Present

There is no better time to be in marketing, sales, advertising…business, PERIOD, than right now.  When speaking with students in the local high school and college classrooms, I can’t help but be incredibly enthusiastic about their opportunities.  The best piece of advice, therefore, is:

“Go forth and MAKE IT HAPPEN!”