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Merging Web Usability and Online Marketing

Did anyone else find the Superbowl commercials boring yesterday?  There wasn't anything really memorable.  In previous years I recall people chatting about the Superbowl commercials for at least a day or two afterward. It seemed like the commercials didn't connect with as many people. Yet, the commercials did get me thinking about the relationship of usability and marketing.   The most successful ads are those that are simple to understand and connect with the audience.  You should use the same methodology with your web site.

Usability and Marketing
A few years ago I really didn't consider Usability and Marketing related fields.  Several people would always ask me if our firm did any marketing. We didn't. For the longest time I believed that usability focused on making things easy to use and marketing concentrated on promoting products.  Regardless of some of the similarities, I always grouped the usability and marketing into two different categories. Over the last few years I've started to change my perspective.  Through people like Ken McCarthy, Seth Godin, and Joe Vitale my feelings in regards to online marketing changed.  Business people should view the Internet as a permission based direct marketing channel. Part of the success of marketing focuses on targeting the right market and testing with that market. 

Web Usability Marketing
Today I see online marketing and usability having a synergenic relationship.  Each discipline takes from the other and enhances the other. Companies who understand and utilize the merge of usability and online marketing are going to be more successful online.  Well thought out and tested marketing can drive people to your web site and promote conversions.  Web usability can be leveraged to ensure that your web site is easy to access, clear, and concise.  The two elements are essential for a successful web site.

Rooted in the Past

The history of direct marketing hasn't changed much in decades.  There was a book in the library, published in 1936, by John Caples that covered many of the techniques marketing firms use today.  Aside from the medium used, the fundamental marketing principals have undergone little change. You still utilize the simple techniques like a compelling headline and well written copy that relates to your audience.  Unfortunately many companies refuse to follow some of the the most basic marketing and advertising tenants.

Usability starts to intersect marketing when you get to the process of testing your ads and copy.  The method of split testing was used to find the best ads.  Today we use some of the same principles to conduct usability testing.  Always try to test different combinations with your users and see what works better with your web site and your ads.   Companies have a very difficult time letting go of their ego and focusing on their audience.  Your focus needs to be on the user/consumer. This is a fundamental of usability testing and good marketing. 

It can be anything from an individual ad or marketing piece to an entire web site.  Concentrate on delivering a message that is targeted to a certain audience and easy to understand.  The process involves using usability principals and traditional direct marketing techniques.  Your message should be believable and easy to quantify.

Both Usability and Marketing are so important to your online success.  Make sure you explore ways to integrate both with your web site.

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