Ever read one of those books that makes you look at your world a bit differently? Right now, that book for me is Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.
The book focuses on web usability, and its premise (as the book title suggests) is that the most important thing you can do to help people use your website is to “don’t make them think”: make things as self-evident, obvious and self-explanatory as you can.
The book is one I would recommend for anyone involved in designing and writing websites, but many of the lessons are applicable for B2B content marketers as well (granted, many of us span both worlds). For instance, towards the beginning of the book, Krug outlines three facts about real-world Web use that is quite applicable to any of the content you are creating.
We don’t read pages. We scan them.
We’ve talked about this idea on Savvy a lot, but it’s always worth repeating as text-heavy content is so rampant. Here’s the thing: even if your ideas are genius, they will likely be lost if they are not presented in a way that readers can quickly absorb the key points and be enticed to read more.
Krug also added to my thinking with this important point: “We tend to focus on words and phrases that seem to match (a) the task at hand or (b) our current and ongoing personal interests.”
When thinking about what to highlight, keep this point in mind. Don’t simply bold key statements, such as Step 1, Step 2, etc, but rather make sure you are calling out the actual words that are important to your readers.
We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice.
I love the term satisface. As Krug explains:
“When we’re designing pages, we tend to assume that users will scan the page, consider all of the available options, and choose the best one. In reality, though, most of the time we don’t choose the best option—we choose the first reasonable option, a strategy known as satisficing. As soon as we find a link that seems like it might lead to what we’re looking for, there’s a very good chance we’ll click it.”
While your customers do put more thought into their purchases than people put into browsing websites, it’s not that far off the mark. B2B buyers don’t have a lot of patience and they are stretched on time, so they often satisfice when looking for solutions (especially at the beginning of the process).
For me, this drives at the importance of two things:
You need to be found.
Chances are, your audience will only look for a solution to their problem until they can locate the first reasonable option or two, which (I'm telling you nothing new) makes search incredibly important.
While traditional SEO is important, think about how your audience is using social media, too, and make sure that you are present and can be easily found when someone is looking for information in alternate ways. When choosing keywords, think about both search engines and social media (they require a different thought pattern). For more on this, check out this great post from Lee Odden on creating your digital optimization strategy.
You need to have a clear path once someone arrives at your website.
Later in the book, Krug explains the five questions that users should be able to answer when on your home page (it’s a great list and test for your website):
- What is this?
- What do they have here?
- What can I do here?
- Why should I be here—and not somewhere else?
- Where do I start?
While it’s a mistake to assume that all readers will arrive on your home page (although it is likely the most visited page), think about these questions for all of the your pages, especially your most popular ones.
We don’t figure out how things work. We muddle through.
Again, Krug’s point is related to usability, but it’s also applicable to marketing: “Faced with any sort of technology, very few people take the time to read instructions. Instead, we forge ahead and muddle through the, making up our own vaguely plausible stories about what we’re doing and why it works.”
This so describes me (and probably many of your B2B buyers as well). While you can’t make your buyers more patient, you can make sure that you are as simple, clear and relevant as you can be, which often times may mean simplifying what you do.
Have you read Krug’s book? What are your favorite points?
- Are You Giving Your B2B Prospects Too Much Information?
- 5 Ways to Optimize Landing Pages for B2B Content Assets
- How Much B2B Content is Enough?
About the author: Michele is the Executive Editor of the Content Marketing Institute where where she works with a fabulous group of contributors who know a lot about content marketing. She's also a B2B content marketing consultant who has a passion for helping companies use content to connect with their ideal buyers. You can follow her on Twitter or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B.