Politics and marketing are easily the two dirtiest words in the English language. Alone they conjure skin-crawling images of hucksters, charlatans, hypocrites, and liars. When combined … not only do our intellectual defenses kick into high-gear, but our revulsion is palpable. So why risk bringing the two together?
Because this year’s American presidential election contains a host of incredibly powerful marketing lessons. In fact, much has already been written on this topic from Clinton vs. Trump: Who's Winning At Online Marketing? (Infographic) to my own Clinton vs. Trump: 18 Conversion-Rate Experts Tear Down the Highest Stakes Marketing Campaigns in US History.
However, at the risk of sounding exactly like one of the two candidates, I want to focus on the one huge lesson that all your marketing should adopt immediately.
Make buying easy.
Ever since Steve Krug dropped the landmark UX textbook Don’t Make Me Think, the golden rule of web usability has been a single word: easy.
"I’ve been telling people for years that this is my first law of usability. It means that as far as is humanly possible, when I look at a Web page it should be self-evident. Obvious. Self-explanatory. I should be able to get it -- what it is and how to use it -- without expending any effort thinking about it," Krug writes.
When it comes to getting political support -- whether in the form of email signups, recruiting volunteers, or fundraising -- this “first law” is even truer. As Michael Aagaard, Unbounce’s senior conversion optimizer, explained in his commentary on the two candidate’s online presidential marketing campaigns: "In my experience, people who come to a website like this have already made up their minds, so the website doesn’t need to do much persuading. But it has to be real easy to use, so you can do what you set out to do with little or no friction."
Refining the tools.
For example, compare Trump’s old navigation bar:
To his latest:
The visuals, the copy, and the specificity of the new button all immediately answer the question, “What do you want me to do?” A question the previous version left unanswer and obscure.
Even more inline with making it easy, when a visitor clicks “Contribute $250” -- or when they select a different amount from the contribution box on the homepage -- they’re immediately sent to Trump’s contribution page with that exact dollar amount pre-selected:
These subtle changes are what’s known as creating “scent” and “consistency” between each step in the buying process. Scent means using the same, glaringly obvious keywords in your headlines, calls to actions, and product titles. And consistency means maintaining the same price throughout.
Why do scent and consistency matter?
One of the leading reasons visitors bounce from a site is a disconnect between what they clicked and where they ended up (scent). And the number one reason people abandon their purchases online is unexpected costs (consistency).
After reviewing cumulative data from Business Insider that “there could be up to $4 trillion dollars in merchandise just waiting to be recovered in abandoned shopping carts,” ecommerce guru Tommy Walker summarized exactly why making it easy to buy is so vital: “optimize closest to the money.” In other words, the closer you get to the getting money, the more important it becomes to not shoot yourself in the foot.
As proof of how huge “easy” is from the opposite side of the political divide, consider the behind-the-scenes look Clinton’s Deputy CTO Kyle Rush recently offered. The centerpiece of his post is a walkthrough of three changes the team made to their payment saving options:
Used the email address the user already provided in the donation form;
Determined if the user had an account and removed confusion around that; and
Removed a click from the process.
In context, there was a bit more to the changes than one, two, three. A lot of conversion-rate optimization work went into what ultimately removed a single click from the overall process.
One small click made one big difference.
And yet, those small tweaks added up to a “238.8% increase in the rate at which supporters saved their credit card.”
Why is improving the “rate at which supporters saved their credit card” important? Just ask a little company called Amazon.
Everything Amazon does -- from the rise of Prime, to one-click online buying, to one-click offline buying with Dash Buttons -- is built on the foundation of customers saving their credit card information. Of course, there’s more to Amazon’s success than that, but it all comes down to one word: easy.
Easy really is huge.
Your business may not be “selling” something quite as polarizing as politics, but whatever you are selling, the process of buying has to be insanely easy. This principle is all the more nonnegotiable at the very last stages when someone has “already made up their minds.”
Don’t make the mistake of throwing up needless friction. Don’t make the mistake of making your visitor think. And don’t make the mistake of losing out right before you win.