Customer Service Web Pages–Make them Usable, Findable

Your customers ARE your business. They can refer you to others, brag about your service, or they can try to destroy you on social media with one bad experience.

How can your customers contact you on to renew their subscriptions, change their address, cancel, or ask a question? Phone call, online chat, or website customer center? Whatever tools you have, how do you promote them to your customers? A recent look at many controlled brand websites showed me 1–how difficult I can be for readers to even find customer service sections and 2– how outdated these web pages can be.

Can your customers find your subscription center?  Many home pages do not have a clearly marked link to a subscriber center. Can your reader click on a “subscribe” link? Or the “Contact us” or “subscription center” link in tiny print in the home site footer”? Your links—do they work?

site selection

Here is one home page I liked, where the subscription center is clearly identified

Once your customer reaches your customer service center, how easy is it for them to update their record?

 Most of the brands I work with offer print and/or digital editions. But, many of the web pages I saw only give the opportunity to look up subscriber information if someone has a print label with their subscriber account number.

BAM sub page

Here are a few samples of forms I like that include look up options by either account number OR email address.Facilities exec cs

Space News

 What happens after a subscriber requests a change?  Your customer should receive a notification of the change. This can be a pop-up message or email that confirms the contact information change was made, even if it is a deletion.

 Why is updating your subscription center important? I work in the audience development sector and spend a lot of time looking at websites. If I can’t find your link, a reader who may be looking for the page get frustrated and leave your site. And this person might possibly be a valuable, engaged customer who then decides not to come back. Ever.

It makes financial and business sense to keep your customers who move, change jobs, names, titles or even just change their email address. As it gets harder to acquire new customers and click through rates continue to drop, keeping current customers engaged definitely can help control your budgets. And keep your current customers engaged with your brand.

The journey continues.

Cindy Cardinal

Ad Blocking–It’s here. It’s growing. It’s going to impact your business.

THE trending marketing buzzwords for the 4th quarter 2015 right now are “ad blocking”. For the uninitiated, ad blocking programs allow the user to block ads from websites. Especially on mobile devices, this helps to decrease download times and page crashes.

Ad blocking is not a new phenomenon, since Google Chrome and other browsers have offered it for several years on the desktop. But, it has been pushed to the forefront by Apple’s iOS9.0 update. This update gives the tools to allow for creation of apps that can block ads on mobile devices.

Many recent articles—from Smartinsights to Google’s own data in The Verge—report that more people are using their mobile devices than desktops to search the internet/read their emails/spend their free time.

PageFair, with Adobe, estimates that in the US alone, blocked revenue is 2015 is estimated to be $10.7B. Ad blocking is currently more prevalent in Europe, but the global cost of ad blocking in 2016 is estimated at $41.4B.

This will have a huge impact on multi-media publishers. Many have an increasing portion of their revenue coming from on-line advertisements, which many of their targets will now not see.

Talking to clients, many are unaware of ad blocking or its impact on their bottom line. Some naively think this might not impact their revenue—it most certainly will impact all of them.

After sharing some statistics, the panic sets in. What can we do? How can we keep some of this lost revenue?

–For the current time, increasing “sponsored content” in lieu of ads can recuperate some lost revenue. So far, “sponsored content” is not being blocked. I have already seen editors formerly against sponsored content or native advertising quickly realize this is an option they will accept in today’s competitive market.

–Advertisers can also create “non intrusive” ads that will not be blocked. Whether the reader will respond to them as much as current ads has yet to be determined.

–Sales can try to convert some online ad revenue to other product streams—white papers with pay-per-lead, online and in-person events, research, magazine advertising.

–I think we will start to receive more “sponsored” emails with advertising content. This may work in the short-term, but I think it will fatigue already extremely overused email lists. If you do this, be sure to segment your list carefully to avoid overuse.  Here is a screen shot of one such ad I received today from Vanity Fair: Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.39.35 PM
Feel free to share any of your ideas or plans here.I am sure that there will be many other innovative ideas to block ads and to circumvent these ad blocking on mobile devices.

The journey continues.

C