Be Sure to Meet Your Website Visitors’ Expectations

This is an entry in our daily Internet Marketing Advent Calendar series. Each day your favorite marketing elves will focus on a new topic to get your internet marketing in order before the start of the new year.

Do you remember the scene from A Christmas Story when Ralphie gets appointed a member of Little Orphan Annie’s Secret Circle and finally gets the decoder ring he’s been waiting for? He excitedly reads the letter the came with the decoder ring in so much anticipation of that night’s show. Now he, and only other members of the Secret Circle, can decipher Annie’s secret message (see video clip below). In complete seriousness he writes down each part of the code and then scurries off to a private area with his ring and high hopes of learning something valuable from the decoded message.

After much eagerness, Ralphie finally decodes the secret message… “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.” Can you imagine how let down Ralphie felt when he got that message? He must have been beyond annoyed – he was duped! Here he was, expecting some awesome, insider-only news, and he gets a marketing message that he could care less about. Not cool.

Have you ever gone on a website and seen an advertisement for an intriguing whitepaper download or webinar presentation? Just like Ralphie, you’re excited to learn something new,  so you fill out your information but when reading the whitepaper or attending the webinar you soon realize you’re just being sold to? This isn’t what you thought it would be and you are let down.


Here are some things to keep in mind when promoting content on your website:

  1. Don’t make them work too hard – Ralphie had to request his decoder ring through the mail, await its arrival, and listen to the radio show for the code before being able to find out Annie’s secret message. This was a lot of work for a small message that Ralphie ended up feeling was meaningless. When thinking about the web forms on your site, try to match the end content with the amount of effort the user has to put in. The less information a user has to input to get to the content, the more likely they are to fill it out and the easier it is for them to get to the content you want them to.
  2. Add value beyond selling your product – Of course content is distributed throughout your website to support  the sales of a product or service you offer. Nonetheless, the focus should be on relaying the value of that product or service by demonstrating expertise and unique strengths rather than just trying to sell, sell, sell. When I tune into webinars I want to learn something new. Sometimes a webinar will promote a product or service that will help solve my problem and that’s fine, I expect the presenters to want something out of my attendance. However, I don’t want the focus of that hour-long webinar to be on selling me their product.
  3. Meet expectations – Before I hand over my contact information I want to know what I’ll be getting in exchange. If you’re trading the content on your website for users’ information, give them a little bit of an idea of what they can expect and why they should fill out the form. Tell them what they’ll learn or how the content will be useful to them by giving some brief bullet points. This is also a great opportunity to offer a bit of a teaser to persuade people to fill out a form. However, it’s important to make sure you follow through on the delivery. You don’t want to bum out your visitors by giving them high expectations for mediocre content.

You don’t want to dupe anyone the way that Ralphie was duped by Little Orphan Annie’s secret message. Provide content that’s valuable and easy to obtain so they keep coming back to your site for more.

Read the rest of the Internet Marketing Advent Calendar

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