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Teajai (T J) Kimsey Stradley began having fun on the internet in 1996 playing around in chat rooms and making websites on places like “GeoCities.” She was quickly hooked and by 1999 started developing commercial websites on a part time basis. By 2001 she gained the interest of an angel investor and was able to move to an office and hire employees.
Ideas That Work is a full service internet marketing company that uses a holistic approach to achieve results including Human Factors Psychology. The company works closely with a small group of clients across the United States.
MO: Can you tell us about the Human Factors Psychology method that you use with clients?
Teajai: Human Factors Psychology is a discipline of Psychology itself, like clinical psychology and community psychology. While I just got the degree in December of 2008, I had actually been practicing the discipline for years without even knowing that it was considered a psychological science.
So Human Factors Psychologists consider the way that people interact with their world, some call it “man and machine.” In this case the machine is the internet. In building a website we consider what the human brain is capable of in terms of how much it can process, how pages are viewed visually along with perceptions on the web page. Some of our tools include eye tracking heat maps, testing and split testing, focus groups and etc.
When looking at a website from a Human Factors standpoint I want to be sure there are not an overwhelming number of options on the page i.e. more than 10 navigation choices. I want to be sure the most important information is in the F pattern or Golden Triangle where the majority of eye movements tend to land. I look at the text on the page: is it a clear font, black on white if possible and is the text easy to scan with bullets, bolds, numbering etc. And, I want to make sure the message is clear including directions to the next step. These are just a few of the considerations.
Here is an over simplified example: When searching for information on a page our minds do a “serial search” that is they are visually trying pull out those words that pertain to their search. If the text is highlighted with bold face or in bullet form it is easier to complete that search mentally. Our minds are happy and there is a level of satisfaction. This will make the visitor want to look further on the site.
When we take Human Factors psychology into account we are able to not only improve the visitor experience, we can also increase engagement and the number of conversions on the website. Once we have an initial improvement we continue to look at all the available information (generally including website analytics) and seek out more ways to improve both the engagement and the conversions.
MO: Why do you think that hiring managers should hit several social media channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, along with the traditional LinkedIn, in search of suitable employees?
Teajai: Hiring managers and recruiters should not restrict themselves to just one social media outlet when looking for talented help. Of course using the different channels you are able to fish from different ponds but there is more than just that reason.
If you are looking for sales or business development positions for example, seeing the interactions of an individual on several social media sites can show that the individual is good at making friends, networking and the like. For customer service or front line employees, the different social media channels can reveal the different communications styles an individual may use in the different situations.
Some people, as we well know, will post things on a Facebook page or say something on Twitter that they would never include on LinkedIn because of the lack of professionalism. If you look across the different channels at the same person you get a fully fleshed out picture. You can feel secure knowing that the person is consistent across the board.
MO: Why do you think that it’s so important to use a holistic marketing approach?
Teajai: The website itself is like the hub of a wheel. The different online marketing channels are the spokes to that hub. If you have only search engine marketing driving traffic to the wheel as one channel you’ll get the benefits of being positioned on the web – but do you want to wait for people to find you? If you have only social media marketing driving traffic to the website you’ll be spending a lot of time prospecting through well placed, well timed posts to catch people when they are ready to buy your product or service. Certainly a worthy use of time but how much will it cost to acquire that customer in terms of time? If you use email marketing alone, your message may be great and it’s a useful tool for customer loyalty but you have to wait for people to opt in to the marketing program to get the new prospects on board. [Side note: I don’t recommend renting lists]
But if you have all three of these elements going at the same time the reach is much better, the cost to acquire a new customer is lower, and you’ll be doing a better job of keeping your current customers loyal. Realize that it takes about 12 exposures for your “brand” to stick and you can easily see how the overlap between these channels also proves to be beneficial.
The holistic approach also includes the user experience (HF Psychology) as mentioned above.
MO: How are you using Pinterest to generate interest in your client’s products and services?
Teajai: Wow – Pinterest! When I first started using Pinterest it looked like it was going to be primarily for the artsy, craftsy folks. (Yes, I do that as a hobby) But I started adding my design resources, design research etc. Then I started adding images from articles I had written and linked back to the article.
At that point I could easily see how our plant label client (for example) could be displaying his products both as a stand alone image and as part of the botanical gardens that he sells to. These images would be interesting to people who are fans of gardening and will lead to sales of plant labels for their gardens. We have pinned the photos in articles that have been written for him to his board, we’ve also pinned other gardening photos, ideas and gardening articles to his board to mix things up. We link all of these back to him whenever possible because the goal, as outlined in holistic answer above, is to drive traffic to the hub of the wheel where the sales decision will take place.
So now on Pinterest we are generating traffic from more than just an actual product. Insurance agents could pin an image of a flood and link to their flood insurance information. Doctors could use Pinterest to pin photos of a rash (eew) so parents can easily identify and link to health information. Consultants can pin photos or video of their last speaking engagement. The possibilities are really endless. It’s just thinking outside the box – or in the box when you look at how Pinterest is set up.
MO: What influenced your decision to revamp your price structuring?
Teajai: It would be easy to answer and say “the economy” but that’s not really it. We know that our customer base is primarily small and mid sized businesses. These businesses need a way to increase their marketing online in a competitive, intelligent way yet it has to fit within their budgets. Our previous pricing was not definitive enough because we based our prices on an hourly rate. This type of price structure makes small business owners nervous. What if we have a month that we do extra work for a targeted campaign at their request and it costs them more? Cash flow may not coincide with the the billing and then there is the ultimate “what if I don’t make enough money.”
The other problem that often arises is that a single company will ask for several quotes and each quote includes their own unique mix of services.
When we revamped our pricing started by listing every single item (even those that other companies take for granted) so it would be easier to have an apples to apples comparison with competing quotes.
Next we divided the items into common requests: some people just want a website set up correctly with optimization etc; others want us to work with them on a long term basis with optimization and a little help with social.; still other companies need us to be their total internet marketing department. With the 3 different base packages the pricing is clear and we can further customize plans in a way that makes sense to lay people.
MO: Can you talk about how you your firm got involved with an episode of the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?” What was your biggest challenge? Was there anything about the process that surprised you?
Teajai: That’s another big wow! I got a call from my client Deb Cook of Bob Cook Homes asking if I was available for a meeting the next morning. Turns out they had just met with the producers of Extreme Makeover and had accepted the opportunity to be the primary builder on the project. The date was January 27. The next morning early I was at their office with a team from Extreme Makeover and it was “game on!” for the next month until the day of the reveal. Chris, my developer, and I worked pretty much non-stop on Makeover in the evenings and about ½ the day while working on client projects. Our other clients were pretty considerate thankfully – I have long-term relationships with the bulk of my client base.
Our biggest challenge was getting all the programming in place for their volunteer database. The only version they had to that point was in a different programming language so we pretty much started from scratch and had it up and running with a website and all functions within 3 days. After that the biggest challenge was keeping up the pace. There were constant additions and changes from listing the national sponsors, local sponsors to keeping the events up to date and emailing the growing database of volunteers and supporters. On top of all that we used social media.
If they needed more siding, I put it on the Bob Cook’s twitter and within minutes, literally, Deb was getting a call asking where to deliver it. This happened over and over. If we were short volunteers, a quick post on the Facebook and boom! They were turning people away they had so many show up… even in the middle of the night!
It’s one thing to see the pace on television, it’s quite another to live the pace. And the secrecy – one slip of the tongue before the formal announcements meant the project would not go forward and the family would lose the opportunity. It truly is a miracle how they pull this all together with everything going on each day.
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