Misunderstanding Messaging

Something I’ve been noticing lately is a mistake that many business, news organizations and marketers make when publishing content: They don’t understand that messages need to be different depending on the medium that is being used.

I’ve seen newspapers that publish stories in print and then transfer the exact same version of the print content onto the Web version of the newspaper. This is a big mistake. People who get their news on the Web aren’t looking for the same experience that they would typically look for when reading the print newspaper. People who take the time to sit down and read a newspaper are interested in reading long, narrative-style articles, while people who get their news online want quick, concise content.

Jakob Nielson, who is considered a guru of Web usability, discovered that 79 percent of Web users scan a new page they came across, while only 16 percent read word-for-word.

Nielson suggests that content on the web employ scannable text by using the following:

  • Highlighted keywords (hyperlinks, typeface or color variations)
  • Meaningful sub-headings
  • Bulleted lists
  • One idea per paragraph
  • The inverted pyramid style— starting with the most important information first
  • Half the word count than traditional writing

Take advantage of the capabilities of the Web such as adding interactive slideshows, infographics, videos and links—things you can’t put in print.

The same goes for all other media including mobile and social—the messages need to be catered specifically for each medium.

On mobile, it’s a totally different experience people are looking for. When consumers download apps, they’re using them to get something different that they can’t necessarily get just by browsing a website online.

With QR codes, part of the reason they have been so poorly received is because they are not being implemented correctly. When people scan a QR code they don’t want to be directed to the organization’s website unless there’s something there that provides them with value—maybe a coupon, a sweepstakes, a quiz, or a new company announcement.

Failing to understand the importance of tailoring messaging is a huge mistake that occurs far too often, but those who get it right will surely see much better feedback and improved results.

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