I’ve been writing and speaking a lot about small data as an approach for bringing the power of big data to the masses (the subject of our current multi-client study which will hit the street in mid-October). But what’s interesting is that the small data philosophy also applies to design and advertising and how we construct our online customer experiences. In all of these examples, we are fighting for attention and aiming to create personal connections with the viewer/visitor. Increasingly, saying less versus more, and making our messages, stories, and content shorter and simpler are the most effective way to reach ever-distracted consumers, make that connection, and motivate them to take action.
Of course if you look at the history of advertising, tag lines and catchy jingles epitomize the notion that simple sells. Gieco’s ’15 minutes could save you 15%’ works because it’s both short AND informative – with a built in offer. And if you’re my age you never have to think about how to spell BOLOGNA thanks to the clever marketers at Oscar Mayer, and the fact that short, musical themes that repeat actually get stuck in your head (see a fascinating look at why this happens and the science behind it here).
When it comes to content, sometimes the medium – think Twitter or a TED talk – forces us to get to the point and think simple when it comes to communication. 140 characters or an 18 minute session drives a certain structure in our storytelling, and rewards brevity. But even when we have the luxury of rich media like online video or full-length features or an e-book, it pays to think small in our content marketing as well. Not just in terms of short segments or chapters, but also format (like an infographic), delivery and takeaways.
Speaking of video, a very cool trend had emerged when you look over ComScore’s Online Video Rankings for the last year or so – it turns out that the average online video is getting significantly shorter (in July 2013 the duration of the average online content video was down to 5.2 minutes, versus 6.7 minutes in July of last year)! Also, if you’re creating short-form videos, there’s a really good chance they will be watched first on a mobile device. Which is why a mobile-first philosophy, discussed in my Forbes.com piece with Mark Fidelman last fall, is a key pillar of small data design.
Keep it Short
If you’re writing copy, or an article, or a social post, ‘saying it short’ is a great approach as well, as outlined in this excellent post on the Beyond PR blog. And it also helps to start with an attention-grabbing message, headline or statistic that sets the context as Kare Anderson points out in her thoughtful piece in HBR.
When it comes to online customer experiences, our focus as marketers should not only be to Inform, Connect and Motivate our visitors (as I discussed in my keynote from #IMS SF in July), but to do so in the fewest possible steps. Tailored content (just show me what I’m interested in), smarter search, and in-line help approaches like an up-to-date FAQ, video examples, and chat can all shorten the path to purchase or getting your questions answered.
The bottom line is that whether you are delivering a marketing message, customer service assistance, or product offer – be where your customers are, make it easy for them to share their experience, and most importantly value their time.
What do you think – simple enough?