Desire lines are informal paths created by users “voting with their feet.” Whether taking a short cut, or avoiding an undesirable location, or addressing a fear or concern, these paths show a users’ intention and purpose simply and clearly.
And desire lines are a great metaphor for us to consider when undertaking content marketing campaigns.
Does our content reflect the needs and desires of our audiences? Or are we creating content in order to force them along an official route we want them to follow?
Jump in My Funnel!
One of the biggest trends in digital marketing, and perhaps one of the greatest annoyances for end users, is the marketing assumption that our key goal is getting users to “jump in our funnel.”
The funnel, of course, is that much loved marketing concept detailing the theoretical customer journey towards the purchase of our product or service.
Wil Reynolds gave a great presentation at Turing Fest where he told a highly amusing and visual story of digital marketers all shouting and waving their hands in unison at web visitors to “Jump in my funnel! Jump in my funnel, dammit!”
As marketers want to capture visitors details. We want to track you. We want to nurture you as one of our leads.
But users… may well not want to jump in your funnel. Not yet. And maybe not ever.
They will choose to take the path least travelled, and they will follow their own desire lines in spite of our best marketing activity.
Desire Lines and Content Marketing
So how can we create the right kinds of content that is congruent with what our users really want, rather than leading them down a path that we have identified as the “right” way?
What we need is a strategic approach to creating content according your visitors’ desire lines: what they actually want, rather than what we expect them to do.
Your customers desire lines can surface in a number of different ways:
- how users interact with the content we create
- the nature and types of engagement we receive with our social media
- how users behave on our websites
- how users respond to our advertising campaigns
One common sense way to discover your visitors’ “desire lines” is to review your digital statistics and analytics. Your analytics can help you to learn about your audience:
- Which types of content on your website are driving the most visitors from the search engines?
- Which types of content earn the most engagement and interaction, whether it be on your blog, your social profiles, your rich media?
- Which of your recommended links and resources do visitors follow most commonly?
- How do users interact with your competitors’ content?
- Which types of content hardly ever gets viewed or shared?
- What path do users most typically take through your site?
- And what kinds of success are you having with your “Jump in my funnel” campaigns?
One key to success is freeing our content marketing strategy from the constraints of the “Jump in my funnel” approach.
By identifying and respecting the traces of the desire lines our visitors leave behind with every digital interaction, we will create more powerful content best suited for our customers needs and desires.