We live with two dogs:
- an intelligent and patient collie/lab cross, who can’t resist carrot cake icing (yes, she ate my birthday cake)
- and a ditsy, hyperactive and very needy springer/lab cross, who struggles with anything new or strange.
Our springer cross has a metaphorical emotional sink into which the stresses of her day (people at the door, other dogs across a field, quadbikes passing in the lane, cows looking at her over the fence, the vacuum cleaner, etc) pour like water from a tap.
Luckily, that sink has a (metaphorical) drain which can reduce the level of stress in the sink based on a variety of stress-relieving activities. The problem is that she starts the day with a sink that is already half-full, and a drain that is partially blocked, because she has some physical problems which can cause her pain.
My task is to ensure that her emotional sink drains more quickly than the additional stress pours in. If the level of stress overflows the sink, we are in trouble: stress flooding all over the place, and she doesn’t know how to handle it.
Why is emotional energy relevant to corporate comms?
Think about your website visitor: they arrive with a certain level in their sink—perhaps they’ve had a stressful day at work; perhaps there’s a task that they don’t really want to do; perhaps they’ve struggled to find the right URL for your site in their country; perhaps their mobile is almost out of charge.
In their mind are certain tasks that they have to complete on your site. Maybe they’re looking for a contact number for recruiting, an image for a piece they’re writing, some detail about your finances or for your views on a particular industry hot topic.
What barriers does your site put in their way? Every additional hurdle will increase the level of stress in the sink (and diminish their emotional energy). Consider:
- Problematic navigation (where on earth have they put it?)
- Form filling (why do you need my birthdate and address?)
- No contact number, only a generic contact form (how will I know it will get to the right person? Or even that the form worked at all?)
- The need to register to download an image (more form filling!)
- Inappropriate filters on news items or job listings so it is difficult to find the best match
- Information hidden in PDFs rather than on the page so the task becomes much bigger (why do I have to download everything to look for what I want?)
- Search that doesn’t work effectively (I don’t need all these irrelevant results)
- Design that doesn’t work with the technology she’s using (why is it so slow? Why must I scroll right to see everything? Why won’t the menu work?)
If the sink overflows, you may well lose that visitor. You may not be able to see the stress overflow—because they’re at their desk, not barking and lunging by your side—but it will have an effect on how they think of your company.
And on how she will react next time she comes across your corporate brand.
For more on this, read this interesting piece on increasing funnel conversion. Darius is talking about making the sale, rather than about corporate comms, but the point is still relevant.
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