There is something I have been thinking a lot about lately when it comes to marketing. It really bothers me how people set up their resource centers and how you are supposed to interact with them. The standard setup (at least for HubSpot) is to have all your resources set up on a blog which makes it easy to update and maintain. If you want to invest a little more in the page, you use some kind of filter to allow people to search by type of resource and category.
While this is better to have than nothing, it really is not good. You have a ton of information, but you don’t include a way to start or a way to move through the process in order to lead to a sale. This leads to websites with an otherwise strong resource center having no one interact with the large collection of knowledge they have assembled. How you deliver information to your audience and the organic path it provides through the buyer's journey is critical to turn visitors into buyers.
As I have been thinking about how to solve that issue for our clients, my mind keeps going back to one thing…video games! More specifically, I think about the tutorial process and how more industries could learn from the systems put in place to teach players how to interact with the game.
How a tutorial relates to your digital resource center
Even though over 150 million adults in America play video games, I think it is important to define what a tutorial is and what makes one good. At the most basic level, a tutorial happens at the beginning of the game and teaches you how to play. It will go over controls and basic mechanics, so you know what you are getting as you play through the game. Sometimes, more complicated games will catalog this information for you in a place in the pause menu so you can look back at what you learned in case you didn’t quite understand something.
When thinking about your inbound marketing digital resource center (or really any page on your site related to the buyer’s journey), that kind of tutorial is similar to having all of your resource items in a cataloged and searchable format. It meets the basic requirements and is still a useful tool for understanding how to interact with what you are using.
The big difference comes when you experience a really good tutorial. These not only convey information to you, but they also teach you how to use it effectively. For me, the king of this type of tutorial is done without a single written prompt. Instead, it is handled by playing the game and interacting with the elements it gives you. While I could write another blog post just covering good tutorial design, I think this video is a much better example that uses the game Super Metroid to show you how you can teach a player through tight design and interaction. Seeing the parallels between video game design and website design yet?
How does this apply to your website and the buyer’s journey?
Your site, and especially your resource center, is going to operate on similar principles to video game design, which you can find a decent overview of here. The steps you take to design a video game are very similar to what you use to define the buyer’s journey on your website.
The core mechanic of a game is the main action that your players are going to perform. It is the main function of the game and the thing that will decide if what you are trying to do is fun or not. This concept exists for your business. There is a core thing that you provide that is the most important to your potential customers. It may be a problem that you solve or a task that you automate, but it does exist. It is important to be able to define what that is for your business and design your site around it. The resource center can then work as a way to explain this “mechanic” to someone at the beginning of the buyer’s journey.
You need to think about things people need to know in order to understand what you offer from a business perspective. This is going to be the core mechanic, and you should build your resource center around it. Some people will come in and are familiar with your product or service. They will be familiar with the pillars of your design, and they will be able to skip some of the steps in order to come to their buying decision. These are not the people we are looking to focus on when it comes to the tutorial (though it still is important to think about them).
Understanding prospects' pain points helps provide a clear path to conversion
Primarily, we need to make it easier to navigate around the resource center and find the things that will allow the visitor to understand exactly what it is that you or your client does. They should have a clear path to understanding your offerings on their own because you have set up the systems they interact with to teach them without your input. This is a key step to take in order to reach the ideal of having your website be your best salesperson.
You do this by truly understanding the issues that your customers face. Talk to the real people that use your site and focus on what they weren’t able to find on the site. You need to know what eventually convinced them to buy your product. This will allow you to better understand your core mechanics and what makes people like them. You then reflect that path in your resource center to encourage the kind of thinking that leads to customers.
A big way to do this is to rethink your categorization so that it focuses more on the issues that the customer faces and less on surface elements like the types of resources and the topics that you cover. Having your users try and search through the entire resource center to find what they need is a bit like asking them to find a needle in a stack of needles. It will actively encourage people to NOT interact with the resource center at all because they have no promise of beating the game.
The obvious conclusion we come to is that you should be playing more video games! Just kidding, but also not. These games are very accessible ways for you to dive into understanding how to give information to your audience. This is normally called conveyance in game design language and is key to making a game that people will understand and enjoy.
The idea of conveyance also applies to your website. You need to be very aware of how you are delivering information to your audience and how that will lead to them navigating what you have created. Remember, be like Super Metroid.