In all of the focus groups, quantitative surveys, secondary research and even usability, our customers have told me loud and clear that they want marketing/advertising solutions that are three things, in priority order:
If a solution is ineffective in driving customer interest, no merchant will care. Merchants want to ultimately measure value in sales, but other merchants understand that if a marketing solution like MerchantCircle can at least drive qualified leads (via email, phone or in-person), then it's up to them to take it the rest of the way. Can't meet this basic requirement? See you later.
- Price competitive
There's probably a better way to articulate this, but customers are definitely willing to pay for an effective advertising solution (witness the thousands being spent on yellow pages ads). If our solution is effective, they're very willing to spend hundreds each month with us. They love the fact that they can measure effective results at a rate cheaper than what they're currently spending. Does this means merchants prefer performance-based marketing? I'm not sure. I heard a variety of different feedback on it. We're trying some of this out, and seeing what we can learn.
- Efficient / Easy to Use
This should be a no-brainer, but so many people get lost in it. AdWords and keyword marketing? Way too frickin' hard. Heck, who has time to sift through hours worth of setup and tutorials. Not a merchant who can give only 15 minutes a day to new marketing options. Any solution has to be respectful of that. Make it easy for me to create content. Make it easy for me to measure results. Make it easy for me to communicate with my customers. Help me manage the requests that come in. Don't make me figure out some crazy interface to get things done.
Btw, interesting side thing about how different customer segments react to this and marketing overall. Interesting contrast between younger merchants and older merchants, and different subsegments. I'll tell you more about that next time...