Given the importance of your website and email for marketing your music online, it's key to understand what people do when they interact with your site and email newsletters. Eye tracking is a particularly powerful research approach that is designed to help you understand where people focus when they look at your site. Here are 3 music marketing lessons from eye tracking studies to get you started.
Eye tracking originally involved observing where people looked when they were doing such things as reading text or shopping. While there are devices for tracking actual eye movements while people look at computer screens, marketing studies often rely on the activity of one's cursor as a proxy.
That raises some significant questions about research findings but when combined with clickthroughs, signups and purchases, one can understand a lot about good website, blog and email newsletter design.
The following 3 music marketing lessons are drawn from "7 Marketing Lessons from Eye-Tracking Studies" on the KISSmetrics blog, an excellent resource for such information.
They include one that caught me by surprise and is a reminder that research is sometimes most valuable when it challenges one's assumptions. However all research should be read with a critical eye and compared with what you and others are finding in actual practice.
3 Key Music Marketing Lessons Based On Eye Tracking Studies
People tend to browse web pages in an F-shaped pattern.
"Web users tend to browse sites based on their reading habits. For English speaking people (and languages with similar reading patterns), the left side of the screen is heavily favored, and all sites tend to be browsed in an F-pattern."
Keeping important content "above the fold" (fold = bottom of visible screen when first loaded) is not as important as previously assumed.
"Multiple tests...have shown that users have no problem scrolling down below the fold. Surprisingly, they will browse even further down if the length of the page is longer."
People spend less time scanning emails than web pages so keep newsletters "short and sweet."
"Once you’ve earned the right to appear in a prospect’s inbox, be sure to keep that privilege by crafting emails that are clear and get to the point quickly. You don’t have as much time to broadcast your message as you would in an online article."
The Fold Doesn't Matter?
The issue of whether or not putting content above or below the fold matters is the one that caught me by surprise. But note that the studies to which the KISSmetrics article links are all based on pages that are a combination of text and visuals designed to lead you to a call to action which usually involves signing up for something or actually purchasing something.
Related research from The Washington Post considered ad "viewability" (not sure how that's defined in the study) and found that such behaviors as quick scrolling mean that top of the page isn't always the best place for an ad if you want it to be seen.
Their experiments included an "ad unit to combat quick scrolling by following the viewer for the first seven seconds of scrolling." It then "floats back to the top of the page."
This report opens up some interesting possiblities to explore on your own website where you should be testing results rather than relying only on studies that report average results.
For example, many blogs will have links to social networks that allow you to easily share a particular blog post. Some services now provide a floating social media sharing bar that appears next to the post by the headline and then stays in view as one scrolls down the page.
If you're looking to increase social shares of your blog posts, trying out different sharing bars and tracking shares is an example of how you can test such things on your own site.
So do take research seriously but remember that one size rarely fits all and that you should ultimately be finding ways to test variations on your website and in your emails.
[Thumbnail image courtesy Look Into My Eyes.]
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.