On the Web: Is Rich Media Making You Rich?
Online marketing technologies have advanced to the point where your e-commerce website should be a combination of engaging entertainment and DRTV-style hard sell. You're no longer limited to one-dimensional copy and still photos to merchandise your products. Today we have a plethora of rich media options to add sizzle to online communications and offerings. It's direct mail meets MTV.
Speaking of sizzle, imagine trying to resist an offer from Omaha Steaks where you could see a perfectly cooked hot steak sizzle and steam on the grill. Imagine if you could hear the sizzle and "yum!" from eager, waiting diners. The only things missing would be the smell, touch and taste.
Combining shoppers' abilities to read, see and hear an integrated online pitch can dramatically raise communication effectiveness and close rates. That's the experience and result a multimedia product presentation can achieve online.
Here are some of the web's more commonly used rich media right now:
1. Dynamic image generation allows shoppers to use flyover zoom, rotation, 360-degree viewing and other angles when browsing products. If you implement this, ensure shoppers can use the controls intuitively.
2. PDFs can deliver colorful, orchestrated product descriptions, data, instructions, installation and/or warranty details.
3. Simple yet effective graphical navigation tools, such as fly-out product information boxes and interactive store locator maps, make your site more interactive. Don't lose track of the idea behind such animations: They're to give visitors more control while subtly pointing them in the right direction — toward product pages and the shopping cart. Many sites still make the mistake of using flashy graphics or pop-ups that actually make the navigational experience worse. Testing is as critical as ever here.
4. Product configurators allow shoppers to "build" their products in different styles, sizes, shapes and colors, and review them in real time. Test the controls. That can be as simple as having a few employees try to use the configurator. You'll be able to see right away whether the controls make sense to an "average" web user.