Living in a household with teenage girls, as I do, means that my Sunday and Monday evenings have been recently hijacked into becoming an X Factor viewing experience.
Yes it can be cringe worthy TV, but there are a few nuggets in there. You just have to look for them.

We have seen the auditions, the judge’s retreat and now the top 12 – or whatever number we are up to now. Annabel has her favourite, as does Maddy and it seems Fletcher, the most audibly challenged of them all, is there just for one thing… His looks. How shallow those teenage girls are.

Not wanting to be left out I have snuck a space on the sofa and been annoyingly critical as all fathers should be at times like these. There’s some talent in here that I hope manages to go on to good things once the razzmatazz has died down. And as hard as it may seem – when I look back on what will make the winner stand out from the rest, there are some lessons in here for you and your online marketing.

Here’s four that immediately come to mind:      

Lesson #1 Being good isn’t enough – being noticed is.

First up – for the contestants left, having a good voice is not going to be enough to succeed. There are a lot of good singers in the last dozen. But what the judges have mentioned again and again is the “marketability” of the person and the way they sing.

Your “voice” online is the content you present and the messages you impart. There are plenty of websites that do both of these well but still fail convert their visitors into leads. It’s not how they say their message that’s lacking, it’s the message itself.

So for instance, there are dozens of websites for electricians in Auckland that all say the same thing – great service, reliable technicians and a desire to clean up after they have done the job. Think of them all “singing” the same way and achieving average results online due to it.

However, the sites that stand out are the ones that say different things that appeal to those looking for their service. And it’s that last point that is the hardest to achieve. Knowing what to say that sets you apart from the crowd AND has appeal to your customers – it’s another way of providing what the judges refer to as “marketability”.

Lesson #2 The public is voting on your performance too.

Part of the X Factor experience is the ability for the viewers to get involved after each Sunday nights performance by voting for their favourite singer. The two with the lowest public votes then perform and the judges then decide who should leave.

Things are a bit harsher online. Instead of once a week, everyday your visitors “vote” on the effectiveness of your website with the attention they give it. Statistics like your website’s bounce rate reveal how well you fare. A site’s bounce rate is represented as a percentage and relates to the proportion of visits that look at just one page and then leave the site. The lower this number the better.

This month we conducted a number of online marketing reviews for prospects and over half of them had problems in this space. Their bounce rates were way too high – I’m talking 60% and above. This was news to them.

Other stats like “time on site” and “pages per visit” are similar pointers of visitor engagement. Track and measure all three and you will see the public “voting” on your website each and every day they arrive.

Lesson #3 Practice what needs practicing.

It’s quite interesting to see the change in contestants as the show progresses. In the audition they come across as mild, meek mannered but obviously gifted souls who are overawed by the whole TV experience. Then as the weeks pass their confidence starts to grow and with it their voice and stage presence.

As viewers we see snippets of this on the Sunday recap when contestants are shown practicing their moves and flexing their vocal muscles. I suppose they all work hard – but it’s the ones that work on the right things who end up making the most change.

When it comes to online marketing there’s a lot to practice every week. Of the three areas we focus on – Analytics, Growing Traffic and Growing Conversions – each one includes a dozen or so points that could be worked on. The magic comes by focusing on those that will provide the greatest return on the time invested.

The online marketing review stage we take people through partly solves this problem. One outcome of this is a list of points that need fixing and a relative priority for each. After completing dozens of these reviews there is always one area that is high up on the list of priority fixes – website analytics. It is always either wrong or failing to work as well as it should.

Harking back to the last lesson – think of it as being blindly unaware of a poor voting result each and every day the results come through

Lesson #4 The right mentor can make all the difference.

Fortunately the contestants are not left on their own to navigate their way through the final stages of the live shows. Each judge is allocated a group to mentor to help them along.

So during the re-cap part on the Sunday program you see the mentoring from the week prior with the pair training towards the live performance. I imagine that some of these relationships work better than others. Nevertheless, each of the judges has previously achieved success and they are ready and able to pass on any advice they can to enable their candidate to win.

The same theory transfers nicely to online marketing. As a business owner you can try to transform your website into the selling machine all by yourself – or you could engage a mentor to speed up the process.

We obviously work in this space. But if I was helping others choose a company to help in this regard I would offer one tip – advice is predominately autobiographical. People will tell you to do what they have done / experienced before themselves.

So ideally you need to match your problems with mentors who have solved similar issues before. It sounds very basic but it’s easy to get wrong. This is especially the case when a prospective mentor of dubious ethics can do a very good job of convincing you that your most processing “problem” just happens to be the one that they have strong experience in solving. For instance SEO services being sold when the core problem is not the traffic a website is receiving but its inability to convert it into leads or sales.

The sofa beckons for this Sunday’s session. I have no idea who will win this year’s competition, but I do know that these four points will somehow be part of their success. This month why not take my translation into their relevance for online marketing and see if they can ensure your website produces a winning performance?