Bailey Urges 'Clear Hierarchy of Information' for Today's Marketing

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Marketer/in-demand speaker/best-selling author (and nice guy) Matt Bailey was telling me Friday about a marketing agency owner friend of his. "For years she made money on the form [or design] and now everything is going to function. She's actually developed an app, specific to mobile, that provides immediate access to information. It dispenses with design; navigation is dominant. She's seeing that this is what people want. They want that micro-moment of, 'I have a question and can I get to the answer within seconds?'

"Wer'e still trying to figure out what works [but] here's where you're going to love it," Bailey continued. "This goes back to 8th-grade composition writing because it forces you to state your main point. Roman numeral I, sub-point A, details 1 and 2. It forces you to structure your argument in a clear hierarchy of information, and that hierarchy needs to be reflected in your font selection and font size—so you can't rely on pretty pictures. You have to rely on how you structure and present your content.

"You want to talk about old school"—I had mentioned this phrase after hearing Bailey describe this return to a content-first process. But he quickly corrected me. "This is more grade school."

Bailey will be one of three keynotes at our Business Information & Media Summit, Nov. 14-16 in Fort Lauderdale. His recent SIIA webinar—New Dogs, Old Tricks: Classic Sales Techniques That Work Wonders for Online Marketingcan now be listened to online. He has an incredible knack for explaining complicated methods and actions in an easy-to-understand manner.

"It's kind of about using sales principles we know and applying them to website design, subscriptions, acquisitions—how to apply sales to marketing... The trend [for websites] is to get away from the overly graphic designed, wow-factor homepage to getting people the information they want fast. Google has called this the micro-moment strategy. Because of mobile devices—and I see this constantly in my analytics—people's time on site and average page views on mobile are significantly lower than desktop or tablet. When I start to see 70% of visitors coming on mobile or even 80%, I need to start rethinking my design for a small screen."

Bailey said that the speed that people now require in getting the information they want "requires dispensing with the fancy stuff and focusing on the function. Look at the way we write paragraphs now; they're two or three sentences. Sometimes you know that third sentence is not going to get read."

In the past that third sentence might have been his "clincher," but not anymore. "I've rewritten [copy] based on knowing that no one is going to read [all that]. It's forcing us to get to the point faster—to write our content more efficiently and present content in a more organized way so people can scroll through it and get what they want.

"How do we adjust to using the data we have because our access to Google data is now limited? And what adjustments [can] we make based on people's behavior?" Bailey is referring to Google's new policy of grouping keywords in Google Analytics, thereby muddling the numbers that we get back. (I will report more fully on this in an upcoming post.)

Bailey still believes that testing is the best way to answer a question. Otherwise, he said, you're going on emotion, ego, and the sentiment of "that's what I would do. But the other side of it is if you have someone with experience, you can bypass a lot of testing," he said. "There are certain things you know will work from prior experience [and having] best practices to start with."

Bailey's most recent book, Wired to Be Wowed, can still be ordered through Amazon or his SiteLogic website , an agency he sold two years ago but still works with. He will have a new book out in September. In addition, he and another agency owner friend have started a weekly podcast called  Endless Coffee Cup .

"Both of us felt that there was not enough conversation happening; we're writing articles that are short, tweeting, but when's the last time you sat down over coffee, with no time constraints and just had a conversation. It's the right format for what we want to accomplish with it."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…