Article

The Rules Of Rich Media: Keeping Your Customer Engaged

October 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Jason Ezell - Also by this author

What is Rich Media exactly?  According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada, Web sites or ads that contain multi-media components such as audio, video or special effects using Shockwave, Flash or JavaScript are known as “Rich Media.”  Some examples of Rich Media are discount coupons or certificates, Flash movies and audio intros.   

According to Dictionary.com, rich can be defined as “abounding in desirable elements or qualities.”  Rich Media should enhance the user experience.  A cautionary note, poorly executed Rich Media can be harmful to the user experience. Here are a few simple rules to help you keep your Rich Media rich.  

Rule #1: Remember the Purpose of Rich Media.  Rich Media should do three things: 1) catch attention, 2) cause interaction and 3) satisfy curiosity.  Once users are captivated by the gleam of your Rich Media components, they will choose to interact. They should be met with useful information that satisfies their curiosity and leaves them with a positive impression. If your Rich Media deviates from this three-fold purpose, you should re-evaluate.  Rule #2 helps explain what Rich Media is not.

Rule #2: Rich Media Should Enhance the User Experience.  It shouldn’t overwhelm or intrude; this is why we hate pop-up ads!  Most people realize pop-ups are more intrusive and irritating than they are interesting.  Misplaced Rich Media can easily follow in the footsteps of those unavoidable, unappealing, and ineffective pop-up ads. 

In addition, users generally dislike music and movies they can’t skip or silence quickly.  When users are on your site, they’re looking for information.  Make sure your Rich Media is a helpful option users can choose, not an unavoidable obstruction to their purpose.  This brings us to our 3rd and most important rule.     

Rule #3: Relevance is Key to Quality Richness. Any ads or Web site features that incorporate Rich Media should directly apply to the page or item users are looking at.  If a user is checking out your specials page, a certificate for a discount is likely to be welcome.  This user is probably trying to save money.  By providing them with an interactive way to save, you help the potential car buyer and gain their valuable contact information.  

Conversely, users that visit your site just to check out your inventory are not likely to be interested in a lengthy, automatic video/audio introduction to your dealership.  If your intro doesn’t have an obvious silence/skip button, you run the risk of irritating and frustrating the user. 

Many Internet users listen to music while browsing; if audio automatically begins when your site loads, it will interfere and annoy.  Consider adding a “Watch Introductory Video” button, so customers can choose whether or not they want sound and music. 

When a customer enters your showroom, it’s important to make them feel welcome.  Your next step is to quickly find out what they’re interested in.  If a dealer immediately began explaining the origins and practices of their dealership, the customer would probably be confused and frustrated because that’s not what they’re interested in.  Your Web site should be as welcoming and customer-centric as you are in person. 

Rich Media can greatly enhance the user experience.  It captures attention and delivers valuable information to your users.  If used properly, Rich Media will increase your leads and help establish user trust.  Like many other tools, Rich Media is only as effective as you make it. 

Vol 5, Issue 9

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