What is friction in marketing?

In today’s post, we talk about the term “friction” and its usage and applications in marketing. What is friction in marketing?

When we use the term friction in marketing, it indicates a potential sticking point for a customer in their journey through the pipeline. This could be anything from a hard-to-find newsletter signup, to a form that asks for too much. It could be a muddled CTA in an email or a hard-to-navigate website.

Too much friction in marketing holds your marketing efforts back. When your audience is navigating your content, you should make it easy for them to move through, learn about what they need and advance toward the next step in their journey.

A better way to explain friction is to look at the real-world factors that make it up. The concepts that form this definition of friction can be easily applied to marketing. There are two types of friction: kinetic and static.


 

Static Friction

Static friction is when a force between two surfaces prevents those surfaces from slipping or sliding across each other. This is the force that allows a baseball player moving between bases to move forward. Without static friction, it would be like the player trying to run on ice.

In marketing, there will always be a bit of friction. It naturally comes with the interaction between a brand and a lead. These minute amounts of friction are what drive your marketing efforts forward.

It’s only when you create too much friction in improper locations that you will find it hinders your marketing. To use the example of the baseball player, static friction is the type of friction that occurs when the player’s shoe hits the ground, sticks, and propels them forward.

Some friction is good, too much friction means that the runner will get stuck before they reach the plate. Marketing without some friction wouldn’t be marketing. Imagine if you never asked your readers to sign up for your mailing list.

They might continue to read the blog happily, but your relationship will never deepen beyond that. You need a little bit of traction for static friction to work. There will naturally be some friction in these moments, enough for the metaphorical player to get started running and keep moving forward.

Some examples of this are a well-made email with an engaging CTA or a landing page with just the right number of fields.

You want to aim to give your potential buyer enough grip without slowing them down. In this case, an overly demanding point of friction would be like a massive glue trap between the bases. Obviously, this wouldn’t happen in real baseball, but imagine if it did?

The fans are screaming as the runner approaches the third base. All of a sudden, he is halted as both his feet stick to the ground. It wouldn’t be hard for the other team to tag him out. Conversely, with too little friction, he would end up slipping and sliding as he tried to round the bases.


 


Kinetic Friction

This friction refers to the force that occurs between two surfaces sliding past one another. This kind of friction opposes the sliding motion and tries to reduce the speed at which the surfaces slide across each other.

This motion resists the forward slide, much in the same way that a blog post that is just a block of text would prevent a potential customer from reaching their first CTA. Your reader might start off strong and interested, but this sort of friction slows them to a halt. Reduce this friction and you’ll increase your chances that the potential buyer makes it all the way through the pipeline.

Poor storytelling can also cause interest to wane, like a baseball player who started sliding towards the plate too soon. They will start out moving fast, carried by their momentum, but eventually slow down as time passes. This is the because of the force of kinetic friction, which resists the sliding motion until the objects come to a stop. You want them to reach home plate before that happens.

In marketing, content that goes on too long can peter out in this way. And beware, any added friction, like a rough patch of ground (or a glue trap from the previous section) in the baseball diamond, will slow customers to a halt. They may never reach the end of the pipeline if you slow them up with too many of these moments.

This is an example when too much friction will slow your leads down on their slide, preventing them from reaching the plate. But without some of that same friction, they would go sliding way past the plate, which is obviously also an undesirable outcome.


 

As you can see, there is a natural amount of friction that is critical for the success of marketing. This friction is important to keep your baseball players moving, and also to get them to stop when they reach the plate.

You must walk a fine line between too much friction and too little. Too much friction will halt leads from ever rounding the bases, too little and they will never be able to build up momentum in the first place. Use testing to determine when and how to place these sources of friction into your marketing. Observe when a CTA halts leads. From there, reconsider the timing and demand level of your CTAs.

Friction in marketing is important, and you must remember to use enough friction to keep your leads moving. Consider this while you plan your marketing calendar and content strategy. Let us know if these strategies help you hit a home run.


 

Let us know what you think:  

  • What do you think of this description of friction?
  • Do you like the use of metaphors?
  • How has friction helped or harmed your marketing efforts?

 


 

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