Volume 108: 4/1/05

The Bottom-Line Value of Unique Numbers

Editing a book is a tough job. What goes in? What must you force yourself to leave out? Our new book on the ins and outs of conversion incorporates numerous conversion tips from specialists in the industry. Interspersed through the text, these little gems reinforce the “conversion perspective” and give you solid, actionable information as well as food for thought.

Unfortunately, some of those conversion tip contributions landed on the cutting room floor. But I don’t want you missing out on some excellent actionable advice, so here’s a tip that didn’t make it into our book.

If you are engaged in multichannel marketing, this tactic offers you a competitive edge and gives you a much more realistic picture of your online impact. Because you’d like to know what’s really going on behind the scenes, right?

Most folks pondering a considered purchase do some research before they make their move – we know this intuitively (many of us do the same thing) and extensive research confirms it. You’ll recall from our recent discussion about the underbelly of shopping cart abandonment that not all macro-conversions (the ultimate goal for your Web site) take place on the first visit. Sometimes not on the second visit. Sometimes not for days.

And sometimes they don’t even take place online.

I’m in the market for a new mattress, the perfect cradle for my sleep. Frankly, the hill-and-valley affair I currently sleep on has become insufferable. But if I’ve learned anything in the past few weeks of online research, it’s that mattresses tend to be big-ticket items, and they are pretty high-tech. Sheesh … the folks who think computers are confusing should enter the mattress zone!

In my quest for the holy grail of perfect sleep, I’ve been typing keywords into search engines, clicking on pay-per-click ads, paying attention to customer reviews, asking friends for recommendations and then going to the company sites. Clever sites will use Web analytics to track my returns, so they’ll know I haven’t completely given up on them.

Sophisticated sites are going to be doing what the Acme Mattress Company (name changed to protect the innocent) does.

Say I enter a keyword into Google and click on a Acme result, I get an Acme Mattress landing page with a toll-free contact number. If I type the Acme Mattress Web address into my browser, I get a similar landing page with a different toll-free contact number. The pay-per-click ad? You guessed it … yet another toll-free contact number, distinct from the other two.

A subsequent friendly chat with Acme informs me that offline sales via the online contact number is how they close the bulk of their business. The visitor’s online experience leads to an offline sale. The different contact numbers help Acme evaluate which channels are working best for them and which channels need tweaking. This information allows them to outbid competitors for critical keywords and informs their pay-per-click strategies. Acme happily has been able to determine that some campaigns they thought were under-performing were actually remarkably successful – and their overall paid search ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment) was 250% higher when they accounted for multichannel sales.

Customer behavior online is far more complex than the black and white buy-or-bail perspective. Folks increasingly are turning to The Big Resource in Cyberspace for their research and purchasing needs (and often closing the deal in a variety of offline ways). Paid search is becoming highly competitive. Costs associated with “owning” keywords are increasing. Can you afford to overlook the analytics details that will give you the competitive advantage?

Train to Increase Your Conversion Rates

New Services

We've been busy bees over the holidays.  Check out our services page - new services have already been launched and more are coming!

New Publications

You'll also want to keep an eye on our publications page.  We've been working on creating resources that will help you put many of our principles into practice more easily and more efficiently.  We're just about to release several of our newest products, including Which Sells Best?: A Quick Start Guide to Testing for Retailers and The Conversion Experts Handbook.

2 Specialists; 2 Customer-Friendly Conversion Tips

A warning to those inclined to reminder me I’m being self-servingly promotional: I intend to continue being self-servingly promotional today (hey, I’m part of a business here, too, you know). But fear not … with me you always get valuable somethings for nothing!

So, to whet your appetite and shore up your customer focus, I present two conversion tips that did make it into our new book, yours for free before the incredibly comprehensive, endlessly fascinating and phenomenally useful Call to Action hits the streets.

Tip 1:  Make Your Website About the Customer Instead of About the Company

Jim Sterne, consultant and six-time author, has been contributing to the knowledge base of Internet Marketing for the past decade. A co-founder (and the president) of the Web Analytics Association, Jim organized, produced, and continues to host Emetrics Summit, now celebrating its third year.

Jim writes:

Was your website designed around your corporate structure? Is there any way in the world that potential customers can know ahead of time that your widgets are sold out of one division and your gadgets out of another? You have lots of different customers with different needs. To help them do what they had in mind, forget how you are organized, and focus on helping them get in, buy and get out quickly by:

  • Making it obvious which button to click

  • Making sure each major button or link is made up of as few words as possible that complete this sentence: “I want to _____”

Remember, nobody wants to “click here.” They want to:

  • Find the right bike for me

  • Buy a bicycle

  • Get my bike fixed

  • Ask a question

  • Find my order

  • Find a store

This applies to the rest of the links on your site as well. The “Buy Now” button is not pushy salesmanship - it’s a clear message to the visitor who is desperate for clear messages. Make your site about the people who visit it and “customer experience” will improve overnight

TIP 2:  For Heaven’s Sakes, Let Them Pee

Tamara Adlin, in firm possession of a delightful sense of humor, is Senior Usability Specialist for a hugely successful etailer, where she works to improve the user experience for buyers, sellers, partners, and support professionals. She’s a big fan of persona-based design and is co-authoring the forth-coming The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind During Product Design with John Pruitt (available Summer 2005).

Tamara writes:

Imagine you are sitting in a car in the middle of a long road trip. You really have to pee. It’s all you can think about. Your eyes are peeled for the nearest rest stop. You’re spending all of your cognitive cycles trying to calculate how long you can hold it before the situation becomes dire and you’re starting to weigh the pros and cons of pulling over to the side of the road. It’s bad. Meanwhile, your beloved is sitting next to you, chattering on about how lovely the scenery is. Needless to say, you’re not that interested nor are you being even remotely attentive. Your beloved begins to get irked. Things start to escalate and both sides get irritated, each convinced they are ‘right’ to be doing what they are doing.

Why am I asking you to imagine this? Because I think that many visitors to online retail stores are on a long road trip and they have to pee. They have a goal and they want to be successful in that goal; they aren’t looking to be distracted until their goal is satisfied. Perhaps they want those cool sneakers but they want them for less. Maybe they’re trying to find a replacement for the CD they broke yesterday. Maybe their needs aren’t quite as pressing as the one I described above, but they are there nonetheless. And what is their experience at your store? My guess it’s almost exactly like our poor driver’s experience: they’re trying to ignore information that is distracting, annoying, and, as far as they’re concerned, completely irrelevant to their goal. They’re wading through banners and sale stickers. They’re searching through a sea of chattering navigation links. They’re typing something in search and wondering why they didn’t get what they wanted.

Ask yourself: when she arrives at my store, does my customer have to pee and, if she does, am I letting her? Or am I trying to force her to think about things I think are important and interesting about my store? Can I understand the reasons my customer came to my store in the first place, help him or her achieve those goals, and then introduce all the “wonderful scenery” when they are ready to listen? Examine the who, what, where, when, and why of the messages on your site. Respect the fact that many customers have something in mind when they arrive and that they’re not looking to be distracted. When they arrive, let them pee. You’ll be amazed how interested they get in the scenery once they’re done.

Puts a smile on your face, a lift to your plod and gets you thinking about customer-focused tactics that will boost those conversion rates, eh? Precisely my goal in life.

And don’t forget – no more round pegs in square holes. Keep your eyes peeled (the ease of which depends on how many eyes you have).  Call to Action will be available officially May 9, 2005.

Call To Action

For a limited time, or while our designated copies last, you can get three - count them, three - pre-release copies of Call to Action for the price of one.  And the shipping is on us.  It's our chance to thank our loyal readers and followers.  It's your chance to help us create some significant buzz for (and lose money on!) a comprehensive anthology of the information that has made Future Now, Inc the standard in conversion rate marketing. 

To take advantage of this offer, place your order before May 1, 2005.  Upon its official release May 9, the first edition of Call to Action will retail for $13.95.  The second edition will see our return to sanity - it will retail for $25.95.

(You can place an international order for this offer (excluding free shipping) through our publisher, Wizard Academy Press.)

Volume 108: 4/1/05


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