So What Exactly Is a Point of Action Assurance?

You’re Lara Croft and you’ve just made it to Level 13 (yeah, I got sucked into GameBoy). You’re about to take off into the next phase of the unknown, but by now you’ve figured out there could be fiendishly hungry wolves or armored skeletons with an attitude lurking just about anywhere. A pain-in-the-neck purple wizard or two as well. You know it isn’t always clear what’s going to happen when you take the next step. A button? A set of spikes? A timed door? What you need, to be honest, is a bunch of signs around the joint saying stuff like, “Go through this door with guns blazing” or “After you push this button, you’ll want to hop back three steps or else you’ll get skewered.”

Just when you’re puzzling over the consequences of your next action, you want a convivial pat on the back and a reassurance that all will be well.

It’s understandable that we all get a bit nervous about taking certain actions. And lots of folks are especially nervous about taking an action online. So, help them along. At the exact point where they can take action, give them the online equivalent of a reassuring smile.

We’ve talked about Point of Action Assurances before, but it’s time to revisit the subject. It’s an important issue on every one of your Web pages (they all have clickable places, right, or they wouldn’t be there in the first place), and the tactic is big-time under-utilized.

You recall our recent discussion of what a Call to Action is, yes? Well, wherever you have a Call to Action on your Web page, you have a Point of Action that potentially raises a question in your visitors’ minds.

“Add to Shopping Cart.” Yeah, but what if I decide later that I don’t want it?

“Subscribe.” Okay, but what are you going to do with my name and email? I don’t want any old Joe to have it.

“Choose your Shipping Option.” And suppose I find out it costs more than I want to pay? Can I change it later?

“Enter your Credit Card Number (no dashes).” So my roommate hollers not to put anything more on the Visa, ‘cause it’s maxed out … use the MasterCard. Do I get to review and edit my information?

See what I mean? Any action that requires a form of commitment generates concern for important stuff like safety, getting taken advantage of, messing things up. And everywhere you can offer a ray of light, you need to do so. It makes folks feel much happier and more confident.

Think about it … the only physical action your visitors can take is to click. They click to enlarge, they click to go somewhere else, they click to search, they click to select stuff and they click to fill in forms. What else is there for them to do? Your job is to make it easy for them to click. And when you answer their unspoken concerns (which are, after all, pretty much the things we all worry about), you pave the way to that pot of gold (yours and theirs).

So examine every one of your Web pages for every click-through possibility you offer. Ask yourself: Is this a place that might raise a question in my visitors’ minds? Now, what can you say, right at this point on the screen, that will encourage them to click?

Unlike Lara Croft, your visitors’ lives aren’t on the line. But your conversion rates are! So take some pity on your dubious audience and give them the reassurance they need.

Eeeek … nobody warned me about those brown wolves!! Gotta head off with guns blazing!


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Advanced Copywriting for you?

You’ve heard me say it often enough, “Speak to the dog in the language of the dog about what matters to the heart of the dog.” Meat matters to the dog. That’s what gets the dog so excited he can’t wait to get his teeth into that meat.

For this contest, we’re asking you to write sales copy to promote that splendid book Persuasive Online Copywriting (yours truly on the cover, no less). But don’t write just any old copy. Write copy that will do the same thing that meat does for the dog. Identify the critical message, in language folks will find appealing, that gets them excited about sinking their teeth into this book.

You may submit as many entries as you like up until the deadline, November 17, 2003. Send them to We’ll fly the winner from anywhere in the 48 states to New York City, expenses paid, for a day of in-depth copywriting training at the offices of Future Now.

From November 13 to November 15 we'll be hosting our intense 3 day Academy, the “Wizards of Web”. Make your reservations soon.

If you can't make that event, make sure to get your copy of Persuasive Online Copywriting? Don't forget to enter in our copywriting contest. Have you checked out the other places to meet us on our latest event schedule?


Go Beyond “It’s the Customer,” Grasshopper!

Lip service to your customers’ interests will not help you achieve your potential

The Golden Rule is one of those universal truths (do to others as you would have them do to you). You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who thought this wasn’t a good idea, and didn’t espouse it as a good way to live your life. But how many of us really live the Golden Rule on a daily basis?

The truth is, we may universally believe in the Golden Rule, but most folks wind up respecting it in the breach rather than the actual execution. We avoid someone’s telephone call. We say we’re out when we’re in. We say we’re busy when we’re free.

Am I taking about hypocrisy here? No. I’m just questioning how dear we actually hold this value. There is no good reason for ever going against the Golden Rule. So what might it be like if we fully embraced its simplicity to the core?

Sometimes the simplest thing can be the most profound – and the hardest to take into your heart and soul, to fully internalize so it naturally becomes the shaper of your thoughts and the well-spring for all you do.

Everybody says they’re about the customer. But if you’re really just about the price, you are not about the customer. And guess what, you really want it to be about the customer, hook, line and sinker.

In our business, we’ve got customers and potential customers, users, prospects, hits, click-throughs, rejects. Our terminologies can seem pretty unemotional and technical. Nor does it help that we are in the position of creating an interactive process of exchange that involves no face-to-face elements – almost no human contact at all! – that is the functional equivalent of a complicated maze.

We want to persuade. We want to make it easy for visitors to accomplish the tasks that brought them to us in the first place. And make no mistake – these folks weren’t pushed onto our Web sites. They came because they have a need they are hoping we can fulfill.

More than pandering to the idea that “It’s the Customer,” you must embrace with empathy and compassion the fact that everything that happens online is about your audience. They call the shots, every single one of them. They aren’t just right; they are in complete control. Really!!

You can’t just pay lip service to this. You must live and breathe it. This is the principle that will guide everything you do, from copy to design to usability into the broader realm of satisfying and humane exchanges. We’ve touched on some of these ideas in our discussion of basic needs and the role of self-actualization in marketing online.

Everyone wants a quick fix. Lots of folks come to us looking for tactics that will help them improve conversion rates, and there are any number of tactics that will produce results. When you understand your Web site from the point of view of your audience – really understand just how much control they have and how that affects you – then you will be in a position to understand how to use the principles behind the tactics to your advantage.

Beyond that, when you have identified the values that you cherish, those that you pursue on your own path to self-actualization, and when you truly show that you embrace these values, you will be able to bring your own humanity to the table. And folks will connect with that – it will appeal to them as nothing else can. In a delightful way, you offer them a partnership for meeting their basic needs, or fulfilling their need for self-actualization.

If your mouth and head are there, but not your heart, if you’re just about the price, then tactics alone can only carry you so far. Can you go beyond? Can you merge personal values with online principles? Sure! Check out my friend Hale Dwoskin’s best selling The Sedona Method.

There are no quick fixes, guys and gals. You can’t just try on a value to see if it fits … you can’t just make it up. It must come from deep with. You’ll need a willingness to examine yourself honestly, deeply. You’ll need a willingness to believe.

And that part’s simple, but O so hard to accept: It is absolutely, fully, completely, only about the customer. Selling more is not difficult when you are about the customer. In fact, if you are about your customer, the sales won’t stop coming.


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