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P.O.A. Location Matters

Nope. I'm not going to grump at you about how you need policies or any other form of reassurance for your customers. I'm thinking about a different aspect of this equation. When I was checking out at the grocery store the other day, in addition to my receipt the cashier handed me a ribbon of coupons. It was the classic Point of Purchase (POP) marketing ploy, and it got me thinking.


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You donít need me to tell you that when people visit your site, you need them to realize right away both the value of your product or service and the value of buying from you over one of your competitors. So when you provide your reassuring policies on privacy, returns, guarantees, shipping and so forth (and you do offer these, right?), put them at the Point of Action (POA).

If you want to subscribe to GrokDotCom you've got to share a little information - not tons of it, just your name and e-mail. But some people are understandably squeamish about doing even that, so we've got a privacy policy. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of our page and read: "We will never give, lease or sell your personal information. Period! If you have any questions at all about our privacy policy, please email us." Thing is, while that policy is clear, concise and compelling, itís at the bottom of the page while the opt-in subscription box is at the top. You might never get to the bottom to read how sincerely concerned we are about your privacy. So what did we do? We put a concise little statement right under the Subscribe Now button, right at the POA: "We Value Your Privacy!"

Want to know something? As soon as we did that seemingly minor thing, subscriptions went way up! By putting the information at the POA, the impact was immediate and dramatic.

Think about how often information thatís critical to your customer gets buried in tiny type at the bottom of the page or in some other place where it is not immediately visible when the need to know it is foremost in your customer's mind. If I walk into a store, it's fairly easy for me to find out product warranty information. I can read the box I'm holding or chat with a salesperson. Online, give your customer this same option, at the Point of Action, when he'd figuratively be examining that box. Link right there to product warranties, your company's specific policies, even optional extended service plans. Right there! Maybe you take them to the info, maybe you give it to them in a pop-up (about the only time I like these things).

Getting the picture? At the exact point your customer has to start filling in a form with personal information, let her know her privacy is sacred to you. At the point she might be curious about your company's shipping costs, make them concretely available. Just when she's wondering whether or not she can return the item if it doesn't suit her, make sure she knows you have a no-questions-asked return policy.

And donít limit yourself to policies. Some shoppers value what other people had to say about a product or about doing business with you. Offer testimonials, but also be sure to put them where they need to be seen, when the question is in your prospect's mind. Think about other aspects of your sales process. What else does your customer want to know and when will it have the most impact on his or her decision? Itís not only about making sure itís on your site, itís also about making sure itís in the location that will have the most positive impact on your sales.

Think Point of Action. Give them what they need to know when they need to know it. Your customers will be delighted that you've managed to anticipate their needs, and that goes a very long way to persuading them you're the folks to buy from!



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Coming soon to a website near you Ė 
in fact, maybe YOURS!

Dear Digital Entrepreneur:

You guys and gals have been asking and asking, so OK: on March 1 Iím gonna start making house calls. Thatís right, Iíll be visiting your own websites and then writing in future issues about how you can apply the stuff we talk about here.

So, want a free Grokanalysis of your site? Itís simple. Just click here, fill out the form, send it to us, and if I think your site illustrates something that will be of interest to a lot of our readers, youíre in!

Good luck!!

The Grok

Calling all Lemmings: 
Amazon, the Leader in Pop-Ups??

I know you can't see what Iím doing, but I'm just about to reach for a couple of those Grokcedrin tablets that are so good when I get an out-of-this-world headache. Pop-ups. Ouch. You just love them, right? But can you believe it? Amazon, no less, decided we just had to have them during the past holiday shopping season, and now they are popping up all over the web. Obviously, if Amazon does it, it must be a great idea, right? WRONG!

I thought you guys Ďn gals figured this out a while back. Folks out there don't like pop-ups. At all. Period. Pop-ups irritate the bejeesus out of them. I absolutely HATE it when my browser throws me a pop-up and I have to click out of the pop-up before I can move on. Donít you? Then why would you think your customers would feel differently?

Pop-ups arenít just annoying, theyíre invasive. Also, except for the microscopic attention it takes to click them away, pop-ups are eminently ignorable. Jakob Nielsenís studies have demonstrated, "Users rarely look at logos, mission statements, slogans, or any other elements they consider fluff (in particular, they ignore advertising and anything that looks like an ad)."1 (emphasis all my own!)

Actually, I have to confess they do have a few (a VERY few) useful applications. Cafepress.com <http://www.cafepress.com> uses them effectively to help explain procedures for setting up a store on their site. And there's a nifty classical music dictionary on Naxos.com <http://www.naxos.com> where term definitions appear in pop-ups. Pop-ups in response to Help questions can work. These applications help speed apprehension and download times, and minimize the chance the customer will get lost betwixt and between pages. But thatís about it. If you can do it any other way except pop ups, do. And if you think pop-ups will increase sales or customer loyalty, youíve been watching too much Amazon.

Come on dudes and dudettes; don't be lemmings. If you're going to use pop-ups, have a reeeaaally good reason for it. "Just because Amazon does it" doesn't mean a thing (in fact, letís see how long Amazon gets away with it!). Most of the time the only effect of pop-ups is to tick off your customers. And ticked-off customers click on over to your competitor.

1. "Is Navigation Useful?" Jakob Nielsen. Alertbox, January 9, 2000. <http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000109.html>


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GROK is taken from the landmark novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein. It is a Martian word that implies the presence of intimate and exhaustive knowledge and understanding. Our "GROK" is a keen observer of the world around him and he takes a particular interest in the World Wide Web. The folks at Future Now like him a lot because he's taught them that "sometimes the price of clarity is the risk of insult."

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