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.

Volume 108: 4/1/05


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