Do you ever get really frustrated? I often do. One thing that frustrates me big-time is when I read newsletters in my inboxes (about seventy per day — okay, I rarely read them…. ‘Select all/delete’) droning on about tech solutions, Aiyayaai!.
Hey! I’m hardly one opposed to technology! I enjoy the benefits of technology and think it’s a wonderful thing. Nevertheless, technology is much easier to come by than common sense.
Every time I see a website that sucks, I can hear in the background the happy chatter of its designers, developers, and programmers: “That’s really cool. The customers? They’ll figure it out. In fact, once they do, they’ll love it.” These well-meaning people sure put a lot of faith in the patience, motivation, and resilience of their visitors. Yet despite their best intentions, they’re actually hurting sales, not helping them. They seem to forget that customers are always one click away from goodbye!
Let’s imagine that you excitedly head out in your car to go shopping. You know exactly what you want to buy and where you’ll find it in stock at a great price. Along the way, though, you get stuck in a really bad traffic jam. Your car overheats, and your air conditioning quits. After several long hours sweltering in the heat, you eventually get the problem fixed.
You’re back on the road, but what’s that? A detour ahead? You thought you followed all the signs, so how come now you’re lost? Another hour of wandering and, at last, you locate the store. Naturally, the parking lot is full, and you have to park eight blocks away. After a fifteen-minute walk, you’re finally at the front door. How are you feeling? How tolerant are you going to be if the shopping experience is anything less than delightful?
Now here’s the cyberspace equivalent for most (let me repeat that, most) consumers. First, they have to figure out how to use the damn expensive Iphone, not to mention the operating system, which is just so intuitive. Then they need to get online, which is a breeze; no learning curve here and no connectivity issues, right? Then finally they figure out how a browser works.
But what then? They now have to figure out how different websites use different navigation methods, hyperlinks, icons, conventions, jargon, frames, and forms. They even have to figure out when to use the “Back” button on the browser as opposed to a link on the page.
Let’s take a look at more examples of online roadblocks, things that get in the way of customers en route to enquiring or buying from you:
Only after negotiating all these hurdles (and maybe a glass of UGee on the rocks or two) do they arrive at your website. Your customers want to be shopping and buying. Isn’t that what you want them to be doing too? Instead, they’re trying to figure out, “Where do I go?” “What do I do next?” “How did I get here?” “How do I get back?” And if all that’s not enough, you have to help them get past some well-founded fears in this age of phishing worms, viruses, and spyware. Give them any reason to leave, and they will. Imagine then what they’ll have to say about you!
Now, do you have a better appreciation of what your customers are up against? You can’t do anything about the frustrations they have endured before they found you. But once they’ve finally hooked up with you, be especially kind to them.
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 or nice thick bush. 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 website visitors especially 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 water flask 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 is 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, sale stickers and irrelevant images. 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 website, 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 website? Can I understand the reasons my customer came to my website 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.
The whole trick is to interact with your customers as if they were Mr. or Ms. Basic User — not Mr. or Ms. Tech Geek. The Techno Geeks will buy no matter what, so you lose nothing by not being too cool for your own good. And they’re the minority. The Basics are the majority, by far. If you want them to stay on your Web site and buy from you, you have to keep it simple, clear, and consistent. And no, that doesn’t have to mean boring.
Contrary to semi-popular belief, people do not want to be surprised while shopping online. They want an experience that’s delightful but also predictable, comfortable, and safe. Nor do they want to be entertained. If that’s what they want, they’ll go to an entertainment website. Adding stuff just for entertainment value only slows the download and distracts from buying. (Other than that, it’s a great idea.)
Remember: while you’re always one click away from goodbye, your competitor — who has taken the time and made the effort to create a smooth, simple, consistent, safe, and delightful experience — is just one click away from hello.
Imagine I have a magical device that tells me when anyone who is within a two-mile radius of where I’m sitting has run out of milk. I drive to their apartment only to find them sitting there with a empty carton of milk and a dry bowl of cereal. I put them into my car and drive them to the nearest overnight supermarket. And, just to ensure they purchase, I give them the money to buy their milk. What are the odds that this person will buy milk in this instance? One hundred percent, right? The supermarket would really have to screw up big to not sell milk to this person at this moment.
This is what my company does online. We’re an online marketing agency. We find people who need products and services. We bring them to websites that have those products and services. We give them the cash to buy the products. And we watch to see how the website does at selling the product these people want. The average website only manages to sell someone a product they really want, under these odd conditions, 20 percent of the time. The other 80 percent of the time, the customers who know exactly what they want run into some show-stopping obstacle that prevents the purchase.
Look at your annual revenue from your site. Assume that represents only the 20 percent who are successfully purchasing. That means there is another 80 percent (more than twice your current revenue) who is trying to buy from you, but failing. That’s the opportunity that you’re currently leaving on the table. We’re not even considering the people who haven’t decided what they want yet. We’re only talking about those people who are ready to purchase from you. There’s a very good chance you could double your revenues just by figuring out what is stopping your leads from purchasing. Your conversion rate optimisation is screwed up!
Thank you so much for taking time to read my thoughts. Writing such an article takes a shitload of patience, research and time and I love to know that people actually read this shit. Kindly share, like, subscribe or comment right bellow this text. I would love to hear from you.