There’s an interesting discussion taking place on the Meetings and Expositions listserv of the American Society of Association Executives.
Someone asked: “How can we best recognize our sponsor for wireless internet during the meeting?”
There were several suggestions for doing this online as users connect to the internet:
- Create a splash page for the sponsor that’s the first thing they see
- Get users to complete a brief survey around the sponsor’s products and services
- Show a brief video from the sponsor
Frankly, I think these are all terrible suggestions! Rule 33 of my new book is “Avoid Unexpected Roadblocks.” It deals with the negative emotional impact of sudden and / or annoying obstacles in the visitor’s online experience.
People accessing the Internet at a conference are doing many things at once, and generally want to get to what they need as quickly as possible. I understand the importance of sponsor recognition, but forcing people to take a survey or watch a video may backfire in that you’re taking their valuable time, and they’re not happy. This could have an ultimate negative effect on the sponsor’s image.
The least annoying of these in terms of the amount of delay is the splash page – if it loads quickly, and if there’s an obvious “get me out of here” link. But think about it – how many times have you used the wireless connection at a hotel, and been forced through the hotel’s home page? Did you stop to look at it? Of course not – you’re already staying there, and you’ve got better things to do.
Another suggestion on the listserv was to have attendees visit the sponsor’s exhibit booth to obtain the password for the wireless connection. But what if someone is really in a hurry and doesn’t have time to visit the booth? What if it’s a huge show and they spend a lot of time trying to find the booth? What if they’re trying to access the internet out of exhibit hall hours?
My preferred solution is to provide each attendee with a card or something in the program materials with the sponsor’s logo and the password for internet access. That way, participants will see the sponsor in a positive light because they’re helping them to get their needs met, and not getting in the way at the same time!
A recent eMarketer article reported that 90% of moms and 88% of millennials prefer businesses that participate in positive social and environmental activities.
Similar numbers said that these considerations influence which products and services they buy, and where they choose to shop.
At first glance you might say that “moms and millennials” are not your target market, especially if your focus is b2b. But don’t forget that these folks also have, or will have careers. They may not be wearing their “mom” hat when they’re looking at your b2b website, but that doesn’t mean that all their subconscious reactions go away.
I’ve been suggesting for a long time that a “Community Involvement” page in the “About Us” section of your website is a really great addition. If you invest time and resources in causes that are meaningful to your customers, if you support your chamber of commerce or take part in local charitable events, it’s well worth saying so.
And of course, you can make it fun – photos of your employees and friends taking part in events, maybe some video clips, all increase the emotional connections that your website and / or your Facebook page make with your visitors.
So unless you want your charitable contributions and participation to remain anonymous, tell the world what you’ve been doing. This may not directly get you the business, but it does have influence.
I have to admit that I often rant about airline Websites, especially in my “Emotional Connections” program – in fact, the whole idea for my “How Does Your Website Make Me Feel?” schtick was sparked by a page on US Airways’ site back in 2001.
This morning hit a whole new low when I received an invitation to complete an online survey about the Mileage Plus program from United Airlines in conjunction with InsightExpress, LLC. Since it promised all of 250 miles if I complied, I decided to give it a go.
Why was I so irked? Let me count the ways:
- In order to access the survey, I needed to enter my Mileage Plus number. That’s OK, but the first question in the survey was: “What’s your Mileage Plus number?” Wait, didn’t I just tell you that?
- The survey seemed to run incredibly slowly – I frequently had to reload pages, and every time I had to re-enter my response. I don’t know if this was my connection, or if they underestimated traffic levels . . .
- There was only one question per page, and no indication of how many questions there would be in total, or how far along I was in the process. Every time the page hung, I thought about giving up, but continued in the hope that it would soon be over (and that I’d get my 250 miles).
- Every question required a checked radio button, or a rating on a scale of 1 to 5. There was no free input anywhere, and no place that asked why I responded the way I did. Which made me even more frustrated – don’t they want to know what about the program makes me “Strongly Dissatisfied”, and more so than last year? How can they fix anything if they don’t know what the problem is – or maybe they don’t really want to know what the problem is?
There’s an art to conducting online surveys, both in keeping people engaged and on track, and in designing the questions so that you get quantifiable and useful feedback. I’m sure there’s plenty that I don’t know about what United were trying to achieve here, but as a customer being asked about my satisfaction levels, it left me even more unhappy.
Oh well, hopefully I’ll enjoy spending the 250 miles!
I’m working with a b2b client on a major redesign of their Website. As part of this, we’re installing the Google site search engine (paid version!)
I wanted to see what happened if I searched for a product that isn’t listed on their site. Predictably, I got the following result:
“Your search – [ search term ] – did not match any documents.
Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
Try different keywords.
Try more general keywords.”
Now, I do think that in general Google Search is an excellent product.
However, this feels to me like the ultimate in “Non-Customer Service”.
Imagine a customer or prospect sitting across from you in the real world, and asking if you can help them with a particular product or service. Would you just say “No” and stop talking until they tried to ask their question again differently? Would you really make it sound like it’s their fault that they can’t find what they’re looking for in your store?
I certainly hope not – and yet, this is exactly what the standard “no results found” search utility does. This might be fine for Google itself, which is a generic search engine serving a huge and largely undefined audience, but it shouldn’t be how individual businesses respond to their visitors. At the least we need to be providing links to our knowledge bases, phone numbers or live chat access, and e-mail forms for easy enquiries.
My client’s Web developers are concerned that reprogramming Google’s source code so that we can do this would make it difficult to implement updates. So we’re stuck with giving our prospective customers a brusque “No” when they ask for help. I’m not happy . . .
I’ve been dealing with one of those annoying women’s issues recently, so I decided to do some online research to find a doctor who might be able to help. I was looking for someone who wouldn’t just immediately recommend major surgery, and who would clearly look at all my options.
Most medical Websites which talk about treatment for specific conditions are full of jargon and complex language. If you’re a layperson, it can be pretty scary stuff! And if you read the bios of the practitioners, they’re usually very official, full of impressive qualifications, but impersonal.
So I was thrilled to find a site called “Alternatives in Gynecology”. This site belongs to Dr. Paul Indman, and I was so impressed by how emotionally connected it felt to me. When I met Dr. Indman, he told me that he had written the copy himself, so I was even more wowed!
Specifically, the best practices that this site demonstrates include:
- it provides clear descriptions of various conditions, with diagrams, in an easy to read style. We printed several pages for further study so that we were really well educated about what he might say, and the terms he might use.
- Dr. Indman also lays out a number of different approaches that he takes to treatment, explaining his decision making process and the pros and cons of each protocol. Again, reading this ahead of time helped prepare us for the office visit.
- It’s very clear that both the doctor and his staff are concerned to help patients to find the most affordable solution for them, and that they understand that many people are challenged by the cost of healthcare.
So the copy and presentation of this site very clearly understands me, the visitor, my needs and my concerns, and it addresses them all in a very empathetic manner. I told Dr. Indman that this was the most emotionally connected doctor’s Website that I’ve seen!
Of course, then I discovered that my health insurance company doesn’t include this practice and won’t cover me to consult with this expert – but that’s another story . . .
So I have a new client who is a major landscaping firm in the Chicago area. And I’m talking with her last week about the plans for the reworking of their Website.
Question: “Do we include bios and pictures of our designers?”
At first, my client said that more of their business is on the maintenance side, and she thought that this type of content would be overkill.
Then I reminded her that plenty of research shows that people respond to information about a company’s personnel, their history, photographs, etc. After all, “people do business with people . . .”
And she said: “Now that I think about it, I do click on those sections when I go to a Website where I don’t know much about the business”.
Which brings up one of my favourite questions: Why are we so convinced that people will behave differently at our site? Why do we lose sight of everything that we know – even about our own behaviour – in making assumptions about what visitors will or won’t like? If we know how we instinctively move around other sites, why don’t we apply that knowledge when designing our Web presence?
After all, we’re all human . . .