Tag Archive for 'web site'

Customer says “Can you Help Me?” You say “Nope!”

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.

    Suggestions:

      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 . . .

Beware of SEO Experts With Silo Vision!

Last week I talked with a small business owner. She had just spent $6,000 over the past 4 months for search engine optimization services – which was a significant budget item. Of course, the SEO company was sending her ecstatic reports about her improved positions for targeted keywords, and increased click-throughs to her site.

So I asked her “How are all these new visitors responding to your site? Are they taking a good look around, or are they leaving immediately? Are you getting more calls and leads? Do you know which of the keywords that you’re optimizing for are performing best for you, and whether any are a waste of effort? Do you have any idea of what you’re getting back for your $6,000 investment?

She replied that she didn’t have the answers to these questions, that she’d just assumed that things were going well because that’s what the SEO company was reporting, and then she sighed: “I think we just fell into the classic small business trap!”

Now don’t misunderstand me – I believe that the SEO company was doing exactly what they’d been retained to do.

But this company was only evaluating her success from their perspective – and they’re looking at her business from a pretty narrow silo.

I’ve seen this situation many times. Last year, I spoke for a group which included a manufacturer of kitchen appliances for the restaurant industry. They only sold to the trade, not to individual consumers. Again, they had an SEO company who’d got them to be #1 in search for keywords like “mixer”, and the CEO was thrilled with the increased traffic numbers that the SEO folks reported.

But the Director of Sales told a different story. Because the Website didn’t include any statements about who their customers were, or any language such as “minimum order”, the sales team were spending 25% of their time fielding completely unqualified leads! Now that’s what I call a leak in resources . . .

This type of scenario is why I argue so strongly for a “Website Ambassador” for any company. Outside practitioners (or less experienced employees) who you hire for one specific purpose can’t be expected to understand the ramifications of what they do on every other aspect of your Web presence and your business. Someone needs to have the 30,000ft view to ensure that all of your strategies and tactics are working together to maximize your ROI.

Otherwise, in plugging one leak, you could be creating several others!

“Did UPS Send Me To A For-Profit Business?”

I wasn’t going to post this to my blog, but my good friend Vickie Sullivan persuaded me that it’s a story that bears repeating . . .

I’ve been following up the leads from the cover story on effective Web strategy in the UPS “Compass” magazine for which I was selected as the sole expert (yes, free publicity is a wonderful credibility builder!)

One woman who contacted me described her business as the world leader in their field (which has to do with animal medicine). Her e-mail then said: “Sitting here reading your comments on Website functionality, and thought that I’d write and have you take a look at ours, and see what insights you can share with us.”

So I started describing my “Leaky Boat Website” review, which would provide her with exactly what I thought she was asking for.

She interrupted: “Is there a cost for this?” When I said there was, she was indignant – “Did UPS send me to a for-profit business?”

I was so stunned that I could only reply that I didn’t understand the question. In retrospect, I wish I’d asked her if she provides her world exclusive products for free!

Why Do We See Our Own Sites Differently?

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 . . .

Are Marketers Not Spending On Analytics, Or Are They Just Not Talking About It?

There’s an interesting article in today’s eMarketer about business executives’ plans for integrating social media and e-mail marketing in 2010. The report quotes from the “2010 Marketing Trends Survey” by StrongMail, which lists the various marketing tactics on which executives plan to increase spending.

But there’s no mention in the spending table of analytics or any method of evaluating the ROI on these activities. And the report states that 23% of marketers admitted that they didn’t know how to measure their results. Bill Wagner, Executive Vice President of StrongMail comments that “. . . companies need to adopt new tools and strategies to properly measure and monetize their efforts.”

So what’s going on here? Are marketers spending on analytics, and that’s simply not listed in the report? Do analytics come under a different budget? Or are executives really willing to put money, time and resources into campaigns without any idea of their return on investment?

Let’s say it again: 95% of the Websites that I’ve audited were leaving money on the table – and their owners had no idea . . .

The Trap of Linear Thinking

Today I provided a “Pick my Brain” session for Gavin Burt, from the UK site Running Injury Oracle (thank you, Skype!)

Gavin is a leading osteopath in the UK, and he has developed an online system to help runners diagnose and work with their injuries. Depending on their needs, he provides advice, checklists and videos for a monthly or annual subscription. So far, the response has been very positive, and he’s about to get major PR from the British running press.

So far, so good. But today we looked at his Google Analytics and discovered a problem that he hadn’t thought of. The site was designed for visitors to start at the home page and move logically through the process of self-diagnosis to get to their type of injury.

Of course, it doesn’t always work that way. Visitors who find the site through search engines are entering at inside pages which are focused on specific keywords. These visitors don’t have any context for what they see – the content immediately jumps into the diagnosis and subscription information, which is fine if they’ve been down the logical path, but not if it’s their first impression.

Luckily, this is a new site and still very much a work in progress, so we can figure out how to make the concept of each page clear to all visitors.

I told Gavin that he’s not alone – so many people make assumptions about how their site will be traveled, and don’t think about visitors getting to pages in all sorts of random ways.

But right now, many of Gavin’s visitors who enter at inside pages are leaving the site too quickly – so we need to plug that leak!

The Red-headed Stepchild?

I’ll get to Leaky Boat sites shortly, but I couldn’t resist posting this:

I was speaking at the weekend to an audience of business owners, and I posed them one of my favorite challenges:

How is it that so often our Websites become the ‘red-headed stepchild’ of our business? What else would you be willing to write a check for every month with often little or no idea of what it’s producing for you?”

Immediately a gentleman in the audience came back with:  “My teenagers!”

No response to that one . . .