Tag Archive for 'websites'

You Can’t Herd Cats On Your Website!

Last week I was talking with a company which helps owners of intellectual property to register trademarks and copyrights.

The client had requested a “Pick My Brain” session to talk about his plans for the reworked version of the site (which is still in process at time of writing this).

We discussed at length how visitors coming to his site will make decisions, how they might be persuaded to interact with him, and hopefully to make a purchase. Visitors will have different levels of knowledge about the law in this area, about the registration process and its benefits, and they probably also have different levels of readiness to buy. Some might be very price conscious and looking for the best deal (there are other companies who offer similar services), while some might be more concerned about the credibility and trustworthiness of the company that they choose to do business with.

My client started our conversation hoping that he could guide visitors down a fairly set path – that if they read Page A, they’ll naturally progress to Page B, etc. Along the way, he could provide answers to questions, and address their concerns in a logical sequence.

I had to tell him that in my experience, it just doesn’t work that way! People can come into your site at lots of different entry points, and they have all sorts of ways of thinking and emotional response. The best you can do is to ensure that they can access all content that will help them and drive them towards your goals on every page of your site.

Creating user personas can help you understand how various types of visitors might interact with your site, but trying to get every visitor to follow a set path is like herding cats – and I have a calico, so I know never to try that!

The Emotionally Connected Doctor’s Website

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 . . . :-(

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 . . .