Is Your Web Site Talking to Your Customer?

A while ago one of my clients approached me and mentioned that they were experiencing a serious problem with customer registrations (obtaining customer names and e-mail addresses), on their web site. They still had a lot of traffic, but were finding that the ratio between traffic and registrations had been dropping steadily.

H'mm, click-thru conversion rate I immediately thought, being the clever fellow I am. Or..., maybe product description? Or..., benefits?

Now a little step back: The product this company sells is very popular, especially within the higher middle income bracket and above, in this country. The company decided to also start selling this product on-line a year ago and the web site immediately attracted considerable traffic from inception. The subscription rate was never really a problem as everyone wanted to know when new product ranges were to be released. The Marketing Director was also always very careful to follow the basic rules of internet marketing.

So what had gone wrong ?

Back to the present: I decided to have a quick look at the web site before meeting with the Marketing Director. O, dear: Horror upon horror. The company had gone and changed the copy on the site.

I must say that I was very impressed with the great graphics and graphic functionality on the web site. One could do incredible displays with the product. And the technical descriptions of the product - something to die for! For the first time I now knew precisely what materials were used in the manufacturing process, how long items spent in various stages and that some material originated from space research. Wow, to die for!!!

So what?

Where were the benefits? What was in it for me as a customer?

Worse was still to come:

This web site was boring the heck out of me as a customer!

This web site was talking down to me!

Woe is me! I felt terrible - like an idiot, after working my way through the site (this talking down business really made me feel stupid), but manfully prepared for my meeting with the Marketing Director and sallied forth with my trusted colleagues called What, Who When, Where, How and my trusted right hand Why.

During the meeting it transpired that due to a number of technical queries the company received via the web site, they decided to revamp the site. The new site was to be more technically orientated to cater for the technical customers.

Aha, my trusted colleagues said. And what percentage of your internet customer base is technically orientated. And what are you actually wanting to sell - and to whom - and what do they want. Turned out that the company did not actually know what percentage of their customers wanted technical information. It was not a huge amount of people though. Turned out the company had not done any market research to determine this change. Turned out that someone had had a bright idea and changes were made without any research. Turned out the company tried to tell customers what the customers should want and need. Turned out the company ignored their customer.

H'mm - what did the company and I learn from this... again.

Sell the benefits of the product to the customer. A customer lands on a site - the customer has certain needs, be it hidden or overt. You need to satisfy those needs. This first question a customer asks is: What is in it for me ! Does this satisfy my need(s). What benefits are there for me ?

What my client did was to show the customers how clever the persons in the company is. It is the worst one can do. It talks down to the customer - look how clever I am !!! Let's talk about me, me, me and when you get tired of me, we'll talk about myself and I. What about the customer ? Rather talk about the customer - how this would meet his or her needs. How this product would reward all the hard work, be a status symbol to show off, how this product would save time.

Something else: This web site was downright boring. It did not talk to a person - in fact it was dead. It did not draw attention. Oh, attention - let me go down that track for a second. You want attention - you want a web site that talks to the customer. Ha - that means one has to constantly update content(copy) on a site. That is work that costs money.

Well, well, well, my colleagues say. Are you aware that the typical web customer reads/surfs about 20 to 30 sites per day. Are you aware that when a person is looking for something, they scan through a site. Are you aware that if you do not catch their attention with an attention grabbing headline you are going to lose them. Are you aware that you have between 10 and 20 seconds to grab their attention.

Your site must talk to your customer. Your site must grab the attention of the customer and you have between 10 and 20 seconds to do that. And what about keeping the customer coming back. That is a topic for another time, I think.

Back to my client: We compromised on a site that follows the principals I stated above, but also have a Technical area for those that wanted it. We built the site again with new copy.

Copy that addressed the needs and wants of customers.

Copy that was written from a customer's perspective.

Copy that sold benefits.

Copy that connected to customers as friends.

Copy that emphasized the "you" word and minimised the I/me words.

Copy that talked, connected and made the site talk.

And my client:

They are happy - their web site talks to their customers.

And the conversion rate:

Not going to tell you what it is, but it is high again and higher than before - for the moment, my client loves me.

And what is in this for you, dear reader:

Just one thing: "Make your web site talk to your customer"

Leon Williams runs eBusWiz and is "Actively living his dream". More articles can be found at: http://www.ebuswiz/blog

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