Optimizing for Conversion, Ignoring Consumption

We have worked with many demand or lead generation companies over the past 10 years. Most of the time when they come to us, they ask us to help them increase the number of people they convert into a free trial, a free download, or to create an account.

Conversion Isn’t an Event, it’s a Process

We always like to focus first on increasing the number of leads towards the top of the sales funnel. However, without the next step, consumption, the companies don’t necessarily achieve their better but usually unstated goal of increased revenue.

This is the same fuzzy focus that has companies intent on getting more clicks to their PPC ads just so they can show the increased traffic numbers without focusing on converting that visitor into a lead or sale. To tell you the truth it is not as hard to get visitors to take the uncommitted step, as it is getting them to actually use and consume the product.

When you optimize for customer experience you really need to take the whole scenario from awareness (clicking your ad) through conversion and ultimately to consumption (and ideally to evangelism) into account.

An Example of Trying to Create Consumption

Yesterday I received this email from TimeBridge. I set up an account when I received an invitation from a friend at another company to setup a meeting. You know how challenging it is to coordinate a meeting amongst several people using email, etc. Well I responded to his request and I really enjoyed the experience (partially because it was seamless using my Mac and Entourage) so I decided to setup an account. I even told several people about it. But I was never converted enough to incorporate it into my work flow.

I must have setup countless meetings since then all without the use of TimeBridge. What do you think went wrong? I converted, did a little worth of mouth for them but never consumed the product. Somehow the persuasive momentum was lost.

This is one way to try to initiate consumption. Use emails to try and prod engagement, add a bit of bribery (such as a contest for a $10 Starbucks card) and see how it works. We’ve seen several other really good examples over the years, what is the best method you have ever seen?

Attraction, Conversion, Consumption: Why You Need To Separate the Trio!

Go to a pond where you can visibly see a lot of fish. Take a stone and throw it in the water. Notice what the fish do? Yes, they race towards the stone in anticipation of a feeding frenzy?

Of course, you know what happens next.

The fish figure out you’re just teasing, and with disappointed guppy faces, they swim away. Um… if you continue to throw stones, they’ll keep coming back, till they work out it’s useless to humour you any more.

7 Signs Your PPC Campaigns Needs Optimization

Are you getting the most from your pay per click (PPC) campaigns? How would you know? Are you as efficient at getting clicks and converting visitors as you would be carrying water with a leaky bucket? Let me give you 7 signs to tell that you are not optimizing your PPC spend:

1. You use the set it and forget it strategy to PPC. If you setup your PPC campaigns months ago and haven’t adjusted a thing in it, I can practically guarantee you have room to improve it. The seasons change, traffic flow and traffic quality change, even Google’s Quality score changes.

Don’t Overlook These Common Cart Mistakes

I’ve seen a few big shopping cart no-nos lately, so I just want to alert Grok readers to them–they’re pretty easy to avoid:

The Homepage Dump: You add an item to your cart and are thrown into the checkout process. You’ve got another item on your shopping list, so you click the little link that says “Continue Shopping.” You’re dumped on the homepage. This is especially bad when you’ve done a lot of searching and results-filtering, and now it’s all gone. It really does feel like you’ve just been dumped! I can’t think of any good reason why the homepage is the proper place to land a visitor to continue shopping.

Bridging the Psychic Pain Gap

When people are confident of their next paycheck, they have a predisposition to buy most of their “because I want it” items that are within financial reach (and maybe even just out of reach as well – hence the credit card). That’s because their psychic pain threshold for buying is just above their actual expendable income level.

Here’s how to visualize it: there are usually, say, 5-7 “extra-budgetary” purchases a person might have in mind for the next two months or so: nicer sunglasses, or an expensive wireless mouse, or shoes or some type of clothing, etc. And most of those things will actually get purchased within a rolling 2-3 month time frame, without the buyer feeling that any of them represent a considered purchase – even if the sunglasses or shoes might be in or above the $150 range.

Why You’d Be Smart to Let a Stranger Select Your Baby Stroller

There I was at Babies”R”Us, way back in 2003, manhandling different strollers and finding myself more eager to read the amazon.com reviews than to kick the tires myself – and it had nothing to do with wanting to avoid the in-store shopping experience and everything to do with wanting to make the best purchase decision possible.

So why would I want to read reviews when I could examine the stroller first hand?

Emotionally Speaking

People often ask me what I mean when I say it’s important to appeal to the emotional needs of the folks who come to your Web site. Like, is it really about writing extravagantly, in a fashion that suggests the emotions of the copy’s author are stirred up and yours are about to be next? Should we be in search of flamboyant prose?

It’s then I realize people don’t really have a handle on what it means to appeal to emotion. I mean, if you’re looking to acquire an excavator, how meaningful or appropriate is effusive, flowery language? Think it will stir you up or send you running?

A Mental Model for Persuasion Architecture

Recently, my erudite buddy Bryan posted a comment on an e-consultancy forum. His observations included a brief discussion of the value of Persuasion Architecture – which, as you dear readers know, is our synthetic philosophy for creating and managing your online presence. Bryan got a comment from a fellow named Chris, who said,

“I can’t help but think of persuasion architecture as one of those multiple choice ending books that I last read twenty years ago – ‘turn to page 121 if you think A, turn to page 84 if you think B…’ etc. There are a number of scenarios on each page and a persuasive writer would be able to channel readers towards the right decision.”

Let the Purpose Guide You

The other day, a guy comes up to me in the grocery store. “Hey, you’re that Martian what’s-it from SurfSentinel, aren’t you?”

I plaster on my how-nice smile as I poke through the tomatoes. “That’s me, alright.”

He settles into a soap-box stance. “You know, I read that book on copywriting … you know, the one with the picture of you on the cover? It was pretty good.”

“Thanks, dude,” I nod. “I’ll convey your reactions to Bryan, Jeffrey and Lisa.”

“Yeah, but …”

Here it comes. I hate this. The moment when I’m going to have to justify something in the nicest way possible when what I really want to do is zap the guy with a lightening bolt (if only Martians could).

It seems my grocery store commentator really liked Persuasive Online Copywriting, so he decided to visit the Web site for this newsletter. It was there he determined that while we might understand the theory of writing persuasively, we were inept at putting it into practice for ourselves.

“I was wondering what I might learn about persuasive writing from evaluating your SurfSentinel Web site. I’m still wondering.” I can still hear his toe tapping.

Every last one of my eyeballs was stuck rolled up in their sockets (but that how-nice smile was still plastered to my face), and then, suddenly, it dawned on me. He doesn’t get it. And if this regular dude who looks very normal and speaks quite intelligently doesn’t get it, then lots and lots of other folks aren’t getting it either (which actually is pretty obvious).

Every little thing you do on your Web site must have a purpose – an objective. You must be clear about what that purpose is, so you can develop all the associated elements with that purpose in mind. Lose the focus of your purpose and you will no longer be able to even communicate, much less persuade, effectively. Your purpose may change over time – very little stays static – but the changes must always be considered and intentional, shaped within the context of the evolving purpose.

I said to my confrontational dude, “The purpose of SurfSentinel’s copy is to inform and build long-term relationships with our readers by providing valuable content, not by selling them anything. Through this laid-back approach, we demonstrate our abilities, which, quite naturally, we hope will influence someone to contact us. But all this material is there for free, whether or not you ever contact us. And you can use it to perform large and small miracles on your Web site.”

“Our strategy not only works for us, it works extraordinarily well. Over 40% of the folks who come to this Web site sign up for the newsletter. Not bad, eh dude?” I grin, plucking the perfect tomato from the pile. “Although it could be a lot better, I’ll grant you that!” And I wink.

Keep this in mind as you puzzle over the many elements on your Web site. No one thing can be everything to all people. You’ll go berserk thinking otherwise. That’s why you need to think of any conversion system in larger terms – as a construction of Persuasion Architecture.

So think about what you need to accomplish, how you can best accomplish it, then head out and get it done. Webward Ho (with a purpose)!