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Nothing to see here!

This little guy has absolutely nothing to do with this website. The webmaster just thought he looked cool.

It's Freakin' Paradise!

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Monday, 18 April 2011

Don't tell me what I can't do!”John Locke, “Lost” (2004), ABC

Keeping Websites Busy, Safe, Profitable

You probably don’t realize it, but company marketing, communications people really want to drag you to their little corner of paradise to buy something – hardware, software, service, whatever. They paint a beautiful picture of their product, service…its freakin’ paradise. Check out their Facebook page…5,000 people “like” them.

The bleeding-edge folks have 8,500 + guys/gals following their every Twit, every thought.
They’ve shifting their marketing and communications time, energy, money to the most traveled routes…online.
Those new routes are where they know they’re going to build their brand, show they’re thought leaders, develop leads/sales.
Of course, you take the plunge and visit their beautiful island in the sun – their website – and it’s a freakin nightmare.
According to Gomez research, the Web 1.0 website does everything but deliver:
- 75% couldn’t find the information they were seeking
- 48% abandoned sites because they were sluggish, contained less than complete information
- 47% were left with a negative perception of the company
- 42% were likely to discuss the problem with friends or online
What happened?
Heck, a lotta’ folks come in one door, run out the other without unpacking for some basic reasons.

In ‘n Out – Sluggish site, errors/broken links and making it difficult/impossible for people to find information, assistance that they need immediately are the most common problems for people abandoning a web site and searching elsewhere for the product/service they want. The most successful sites are simple, straightforward designed to appeal to the visitor rather than be showcases for web designers/communications people. Form should follow function.

What happened?
It’s a beautiful site…your boss likes it, your significant other likes it, you love it!
Unfortunately, it lacks usability and useable information. Usability is meeting the customers’ needs…not yours.
Folks today are unbelievably impatient, intolerant. They expect to find what they’re looking for NOW!
And they expect to do it without a lot of obstacles, hassles, hurdles. When the site doesn’t meet their needs, they leave in the tap of a key.


Most of the time, it’s the little things that turn them off, prove to them they need to leave you for a better, more friendly island.

Looks Good to You
Cripes, you check it out, have folks on your team check it out and there’s absolutely nothing wrong.
Wait a minute.
You check it out. Your people check it out. Nothing wrong.
It’s all natural…logical…see?
It’s not your site’s problem…it’s the “outsider’s.”
He/she should move around your website, your island the right way.
The problem is, a website is just software…software that doesn’t offer the visitor manuals, any training.
It has to be intuitive.
Not to the people closest to the site but to folks who just drop in outta’ the sky.
Whether people are on your site to shop or for information/assistance, Nielsen has found people abandon sites for a number of reasons including:

  • Wanted to comparison shop - 37%
  • Were looking for other customer feedback/inputs - 36%
  • Needed company, product, application information immediately - 27%
  • Wanted to shop offline or through a distributor - 26%
  • Couldn’t find where to buy - 24%
  • Couldn’t find assistance in making the proper selection - 23%
  • Couldn’t find customer support - 22%
  • Security concerns - 21%

Business websites – B2B or B2C – shouldn’t be terribly complicated.
Folks visit them to research…something.

Online/Offline – Consumers today seldom simply walk into a store and buy a product. They research online, buy online or in the store and increasingly, double-check just prior to the purchase using their smartphone for available coupons or to ensure they’re getting the best value available.

If we want to be entertained, we’ll visit YouTube or turn on our Roku box.
Making the website overly complicated, overly beautiful doesn’t improve the trip.
Hugo will simply look around and say, “Dude!”
People want the basics first, and they want them fast.

Bring Outside Info In – Today’s consumer is exceptionally savvy about finding his/her way around the web when they are researching a product or service. If your ratings/reviews are all “extremely disappointing,” perhaps it is best to improve the product/service rather than hide the information. No one has 100% acceptance, so consider only listing the ratings, reviews that are more positive but be aware that the minor negatives add to your credibility and may keep people from shopping elsewhere.

You’ll probably get a little push back from your boss when you suggest putting up ratings, reviews, product comparisons but you have to remember, that information is out there.

Island in the Sun
It’s your website, your island they’re visiting, so you this is your chance to interpret the product comparisons…the right way.
Rather than “impartial” third-party ratings/reviews, set up a user forum.
It can serve two purposes:
- Provide you with a great location to get customer inputs on where improvements, enhancements can be made
- Gives customers a place where they can discuss problems, issues, solutions
And it gives the company a place to show it understands, listens to people’s wants/needs. It enhances your credibility.
Once the basics are met, the company can move into other information areas people want to tap into to strengthen their relationship with you.

In the Perfect Site – For any number of reasons, including the time/expense and personal quirks, no website is 100% perfect in everyone’s eyes. However, there is general agreement on the key and secondary information/materials consumers want/need.

What is shortsighted on many websites is how difficult the company makes it to find information and to “talk” with someone to get assistance.

Hello ???? – Whether it’s a member of the media or a customer who needs a little assistance, it is difficult in many instances for a website visitor to quickly, easily find names, phone numbers, email addresses of people who have the answers and information.

“Liking,” Tweeting are a lot different from talking/helping.
Media people constantly hit huge air pockets when they want product information, images, an interview.
Visit the press portion of the website and you’ll find the published releases but the name, email address, phone number of someone who can help you right now?
Sorry, fill out the form…we’ll get around to you!
Publicists should be at least as strong as Hurley and say, “Let's look death in the face and say, ‘Whatever man.’.”
The most gaping hole in most websites is the place for customers to come together to get support, assistance so they can survive with the product or service they bought from you.

Survival Kit – It would be great if every product/service had a survival kit with it so when you encountered a problem, you simply pop open the can and you would be saved…it just doesn’t happen.

One of the best things you can do is make your website a welcome haven where people come again and again to share information, ideas, work-arounds, applications.
Why should “We Hate XYZ” sites have all the travelers?
Help ‘Em
No not just an automated help desk but a customer discussion board, a forum, a place where people can go to tell others what a great product/service you have and how they’re using it.

According to Forrester Research, the average live agent customer support transaction costs $25 but the average cost of a customer-driven web solution is only $.03.
Actually, it can make you money if it convinces website visitors that the company cares about, assists, works with its customers to ensure they’re satisfied with the product/service.
The self-service, customer-helping-customer approach solves the very specific and basic set of queries/issues.
It also gives the company the opportunity do what they need to do today…run their business in realtime.
The information enables you to understand your most valuable customers and gives you a roadmap for acquiring more like them.
Business Video
While it’s one of the most popular sites on the web, it’s surprising that only a few really smart companies haven’t followed YouTube’s lead and added video segments.
Most communications people are probably reluctant because obviously they want a Hollywood budget to produce their masterpiece.
Again, Hugo said, “Dude!”
It isn’t that tough or that expensive. It doesn’t have to be as polished or costly as your in-flight movie.
According to Pew, 62% of online users watched online video. They found 58% of the folks watched online product demos, watched customer videos.
All you have to do is get started.
You know, decide it’s time to personalize the company, product, people.
There are a bunch of good, inexpensive cameras out there to choose from. Add automated software like muvee’s automated video production software and in minutes you can turn the stuff you shoot into a great video that can be instantly posted on your website.
Tell ‘em in Pictures – Low-cost, high-performance cameras and smartphones are turning almost everyone into a videographer. Whether it’s bundled with the device or downloaded from the Web, feature-rich software makes it possible for almost anyone to automatically edit and post produce their product intro, demo, application piece and quickly post them to the web.

Video production is so popular that by this summer, a number of Android tablets will have automated movie production software bundled or available.
Imagine you can really use your on-the-go device for business by making a never-ending stream of business videos for your website.
That should convince your boss you’ve just gotta’ have one!
Shoot/produce applications like these are so inexpensive, so easy to use that small- to medium- sized businesses are finding that adding video to the website grabs, holds, convinces people better than all the slick photos/words they could craft.
Imperfections in the video humanize them, add credibility.
The more videos – yours, customers – the better.
Who knows your website might finally become a visitor destination instead of something they fly over.

Or, you can do nothing with your website and repeat Desmond’s words, “See you in another life, brother.”

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