While the conference was a couple weeks ago, the information is still very fresh and (slowly) making its way from my notebook to your screen. The presentation by Bryan Eisenberg of FutureNow (also a ClickZ columnist) focused on site conversion and how we need to look at the whole encounter a visitor has with our website, as each click they make is a micro-conversion to the final action we wish them to take, be it to purchase, subscribe, download, request sales follow-up, etc. The way to make it happen is with Personas.
Bryan started off stating that it used to be easy to get response, but no longer. Marketers can not rely on just generating awareness, they also need to create interaction.
To do this, you can’t profitably push everyone into the same interaction bucket, you need to communicate via customer segments, and get away from a push to a pull strategy.
The psychology of the web is that 1) everybody loves to buy but nobody likes to be pushed; 2) basic consumer psychology hasn’t changed, just the media; 3) people use the web taking a series of actions. Hence the need to focus on conversion in each step.
The bad news is that conversion rates are lowering, from 3.2% in 2002 to 2.6% in 2004. What marketers need to grasp is that “for you to achieve your goals, your visitor must achieve their goals first.”
I titled this post “Clicks are people, too”, because this was one of the expressions he used that encapsulates the lense from which we need to view clicks on a site (or from an email) — there is a person behind each click who is evaluating and making decisions, based on what is presented on each page. Bryan shared the stats that approximately 10% of visitors leave from the first page of your site, 55% off the first 2 pages, and 16.5% leave from the second or third pages. “Either the page has the links to the content the user wants or the content they want” and if not, they leave.
At this point he got more directly into usability and site design, “There are 2 types of links: calls to action and points of resolution” (i.e. leading to the desired content). Good links = good ‘scent’. Scent can be planned through the building of sample personas representing the major segments of people visiting your site.
He then went on to describe the theory (I couldn’t find a good link) that there are really only 12 types of buyers, based on the familiar concept from personality identifiers that there are 4 types of people, based on how they gather information and make decisions, and add on top of that where they are in the purchase cycle you end up with 12. This becomes the basis for the personas you create for your site. For illustration, a couple of the personas examples he used were “Natalie Golddigger” and “David Commonsense”. Based on how they make decisions they will click on different links or need more or less information in order to make a purchase. For example, the type of customer who is more impulsive and less inclined to spend a lot of time researching (‘toooo boring darling’), arrives at a site, e.g. Dell, and wants to buy a notebook without having done any research. Well a link that says “Learn More” sounds dull and time-consuming, whereas a button that reads “Help me choose” is much more appealing and likely to lead this person on to a purchase and achieve their goal.
Bryan used TigerDirect as an example of a company that really helps their visitors find what they are looking for no matter where they came in from. There was a long but good example comparing other sites searching for a specific type of remote when as a user you’re not even sure what it’s called.
There are many tips in his book, and here are a couple he shared: specifically regarding eye-tracking, he said that when we click ‘submit’ on a page, our eye looks for the result at the very same spot on the page that next appears, and if nothing is there will shift down and to the left (like a carriage return or reading a book)… so watch what you put there and make sure it doesn’t say “cancel”!
Tip #2, repeated later in the day by Tara O’Doherty, is that red is a stop colour, so don’t use it unless you mean ‘stop’.
The amount of work and planning that goes into researching and developing and creating for personas can seem daunting and you may be tempted to give up and stick to building a generic experience. However… my very favourite take-away from this presentation were in Bryan’s closing words addressing the cost of not segmenting your communications, “you can please everyone part of the way or some segments the whole way.”
There was a good question from the audience asking the difference between segmentation and personas. The response was that persona work is to uncover what to say your visitors, whereas segmentation is about where to market to them.
My only request is that the next edition of his book, Call to Action, be set in a larger font [– 7pt type?? where was the print usability guru who chose that?]. Aside from the wee type it’s full of practical tips and examples in bite size sections.