Wednesday, February 26, 2014

“What’s in it for me?”

Writing Compelling Website Copy

By Sue O’Shea - Director, Integrated Insight

Often times my “go-to” resource for all things website is Smashing Magazine, the online magazine for professional website designers and developers. In their article “A Quick Course on Effective Website Copywriting,” the author, Peep Laja, reminds copywriters that “the goal of Web copy (and ideally your website in general) is to get people to do something—to sign up, make a purchase, or something similar.”

Approaching copy from the “What’s in it for me?” viewpoint – the benefit visitors will receive by taking action - helps keep copy focused on the end goal. Visitors come for information and solutions to their problems. Don’t make it hard for them to find by using unnecessary lines of descriptive or flowery copy to describe your product or service. Another land mine, especially for organizations offering professional services, can be going on too long about your company, its history, and the many awards its won – all your readers really care about is how you can help them. Retail sites are discovering that giving consumers a reason to come to their sites other than to shop can create sales. By adding copy and content that offers advice on using a product, the best styles for your body type, or answers to common problems will enhance your shoppers experience and increase the odds of purchasing and returning again and again.

Another practice I try to employ is the avoidance of industry jargon and “insider terms.” It can confuse readers and make them work too hard to understand what you’re trying to communicate. I suggest asking a co-worker to act as the “jargon police” to keep the copy as lingo free as possible. Keep it simple, straight forward, and specific.

Your Home Page is your first impression. Therefore it is important it include your company’s value proposition – the primary reason a customer should buy from you.  Smashing Magazine indicates that there is no one right way to go about it, but suggests you start with the following formula and work from there:

  • Headline: What is the end-benefit you’re offering, in one short sentence. The Attention grabber.
  • Sub-headline or a two-to-three sentence paragraph: A specific explanation of what you do/offer, for whom, and why is it useful.
  • Bullet points: List the key benefits or features, but focus mostly on the benefits.
The product page is where you sell the value of your product and where the user takes action (adds to cart, signs up, makes a purchase, etc.). This is the place to drive home the benefits of your product and how your product or service will solve the issue at hand. There is always the question of how much information is too much, but an IDC (International Data Corporation) study showed that 50% of the uncompleted purchases were due to lack of information. Include as much of the product information as practical, and be sure to have a strong call to action. Studies have shown website visitors want to be led through the process, therefore the call to action must be clear and compelling. The article “Five Copywriting Errors That Can Ruin A Company’sWebsite” offers these examples:

  •  “Order now to save 15%,”
  • “Get your artist’s rendering within 24 hours,”
  • “Learn the 5 secrets to permanent weight loss.”
Call to action is further strengthened with testimonials (it worked!), credibility statements (it’s reliable!), high value (it’s worth having!) and urgency (it’s now or never!). It is recommended that your site have a primary and secondary call to action such as a down loadable white paper or case study. A potential client may not be ready to order, but they may be willing to learn more. Today’s white paper could be tomorrow’s conversion.

The above is only a short primer on compelling website copy. The two articles I referenced provide additional outlines and tips to help along the way. To quote Smashing Magazine’s contributor Peep Laja, “The best Web copy is not the one that uses sophisticated persuasion and mind manipulation techniques. The best copy provides full information about the product, its benefits, and makes it clear whether it’s the right one for the user.”

Monday, February 17, 2014

Customer Service and Stereotyping

By Bennett Parks -  Research Associate, Integrated Insight

I recently had a disappointing, albeit somewhat expected experience at a jewelry store.  I bought a charm bracelet online for my girlfriend for Christmas, and not a cheap one.  (Hello Pandora!)  We needed to exchange the bracelet for a slightly longer one.  Being 21 years old and walking into a jewelry store, I feared the experience I would probably have.  We walked inside and were basically ignored by the saleswoman behind the counter.  About 10 seconds later, a gentleman in his mid-40’s walked in and she instantly looked up and began interacting with him.  Disappointing?  Yes.  Expected? Sadly, yes. 

We waited for a good five minutes before another saleswoman came over to help us. She was extremely friendly and kind, but was also closer to our age than the first saleswoman.  I overheard the gentleman that came in after us being helped.  He didn’t purchase anything beforehand, nor did he purchase anything during his brief stint in the store.  Granted, we didn’t purchase anything while we were in the store, but I did make a fairly large purchase online.  My point is, just because someone young walks in to a nicer store or restaurant doesn’t automatically mean they are going to misbehave, or be cheap, or waste the time of the staff.  I understand why many salespeople have this attitude about young people, because many in my generation do behave like the stereotype.  But that doesn’t excuse the stereotyping behavior of service personnel.

It’s this lack of customer service and respect for all customers driving many to online shopping.  Why bother going to a store when you have the convenience of shopping from your computer where the search bar offers more customer service than the staff in a physical store?!  Being a former valet manager at Disney, I know good customer service and I expect it anywhere I might spend money.  I used to train my valet staff to treat every guest with the best customer service possible, partly because it was Disney but also because it’s the golden rule “treat others the way you want to be treated” and experience shows it makes great business sense.  It is well documented that companies with strong customer service capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competition.  According to Lee Resource Institute, about ninety percent of unhappy customers will choose to not do business with you again and unhappy customers are twice as likely to tell others about their experience as compared to a happy customer.  Further, attracting a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an existing one. (Peppers and Rodgers 2009 Guest Customer experience monitor)  A staff that is considerate and respectful is more likely to have kind and respectful customers.  You get what you give. 

Granted I’m young, but I think it’s just good business sense to treat each person who walks in your store like you would want to be treated.  Young adults are very quick to jump on social media and share about their good or bad experience.  Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Don’t judge a customer by their age.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

Taking the Sting Out of Surge Pricing

An Uber Experience

By Kirsten Snyder - Director, Integrated Insight

With two kids under the age of two, I don’t really get out much.  However, when my husband and I were invited to the Delta GRAMMY party featuring Lorde, I immediately began to prepare for the evening.  Since the party required us to drive up to Hollywood from Long Beach during rush hour, we decided to Uber it.  For those of you not familiar with Uber, it’s an app-based car service with offerings that range from affordable everyday cars to high-end luxury cars.

When we told people that we took Uber to the party, it immediately sparked conversation about their controversial pricing model – as they call it surge pricing.  It is not a new concept – just a new term for demand based pricing.  If you Google “Uber surge pricing,” you will get a number of articles arguing both for and against the practice.  Supporters say it is common, and they compare it to airline pricing, while critics argue it is strictly price gouging. 

Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, argues that the objective of surge pricing is to provide more supply -- higher fares incent drivers to get or stay on the road -- rather than to strictly maximize revenue.  In general, I don’t disagree with the pricing philosophy, and believe the Uber model provides customers with a more efficient and reliable service, which is often lacking in the traditional taxi industry.  The problem I have with Uber’s model is it doesn’t allow you to plan your trip based on pricing.  Although airfare changes often, once you book your ticket it doesn’t change, so if you want to fly on the Sunday after Thanksgiving you know that it will cost 50% more than the next Tuesday.  If you are planning to use Uber round trip, it could cost you $50 on the way there and $150 on the way home, but you won’t know the return price until you request the car.  Even if you wanted to request it in advance, you can’t.    Kalanick’s response to the critics is if you don’t like the price, then take a taxi.  But how do you know if you like the price until you actually know the price?

There are a couple relatively simple ways for Uber to offer surge pricing while developing goodwill with their customers.  The simplest solution would be for Uber to offer a round trip pricing guarantee, where you prepay for your return trip as long as it happens within the same day or night.  By getting customers to pay for a return trip in advance, Uber can also see how much demand to expect later that day which could help better align their supply and pricing.

Uber has created a unique business model that provides a great service.  As they continue to grow, creating pricing strategies that encourage use and positive word of mouth will likely improve performance even more.