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FutureNow Article
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2008

Does Your Website “Show-up and Throw-up”?

By Jeff Sexton
January 22nd, 2008

The nauseating sales guyWe laugh when we see parodies of bad behavior in marketing and sales, but have you really thought about how NOT to do this with your web copy?

If a sales person avoids the dreaded “show-up and throw-up” technique by engaging in honest conversation and asking intelligent questions while answering yours in a respectful manner, then how is your Web copy supposed to be a substitute for that?

It’s as simple as ABC — and, no, I don’t mean “Always Be Closing”…

A) Hire a great copywriter or become one yourself.

B) Blueprint/plan persona-based copy.

C) Write persuasive hyperlinks that fit into your plan/blueprint.

Personas let you see your customers real. And that allows you to write to them instead of writing at them, which is huge. But more importantly, personas let you hear the other side of the conversation by giving you insights into your customers’ motivations — and that enables you to anticipate your visitors questions, which is where embedded links come in.

Every click a visitor takes represents a question they are asking you (or possibly a response to a prodding question your copy has raised). By anticipating the questions visitors are most likely to have, a smart copywriter can use embedded hyperlinks to model the interactive flow of a conversation. Your copy talks, then your visitors talk by clicking on the links most relevant to them. The more often a visitor clicks on a link and feels she’s been heard, the more she has her expectations met and questions answered, the more her website visit resembles honest dialog. And that’s effective selling.

Conversely, the more your website fails to answer — or even to acknowledge — visitor questions, the more your Web copy resembles the “show-up and throw-up” doofus in this video:

Does your copy speak to your visitors or are you just vomiting up a canned sales pitch? Are you anticipating visitor questions and concerns with your hyperlinks or are you expecting them to respond to ridiculous questions (“What will it take to put you in a new car today?”)?

Add Your Comments

Comments (19)

  1. Ohhh! Jeff you were so close and you missed it. The best way to deploy selling techniques on your website (“…engaging in honest conversation and asking intelligent questions while answering yours in a respectful manner”) is not better web copy. It is by actually having a 1-to-1 multi-step e-interaction with your prospective customer. These automated marketing tools are the only way to build a relationship online and they are inexpensive to deploy.

    I give you an “A” for strategy and a “C” for tactics.

  2. Brock,
    I’m confused as to what qualifies you to comment on this topic. Your step by step process on your website stops me at the first step because your form wont even take my information!
    You should test your steps first before promoting “1-to-1 multi-step e-interaction with your prospective customers”.

  3. Jeff,

    I am getting bit confused by following line so just want to clarify
    You wrote:
    “By anticipating the questions visitors are most likely to have, a smart copywriter can use embedded hyperlinks to model the interactive flow of a conversation.”

    My understanding:
    Do you mean that say visitor is thinking about “How secure is website to shop?” and you have provided the link “Secure Shopping” and if User thinking “Is it quality product” You might provide a link to some kind of proof or some award or anything which answers this question.

    But at same time number of links should not be many if I am not wrong to stop visitor distracting and gone forever. Or do you think all these links which answers visitors questions from final product pages should result in small popup window instead of taking visitor to new page.

    Any clarifications on this would be great. Sorry if question seems very basic but thats form where everybody starts. I am just new to web world and learning step by step. Hope you will not mind stupid questions.

  4. Kyle,
    Ya gotta love the Web. Personally I think Web 2.0 is becoming a great force for honesty and transparency. And, yes, you caught me jumping the gun before we went public with our new automated website/blog.

    I appreciate your response and I would sincerely appreciate your comments on our blog and website. Our market is B2B and our mission is practical strategies for demand creation and prospect development. We WILL have an interactive “test drive” in the V1.0 Website.

    If you or other GrokDotCom community members would like to give us some honest critiques, please send me your email address at bbutler@moredemand.com or send me a invitation to join your LinkedIn network. We launch in two weeks.

    Lastly, there has been a significant amount of new thought leadership around interactive marketing. I believe everyone agrees that your website is a 1-to-1 dialog with your customer. Most however are not aware that there are inexpensive tools to make that dialog dynamic and personal. I will post a list of reference materials on my site that support my position.

    Thanks again Kyle. Your comment was appropriate.
    Brock Butler bbutler@moredemand.com

  5. Brock,

    If I may offer the first (second?) critique, since you asked… You’re blatantly shilling your own product on our blog without offering any serious criticism of Jeff’s ideas: “The best way to deploy selling techniques on your website…is by actually having a 1-to-1 multi-step e-interaction with your prospective customer.”

    Pardon my confusion, but you’re saying that can’t be done with words, and that it must be done instead with technology (or whatever “a 1-to-1 multi-step e-interaction” is)?

    Frankly, I spent about one minute on your site and found it to be so full of 90′s-style “e-business” jargon that I closed the tab and went on about my day. That was yesterday. Now I see this new comment of yours and, here you are, bright and early, blatantly pitching our readers when I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you comment on GrokDotCom before yesterday (please correct me if I’m wrong).

    If that’s not “show-up and throw-up,” I’m afraid I don’t know what is.

    -Editor, GrokDotCom

  6. Laidies Scarves,

    Some of your examples are better served through Point of Action assurances and Icons than embedded links, but, yes, you are on the right track. For instance, the “How secure is this Website” question normally comes up as the visitor is about to add something to their cart or check-out. At that point, a hacker-safe and encryption logo will positively effect conversion precisely because those things answer an easily anticipated question: “How secure is this site?” That’s why they are best used (or re-used) at the Point of Action.

    As for “Is this a quality product,” I’d say that this question is too general. You need to figure out how your particular customer would phrase the question for your specific product. Also, think in terms of benefits. So, “Is this a quality product” might become, “Will this bath towel stay soft after repeated washings?”

    But again, you are directionally correct. If you’ve created a persona and, during your imaginatively constructed conversations, you can hear that persona expressing a concern about quality, then you will need to acknowledge that concern and answer it. Embedding a link at the point of concern both allows the visitor to “ask” that question and for you to take her to copy that effectively answers it.

    Depending on whether quality is part of your product’s Unique Value Proposition or if it is merely a point of concern for your visitor, you will phrase your link differently and plan slightly different buying paths for them (as you can see, architecting persuasive paths and scenarios takes some planning), but in either case you WILL want to provide an answer (or at least a link to an answer) to that question AT the point that the visitor is asking it.

    As far as the number of embedded links is concerned, it is possible to have too many links, but most people worry about that problem well before the point at which it should be a concern. For the most part, task oriented visitors are really good at seeing the links that are relevant to their goals and concerns while ignoring or screening out the rest.

    There is a school of thought which advises limiting the links on a page to only those actions which you want visitors to take. While I have seen this technique work to prod an ALREADY PERSUADED visitor into completing the conversion process, I have never seen this work earlier in the sales funnel. Aggressive closing techniques only work through the psychic pressure applied by the salesperson. Online there is no psychic pressure. Attempting to “push” people further into your sales funnel faster than they want to go will just cause them to leave. The goal is to make your Website behave like an effective salesperson rather than an over-aggressive sales schmuck.

    Present visitors with the information they need to confidently take the action you want them to take, and you’ll have much greater success in getting them to take that action – aka converting them.

    There’s lots of great info and resources on the blog that go into this in more detail if you search for posts by subject mater. Also consider buying a copy of Waiting for Your Cat to Bark.

    -Jeff

  7. Robert,
    Thank you for your honest criticism. I think controversy is a good thing.

    I may be guilty of being slow to eat my own dog food. But, I am not shilling a product – I am shilling ideas. I’m surprised multi-channel, multi-step interactive marketing is a new concept to the group. It’s only been around for ten years.

    Just for kicks, read a book that is not in your narrow area of expertise. Start with Christopher Ryan, “High Performance Interactive Marketing”.

    Or, have I stumbled into a private party that only welcomes insiders in your area of expertise.

    I welcome you to challenge any and all ideas presented by myself and my associates. Please contact me offline and I will send you the link.

    (Man, they weren’t kidding when they said the blog world was brutal!)

  8. [...] Bloggers Digest 1/25/08 Posted January 25, 2008 by Linda Bustos / var addthis_pub = ‘hotwheel’; Thought we’d kick this week off with a hilarious video I came across via GrokDotCom: [...]

  9. Jeff Sexton, excellent post. You know, the older I get the more I realize how little I know.

    I think as a participant in a I fell into a blog argument and NOW how do I get out of it gracefully. The reward here is not worth the fight, lets all have a good weekend.

  10. [...] Does Your Website “Show-up and Throw-up”? [...]

  11. [...] Brothers Eisenberg have a great little piece on how to avoid this phenomena at GrokDotCom (and their site should definitely go into your RSS [...]

  12. Quick thought – not to beat a dead horse – but what seemed to get lost here is what Brock originally said:

    “The best way to deploy selling techniques on your website… is not better web copy.”

    That’s the most troubling point. I’m sure everyone’s checked out http://www.moredemand.com now, so you already know that the site uses copy that would set a computer on fire if you ran a Flesch score on it (polysyllabics only work when you mix them in with a bunch of monos – whether you’re B2B or B2C). Brock seems to have done what too many companies do on the Web: focus entirely on tools & selling the product/service and forget about the words.

    Simply: It takes great tools AND great messaging/online content to make a Web site work today – that is, to make it work for the user today.

    Speaking of books, Brock, pick up “Don’t Make Me Think” (Krug) – it’ll help. And hire a Web copywriter. Oh, and fix the robot ‘cos it’s still not working. :)

  13. That horse we are beating is not only dead – it is starting to smell.

    To all the smart, hard working copywriters out there; I sincerely apologize for implying that your persuasive word-crafting is not important. That is not what I meant.

    May I try again?

    Your customer sees one electronic face for your company, regardless of channel. If you want that face to reach out and build a relationship with your prospective client, which is more important – a better sales presentation or better listening?

    My proposition is that jeff was close to the optimum answer, but he missed it because he was at that time uninformed of new web capabilities and new stratgies for building relationships on the web.

    I’ve promised Jeff a letter to my grandmother explaining interactive 1-to-1 marketing. Please accept my apology and let me get busy crafting that letter so we can all get on the same page.

    Brock

  14. The horse might be dead, but for marketers, the journey always continues on, even if that means walking barefoot…There is a place on the web for innovation, but just because it’s new doesn’t make it better. I’d like to add to the mix a question to Brock: What makes you think your customers WANT a relationship with you? Maybe I just want relevant information, organized in a way I can find what I need, before I decide to take up with you. Or maybe I just want to buy something fast and easy. Course I’m just an old-fashioned kinda gal, not interested in having a “relations” with every Tom, Dick, or Harriet on the web. Yeah, the blog world is brutal, but you did set the tone with your ‘mine is bigger’ post.

  15. Yes, I did set the tone. And I am paying the piper. Regardless of your virtue, if you are buying a high-dollar complex business solution, it is ALL about relationships. In my world of B2B Business Solution Providers, if you don’t build relationships and add value to your buyer then you are a commodity.

    If you think about it, even if we are buying a commodity, we have an emotional response based on how easy it is to do business with that vendor. I have a warm and fuzzy feeling for Amazon Books. I am a book junkie and they always help me buy more books than thought I needed. How? 1-to-1 Interactive Marketing Technology. I have a relationship with them. They have all my secure information and I can buy $100 in books in one minute flat. Isn’t that a good thing?

    Guys you are not going to win this argument. It is always better to listen to your customer and to align with his wishes and agenda. By doing so, he will form a positive emotional and intellectual impression of you and your company. This is called a relationship.

    There is currently no limit to the interaction we can model electronically. The only limit is our mind. Just because we wield the tool in a clumsy fashion doesn’t mean the tool is blunt. It just means we have to sharpen our thinking.

    So, what is the key to 1-to-1 Interactive Marketing? You are! The Persuasive Architecture that Jeff espouses is solid thinking just waiting for an enabling technology. The dynamic dialog contained in each interactive step will make the difference between clumsy off-putting interactions and warm inviting and respectful customer-oriented exchanges.

    Our new mission is to take complex technology and apply it in practical, affordable and effective ways. We are going to give away all our best thinking via our blog, and we are going to attempt to deploy best-practices interactive marketing on our website. We are will be relying on guidance from the Eisenberg brothers to make it persuasive. (See, I’m not a complete idiot) I will be severely disappointed if I don’t get a lot of feedback and constructive suggestions from this community.

    Besides, everyone knows it’s not how big it is, it’s what you do with it.

    Brock

  16. Amazon is an interesting case. I had the relationship you describe with them also. But they are now changing the relationship. Now when I arrive at the website, I see other items that I’m not interested in — watches, jewelry, and so on. They may be making more money, but they are spoiling our relationship and it doesn’t feel 1-to-1 any more. Perhaps there are different rules for different sizes…

  17. Brock, You say Persuasion Architecture is “just waiting for an enabling technology.” I think your intentions are good but there is nothing in interactive marketing that hasn’t been planned with Persuasion Architecture before. Persuasion Architecture is not an enabling technology but it is a process for planning, measuring and optimizing all interactive marketing channels. May I recommend that you read more about Persuasion Architecture before you continue to comment? If you contact me directly I’ll be happy to send you a copy of “Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?”

  18. Good post – Does Your Website “Show-up and Throw-up”?

  19. awesome. thank you for share.

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Jeff is a Persuasion Architect, Web copywriter, blogger, and instructor of FutureNow's Persuasive Online Copywriting workshop. Follow Jeff Sexton on twitter

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