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FutureNow Article
Thursday, Mar. 27, 2008

Why Free Web Tools Make Customers Want to BUY NOW

By Melissa Burdon
March 27th, 2008

Makeup is like deodorant to me. I would rather not think about it — ever — and I only wear it because I have to.

I don’t know makeup brands or colors, and I don’t care enough to research what makeup would be right for me. Usually, my need for makeup only results in a purchase if a friend recommends something specific, or when I run out of an essential piece, like mascara. Then I’m found sprinting to the local pharmacy to pick one that looks decent.

How do you look for people who aren’t looking for your product? Anticipate their need.

Search engine marketing is a great platform for gaining the attention of those who already have some kind of motivation, need or want for a particular solution. It’s much more difficult to get the attention of people who don’t currently need or want whatever it is you sell.

Historically, the most common forms of online marketing tactics used to gain the attention of potential customers have been pay-per-click advertising, banner ads and email marketing. But today’s customers are ignoring unwanted marketing efforts, so our tactics can easily fall flat. In order to get a higher return on investment, marketers need to find new ways to speak to customers and help them figure out what they want.

How do you speak to potential customers when they aren’t listening? Find out when and where they’re listening and provide an experience that fuels demand for your solution.

Social networking sites are growing by the second and people are looking for more interactivity and experiences online. TAAZ.com captured my attention by first offering me an interactive experience.

First, I uploaded a picture of myself without makeup:

Then I proceeded to add different eye shadows, lip liners, mascaras, etc. Each shade or style that I chose was a real product color and brand. The quality of the widget impressed me, so I spent a good deal of time uploading the image of myself and messing around with different styles and colors.

Apparently, I was going for the Cindy Lauper look!

Not a bad look, I know, but I digress. ;)

Eventually, I played around with some shades I would have never even thought of purchasing and realised that some of them actually didn’t look too bad on me. Not only could I interact with different colors and brands of makeup, I could actually see what they looked like on me without ever trying it on.

There are some things TAAZ still needs to work on. The hair portion of the widget doesn’t look as real as the makeup portion. They don’t yet offer hair dyes relating to the color of hair you choose to place on your image.

I could go on, but suffice it to say, the look I ended up with…

…didn’t exactly measure up to their best makeovers. Still, this is a smart way to attract ad dollars from cosmetics brands like Revlon (pictured) and Sephora (which currently has banners on the site).

There’s also a great opportunity here to push the business model further. For instance, TAAZ could create a Facebook widget so users could share their makeovers amongst friends. They could get one of their advertisers to sponsor a “best makeover” competition. You get the idea.

In case you haven’t heard us talk about “The ROI of Free,” here’s what we mean: If you want to gain the attention of potential customers who aren’t actively searching for the solutions you offer, don’t just tell them about your solution, give them a way to interact without having to commit to anything. Bring the visitor into the experience and let the experience sell itself.

What are some interactive marketing examples you’ve seen have turned you into a sale or lead?

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Comments (9)

  1. Melissa, you look your best in your bio picture. Don’t go with the new look.

  2. Great article! I really enjoy reading it and hope to implement more of the free offerings across my network of websites. Thanks!

  3. Taaz.com was started by computer scientists at UC San Diego after they came up with the algorithms that make that lip gloss look realistic. You can check out a 2 minute video demo of Taaz.com that I made as a part of my communications job at UC San Diego.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGE2zGQypbA

  4. I am taaz obsessed!

  5. The hairstyles on Taaz can be made to look good with a little bit of work. I did 50 hairstyles on Halle Berry and most of them look pretty darn close to real.

    http://fantaaztic.blogspot.com/

  6. Wow taaz sounds amazing. Going ot give it a try.

  7. Your original pic is the best of the 3, but it looks like a fun tool anyway.

  8. and hope the free look good with a little bit of work. I did 50 hairstyles on Halle offerings across to implement more of

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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