The more experience I have with web optimization, the more critical I become in my day-to-day interactions with websites. I am a true fan and believer of livingsocial.com. My purchase of more than one of the advertised daily deals has made me a repeat customer of the associated business offering the deal coupon. However, I wish that livingsocial.com would give their customers an opportunity to rate their experiences with the businesses offering coupons on their site, because I would have marked my experience with Fandango.com as less than satisfactory.
Some time ago, livingsocial.com featured a tantalizing offer for Fandango.com – spend 9 bucks and get two movie tickets. Now, any of you who have been to a movie recently know the cost of a night out at the movies can be up to $12 a ticket! In short, this was a sweet deal I couldn’t pass up. Excitedly, I booked my slot! However, frustration kicked in when I went to Fandango.com to redeem my deal. Now, I am all for the idea behind Fandango’s website – search for movies in your area, find a movie that interests you, pick your movie time, print your ticket and show up. No waiting in lines necessary. In an instant gratification world, this is a brilliant format… if and when the site is working.
Anytime I have been on Fandango.com, I experience unusually long wait times, seemingly broken links and questionable call to action buttons. When I enter my zip code in the search box and hit the call to action button, I expect to see the search results almost simultaneously. I mean, aren’t I here to avoid the waiting game?! Nevertheless, every time I do this, there is an inopportune amount of wait time before the search results appear. To make matters worse, the site gives no indication that my search results are being formulated, and I often wonder if the button is broken. Fortunately for Fandango, even though my motivations when on a site such as theirs are skewed toward NT-SP (fast-paced) tendencies by the very nature of the site (skip the lines), I’m not a natural competitive or spontaneous personality type, and I usually manage to wait around long enough to realize that the results were being processed.
Remember that Persuasion Architecture teaches us a visitor will have a preferred behavior pattern (mine is NF – slow-paced, and favoring emotional content), the product or service, company, brand, and buying situation also have a dominant “personality” associated with them (Fandango’s business premise capitalizes on the convenience of a fast-paced experience), and how these factors interact and pull your visitor away from their natural behaviors ultimately is what you need to account for on your site. Thus you can begin to see why it’s a serious issue to say that even I (who naturally prefers a slower paced purchase) was tempted to leave the Fandango site more than once and just spend full price on a movie! Why on earth is Fandango even taking this risk? If Fandango could lose me, there are undoubtedly plenty of natural NTs and SPs giving up and going elsewhere!
Let this be a lesson to Fandango.com and similar sites out there: understand that customers come to a site such as yours under the premise of not having to wait, and before you attempt to do online marketing driving potential buyers to your site, first ensure the site meets the appropriate baseline usability expectations. Usability can be considered a primer to good optimization, and basically involves determining if prospects can move from step 1, all the way to the final action you want them to take on your site, without encountering any stumbling blocks that hinder them from making a purchase or completing that lead form. When we start work with a client on one of our OnTarget subscriptions, we’re looking to clean up any of these kinds of issues that are lingering on the site before we even get on with the business of conversion barriers, much less tackle the issue of persuasive momentum.
And what about sites that advertise for them or feature their offers? Don’t overlook the guilt-by-association factor your mother always warned you of: Because of my negative experience with Fandango.com, I lost a little respect for livingsocial.com. That’s two businesses out there that could potentially lose my business. The more touch points a customer interacts with, the more you have a chance to gain their loyalty or lose their business. Perhaps, sites like LivingSocial.com could do some review analysis of the businesses they feature on their site, before they choose to accept their business. Just food for thought in the effort to mold a future of better user experiences for all.