GrokDotCom Archives

GrokDotCom is our slightly irreverent free bi-weekly Online Conversion Rate newsletter. Written from a “Martian perspective,” it covers topics including web design, sales, marketing, copywriting, usability, SEO, relationship marketing and consumer psychology, and much more. You can also check out some of our other favorite resources.



Volume 1: 3/15/2000
WIIFM: Are You Listening?
To help clinch a sale, address the fundamental wants and needs of your customer by answering his or her most pressing question: "What's in it for me?"

How Long Do You Spend Staring At Your Shopping Cart?
Websites could make more money by encouraging their customers to shop, rather than forcing them to stare at their shopping carts.

Volume 2: 5/1/2000
Do You Grok Dot Com? A Martian Perspective On E-Commerce
While technologies may change, people basically remain the same - to succeed on the Internet, merchants must address the needs their customers feel.

What Mom Could Teach You About Your Website
To encourage the fastest-growing segment of the online buying audience to purchase from your website, you will want to address a range of particular needs.

Volume 3: 6/1/2000
Build A Better Tree House For Your Stuff
Maximize your opportunities for success by making the sales process the foundation of your website.

Behind the Scenes: E-commerce Secrets from Hollywood?
Just as the process of making a movie begins with a storyboard, so an effective website design should begin with a comprehensive site map.

Volume 4: 6/15/2000
Who’s REALLY Running Your Store?
Avante-garde site design from cutting-edge designers and programmers may be awesome, but it can spell ruin for your business if it gets in the way of your website's ability to meet the needs, desires and capabilities of your prospects.

Hey, It’s Music to MY Ears!
To encourage your customers to buy, and return to buy again, apply the time-tested sales strageties of AIDAS (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action, and Satisfy) to your website.

Volume 5: 7/1/2000
KISS Your Visitors if You Want Them Back
The Big Guys are successful sellers because they have learned the value of designing a website that can be used easily by most people.  Put these Keep - It - Simple - (Stupid) strategies to work for you.

Who Wants to Catch “Viral Marketing”?
It's not a disease; it's word-of-mouth on the web and a powerful tool for increasing your traffic.

Volume 6: 7/15/2000
"Internet Shminternet”?
The Internet may be the most powerful tool ever for bringing buyers and sellers together, but don't get caught up in the myth that it's more than that.

Will They Trust You With Their Privacy?
Simple strategies for overcoming distrust and inspiring your visitors to do business with you.

Volume 7: 8/1/2000
So You Think You Need an In-Site Search Engine?
They might seem like a good idea, but in-site search engines are a waste of time for most users and usually do more harm than good.

Driving Traffic to Your Site: A Little Horse Sense
Don't put your shopping cart before the horse!

Volume 8: 8/15/2000
Are People Getting Stuck In Your GUI?
In designing a "sticky" site, don't let your customers get stuck in your Graphical User Interface.

One Click from Goodbye
Consider the frustrations most basic users face just getting the hang of things even before they get to your site. Doesn't it make you want to give them the red-carpet treatment?

Volume 9: 9/1/2000
I am Grok Grok I am
Ever wonder what Dr. Seuss might have written about shopping on the Internet?

Your Shopping Cart or Your Life!
How would you prefer your customers to spend their time:  buying or staring at their shopping carts?

Volume 10: 9/15/2000
Beyond Usability
Clearing away obstacles only makes a sale possible. You need to do more to make a sale happen.

E-Business the Old Fashioned Way?
Applying the real world principles of Dale Carnegie to ecommerce.

Volume 11: 10/1/2000
Can't Sell That on the Web! Baloney!
You can sell almost ANYTHING on the web if you use the right WORDS!

Would You Trust This Face?
Developing trust on your site is all about your prospect's perception.

Volume 12: 10/15/2000
Marketing is NOT Sales!
Marketing gets you prospects; Sales turns them into buyers.

The Emperor Has No...CLOSE!
If you want to sell MORE, you have to SELL more!

Volume 13: 11/1/2000
Do the 5-Step...And Dance Your Way To Higher Sales !
The key to success on the Internet lies in strategies already proven in the bricks and mortar world.

IGNORE Marketing and INCREASE Your Revenues?
What's more important than how many sales you can close from your traffic?

Volume 14: 11/15/2000
Revisiting the Tortoise and the Hare
Being best is WAY more important than being first.

Halloween Redux - Myths That Scare Away Sales
Don't let unfounded myths about e-commerce get in the way of your success.

Volume 15: 12/1/2000
The Grok's REALLY Brief History of Sales
Time-tested offline sales principles do work online - in fact, you can’t succeed without them.

It’s Time to Go Beyond “Gee Whiz”
Darwin in Cyberspace: become Sales-centered or become extinct!

Volume 16: 12/15/2000
A Commerce Carol
Being a Tale of Visitation by Three Green Spirits.

Volume 17: 1/1/2001
A Commerce Carol Continued
Find out what happens to E. Marketer.

Tickled Pink!
Point your cursor in the direction of three award-winning e-zines. 

Volume 18: 1/15/2001
Yo! It's MRC, Not CRM!
You can't manage a customer relationship if it doesn’t exist in the mind of your customer.

Loyalty Is Priceless
Customer loyalty is not about satisfying them, it is about delighting them.

Volume 19: 2/1/2001
Don't Let That Pendulum Hit You... in the Derriere
Dot-coms may come and go, but do you really think e-commerce isn’t here to stay?

Buying is Not a Rational Decision
To be successful, your site must recognize people buy based on how they FEEL. 

Volume 20: 2/15/2001
P.O.A. - Location Matters
Put critical information where it needs to be: at the Point of Action

Calling all Lemmings: Amazon, the Leader in Pop-Ups??
Just don't do it! Sheesh! 

Volume 21: 3/1/2001
A GROK Case Study: MagMall
Featuring the shopping process and how to implement the 5-Steps of sales.

Keep Them From Bailin'
Strategies that reassure your customers and keep them in the online sales process. 

Volume 22: 3/15/2001
Clueless Pundits Say the Darndest Things
Sorry, but sex sites have nothing to teach mainstream e-commerce about sales.

Appeal to Emotion
You speak to the needs your customers feel by focusing on benefits, not features. 

Volume 23: 4/1/2001
A GROK Case Study: Total Gym
A Single, Simple, FREE Sales Process Change Increased Sales 39%!

Measuring Performance, Creating Success
Calculation tools will help you target trouble spots plus track the results of your improvement efforts. 

Volume 24: 4/15/2001
See It. Gotta Have It
Impulse buying and e-commerce rarely go hand-in-hand.

Establishing Credibility
Soothe your customers' fears about doing business with you online. 

Volume 25: 5/1/2001
A GROK Case Study: AdZe
A change in navigation and "Calls to Action" doubled sales!

Designing Useful Navigation
Don't expect your customers to adapt their thinking to your Information Architecture.

Volume 26: 5/15/2001
Opting Options Dos and Don'ts
Don't make folks jump through hoops to opt-in or opt-out.

The Prodigal Customer
Doesn’t it make sense to manage your site in ways that encourage your customers to return? 

Volume 27: 6/01/2001
Could It Be Sales Is Like Parenting?
Your customers need you to be a great salesperson.

WIIFM: Are You Listening?
To help clinch a sale, address the fundamental wants and needs of your customer by answering his or her most pressing question: "What's in it for me?"

Volume 28: 6/15/2001
Think Active!
Use active copy that actively engages and actively motivates your customers to be, uh, active!

Harness the Power of the Rainbow
Just because humans can distinguish 16 million different colors doesn't mean you should use them all! 

Volume 29: 7/01/2001
Wireframe Yourself
The underlying structure for the future of website implementation!

Don’t Make Know Mistayque
You may think it's fluff, but grammatical glitches affect your credibility

Volume 30: 7/15/2001
Shaking Hands Internet-Style
You can’t shake your customer’s hand to say thanks for the order, but your email can.

All You Gotta Do Is Answer the Question
The last thing you want to do is to distract your customers from their mission to buy.

Volume 31: 8/01/2001
Shipping Cost Sticker Shock
If you fail to manage shipping charges reasonably, you’ll scare your customers away.

Tech Gap I
Sometimes no amount of technology can replace the human touch - do your job right and know when to use which.

Volume 32: 8/15/2001
Fulfilling Fulfillment
Make sure your back-end fulfillment reinforces your customer's front-end expectations.

Who Ya Gonna Call? Customer Service!
Customer service on the web is a comprehensive package, an on-going dialogue with your shopper.

Volume 33: 9/01/2001
The Eyes Have It!
Maximize your persuasive power by accommodating how folks scan a web page for information.

Its’ NOT the Price, It’s the VALUE!
Your customers' perception of value has little to do with your prices, if anything.

Volume 34: 9/15/2001
Feed the Need
When your customers require instant gratification, there are no second chances.

Tech Gap II
Sometimes the human touch means you get out the cyber equivalent of pen and paper and give your customers a personalized response.

Volume 35: 10/01/2001
(Proto)Type-Cast Yourself!
Prototyping saves you time and money by getting your website in order before you raise the curtain.

When Content Isn't King
Don't bloat your site or distract your customers with content that fails to convert them to buyers.

Volume 36: 10/15/2001
Pump Up Your Verbs
Nothing engages or moves your visitors like a good verb.

Picture This
When you gotta have pictures, you gotta use 'em correctly.

Volume 37: 11/01/2001

12 Common Mistakes in Email Marketing

Sound advice from an advertising pro to help your email marketing campaigns operate at peak efficiency.

Set Up Scanning and Skimming So They See

To maximize the usability of your website text, you have to think scannable AND skimmable.

Volume 38: 11/15/2001

The Other 7 Common Mistakes of Email Marketing

In which we conclude our discussion of how to get the most out of your email marketing efforts.

Beyond Search Engine Positioning

You need more than good rankings to maximize your conversion rate.

Volume 39:12/01/2001

Unique Selling Proposition: Your Visitors Are Asking Why

If you can’t tell your visitors why they should buy from you, they'll turn to someone who can.

Déjà vu: Engineers and Customer Metrics

Some thoughts on metrics that matter.

Volume 40: 12/15/2001

Rev Up Your Writing

These techniques help you craft captivating and memorable copy.

I am Grok Grok I am

Ever wonder what Dr. Seuss might have written about shopping on the Internet?

Volume 41: 1/01/2002

Personality 101- Who Are They?

To improve your conversion process, become intimately acquainted with the four dominant personality profiles of your visitors.

Don't Blow Your Fuse(box)

When you are ready to create your specific web applications, it helps to understand how developers do their jobs.

Volume 42: 1/15/2002

The Power of Emotion

When you tap into your visitors' emotions, you help them make decisions

Why Copywriting Online is Different

Nick Usborne explains why the online environment is different for copywriting.

Volume 43: 2/01/2002

Are Your Messages Remembered Long-Term?

Infuse your communications with staying power.

The Power of Being More Personal Online

Nick Usborne returns with suggestions to help you create online copy that connects with your prospects.

Volume 44: 2/15/2002

Advanced Wordsmithing I: 5 Frameworks for Becoming Memorable

Strategies for shaping the direction of your copy.

Public Relations Secrets to Make You Cry 

Employ "Broca" to rethink your Public Relations.

Volume 45: 3/01/2002

Advanced Wordsmithing II: 5 Stylistic Ways to Become Memorable

Words, rhythm and grammar help you develop identity through your copy.

7 Avenues to Customer Leads Online

Ideas for growing that field of qualified prospects.

Volume 46: 3/15/2002

Bottom Up, Top Down, Measuring All Around 

The skinny on Conversion Rate Metrics.

Volume 47: 4/01/2002

Email Marketing Metrics 101

The numbers that help you improve your email efforts.

Free Your GROK

Persuade by writing to the Right Brain.

Volume 48: 4/15/2002

1923: The Golden Age of Email Marketing Metrics

Email testing helps you target solutions to declining numbers.

The Case Against Autoresponders

Leave no stone unturned in your efforts to build relationships with your customers

Volume 49: 5/01/2002

On Becoming a Techno Geek

Deciphering the minds behind Marketing and Technology, a Marketer speaks.

On Becoming a Marketing Weenie

Deciphering the minds behind Marketing and Technology, a Technologist speaks.

Volume 50: 5/15/2002

Applying Emily

Image may not be all, but it’s worth a lot.

Get That Site to Me Fast …

Simple strategies can keep your visitors happy.

Volume 51: 6/01/2002

The “Grok Notes” for Web Writing

A quick review of the 6 critical areas that will help you improve your online copy and its presentation.

Speaking to the Analytical Mind

Robert Bly shares 6 observations that help “Suits” sell to “Geeks”.

Volume 52: 6/15/2002

"Top Ten Internet Marketing Myths" From the Wizards of Web

Like it or not, lists motivate responses and curiosity - and folks adore them.

Practice Pacing the Rhythm

Rhythm enhances the sight and sound imagery of your writing.

Volume 53: 7/01/2002

Writing “Basic” with a Global Reach

Some tips for writing when English isn’t your reader’s first language.

A Marketing Marriage Made in Heaven

Promote viral marketing and build your house list by marrying the power of email to the traditional concept of word-of-mouth.

Volume 54: 7/15/2002

The Message Must be Meat

What you need to know about writing “to the dog.

Before and After Copy Spotlight: NewsBios

How one business reworked its copy to “speak to the dog.”

Volume 55: 8/01/2002

The Grok Goes Looking for Return Policies

Some copy must go in a particular place - at the Point of Action.

Sometimes Form’s Gotta Follow Function

The design of your site must be sensitive to the function of your site.

Volume 56: 8/15/2002

The Perspective of Your Copy

Make one point strongly and clearly by giving it a unifying perspective.

Case Study: MaxEffect Before and After

Rethinking look & feel, copy and product presentation made a BIG difference.

Volume 57: 9/01/2002

The Down-Side to Case Studies

Whenever you come across a case study, examine it for principles not rules.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short on Copy

Your copy should be the length it needs to be.

Volume 58: 9/15/2002

Fine-Tuning the WIIFM Dial: Personality Revisited

Create “personality scenarios” that allow your visitors to self-serve from your Web site’s buffet.

Volume 59: 10/01/2002

Persuasive Architecture: How to Get Your Visitors to Take Action

Architectural theory meets e-business.

You or Me: Theory versus Practice

Before you go rearranging the shop, look at what your visitors “say” they want.

Volume 60: 10/15/2002

The Buying Process Leads to a Decision to Buy

Good Persuasive Architecture merges the buying process with the selling process.

Volume 61: 11/01/2002

Qualifying Your Visitors

Help your visitors quickly find what they want.

Volume 62: 11/15/2002

What the Shareholders Don't Know 

Who are you listening to.

Choosing the Right Color Palette

How to select the right colors for your website.

Volume 63: 12/01/2002

Any Road Shall Do...

Clear objectives help you understand what to measure and how to manage.

MAP Your Path to Success

The Minerva Architectural Process is your path to effective Persuasive Architecture

Volume 64: 12/15/2002

The Five Faves

Which Grok articles have you enjoyed the most?  Here are the heavy hitters!

Fear of Flying?

Teleseminars offer budget-conscious alternatives to business trips.

Volume 65: 1/01/2003

Color Me Calm?

A color and personality primer.

Of Paradigms and Lateral Thinking

Rethink the “tool-centric” paradigm of ebusiness.

Volume 66: 1/15/2003

Reading the World of Color

The Grok’s Collected Color Miscellany examines everyday color associations.

Volume 67: 2/01/2003

An Architect's Secret for Marketers

What the history of traditional architecture can teach us about building a better Web site.

Optimize for Customer Satisfaction

Don’t overlook The Big Picture.

Volume 68: 2/15/2003

The Price is Right: Shopping Modes

Understanding the difference between transactional and relational shopping modes helps you navigate the price debate.

7 Tips to Generating Leads

Strategies for getting the information you want from your visitors.

Volume 69: 3/01/2003

To Have or Have Not

Understanding Online Conversion Rates.

Only the Good (and Fast and Cheap) Die Young

When it comes to project development, Persuasion Architecture lets you have it all.

Volume 70: 3/15/2003

Beyond Usability II: Is Your Web Site a Tool?

If you think of your Web site as a software tool, you’re using the wrong metaphor.

It’s Not About Mind Control

You can persuade your customers to make a decision, but you’re not going to change their minds.

Volume 71: 4/01/2003

Go With the Flow

Prepare for subtle shifts in buying behavior, don’t exploit the situation and hang in there.

Beauty Isn’t Skin Deep

As ebusiness matures, it’s going to take more than the appearance of credibility to convince your visitors.

Volume 72: 4/15/2003

In Search of Happy In-Site Search Experiences

Never put all your eggs in the search function basket of your Web site.

Volume 73: 5/01/2003

LCD Design

Do everything in your persuasive power NOT to limit your potential audience.

Help Their Eyes Find It

Tactics that help you design for scanners and skimmers (yes, you must!).

Volume 74: 5/15/2003

How You Look at It

Cascading style sheets let you design Web pages that more effectively meet the varied needs of your visitors’.

It’s the Same Sandbox

You can provide the structure that allows Marketing, Sales and IT to function as strategic partners.

Volume 75: 6/01/2003

Squeaky Clean Subject Lines

Care in crafting the subject lines of your emails will help insure they reach your readers.

Color and Usability

Color may speak volumes to many of your visitors, but some just can’t see it.

Volume 76: 6/15/2003

So What Exactly is a Call to Action?

The ins and outs of asking your visitors to take action.

Online Marketing Research on the Cheap

How to test market your product online without losing your shirt.

Volume 77: July 2003

Boring Giants?

From a design point of view, what do these top-selling sites have in common?

The Facts about FAQs

You need to do the work for your visitors - don’t trust the job to a FAQ.

Volume 78: August 2003

Uncovering You

Uncovery helps you discover the brilliance behind your business.

Actively Stretch Your Brain

Pencils poised for a little quiz on using Active Voice.

Volume 79: 9/01/2003

How to Fill Your Customer's Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs provides a compelling framework for marketing and uncovery.

Explorations in Uncovery

What’s an uncovery like?

Volume 80: 9/15/2003

The Relevance of Satisfaction

An illustrated tale of the concept of AIDAs.

Meta-Needs, Core Values and Doing Business

Magic happens when you understand how your needs and your visitors’ needs can work together.

Volume 81: 10/01/2003

So What Exactly Is a Point of Action Assurance?

Just when your visitors are about to click, let them know what to expect.

Go Beyond “It’s the Customer,” Grasshopper!

Lip service to your customers’ interests will not help you achieve your potential.

Volume 82: 10/15/2003

The Devil is in the Details

Don’t lose the visitors who make it to your shopping cart over a technological glitch.

The Buying Process Leads to a Decision to Buy

Good Persuasive Architecture merges the buying process with the selling process.

Volume 83: 11/01/2003

The ABCs of A/B Testing

The most basic way to understand how changes to your Web site affect your conversion rates.

Keep ‘Em in the Cart

Is it in your best interest to worry about making your shopping cart “conversion-friendly” right now?

Volume 84: December 2003

Pop Goes the Weasel

Don’t let consumer-sensitive browsing features undo your conversion process.

10 Ways to Keep ‘Em in the Cart

Tactics for removing the obstacles from your shopping cart experience.

Volume 85: 1/01/2004

CAN-SPAM: Loin-Girding 101

The most basic way to understand how changes to your Web site affect your conversion rates.

Volume 86: 1/15/04

How You CAN The Spammers

Ask and ye shall receive: how to report spammers under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

Volume 87: 2/1/2004

When you are trying to appeal to your visitors' emotions, ditch the flowery copy.

How Do You Measure Conversion?

What I'd like conversion to mean to you!

Emotionally Speaking

When you are trying to appeal to your visitors' emotions, ditch the flowery copy.

Volume 88: 3/01/04

A Mental Model for Persuasion Architecture

Can't really get a grip on what we mean by Persuasion Architecture? Then think of a book.

The Many Faces of Value

Toward a understanding of value that will reinforce your persuasive process.