I’m thinking clothing. You guys and gals come in lots of different shapes and
sizes (thankfully, we Martians are one-size-fits-all). When you go to a
bricks-and-mortar clothing store, you usually want to try on the clothes. If
they don’t fit, you won’t be buying them, right? Fit’s important. It’s a
So real world clothing stores have fitting rooms. Real world clothiers didn’t
fall off the turnip truck yesterday. They know you need to be happy - satisfied!
- with your purchase or you won’t be back.
But who ever heard of an online fitting room? So, when you go to buy clothing
at some Web site, you’d like to know if the thing arrives and doesn’t fit,
“Returns, Refunds and Exchanges Are Easy!” And you want to know this information
at the point where you are about to click that “Add to Shopping Cart” button.
You don’t feel confident about this, you’re probably not going to buy.
We call this
Point of Action. When
your prospect is ready to take an action - any action - you make sure to address
the basic, essential concerns relevant to that action right then and there. It’s
a dead simple tactic. And it works like you wouldn’t believe!!
Do folks take advantage of this? Do they even acknowledge the issue at all?
Let’s find out.
This direct-marketing giant has an enviable Web site; they’ve figured out how to
do lots of things right. Today they want to build me a pair of chinos with a
custom fit (good luck!), and they promise I’m gonna love the fit. These guys
seem to understand what matters to me. So I go for the custom-fit chinos.
I land on the product page and read the benefits: just a few minutes to fill
in measurements, discussion of the product qualities, shipping information,
they’ll even store my measurements. “More information” below. I click. Not a
word in the copy tells me about exchanges or refunds if the item doesn’t fit.
But there is a link to talk to a live person if I have a question. Well … I’m
going to pass on that. I don’t need to talk to someone, I just need to see a few
I decide to order a pair even without the reassurance, which sends me next
through a series of secure pages. I log onto my account. I pick out my chino
styling preferences. I enter my measurements. I made a few errors, so I have to
reenter the measurements several times. Then I have to confirm my entries. THEN
I get to the add to shopping cart page, and it is here I finally find
“Guaranteed Period. If you're not satisfied with any item, return it at any time
for an exchange or refund of its purchase price.”
Okay. At a point of action. But this item required a lot of energy to
put in my shopping cart … some assurance earlier in the game would have been
LLBean. Another giant.
No general “shop with confidence” message when I land on the home page, but if I
scrutinize the left navigation bar, I see there is a link to a guarantee. Nice,
but, again, that’s not what I’m looking for. It isn’t what most folks are
looking for when they hit the home page … they might not even know yet if they
are going to buy anything. I don’t mess with the nav bar guarantee.
I see a shirt I like. I click through to the product page. No assurance at
the point where I’m going to add this shirt to my shopping bag. I add it anyway.
No confidence statement on the shopping bag page. Hmmm.
LLBean has a total-confidence guarantee. “Our products are guaranteed to give
100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if
it proves otherwise. We will replace it, refund your purchase price or credit
your credit card. We do not want you to have anything from LLBean that is not
completely satisfactory.” But you’ve got to disengage from the shopping process
to read it. Or you’ve got to know LLBean.
Hey, not for me, personally. But I hear it’s a popular place to shop. No
preliminary “shop with confidence” message on the home page. I click on the
clothing category from the top bar navigation. When the page finally gets
to me, I click on “pants”, and on the next page, select “Yoga Pants.” Nothing
anywhere near the point of action to reassure me about refund/exchange policies.
I made my size, color and quantity selections anyway, clicked on the “Add to
Shopping Bag,” but it didn’t work for some reason. I tried again. Still didn’t
Forget whether they bother to reassure me at the next potential point of
action. I’m outta here!
Eddie Bauer. Up there with the biggies. But
just like the others, no overall “shop with confidence” message when I hit the
home page. Here I go after a linen dress. When I get to the product page, there
are no point of action reassurances. But I add it. No word on the shopping cart
page (although I can check out shipping information here). I decide to checkout,
and I’ve got to start filling in all sorts of information before I even know
whether or not they’ll take the dress back if I don’t like it!
Let me put it this way, folks. If you aren’t providing those critical little
reassurances exactly where folks need to see them, you are leaving money on the
table. You can’t bank on all your prospects knowing your reputation. And it’s
not enough just to have your policies somewhere on your Web site. Folks want
confidence, but they don’t want to have to work for it. Your prospects are
urging, “Don’t make me think and don’t make me have to work too hard.”
Simple, RELEVANT words put in the most RELEVANT places answer the needs of
most folks and make a difference in your conversion rate. I’ve seen it work so
many times. Try it … you’ll see too.
Next issue we'll be announcing the
release of "Take Your Words to the Bank: The
Marketer's Handbook of Persuasive Online Copywriting".
Here is what R. Gabel of LowerMyBills had to say
about this 121 page PDF:
marketer should have a copy... to read once and
use as a daily reference guide. Also serves as a
fantastic introduction to the lessons and writings
of the great marketers, from Sugarman to Usborne
For business managers, it provides essential
strategic advice in the AIDAS page design
principles (page 12), the relevance and
appropriateness of content vs. copy (page 14), and
assistance in defining a consistent copy
perspective (page 48). For online marketing
professionals, there are practical tips for site
layout, rewriting your copy to speak to, and not
at, customers, and even tactics for those writing
English as a second language."
If you would like to be notified as
soon as it's released
let us know if you want to be included on our
advanced notice list for events.
CIO, Future Now, Inc.
P.S. Do you have questions you would like to see
Sometimes Form's Gotta Follow Function
"Form [ever] follows function"
- Louis Henri Sullivan, Lippincott's Magazine, March, 1896
I know you’ve heard the phrase “Form follows function.” It’s a design
perspective that indicates the connection between how something looks and how it
gets used: the purpose of a thing is a primary consideration in its design. It’s
the basis for why a spoon is a spoon and not a shovel - even though you can use
both to dig a hole.
Now, you certainly can play around with that equation and give form the
starring role. And there’s something to be said for that … IF you can afford to
If you’re in e-commerce, you can’t afford to do that.
I happen to be waiting for repairs to my car (sigh … nobody round here knows
how to service my space ship). You know weird things start ionizing in your head
when you stay in car repair waiting rooms too long, right?
So, think about this. You want to buy a car. As you search around, you fully
expect to find lots of things out there that look and function like a car.
They’ll have four tires. An engine. A dashboard. A steering wheel. Seats. A
trunk. Doors. Pedals. And you pretty much know where these features are going to
be on the car - I mean, you’re not gonna find the dashboard attached to the rear
There may be lots of different car designs out there, but functionally, they
are all far more similar than dissimilar. And every one of the features that
makes a car a car has a reason for why it is where it is. Sure, sometimes you
have to make a compromise in location, but seriously mess with the arrangement
of a car, and you no longer have a car.
What’s this gotta do with your Web site? There are enough studies out there
that confirm folks have expectations about the functional features of your Web
site. They know the features they want to find, they know how they want them to
work, and they know where they expect to find them. The last thing you want to
do is make folks figure out how your
unique place in cyberspace works. Force ‘em to think
about this stuff, and they’re gone.
More important, we know a lot about how folks use a Web site … how their
a page when they first land there, how they
scan and skim text, how they
interact with content, how they use
Think most folks are getting it right out there? Jared Spool, of
recently gave a group of folks bucks to spend on stuff they wanted to buy. You
couldn’t have a more motivated prospect land on your site!
High success rate? Nope. Overall, 70% of those folks failed in their mission.
I’m shaking my head!
What you do with the design of your site should have its roots in the
function of your site. Trouble is, too many people still think (or are
influenced to think) that image is all and that folks will make allowances for
diverse functional anomalies (or worse, failures). Hooey! There are folks who
are passionate about their Mazda Miatas. But I tell you what. If those Miatas
didn’t work like they’re supposed to, all their fans would be driving something
So let me ask you something. Have you invested the time to figure out the
form and function equation on your site so you’re not leaving money on the