You Talkin' To Me?

Robert DeNiro (Travis): You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the h*ll else are you talkin' to? You talkin' to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who do you think you're talking to? Oh yeah? Huh? Ok.

Robert DeNiro and your web site visitors are asking the same question. "Are you talking to me? I'm the only one here."

It's not just a line, it's the essence of your relationship with your visitors. You think you're talking to the hordes, 'cause you've got big numbers every month. But your Web site is not a lecture hall or a convention center. It's an intimate little space where you and a visitor interact one-on-one. And there's no such thing as an average user!

So if you have thousands, even millions, of visitors to your Web site, how do you talk to each one as an individual? Join me for an interview with Holly Buchanan, Future Now's Vice President of Client Services.

The Grok: Okay, Holly. We can intuitively understand that everyone is an individual and has a different personality. So give me an example of how this becomes important to a business's conversion goals online.

Holly: Sure, Grok. Let's say you're creating a web site promoting cruises to women. Sounds like a pretty narrow audience. You've done a lot of research on your customers, and here's what you've found out. Your customers are professional women, 25-54, with household incomes of $100,000 and up, and families with an average of 2 children. The one thing they are looking for is escape. Great. All useful information. There's just one problem. One type of customer is an extroverted go-getter. She loves challenges and makes decisions quickly. The other type is an introverted, quiet woman who doesn't like to be rushed. She likes to do a lot of research and take her time when making a buying decision. Even though these women look exactly the same on paper, they approach the buying process in very different ways. Plus different women have very different visions of what "escape" looks like.

The Grok: So how do you create a website that addresses different customers, with different needs and different buying processes?

Holly: Let's take 4 women planning a cruise....Mary, Helen, Connie, and Susan. All are divorced, 40 to 45 year olds with household incomes of $100,000. Think they're all looking for the same thing? Think again.

Mary - Mary will plan her cruise 6 months in advance. She will research every cruise available on the website. She will pay attention to every detail. She will research the ships, and the destinations. Getting the lowest price is important to Mary. The purpose of Mary's cruise is rest and relaxation. She will book well in advance.

Helen - Helen wants to go on a cruise with nice people. She's looking for a cruise with cooking classes so she can learn to make new dishes for her children. Helen will be slow to make a decision. She will browse the site and look at cruises that feel good.

Connie - Connie wants the best cabin the cruise offers. She wants a cruise line with a reputation for outstanding service. She wants to go to an exotic location she's never been to so she can learn about a new culture. She also wants a cruise that offers a lot of fitness activities so she can work on her abs and loose a few pounds.

Susan - Susan will decide where she wants to go at the last minute. She'll check out the activities each cruise offers, the more the better. Susan is looking for fun. Susan likes the personal touch, like a bathrobe in her room, and a bouquet of flowers ready for her arrival. Price is not a big factor.

These women all look the same on paper, but they approach the buying process in very different ways and are looking for very different things. To accommodate them, you need to combine demographics, psychographics, and topographics. You need to understand how your customers approach the buying decision. Most web sites focus on the selling process rather than the customer's buying process. The disconnect between the two means lost opportunities and sales. In order to understand how your customers reach buying decisions, you have to really know your customers and help guide them on their own individual paths through your website.

The Grok: So how do you do that?

Holly: Let's start with Mary. We know Mary is looking for a lot of information. You want to send her to a page that lists all the different kinds of cruises and their destinations. We know Mary likes to book in advance, and price is important to her. So from the type of cruise/destination page you would include a link to a page that lists special low prices for those who book in advance. By providing a link with a call to action (Book in advance and take advantage of early bird specials) that clearly provides information that is of interest to Mary, you propel her forward in the buying process.

Helen wants a cruise that will make her feel good about herself. So send Helen to a page that lists cruises designed to help her become all she can be. From there, include a link to a testimonial page that lets her see how other women just like her have benefited from those cruises.

Connie is looking for new experiences and challenges. Send her to a page with cruises to exotic locations. Include a link to another page which lists all the activities on those cruises.

Susan will be attracted by a page that lists last minute cruises......cruises that still have availability that sail within 2 weeks. Susan would also be interested in a page that discusses how your cruises provide the personal touch. Once again, provide a call to action on the last minute cruise page to the personal touch page to provide momentum to keep Susan clicking and moving deeper into the site.

The Grok: So the ability to personalize each woman's online shopping experience depends on combining an understanding of different individual needs with an intentional path of navigation through the site that satisfies those different needs?

Holly: Exactly. All 4 women may travel from the Home Page to the Book Now page, yet each will get there by her own path, driven by her own interests and buying needs.

The Grok: So, there you have it, folks. Who are you talking to? Are you talkin' to me? 'Cause I'm not like anyone else. Are you providing me with the information I want, when I want it? Are you providing a path for me to navigate your site the way I want to?

Volume 86: 1/15/04


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