Plain-spoken Online Conversion Rate Newsletter - covering web design, sales, marketing, copywriting, usability, SEO, relationship marketing and consumer psychology.


You or Me: Theory versus Practice

Recently, I read an article1 that made one of my eyeballs start twitching. 

This was the gist:  people do business with people, so you want your site to convey and build trust by revealing a lot more about the people behind your business.  You meet this need, in part, by putting pictures of your employees on the site, displaying the scanned signature of the Head Honcho somewhere, having your About Us sections include personal tid-bits about your principals and staff, and offering Employee of the Month and Staff News features. 

In short, you should beef up your “Me-Me” quotient.  Folks want this, and they look for it when they come to your site.

My reaction?  I thought you’d never ask! 

Remember, I think in terms of principles, not hard-and-fast rules.  There may, in fact, be a business for which this me-stuff is the perfect strategy.  It’s just not most businesses.  And it probably isn’t yours.  It’s a nice theory, and maybe it would be a nicer world if we valued “Who” a bit more, but my experience suggests it’s not up there on the majority of your visitors’ Top Ten lists.

So how often are visitors really interested in the folks behind the scenes?  Do they really rank that information as central to helping them solve their task-oriented missions?  Do they go looking for it in droves – or at least in numbers that might convince me there’s a deep-seated, unmet need out there?

I looked at our Web logs for the past year.  Five percent of our visitors clicked through to the About Us page.  Five percent clicked through to our Bios page.  Now, we’re a consulting company.  We’re selling US, our services, our way of thinking about Conversion Rate Marketing.   Folks are going to be working with us pretty closely … you’d think who we are, as depicted on our Web site, might matter.  It doesn’t seem to.

But we’re a smaller operation than many.  So I rang up my totally cool buddy, Ethan Giffan, who works with online recruiting.  Jobs!  Very people oriented!

“Hey, dude.  You get lots and lots of traffic on your Web site.  How many of those folks click through to your About Us Web page?”

I hear Ethan shuffling some papers and then his reply, “Five percent.”

“Really?”  I’m actually surprised.  “Us too.   That’s interesting.  So how many people click through to learn about the recruiters … the divisions that might actually hire them?”

Ethan doesn’t even pause.  “One point four three percent.”

“Right,” I scratch my head.  “So what about those four communities you have, full of lots of resources, lots more targeted information.  What sort of traffic do they get?”

“All the communities together get eight percent of our traffic.”

Folks who go to Ethan seem to be more interested in jobs than who’s in Ethan’s company.  And the ones who come to us seem more interested in their bottom lines.  Over ninety percent of them are Desperately Not Seeking Susan! 

This makes sense if you consider their primary motivation is, after all, WIIFM.  

Remember those personality types?  Your Expressive visitors (the ones who are most relationship-oriented) might find some value in learning personal details about the people in your business, but they are going to be far better persuaded to make a purchase by customer testimonials.  Amiables are less likely to be interested in your personnel parade – they are more activity focused.  Your Assertives will ignore it as extraneous noise.  And your Analyticals?  Well, they’re the tough crowd when it comes to touchy-feely things, because they will find it little more than posturing fluff.  Truth is, depending on how you use this stuff, it can actually damage your credibility with Analyticals!

You best demonstrate your commitment to your customers and inspire confidence and trust by always being relevant.  Your customers are going to find “you”-oriented information much more relevant and persuasive than “me”-oriented information. We’ve found time and again that when companies focus on the customer rather than showcasing themselves, conversion rates go up

Am I saying “Do away with it all”?  Nah, not me.  Five percent is still five percent.   We’ll be hanging on to our About Us and Bios pages.  However, we do plan on giving Employee of the Month a miss.

P.S.  I’d love to know your figures for traffic to pages that feature company-related, about-us type people information.  Shoot me an e!

P.P.S.  I’d caution against displaying any official signature on your Web site.  You never know to what uses it could be put!


1 “Back to Me:  Why You Should Talk About Yourself.”  Claudia Temple.  MarketingProfs.


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