Garry Przyklenk, writing for Search Engine Watch, has a great article for marketing professionals about improving our ability to turn online visitors into customers, clients, and prospects. (The technical name for this process is “conversion optimization.”) The first step he covers in the article is the one I’m going to talk about here: diagnosing customer pain points.
The truth is that very few marketing teams know if their websites are making life painful for visitors — and that’s because the customer complaints don’t get back to us. In large organizations, or even in mid-size ones, the person responsible for the marketing aspects of the website is often insulated from customer frustration. Chances are that users are squawking to customer service, to sales people in the field, even to tech support — in other words, to people in other departments who roll their eyes and grumble under their breath about “those idiots in marketing.”
Przyklenk notes that if we want to remove the barriers to converting website visitors to website customers, we must seek out the people in the organization who are hearing the moaning and groaning. The means getting the bad news — and good ideas — from:
• The call center. Ask them what they’re hearing from website visitors — and how they’re dealing with it. You’re likely to find you can help them in the short run, and that they can provide valuable input for your longterm website fixes.
• Your IT web team. Are they collecting data on website issues such as abandoned sign-up pages or abandoned shopping carts? If not, ask them to work with you to begin tracking this — it may involve installing third-party software.
• Sales reps. They want to make sales, so chances are they’re coaching prospects and customers on how to deal with your less-than-optimal web pages. Again, find out what they’re telling customers — it could be the basis for a tip or FAQ for the site.
• Customer support. Find out if they use web-based information to assist customers — and what could be done to make that information more helpful and easier for customers to find on their own.
• Fulfillment. Are orders, sign-ups, or donations coming through with inadequate information, leading to errors or re-work on the part of the fulfillment team? Ask them what’s missing from the web-based processes.
Przyklenk advises online marketing folks to try playing the role of the customer. I loved his suggestion that we should try signing up for an account (from a home computer outside the company network) and ordering one of our company’s products — and giving ourselves just 5 minutes in which to do it.