Website Traffic Conversion

In this month's ScreamingBox Technology and Business Rundown podcast, we get into a detailed conversation about how businesses can convert incoming website traffic into customers and sales. Our guest this month is James Hipkin from Red8 Interactive. In this podcast, our host Dave Erickson and Botond Seres look to James to explain the ins and outs of website traffic conversion and digital marketing in ways that will make sense to all those listening. James has worked in Marketing and Advertising for almost 40 years, with clients such as Sprint, Apple, Nestlé, and Toyota. He never loses track of what’s important and he believes that when done right, Marketing creates value for customers as well as the business. Today, James is passionate about websites and helping the rest of us understand online marketing. His clients value his jargon-free, common-sense approach. In this podcast we answer website traffic conversion questions such as: How much time does website content have to hook the visitor? What are the most important things to have on your landing pages?

James Hipkin, Dave Erickson, Botond Seres

Dave Erickson 00:31
Welcome to the ScreamingBox technology and business rundown podcast. I am your host, Dave Erickson and with me is my co-host Botond Seres and today we have James Hipkins, from Red8Inactive as our guest. In this podcast, we're looking to James to explain the ins and outs of Website Traffic Conversion and digital marketing in ways it'll make sense to all those who are listening. James has worked in marketing and advertising for almost 40 years with clients such as Sprint, Apple, Nestle and Toyota. He never loses track of what's important and he believes that when done right, marketing creates value for customers as well as the business. Today, James is passionate about websites and helping the rest of us understand online marketing. His clients value his jargon free, common sense approach. Alright, James, hopefully I was able to get everything right. Anything you want to add?

James Hipkin 01:27
No, Dave, you did a great job. Thank you very much for having me swing by today and I'm looking forward to our conversation.

Dave Erickson 01:37
All righty. Well, today, we want to kind of talk about website traffic from the point of view of when it actually kind of hits the website, and what do businesses do with it. So maybe you can talk a little bit about what are some of the realistic goals and priorities that a business might have for their website traffic?

James Hipkin 01:56
That's a great question. And it's good to start with the fundamentals and start with the big picture. And oftentimes, in my observation, this is where things go wrong, right at the beginning, they really do not understand what the primary objective of the website is for their business. You know, you all ask that question to a business owner and they'll say conversion. Conversion is awesome, not saying it's not a good idea, but it's almost always the wrong answer. Unless you're generating seven figures in traffic every month, which is unlikely, most of the traffic that's getting to your website is getting there, because they've heard about you someplace else, either referral, or they saw a post in social media, or they read an article or they read something you wrote on LinkedIn. They're getting there because their friends said, Hey, these are great folks. So from the point of view of the customer and the journey that the customer is on, their first goal when they get to the website is not conversion; it's confirmation. What do you mean by confirmation? What I mean by confirmation is that they have a question in their mind, they have a problem that they're trying to solve and they want to confirm that you are a resource that understands their problem and can help them solve it. That's the journey that they're on. And that's the mistake that's most often made with a website is the copy on the website is what I call inside out. It's all about me, it's all about the business. I’ve been in business for 20 years, 15 different board members and partners and and we do this, and we do this and we do this, and we do this and all these features and attributes that are probably all correct. But that's not why the person got to the website. So, understanding the structure and mirroring the customer's journey with the structure on your website is a really important aspect and it's a mistake that's not hard to make. This is mostly about copy and layout. This isn't technology, but it's almost always missed.

Dave Erickson 04:34
And it may be one of the reasons why, you know, when you're building or putting together the concept of your website, it's always good to bring in a copywriter because they're not personally connected to it right? They can look at it from maybe an outside perspective and say what are you trying to achieve versus this is what I want to say about myself

James Hipkin 04:55
Exactly and spend the time building your customer avatar, understand who your customer is demographically. That helps you determine what media you should be using. If they are over 40, don't spend time and energy on TikTok, you know, just because it's new and people are talking about it a lot. People who are over 40 are just not there. If they're over 40, contrast is really important in the layout, because people, you know, our eyes start to deteriorate once we hit our 40th birthday. And it doesn't get any better as we get older, but yet the money is in the older people. So make it really easy for them to consume. The reality is, you've probably heard the story about a goldfish that has an attention span of nine seconds.

Dave Erickson 05:52
I remember hearing something Yeah,

James Hipkin 05:54
It's a myth. It's not true. But regardless, as a business owner, you should be so lucky. You've got six seconds or less to engage a visitor, and the six seconds doesn't start when the page has loaded. This six seconds starts when they click the link to access the page. So in ‘the six ways to engage website visitors in six seconds or less’, the first thing I talk to people about is page load speed. I mean, I reviewed a site two days ago, it took 35 seconds for the page to load. Yeah, seriously. We think you've got to have your first major content, paint in less than a second.

Botond Seres 06:50
I was just today looking at this one site, which I was really interested in. So I was not going in with the six second attention span, but it didn't load for about 10-20 seconds and by that time I was out.

James Hipkin 07:05
And people will not have that kind of patience, they're gone. So job one, get the page to load really quickly. Job two is, am I in the right place? Now this should be an almost instantaneous thing, right? The logo is placed where they expect to find it, usually the upper left hand corner, sometimes the center. Don't be getting creative with where you place this thing, because the purpose of it is, am I in the right place? Use consistent colors and consistent fonts. If you're using blue in your Facebook pages and your ads and whatnot. For god sakes, don't make the website pink. Right? You laugh. I mean, I see this all the time. It's like, so you've got like this font here and you've got this entire you've got a script over here and you want it to be instantaneously recognized, I am in the right place? And remember people see before they think before they hear before they do anything else they see; it's the reptilian brain. I used to, when I was in public, pre-pandemic, I'd stand in front of a room and I'd have everyone raise their right hand. And I go, Okay, everyone touched your nose, and I put my hand on my forehead and 80% of the room would put their hand on their forehead. And the point I'm making is to register instantly. I'm in the right place, then yeah.

Dave Erickson 08:38
I mean, one of the things I do with our clients is I ask them, Do you have a style guide? Yeah, have you done a basic, you know, if we're going to touch even if they already have a website, and they just want us to do back end work or something? I always ask for the style guide. I always ask, you know, do you have your concept of your brand, for working with a company that's a you know, trying to build a digital product. Again, I ask that this is basic UX stuff. But people think that a website doesn't involve UX and it's all about that. And the point you're making is that you have to have all the colors and everything right so that people know where they are right? It really is critical. Yeah.

James Hipkin 09:17
And then the next thing you do, and this is the conversation we had earlier about conversion versus confirmation, is give them a benefit oriented reason to stay. You're much more likely to engage them, get their thought process focused on the things you want them to think about. If you lead with their problem. Don't talk about yourself. Talk about them.

Dave Erickson 09:42
Yeah, so if you just say I'm a website, and I have purple cars, yeah, it doesn't mean it doesn't mean anything because it talks about you but it doesn't talk about what they exactly and therefore they're not going to engage.

James Hipkin 09:52
Right. The next thing you need to understand is the call to action. And I'm using the phrase call to action in the larger strategic sense, obviously a button that says click here or learn more, or book a call or so that's a call to action. But when I'm talking about call to action, I'm talking about the path. Each target audience circling back to the avatar for just a second, what are the demographics? What are their attitudes? What are their pain points? And what do they gain from working with you? You're going to have sub segments inside of your target audience, make the path clear. You know, I did some consulting, with a woman who is quite a well established keynote speaker and her website was Frankenstein, it was all over the map. You know, like Rebecca, you've got no up, nobody knows how to get anywhere and who are your audiences? Well, I have three audiences. There's event organizers who are trying to book a keynote speaker, there are corporate HR professionals who are looking for me to come into their organization and teach their executives how to communicate properly and then there are executives who need coaching on how to make a keynote speech, how to present in front of a large group, right? Three very different audiences. One larger proposition that she's all about is, I am a skilled public speaker. So that's the big problem that's being solved, and then create the pathways for each of these groups. Because obviously, what is important to an event organizer, is not even remotely the same as what's important to an HR director. So if you can get them to click down one of these paths, and engage with the site and go to the next level, you've got them through the six seconds.

Dave Erickson 12:05
I mean, a call to action is really just what it is, a call to action, maybe, you know, you can go in a little bit. What are the different types of call to actions, you use the example of the public speaker, that's kind of a service site Maybe we can do something, Botond is working on a site that sells T shirts, it's an ecommerce site, the call to actions that are used on the different types of sites different or, I mean, if you wanted to, you know, how would you categorize call to actions? Maybe it's a better question.

James Hipkin 12:39
Well, the better question is, what is the audience looking for? Again, we're trying to support their journey, and make the website be an integral part of their journey. So if you're selling T shirts, you're still going to have sub segments within the audience that wants to buy T shirts you're gonna want. You're gonna have people who want to buy T-shirts in bulk, for a corporate event, or for a school group, or for a team or whatever it might be. So that would be one pathway and that would be one call to action. You may have people who are looking for T-shirts as a gift, I want to get something cute for my wife, or I want to get something cute for my husband, or, you know, my daughter wants to get something cute for her for her father. You know, that's a different pathway. They're all t-shirts, but let the audience determine what the pathway should be. The only right answer is what's right for the customer, what's right for the audience and supports the audience, the journey that they're on. You do that and suddenly it stops being sales, it starts being a partnership. You know, and that's an important distinction. This is getting into some higher level strategy stuff, but something that a website owner and particularly an e-commerce website owner needs to recognize the most important sale is not the first sale. The most impactful thing sale is the second sale. Because once you sold to them twice, the chances that they'll buy a third time are exponentially improved and the value, the return on the investment to acquire them in the first place is extended if you can increase the average order value and you can increase the order frequency,

Dave Erickson 14:35
Part of the call to action is you need to try to really understand from the customer point of view, yes, what their what they would want is an action exactly what they want to do and then you need to kind of craft the call to actions to lead them down that path in a sense.

James Hipkin 14:57
That's exactly right. And when you start to do that, you get them into the layers and at the end, it's an inverted pyramid. It's a pyramid, right? The homepage should be very focused on these principles. There's a couple of other things that are important on the homepage we'll get into in a second. But once they click through the path, they're giving you permission to give them more information. They're asking you for more information that needs to be information relative, that's relevant to them, because they've also identified who they are. Right? So don't make the copy generic, make it very specific to who's likely to be landing on this page. Right, though, I saw a thing on LinkedIn this morning, where they were talking about long copy versus short copy and I remember, very early in my career, I asked the creative director that we worked with, you know, What's this business lead, long copy and short copy? I mean, why does long copy seem to work better than short copy and direct marketing? He said something very profound. He said, You know, if the customer is interested, you need to give them the information that they need and let that determine the length of the copy. If they're not interested, it doesn't matter whether it's short or long, they're not going to read it. And at the same it's about it's about interest, it's about interest and reading the signals that they're giving you by virtue of the path that they're taking on the website. And there, it's the, you know, Dave, you might be old enough to remember this. But back in the day, the Hari Krishna used to be in shopping malls, and they give you a flower. Right? You're laughing?

Dave Erickson 16:51
Yeah, yeah, I remember that.

James Hipkin 16:53
And what the psychology behind that was, if you accepted the flower, you are giving them permission to speak to you. It's the same principle on a website, if they pick that path, they're giving you permission to speak to them. Make sure that you're taking advantage of that by giving them information that will support their journey. And what's going to happen is, you're more likely to convert them into the action you want them to take, but they're going to be converted for the right reasons.

Dave Erickson 17:28
On a page, you might need to have several call to actions, some of those call to actions might be quick purchases, because they're already familiar with you and they're coming back a second time, so they need access to purchase quickly. But then a bunch of call to actions are going to be information gathering, to try to make the decision of whether or not, so example on t-shirt sites, having a long article about why you use cotton from this region of the world versus synthetic materials, they would be interested in reading that kind of content, and that might make them decide, okay, these are the type of t-shirts I want. Right?

James Hipkin 18:09
Exactly Right. But you've raised a different point, at a very important point. What we've been talking about is people who are getting there for the first time, and that's very important. But there are also another implication to this call to action and you know, make it easy to navigate things. We see websites with 5,6,7,8 different choices in the main navigation. If somebody is a returning visitor, they don't need to go through all this. They know where they want to go; make it very easy for them to find that. So we push people to limit the main navigation to max four items. Ideally, three. So that a returning visitor because people know how a website works, right? They know where to look for things. So they'll look at the main navigation and go yes, that's what I'm after and they'll choose that path to go directly to the thing that they need to see because they know what they're looking for. So that's another piece of this where you're dealing with the experienced customer to make it easy for them to find what they need to find quickly and easily and without having to do a lot of thinking. You don't want to have them thinking you've got six, seven different choices at the main navigation. Suddenly you've got them engaged and trying to figure out what these things mean and what they mean to them. And you've lost them.

Dave Erickson 19:44
You know so, right and obviously, some people get crazy with menu item names and sometimes you look at the menu item is like what exactly are these?

James Hipkin 19:54
Yeah, you know, again, it's about understanding the customer avatar. In virtually any business, 80% of sales comes from 20% of customers. Those are the folks you need to service, the 20% that are driving the majority of your sales. You're not trying to do, you're not trying to support everybody. And this is how I get people to start thinking about, Well, how can I streamline my navigation? I've got this kind of person and that kind of person, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I had this call with a, we're doing a website right now for a guy who does hard money lending in the construction industry and he had, like, what sectors do you support? And he had a list of about eight different sectors that he supports. So I'm like, Okay, so that's awesome. What are the three most important sectors? And he said, well, most of my business is coming from this group, this group and this group, I said, Well, we're, let's focus on them. And that's the kind of discipline that you need to bring to this, because the website needs to be useful, it needs to be, it needs to create value for customers, it needs to create value for the business. And keeping that teeter totter in balance is important.

Botond Seres 21:09
How we can gamify the experience for visitors. Since these days, gamification has been huge. But it's extremely rare that we find that it has been implemented correctly. I think the only example I can think of off the top of my head, is maybe, I mean, here, they are new, maybe they're more common in your areas, is the little kiosks in McDonald's, where we can order food. I think that's kind of a great example of gamification, because everyone can play around with adding different menu items, customizing the contents, and then even the part where we have to enter which number we have, and then we get that number and bring it to the table. It's almost like a fetch request, in the game terms. So I was wondering, what I could do as a prospective business owner who wants to sell one specific kind of t-shirt, how could I gamify this experience for people?

James Hipkin 22:22
Well, you're probably not gonna like my answer to that question.

Botond Seres 22:28
Can I continue? They had one idea on how to do this and it was to offer sort of an interactive experience where we can have different models, we can select by age, by weight, by level of fitness. In that way, they can look through how the same t-shirt looks on different people for different sizes. But the

James Hipkin 22:59
What are the things you want? My simple answer is, in this kind of situation, you almost always don't. Sorry, man, but the reason why I'm saying that is, it depends on the audience. If it's something that's going to support their journey, it's going to make their interactions with you more positive and more worthwhile. And building relationship equity builds value that goes beyond the functional and transactional benefits of the product you're selling, then it's a good thing. And it's one of the tactics that you can choose. But you're going to want to make sure that the tactic you're choosing supports the strategy and the strategy is driven by the audience, by the customers. And the reason why gamification is very unsuccessful most times it's tried is not because of bad execution, it's because of bad strategy. People are doing it because it's the new shiny thing and it's something that somebody said that you need to do without giving proper undue thought to what the audience is looking for. And the other piece of it is, while this your business is super important to you, it completely surrounds you. It is your big picture. It is your little picture, it's everything. To the average consumer, you are barely a dot on their horizon. They are full of all kinds of other things that they're worrying about. So you're gonna want to make your journey, your interactions with them, be very supportive of what they're looking for are not what you think is cool. Sorry?

Botond Seres 25:06
No, no, that's, that's okay. That's alright. That's the thing I was writing a couple questions about as a sales funnel. So I read about it. And as far as I understand it, it is basically the different ads we have on different platforms redirecting to different sales pages, as it could be applied to my example. But I was wondering if you had some different insights in sure what it is or how you design it?

James Hipkin 25:38
Yeah, well, let's, let's define terms. First of all, because I see this mix up all the time, what you're describing is not a sales funnel. What you're describing is the marketing funnel. The marketing funnel is the process where you're drawing in qualified prospects into the top of the funnel, the mid funnel is where you're building know, like, a trust through microtransactions of increasing value. The first one might be, you know, watching a three minute video, that's a micro transaction, it's very limited value, little value on the consumer side, etc. But it says something to you about this audience. Serve them through remarketing an ad that perhaps invites them to join your Facebook group. So that's another micro transaction, a little bit richer value proposition, etc. So you want to draw people in and through succession in the mid funnel of microtransactions of increasing value, then when you get them to that first purchase, that's where the sales funnel gets involved. The sales funnel is all about what happens after the first purchase, upsell, downsell, across sell these other activities. But it's more than that, because if you think about the customer's interest, it looks like a bell curve. Most of the time, you're not even a dot in their horizon. And then they recognize that there's a need, so their interest starts to climb, it looks like a bell curve. And they take into consideration, well, I guess I gotta figure this out and then they'll go into prospecting, which is, now I need to make a choice, then they'll purchase from you. But their interest doesn't vanish instantly. Once they've made that purchase, they're still looking for confirmation that they've made a good choice, confirmation that you value their business, confirmation that you're the right solution for them, because they're also very aware of the competition. They're very aware of the competitive offers that are out there, their interest level is high. So the opportunity in the sales funnel is to take advantage of the back half of that bell curve. By engaging them by sending them an email that says thank you very much by following up with an email that says you bought this product, our customers have learned that they can use it this way, and they can use it this way. So you're creating this relationship with them. You're sharing value with them that goes beyond the functional benefits of the product and you're becoming a trusted partner. You also have an opportunity, they're open to your messaging, if you want, upsell them on something, so long as it's relevant to their needs. That's a good thing to do if it necessarily doesn't look as salesy as, Oh, that's cool. I didn't know I could do that. Or you might, they might pass on that upsell offer. So you give them a downsell offer that's more like hey, we can give you financing on this, you can pay in three easy installments. Those kinds of examples. The sales funnel is post first purchase, the marketing funnel is how they get there in the first place. That distinction is important because it helps you choose what to do and when to do it.

Botond Seres 29:14
There is huge confusion on this topic online, literally everywhere I read.

James Hipkin 29:20
I see it all the time, all the time. And it's, I think when I explain it, it becomes very clear. And there are two different things there. They are connected. And they're connected at the peak of the interest curve. And recognizing that engagement that the audience has with you will help you choose the tactics that make the most sense.

Botond Seres 29:49
Speaking of the peak of the bell curve, I believe, at the peak of my interest at looking at different products, one of the things I look for in general are testimonials, and was wondering, what do you think about them and how they could be organized.

James Hipkin 30:07
Circling back to the homepage, again, we talked about mid page load speed, we talked about am I in the right place, we talked about benefit oriented reason to stay and we talked about making the call to action clear. The other thing that you need to do is build trust. And that's through what I call reasons to believe. And that's where your credentials can get involved. Things like we've been in business for 20, you've made a claim, I can solve this problem. Why should I believe you? Well, I've been in business for 20 years, we've got five senior partners, we have over 100 years of experience. We have these five star ratings, we have these reviews, we work with companies like this. I'm doing a site right now for a high end business coach, he works with C level. Executives, his principal client is apple. So he's working with the C suite at Apple. So that gives you a sense for the level that he operates on. He clearly has worked with some super high end companies. He had this massive list of companies he's worked with, and I'm like, you know, Sandy, you've got to cut it, we only need three or four. Because the purpose on the homepage is just to put a big old stamp of approval, we put these four brands immediately under your hero section and that's instantly going to tell people you are credible. It's good. That's reason to believe testimonials are reason to believe. We worked with a, built a website for a company, it was an angel investment group in Sacramento, California, they had a gazillion testimonials and they wanted to put them all on the homepage. And we're like, no, don't do that, pick and choose the testimonials to support the primary message of individual pages throughout your site. They are very important because they provide reason to believe, they build trust. But you can use them tactically to support messaging on all kinds of different pages and what we ended up doing a lot of these testimonials were quite long, we cut them up into chunks. Because some part of one of the testimonial supported this idea and another part of the testimonial supported this other. So we use the same testimonial, three, four different places in the website, all chopped up and it works really, really well. You know, the five star reviews is another great reason to believe bills that overcome obstacles. You know, and even page load speed is a trust factor. Right? It's that these things are all interconnected, but there are not only a few things that you need to be thinking about, which is awesome when you start thinking about it strategically, and it helps you clean out a lot of the shiny things syndrome. Because, well, that's very cool, but does it support my strategy?

Dave Erickson 33:18
Yeah, and I mean, even technical things like page loading speeds, or eliminating page errors and stuff like that. Not only do they build trust, but they also have another function, which is to help support any SEO work you do or anything like that. So those are all important things that they relate to other things as well.

James Hipkin 33:38
That's right, exactly right. That concept that I went through, those six ways to engage visitors, they apply to every single page on the website relative to the journey that the customer is on, but those still principles are still at least somebody clicks in, takes a pathway and clicks to a landing page, that is the other end of that, that call to action, you're still going to have to reassure them, they're in the right place, you still going to have to give them a benefit oriented reason to stay, you're still going to need to make the next step crystal clear, you're going to still need to provide reason to believe, to support that trust. And you're going to want to make… Another mistake I see made frequently is to make the side of the page easy to consume, whitespace, negative space, images that support you know, a common trick that's used in e-commerce sites. Now that I tell you about it, you'll start seeing this everywhere. When people are doing photo shoots for e-commerce, they won't have the model looking out, they'll have the model looking at where the headline is going to be. Because people's instinctive reaction is to follow the eyes of the person that they're looking at. So You want them to look at what it is you want them to, to engage with.

Dave Erickson 35:06
So, if you're doing a photo shoot of models wearing t-shirts, you want to shoot them looking to the left, or looking to the right, because you may have a headline on either side with some exact content, or, you know, looking somewhere and you can use that to kind of help guide people to see that content.

James Hipkin 35:28
That's right. So pictures tell, copy sells. So make the page really, really easy to consume. Line length, people can't read, there's a reason that newspapers are in columns, because you can scan those short lines very, very rapidly. Yet, why do people put 900 pixel wide columns on a web page with sentences that go all the way across? Really hard to read? You know, the 10 point type. Right? Because it's a designer not thinking about UX, it's a designer trying to make something pretty. But the reality is, you want those blind links to be scannable, short and you, so that people can really scan a breakup, lots of paragraphs, lots of bullet points and make it very easy to scan and consume the content on the page. That's another trust factor. It also makes people feel like you're supporting their journey. You know, it's not a conscious thing. They don't consciously, Oh, look at this, they're really being helpful. It's a subconscious thing, but it's no less valid, because when it's not there and people are struggling to find their way, they leave, they've got other choices. They've got other options.

Botond Seres 37:01
When you mentioned making the page easy to consume, I told you, you're going to have a completely different direction, because I was thinking in my mind that we need to make the subject of the page easy to consume while we are on the page. And immediately my mind went to write. So all the pages that have Apple pay automatically have, like 100% boost over pages that don't from my point of view, because I can just click at face Id done, paid and shipped. But then I see registration form amounts immediately, right.

James Hipkin 37:47
Yeah, and that forms our, the UX behind forms is another whole conversation. Again, it's about the where they are in their journey, the more invested they are, the more they're prepared to, you know, fill out a form, if there, but you want to another very simple and easy trick to do if you've got to capture lots of information. Most professional level form software will let you do pages inside the form. Well, if you've got a form that only has like two boxes in it, I can do that. And then they click it oh, there's two more boxes? Well, I guess I can do that. Then they click and then there's, you know, two or three more boxes, you know, it becomes less intimidating to go through those steps versus seeing a form that's got 15 boxes in it that they have to fill out in which case yes, you're right. Oh, my God, I'm not doing that. I don't have time for that. I'll come back to it. Right.

Dave Erickson 38:54
I've been trapped in one of those forums that force it, you know, there's a limit, right? So it's like, oh, okay, I’ll answer these two questions. Oh, wait, there's two more. And then there's two more and then there's two more and then it's like, okay, no, no, enough. I'd rather just not, you know, you have to kind of figure out what are people willing to do? Maybe six, maybe eight? Probably not more than that, you know, the fewer the better.

James Hipkin 39:19
Yeah, and I'll often push clients, okay, with a very simple question. What are you going to use this information for? You only want to collect data that you actually are going to use and more important than that, that you're going to use to create value for your customer. Because ultimately, that's the goal here: the more value that you can create for your customer, the more likely they are to come back to make that second purchase. And then the third purchase.

Botond Seres 39:55
We are talking about the sales funnel, second and third purchases And I think we briefly mentioned upselling or downselling and I think one of the main ways companies do that is by using exit intent, identification.Excuse me.

James Hipkin 40:16
Exit intent pop ups.

Botond Seres 40:19
Right. So this is what I wanted to talk about for, for a brief moment, because everything that, of all the pages that I have ever visited, I've only seen a single good implementation of this. What do you think that is? Why is exit intent? So difficult to get? Right?

James Hipkin 40:44
Again, I think it needs to, it's not so much people lose track of this, it's not so much that there is a pop up at exit intent. What does the pop up say? What is an offering? If that offer is closely connected to the needs of the customer, who's likely to be on that page, they're not going to see it so much as an intrusion, they're going to see it as a value add. Oh, yeah, right. I meant to do that. But if it's just a random generic pop up, you know, sign up for our newsletter, you know, with no real rhyme or reason for it to be there, then it's just annoying.

Botond Seres 41:35
Or don't leave, you have stuff in your cart? Yeah, I know. I don't care.

James Hipkin 41:46
Or, but okay, let's, let's explore that one. One of the things I've seen done well, that and I've actually seen the numbers, so I know that it's working, is they did a pop up that said, don't leave, don't leave. And I had them change the messaging to something along the lines of I know you're really busy, give us your email, and we'll send you a link so that you can come back to your shopping cart when you're ready to follow through. Okay, exactly the same execution, but very different messaging. Right. And that messaging was supportive, because most people are really busy, and you're showing empathy to their needs. And you're giving them value that goes beyond the transactional benefits of buying something from you. You're making it easy for them to fulfill their journey. And I've seen the numbers. It works like nobody's business.

Botond Seres 42:58
So the best example that I've ever seen of exit intent pop ups is actually in Amazon's audible. I don't know, if you are subscribed to the service, it's a couple of audiobooks every month.

James Hipkin 43:11
I'm old school, I still read.

Botond Seres 43:15
Nobody got time for that.

James Hipkin 43:18
I don't have much time for it, I will admit, but what did they do?

Botond Seres 43:24
So what they do is, it's really intriguing. So essentially, on their ends, it's digital goods supply is infinite. So it makes complete sense for them to just say that. I know that this is expensive so how about this for the next three months, you pay the price for the regular subscription, but you still get the value of the premium one. And not once have I actually canceled my subscription with Audible.

James Hipkin 43:58
Right? Right. That's a down sell. Offer. You know, they got they got, you know, I'm not sure I want to do this. So they came back to them. But I love the way they did it because the language and the words they used, were empathetic to where the customers journey into the customer's needs. And that's why that's what makes it effective.

Dave Erickson 44:23
But a lot of people forget about that, that whole process of the person buying something, it seems like they just think oh, they bought something great. We just send it to them and that's the end of the conversation. And it's really kind of the beginning of a conversation. I have a really good example. I had to buy a bike for mountain biking. So go to buy a bike part and a lot of the sites that sell this stuff are oriented towards a younger crowd and that's okay, but this one site, that is actually a local site; they really do well in the language that they use. I ordered a part, and they sent an order confirmation.

The Order Confirmation basically says, “It's a fact. Yes, you, Dave Erickson are a brilliant human being, and you just bought some awesome stuff. We're confident this is the best order confirmation you've seen all day, you should print it out and hang it in your bike cave, we assume you have a bike cave, good, because who doesn't?”

So that's like, a brilliant way of you know, that, that they're engaged me and made me think, okay, these are cool people, I would certainly consider buying from them again, just to get another order confirmation email like that, right.

James Hipkin 45:40
And two things. Transactional emails are a huge missed opportunity. All kinds of transactional emails, you know, having fun with your 404 page, right? That's a transaction that's an opportunity to show empathy and to, you know, to communicate your personality, what you've just described, Dave, is a great example of creating value beyond the transactional. They've lifted your understanding of who this brand is, to a higher level of relationship. You know, the psychology behind this is attribution theory. If somebody trolls you on a Facebook post, it's not anybody, you know, it's just some random person being, you know, unpleasant. You attribute that behavior to them as a person, or they're just, they're just an idiot, right? Whereas if your close friend, somebody you've known for 20 years, says something really obnoxious to you, your instantaneous response is, Hey, man, what's up you having a bad day? You're attributing their behavior to their circumstance and that understanding of what that confirmation email does, is establish a relationship that goes beyond the transactional so that if something goes wrong, and you know, crap goes wrong, you're not going to attribute that to a awful product, you're going to attribute that to Hi, I wonder what happened in their factory. Right, that distinction is really important and it's what creates the insulation, and builds the long term relationship. Transactional emails are a wonderful opportunity to do that kind of thing. It's a missed opportunity. Not hard to do. It's a set it and forget it once you've done it once. But people don't write. Yeah, they just take the default that, you know, WooCommerce provides. And off it goes. And it's a missed opportunity. Because they're falling back on execution without understanding the strategy.

Dave Erickson 48:23
Well, I want to kind of circle back to something you said in the beginning of the podcast. And it's kind of around the concept that you mentioned, you only have six seconds to get a person to visit your website to decide if they want to stay more, right. And the reason that you want that is you want to expose them to more content. Can we talk a little bit more about that concept? Because I don't know, you know, how does this fit into a person who is building or thinking about a website for his business? They're never saying to themselves, Well, I got six seconds, what am I going to say in six seconds? But I think maybe we can talk a little bit more about why that timeframe is important and what are some of the things that businesses can do to get people to stay longer. And then why would they want them to stay longer? Right, and how much is longer? And what is the purpose of longer? Maybe we can talk a little bit about that? Because I think there are some more questions about that.

James Hipkin 49:36
Sure. I’ll try to unpack your question here.

Dave Erickson 49:38
Yeah, sorry about that. I can break it down a little bit smaller if you'd like.

James Hipkin 49:43
Now, I think broadly, you want them to stay as long as they need to stay to extract the value that they're looking for. I mean, ultimately He, like I hear this frequently from professional services companies, I don't get any business from my website. And my response to them is going to be well, you can't see the null set. You can't see all of the people who heard about you through their colleagues, who went to your website to confirm that you are a valid choice for them. And left now, versus I mean, I had a customer come to us, he was a New York State Senator. And he didn't get reelected, but he'd been in government for a long time; he was a lawyer, so he put out his shingle to be a lobbyist and he wasn't getting any traction. And he'd heard about what we do. And he came through one of my other customers. And he came to us and I looked at his website, and I said, you're all inside out. You're talking about yourself. He says, Well, yes, because that's who they're hiring. I said, Yes, I know, that's who they're hiring, but you've got to get them there. And there, so we reworked his website around the principles that we've just talked about, we got his, you know, Hero section to talk about the problems that these fix people are trying to solve. We used his credentials, and experience and knowledge as reasons to believe that he was a credible choice to solve this problem. I was talking to him in…, and that didn't take a lot of copy. There was probably less than half the copy on his website by the time we were done, than there was before. And he called me up in January, and we're just checking in at the beginning of the year and I said, so. He said, You know, the website is a couple of years old, do you think we should refresh it? I said, Well, let me ask you a question first. How busy are you? He said, I can't, the phone won't stop ringing. Well, don't think I'd love to take your money, man, I really would, but I really don't think we should be messing with it. You might, you may be bored with it, because you see it all the time, but it's clearly still working for you. And like I said, we took out more than half of the copy he had on his original website. So the answer to your question is it depends. And it really depends on what the customer is looking for, and all that their pathway, what their funnel looks like. You know, the marketing funnel is something that people talk about as a thing. But it's not new, it's been around forever. It's a concept. And the website's an integral part of that, of that process. And so you need to put as much copy in as is needed to answer your prime prospects questions. And get them to the end that's beneficial to them, and beneficial to you and your business.

Dave Erickson 53:24
Yeah, there's also, you know, the, it's understanding the customer. And you talked about this, the journey of the customer, you know, in looking for products, particularly like something to buy, you know, a lot of customers, aren't there, those customers who are they, I need a box, and they search on box and the first website, they go to, Oh, this looks like a great box. I'm going to buy this box, right? But other customers go, oh, I need a box. And I'm going to look at seven different box companies. And we're going to look at them and I'm going to flag them and we're going to bookmark them. And I'm going to Okay, look at them and think about it. And then I might go back to them a second time and look at all seven, say okay, of these seven, these are the two I'm interested in, and then they go through, okay, I'm going to visit them again. And okay, this is the one I really want. And that that journey of several steps, sometimes has to be included, because that's how a lot of people buy. That's right. And if a website doesn't provide enough information, on the front end, they usually either don't get bookmarked, or in the second round, they're like, well, they're not that interesting. They don't connect with me, therefore, okay, they're like,

James Hipkin 54:43
it's hard to find what I'm looking for, etc. But, so you need to and we talked about this earlier, it's that concept. You know, you have to serve as both people. Right? If somebody is there when you see an infomercial on television, and I have my back, is that work? You know, the 800 number is not at the end, the 800 number is throughout the entire infomercial. The vast majority of people who buy from an infomercial, it's not the first time they've seen it. So when they see it again, it reminds them Oh, yeah, right, I wanted to do that. So that 800 number needs to be right there at the top, and in the middle, and at the end throughout. So that's where the thought process around the main navigation is really important. If somebody's been to the box site and sorted out in consideration, and then gone into prospecting, okay, I got these three, when they go back to those sites, they're going to want a navigation choice that says residential boxes. Right, because they don't need to see all the stuff on the homepage, they've already seen that they want to understand in more detail about residential boxes. Or there might be another tab in the navigation that says industrial boxes. Right. So you're, you need to service both kinds of audience. That's why, you know, marketing, if you're spending money on marketing, and you're doing advertising, you know, Google AdWords, don't send that traffic to your homepage, send that traffic to a landing page that's been specifically designed to support the ad that got them there. Am I in the right place?

Dave Erickson 56:35
Yep. Right. Yeah, you got to segment the traffic coming in from advertising, since advertising allows you to kind of identify their interests at some level, right. But once they hit that landing page, it's kind of the same thing, you got six seconds to get them to say I want to stay here. And you have to supply them with all the information they need to make a decision, right. And calls to action to do that. It doesn't change that strategy. It just helps you direct the traffic and maybe qualify that traffic a little bit better, I guess. .

James Hipkin 57:08
Sure and it helps you determine what it is that you should be using to execute that strategy. You'll see long form landing pages that are like page after page scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. But you'll also notice that the call to action is about every 800 pixels. Right, so that when they're convinced, they can take action, right then in there, whether that's at the top of the page or the bottom of the page, they don't have to scroll all the way to the bottom to get to the call to action.

Dave Erickson 57:43
One of the calls to action that we did for a client, which I thought was really good, they had a floating call to action. So as you're scrolling down the page, the call to action button was always in the same place. And that way, it made it very easy to click the call to action. And it was always visible all the time, no matter where they were on the page

James Hipkin 58:06
Without getting in the way of what it was they're trying to consume. Yeah, that's very smart.

Botond Seres 58:11
It's something that intrigued me for many years, and I'm looking for an expert opinion. Are you familiar with the practice of decoy pricing?

James Hipkin 58:20
I worked back and then in the 90s, I worked with Sprint, and their long distance division and the assignment that I was working on was customer loyalty. At the advertising agency I worked at we almost didn't take the business because when we did an initial analysis, they were literally losing customers faster than they were gaining customers, which, you know, you don't need to be an MBA to think, well, that doesn't make a lot of sense. And I was in a meeting, and a researcher was presenting some results from some survey work that they were doing. And in his preamble, he said something that really got me thinking. He said in his experience, doing research, loyalty based research, like for hundreds of different clients, hundreds of different situations, business to consumer business to business. He said 90% of his loyalty problems can be traced to a flawed sales process. So these kinds of tactical things that you're describing, they may work short term, they may generate that first sale, but they're not. But that's what I call a flawed sales process. Those are not customers that have got any reason to come back to you. In fact, they probably have a bad taste in their mouth about the whole process. So yeah, they work well And there's a reason people do them. It depends on your business. But if you're looking to build long term relationships with customers, and that, you know, that's worth doing, as a bonus factoid, customers deliver value to a business five ways. The longer they're with you, the more return you get on the investment required to acquire them in the first place. The longer they're with you, the more the better, they understand how your product or service works, which lowers support costs, the longer they're with you, the better they understand your value proposition, you don't have to bribe them to buy again, the longer they're with you, the more likely they are to pay full price. And then the longer they're with you, the more loyal they are, the more likely they are to advocate for you, which draws in new customers without the investment of advertising and marketing. You know, when I had worked with, I've worked with a number of large banks and visa and folks like that you do the work, the database is a one or 2% increase in loyalty and a customer base will have that 10 to an 80% increase in the net present value of that customer base. Because of those five reasons. So in my mind, you want to get customers for the right reasons. And when you end it will pay off in the future, because you'll get to that second sale, which means much more likely to get to the third sale.

Dave Erickson 1:01:53
So yeah, I think, you know, customers are now very savvy and experienced and when they encounter stuff that isn't, I would say 100% honest or honest in intent. They kind of sense that, I've experienced decoy pricing, I don't really like it when I experience it. And I may buy the item at that point, because I've already gone through the process and it's okay, I need this, I'll do it. But I usually will not come back. You know, that's just me personally.

James Hipkin 1:02:23
And that's what happens.

Dave Erickson 1:02:26
So I'm very kind of sensitive to it. Some people are, some people aren't. But I think that you know, that loyalty is loyalty. I guess the saying I have is honesty is rewarded by loyalty. Right? And if you use that in how you design your products, and how you design, your marketing and your sales process, that usually steers you clear of problem areas, and helps really get you an ROI on that. So right,

James Hipkin 1:02:56
Yep. And it's mutual, because you're also creating value for the customer too and when that mutual value is created. That lifts the value proposition beyond the transactional. And your great idea that thing you shared about the confirmation email. I mean, these simple little things are not rocket science and are not hard to do. If you know, then you don't know this is just treating them like people for God's sakes.

Dave Erickson 1:03:28
Yeah, you know, they want the experience to be enjoyable, or fun or interesting or something. If it's just a standard cookie cutter, bland doesn't really help you in many ways, right? They want to put personality into it.

James Hipkin 1:03:45
They want those things, and they want it to be smooth, because they're super busy. Which is, you know, circling back to the gamification question before. I'm not I don't, there's lots of different tactics, if the tactic is going to create is not going to get in the way of making the process smooth. And it's going to create value by generating some fun, great, go for it. But it's got to do those two things. Don't just do it because it's cool.

Dave Erickson 1:04:16
Well, um, I do have another question. I don't know if it's technical, it feeds into this concept of people staying on the side or gathering information. I've had very mixed feelings about chatbots and websites where you get to the page and a chatbot, you know, opens up. How can I help you ? Can I answer any questions? I think that, you know, I've experienced some that are very mechanical and you can feel like you're talking to a robot. I've experienced some where they put in some personality and it has a better feel. Do you have any experience with chatbots, and how do they help people or help websites convert traffic into a call to action? Do they really add something or are they more of a pain in the ass most of the time?

James Hipkin 1:05:05
For the vast majority of businesses, I'd suggest, you know, at the front end, they're probably not worth the trouble. Where they can be very valuable and very useful is with returning customers. So if you could put a trap chat box behind a login, that's where they can be very useful because that, you know, this is somebody who's, you know, a customer of yours behind a login. And, you know, this is where you're there for them. You're making yourself accessible, but if you're going to do it, you've got to think it through. It's not a tech, this isn't a, chatbots are not a technology. Thing is, as the three of us know, adding a chatbot to a website is like a 10 minute exercise, it's super easy to do. It's not a technology thing. Do you have the support infrastructure in place to create value if somebody actually uses it? Yep. And that's a much bigger conversation. But if you're going to do it, my recommendation is almost always do it with existing customers and use it as a value add to customers, because these are these folks. They want to demonstrate that you value their business when you make it easy for them to talk to you. When they don't Yeah.

Dave Erickson 1:06:38
I usually see it implemented on literally landing pages and home pages, where it's like, Can I help you? Well, I'm doing research in theory, your page will help me. I don't need to talk to anyone about it.

James Hipkin 1:06:54
Yep. So that would be well written, that’s my two cents on that is, you know, for the again? I mean, do you see chatbots on

Dave Erickson 1:07:04
Not really, actually, now that I think about it? Yeah. Although in all honesty, when you try to communicate with Amazon on any level, it's not so easy. So that's a company philosophy, that’s a company mistake.

James Hipkin 1:07:17
They, if they could do a, you know, Dynamic Delivery of the technology so that when I'm logged in as an Amazon Prime member, that Chatbot is available. But if I'm just visiting the site as a guest, it doesn't get in my way.

Dave Erickson 1:07:35
All right. Well, James, thank you so much. It's been a really wonderful conversation. And we've had a great time for all of our listeners. If you want any more information about James, we'll have it in the description. We'll put links to his LinkedIn and his website. And for next month, we will have another interesting topic: ScreamingBox technology and business rundown podcast. Thank you.
Thank you very much for taking this journey with us. Join us for our next exciting exploration of technology and business in the first week of every month. Please help us by subscribing, liking and following us on whichever platform you're listening to or watching us on. We hope you enjoyed this podcast and please let us know any subjects or topics you'd like us to discuss in our next podcast by leaving a message for us in the comment sections or sending us a Twitter DM. Till next month. Please stay happy and healthy.

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Creators and Guests

Botond Seres
Botond Seres
ScreamingBox developer extraordinaire.
Dave Erickson
Dave Erickson
Dave Erickson has 30 years of very diverse business experience covering marketing, sales, branding, licensing, publishing, software development, contract electronics manufacturing, PR, social media, advertising, SEO, SEM, and international business. A serial entrepreneur, he has started and owned businesses in the USA and Europe, as well as doing extensive business in Asia, and even finding time to serve on the board of directors for the Association of Internet Professionals. Prior to ScreamingBox, he was a primary partner in building the Fatal1ty gaming brand and licensing program; and ran an internet marketing company he founded in 2002, whose clients include Gunthy-Ranker, Qualcomm, Goldline, and Tigertext.
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