Online services are making things so easy for online marketers, but they’re also creating an enormous number of blind spots. These are the services that host our webinars, sell tickets to our events, let people buy our products, manage our appointments and almost everything else we do as online marketers.
Sometimes, these services behave as if they don’t want us to know the conversion rates of their services. They are unmeasurable, opaque to analytics.
I wrote an open letter to them at Search Engine Land.
Dear Service Provider:
I expect to be able to measure you. I expect to have transparency into what my visitors are experiencing inside your systems. I pay good money to bring prospects to my site and I don’t want to send them off to a black box when they buy my products or sign up for an event.
It’s time for you to prioritize measurement and to give me control of the signup, subscription, or purchase process.
Here’s what you need to do if you want me to use your service. These features are going to appeal to the largest users, those customers that you really want because they will pay for a lot of your services.
Analytics Reporting & Integration
Eventbrite is running away with the event ticket sales market. Do you know why? Because they know what works and what doesn’t. They know what features sell more tickets for their customers. They eliminate those things that reduce ticket sales.
They recently did a study and can tell you (to the penny) the average revenue generated by a Facebook share or a Twitter tweet or an email invite.
Most importantly, they share the analytics love with people like me, their customer. This allows me to be as good in my marketplace as Eventbrite is in theirs.
I know where visitors to my Eventbrite page are coming from, and how many of them buy a ticket. If the copy on my event page isn’t working, I know it right away.
Dear everyone else: let me measure the visitors I am sending to your service. Tell me who is bouncing, who is completing the process, and make it easy for me to get to that information.
I can’t recommend a shopping cart to my clients. I haven’t used them all, but I refuse to work with carts in general. They are universally inflexible and opaque. It’s as if the Shopping Cart Guild has decreed that only engineers can design them, and if those engineers don’t really understand the buying process, all the better.
I want to setup many different shopping carts on my site. I want to split test them. I want to test a three-step shopping cart against a ten-step shopping cart. I want all of this and I want to know which step is causing people to abandon the process. See above.
I expect to control the placement of the buttons, the location of trust symbols, the appearance of product images and the treatment of tax and freight charges.
I demand that you let me collect a name and email address on the first step, so that I can use email retargeting, but I do not want my visitors to have to create an account.
Dear shopping cart vendors: shopping cart abandonment rates are atrocious across the web and you aren’t helping. Please start thinking about the shoppers a little more.
Control Of The Thank You Page
When I complete a purchase, signup for a webinar, download a white paper or sign up for a trial, my eyes are assaulted by the bright white blankness of the “thank you” page. Usually those words and a logo are all that appears.
This is one of the biggest missed opportunities in all of conversiondom.
What could be used in this space?
First, I need to add some copy that tells the new customer what to expect in my brand’s words.
I want to add links to my social networks. Genius.
For my events, there needs to be a link that adds an event to a prospective attendee’s calendar.
I want to list some of the other good content I have on my site.
Dear GotoWebinar: you won’t think of everything I will want on my “thank you” page. Send them to me when the signup process is complete. I know what to say to them.
This will also let me measure conversions in the software of my choice. That makes the first item on this list easier for you.
Unbounce, a online landing page platform knows that conversion rates go down when visitors are taken to a different domain to buy. It feels phishy to them. So, Unbounce enables me to send people to their landing pages using my domain. It’s called a subdomain.
Unbounce tells me exactly how to create a domain like “offer.buyschtuff.com” and point it to their system. When my visitors go from my site at www.buyschtuff.com to a landing page on their site, they see “offer.buyschtuff.com,” not “wp2.unbounce.com/id=8fdire*#$#.”
Thus, they don’t feel like they’ve been handed off to spammers. They feel at home. People who feel at home don’t abandon me.
This strategy also makes it easy to integrate Unbounce pages with my analytics package. Again, see above.
Dear online service company: don’t we all want higher conversion rates? Support subdomains, please.
Control Of Emails
The emails sent in the 24 hours following a purchase or signup will determine in large part the success of my product or the attendance at my event. It will determine how much social sharing will occur.
Unfortunately, dear service provider, the notification emails that come out of your system seem to work against me. The language seems to deter the very actions we want them to take.
I need to determine what goes into every email that gets sent out. Don’t tell me you’re trying to thwart spammers. My customers may like spam for all you know. My email service provider deals with spammers all day and night and seem to be doing just fine in the spam department.
I won’t use you if you’re going to subject my customers and prospects to your drivel written by the same guy that programmed the email delivery software. He doesn’t’ understand my business or my prospects.
In Closing, Dear Service Providers
You are benefiting and profiting from a time of great decentralization. Online marketers are using a different service for their meetings, another for their webinars, another for shopping carts, another for subscriptions, and yet another for appointment scheduling. There has never been a better time to be a provider of services.
However, if you want to be the leader in your space, you need to understand how we are using your service. You must provide measurability, customizability, domain support, and effective email tools. Then you need to watch us do our thing. What you learn will put you ahead of the competition.