Just another Lean Startup blog

Cobble Hill Interactive: Digital Sales & Marketing Consulting Hi, I'm Howard, and I'm addicted to Startups.

I spent the last decade working in, on and consulting to startups. I burned my hand enough times to know, life's too short to build something nobody wants.

I also run FutureNow, a pioneer in the digital marketing optimization space. After 1,000 clients, I've learned to believe what they do, not what they say.

17 July 2005 ~ 1 Comment

Beware of Large Numbers!!

If you converted 1,000,000 visitors into subscribers to your paid online service in one year, surely you’d considered yourself an online success, right? 

But what if you had 7 million unique visitors, per day? 
What if your digital competition was non-existent? 
What if your brand was so strong, it drove 40 million visitors to your offline product, in just 3.5 months? 

Would 1 million subscriptions still feel the same? 

Major League Baseball thinks so, but I must respectfully disagree.

If you’re not ruthlessly focused on measuring and improving your site’s Conversion Rate, you still don’t get it.  Marketing on the ‘net is a pull medium.  Visitors are volunteers in the process.  Clicks are people. 

Each link on your site represents an active decision your visitors make.  Whether you find yourself converting an "industry average" 2-3%, or even an "excellent" 10-12%, you must still consider the problem from the other side- what is your site doing that is actively driving 88% of your visitors away?

Don’t be fooled by large numbers from your Analytics, especially if the largest numbers are still those of visitors being turned away from your site dissatisfied.

26 June 2005 ~ 3 Comments

Are you a Customer Delighting SUPERstar?

While taking a stroll with TheWoman this weekend, we decide to amble into The Gap.  After finding some shorts she desperately had to have, we were disappointed to learn they didn’t have the colors she had chosen, in her correct size.  The sales associate checked the stockroom, and then the inventory of the surrounding stores, and came up with nothing within 20 miles of our location.  Now here’s where the story gets interesting. 

GapGirl offers another solution- we can order online.  TheWoman immediately panics.  It took me a month to find these specific shorts in the store, how the @#%#%$ will I ever find them again online?  And what if the sale price isn’t honored online?  I’ll have to pay for shipping too?  This all sounds like a lot of time, effort and dollars down the drain. 

GapGirl smiles, as she knows the pure delight that’s about to follow.  If you’d like, she explains, I can place the order for you right now, at the same price we’re offering in store.  In fact, you can even pay for them with your in-store purchases, all at the same time, on the same receipt.  Since you’re placing the order from the store, we’re even happy to pick up the shipping for you.  Would you like them delivered Tuesday AM or PM?

An organization’s Delight Factor is much more than aiming to please, it’s about absolutely blowing away the customer in delight.  Under-promising, and over-delivering.  And people say Conversion Analysts are always negative, pessimistic sorts.  (It’s the curse of the job, really.  Spending much of our time providing Real World Sales Analysis, our clients don’t pay us for affirmation of what they’re doing right- they pay for uncovery (and recommendations, of course) of all the things they’re doing wrong.  So naturally, you can see why we’re not usually a hit at parties!)  It’s important to note, you can learn plenty from studying the successes of others. 

How exceptional is your site’s Delight Factor?

22 June 2005 ~ 0 Comments

How can you design Personae if you don’t understand them?

Personadesigngroup_1Don’t get us wrong, we love when people catch on to the need for designing to your visitors (and do it right), but sometimes we can’t help but chuckle at other executions.

Personas allow you to answer your visitors’ questions through language and structures that help them make their decisions. So, if you were looking for a persona-design firm, what might your motivations be? Your fears? What issues might you want resolved? How would you like to begin understanding what this company could do for you? What words might you desperately want to read as evidence this company understands your needs?

You’d hope a persona-design firm would anticipate this stuff – presumably live and breathe it – and craft persona-based relevant messaging. You’d hope to see this messaging immediately, say, directly on their home page?

I guess that’s too much work for some "persona-design firms". Why not just put up an abstract logo with a link to a contact address. Yup, that’s much easier… have to wonder how many people are being persuaded though, huh?


15 June 2005 ~ 0 Comments

Bloggers getting on board

Jim Logan, guest blogging on ProBlogger.net wondered aloud "Is it time to talk more about conversion?" You can imagine we agree, but we did have to mention one teeny-tiny Freudian Slip:

Oh JSLogan, we were with you right up ’til the point you said “A site that is organized towards your purpose” 😉

I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt, because you clearly get it, that what you meant to say was “A site that is organized towards your VISITORS’ purpose, and invites your Call to Action”. This is the key to conversion: we don’t convert, we persuade. When we’ve done our job, and proven our ability to meet the visitors’ needs, they convert themselves.

08 June 2005 ~ 8 Comments

Do I look crazy to you?

Shari Thurow wrote in ClickZ Monday about How NOT to Work With an SEO/SEM Firm.  She interviewed SEO/SEM firms about their most common client/prospect complaints:

You’ll have to change your Web site. Accept this fact before contacting us.

"We have a difficult time talking to people who honestly believe we can wave a magic wand and miraculously make a Web site appear at the top of search results, even in this day and age," said one SEO firm staffer. "In order for us to optimize a site, the site has to change: copywriting (and not just the meta-tag descriptions), information architecture, page layout, link development, you name it. The prospect’s site must change in order for the prospect’s site to receive increased ‘natural’ search engine traffic."

Another SEM firm echoes this sentiment. "When we said that the text content on your pages will need to be changed, what we meant was: the. text. content. on. your. pages. will. need. to. be. changed."

It’s a valid point, but from a Conversion standpoint, it underscores a more important one to us- Why do people continue to try and attack a conversion challenge by throwing more traffic at it?  It’s pure lunacy to change your site to accomodate the recommendations of a firm whose stated goals are to provide more qualified traffic, when you’ve previously displayed an utter inability to close on the qualified traffic you currently enjoy

Fix the holes in the bucket first, and then worry about how to add more water!

22 October 2004 ~ 2 Comments

Optimize Your Site for Cross Channel Shopping

Follow The MoneyAccording to ClickZ stats there are even more numbers that prove that you should be optimizing your site for offline sales, that is where the internet is currently have the most monetary influence.

Majority of US Consumers Research Online, Buy Offline

There are those who walk into a store not knowing what they may find. Then, there are those that come in to a retailer already knowing exactly what they want because they’ve done their product research online.

Forrester Research has a name for it: “cross-channel shopping.” It’s rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with. In a report titled “The US Consumer 2004: Multichannel and In-Store Technology” the research firm details a number specific shopping characteristics and behaviors particular to cross-channel shoppers. The analysis was based on a survey of 8,000 online consumers.

Cross-channel shoppers actually comprise the majority of all online consumers, 65 percent in 2004. Of these, 51 percent are characterized as active cross-channel shoppers who made at least one purchase in the past three months. The trend is bound to continue; the number of new cross-channel shoppers in the past year was 30 percent. Read the entire article.

Bryan Eisenberg’s two most recent Click Z articles deal with lead generation.

Optimize Your Site For Lead Generation
Jumping B2B Hurdles: Lead Generation and Complex Sales

Been putting off time and attention to your website because you aren’t selling online?

If this isn’t smelling salt then I don’t know what it is.