The Mom Test
Wise Men

Internet going to the dogs?

The Internet is an interesting place, if you really think about it. Never before in human history has there been such a ubiquitous communications medium. That is one of its strengths, and one of its weaknesses (cringing a little inside as I write that sentence; it's so cliche.) The Internet is strong because it doesn't discriminate. It's also weak because it doesn't discriminate. In the end, it's most powerful aspect is that it gives US, the humans, the power we need to do what we want.

To get right to the point--I came across this blog in Lifetime Magazine (part of Lifetime TV) and I couldn't resist a visit. The blog is called "Jasperblog" and it's all about a good-looking labrador retriever. Jasper's blog is written by a young woman who writes technical manuals for a living, who has her own blog which she calls "Blog from a Broad," cautioning that "it may contain nuts." My kinda woman.

I'm struck by the power of blogging, by the nature of the Internet to embrace, accept, even invent, new ways to communicate. That's what Lisa, the nutty blog lady who writes Jaspersblog, is doing--communicating. To a specific demographic. To a group of like-minded people. Visit Jaspersblog and see what I mean. Animal lovers, dog lovers in particular, are into it big-time.

Which leads me to the reason for today's the Internet going to the dogs? Yes. And, to cats. And to kids. And to Grandmothers; to technical writers; to men and women; to girls and boys; to Canada, the Caman Islands, China, Japan, Australia, and maybe to the moon, I'm not sure. People spend too much time on the "technology" of the Internet, and not enough time on the personalization of the Internet. By putting up a blog about her dog, Lisa has gotten truly personal. That is what you need to do if you're selling goods and services online.

MarketingSherpa's publisher, Anne Holland, also has a blog. In a January 25th post, she wrote about the value of website redesign as a means to push (or pull) sales. In her example from The Sleep Better Store, a site redesign--done in order to "keep up with the competition" did not increase sales as expected. "It was flat, if not declining," marketer Philip Krim told Anne. So, what happened?

Short and long of it is this: the store was trying to keep up with the Jones--an old-fashioned, Dick and Jane way of trying to prove you're as good as or better than your neighbor. In this case, as good as, or--hopefully--better than your competitor. It backfired because The Sleep Better Store doesn't have to be as good as or better than their competition. What they have to do is get personal with their customers. The customers shop at their store and spend money. The customers should be driving their sales goals and marketing perspective. Which is what they found out, after spending lots of time and money on that major redesign--which led to another redesign, this time one focused on customer satisfaction.

Watch the competition, but follow Krim's lead and understand who you're selling to before you go out and spend a lot of time and money redesigning yourself! In the case of the The Sleep Better Store, Krim discovered that his potential customers--"boomers looking to spend over $2000 on a new bed" wanted simplicity and text-based navigation links! Not flashy images and drop-down menus with fifteen link options. "Just the facts, Ma'am," as a favorite TV Dick used to say (Jack Webb, who played Sergeant Joe Friday on Dragnet the television show, circa 1959).

Hasn't "Dickless Marketing" been telling you that all along? Remember: in the boomer demographic, women rule. And we want a quick and easy shopping experience. One of the reasons we want it that way is because we like to comparison shop. Krim found that out while studying his site metrics. He confessed to Anne Holland that consumers research heavily online before buying the high-ticket items. This means having a #1 ranking on a search return isn't always a good thing. The consumer, Jane, is going down the list and checking out everybody who looks promising. She may, or may not, go back to your top listing.

As a last word, don't forget to include respect for privacy in your marketing mix.

In a report out of Primediabusiness customers most often abandon a shopping cart for four reasons:

1. Shipping and handling shock: don't save it for the end. Let them know up front what the s/h is going to be. Or how it's computed.

2. Taking too long to deliver. I can't help but wonder why anything needs to take more than a week-10 days to be delivered, but I've been to sites where delivery is promised in 2-3 weeks. Not acceptable. Get it out within 24 hours, or forget it.

3. Too invasive. Don't ask for a lot of personal information. If you learn how to "get personal" like starting a blog for your dog, folks with GIVE you the information you want. Asking for it just makes them suspicious.

4. Not enough product information. Don't believe the popular saying: a picture is worth a thousand words. Women may be drawn to colors, and to design, but we want the particulars in words. That fabulous spring ensemble at your site looks entirely different on my monitor than it does on my sister's. Depending on my liking your products or services because you have pretty pictures on your site won't get me to click that buy button, or that contact link. Give me a reason to do and words work together.

Now, what's not to like about that?


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Hi! Thanks very much for linking to my blog and I'm glad you got a kick out of it. :) I'm really curious now - do you have a copy of the article that mentions my blog? I'd love to read what they said about it! Cheers, Lisa.

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