Archive for September, 2011

Want to Turn Off Website Visitors? Don’t Include Your Prices

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According to Jakob Nielson, a website usability expert, one of the most important things that prospective customers are looking for on your website is pricing. Yet so many service businesses do not include their pricing on their site. This is understandable if your service is customized for each client and there’s a proposal process to bid on a client’s project, but if you have “packages” that you offer at a fixed rate, why not include them?

Nielson says, “The most user-hostile element of most B2B sites is a complete lack of pricing information. And yet, when we asked users to prioritize which of twenty-eight types of B2B site information mattered most to them, prices scored the highest by far (29% higher than product availability, which ranked second).”

I’ve heard many people say that their prices are flexible. I interpret that to mean: if I’m really hungry, I’ll lower my price for you. I believe in fair pricing: everyone is charged the same price for the same service. I also believe in pro bono (free) work if you really want to help out those who can’t afford your services.

Nielson goes on to say, “Sites have many excuses for not wanting to display prices, but they are just that: excuses. Users expect to get a basic understanding of products and services during their initial research, and they can’t do that without some idea of what it’s going to cost. Even if your company can’t list exact prices, there are several ways to indicate price level, which is really all people need initially.”

If you think that your prospective clients are going to call you to get your prices, think again. Not having prices on your website makes people feel uncomfortable and intimidated, and they’ll find another website where they know what things cost. Either give prospective customers the information they’re looking for, or they’ll go to your competitors site where they can get their questions answered. (Do you really want to come across as saying, “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford me?”)

Read his survey results here; while this particular survey is testing business-to-business (B2B) websites, the same holds true to business-to-consumer (B2C) website usability:

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/b2b.html

And, yes, I list my prices for coaching and consulting on the Passion For Business website. Five years ago, I had a hard time finding other coaches and mentors who listed their prices. Recently I see more of them sharing their program and package pricing, which helps their prospects get a sense of what their costs will be. But here’s the correlation: I’m also seeing coaches and mentors get much better at describing their services and outcomes on their websites, which helps the prospect justify the fees in their own mind. When you can show your customer what they’re getting for their investment, you respect their ability to make decisions based on their wants and needs.

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Website Planning

Making Prospective Customers Feel Welcome

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I know you’ve heard it a thousand times: make your prospective customer feel welcome and safe while they’re learning about your products and services, and they’ll buy from you.

But when you actually see this in action, it’s a miracle to behold.

This afternoon, with several hours to spare before I had to appear at a speaking engagement in New York City, I wandered into Macy’s Herald Square. It’s one of the busiest department stores in New York, and it didn’t help that it was pouring rain and everyone wanted to get inside to dry off a bit.

So how does Macy’s welcome it’s customers? With the most brilliant — and inexpensive — solution that can be handed out at the door on a rainy day: Umbrella Bags. A very nice man in a very nice business suit stood at the door for hours, offering people plastic bags (with the Macy’s logo on it, naturally!) so that they could tuck their wet umbrellas away while they shopped.

You might think this is no big deal, but if you’ve ever shopped in a crowded store, trying to figure out what to do with your web umbrella is a real distraction.

Macy’s made every person who walked through the door feel welcomed and cared for. Net result: less distracted people who could focus on buying.

Now apply this to your business.

If you have an office or a place where you meet customers, how welcoming is it? What color is the decor? Do you see to their basic and common needs, like bathrooms, water, etc.?

If your business has a website, do you give them the information they’re looking for, in a simple and speedy way? Are your text, graphics and colors friendly and welcoming?

When you answer the phone, how is your voice modulated? When you answer emails, what type of reply comes off your keyboard?

Make your customers feel welcomed and cared for, and they’ll return again and again.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business