After all, conversion rates are just a step along the way to the ultimate business goal of greater profits from satisfied customers who
- come back for more
- refer friends and colleagues
- post positive reviews online
- and do not unduly stress your staff
Subtle or Explicit?
Prospective customers with specific needs, tastes and preferences weigh a variety of clues when they are browsing for products or services, including photos, verbal descriptions and features listed.
For instance, someone looking for a resort where they can have a family reunion for three couples with a total of ten children might skip a property advertised only with romantic couple photos, despite the phrase “family-friendly” and a water slide listed as among the resort’s amenities.
Here’s a resort on Cape Cod that portrays itself as suitable for all ages:
The more distinctly you cater to a particular customer profile, the more important it is that you emphasize the targeted population, needs or preferences in your website copy and graphics.
Ditto if you have discovered through painful experiences over the years that clients with certain characteristics are way more trouble than they’re worth.
Here are five relatively blatant, explicit and effective online techniques for attracting the customers you most want and discouraging those you’d rather not have.
1. Page on “How We Work” or “What to Expect”
Business or lifestyle coaches, web designers, programmers, financial advisors and many other service providers have been known to post a page called “How we work” or “What to expect.”
While this may delineate the steps in the process that they go through with each client, such a page also can show how the service delivery may delight some people and frustrate others.
For instance, the “How We Work” page of Advanced Fitness Coaching in Terre Haute, Indiana, offers understanding and a comfortable training environment for those who dislike gyms full of mirrors, intimidating machines, loud music, sweat and stares from strangers.
If that’s an environment in which you feel comfortable, of course, you’d probably skip this company and look for a more high-powered, conventional workout coach. And that’s undoubtedly what would be best for both sides.
I thought long and hard about my own likes and dislikes in clients, as well as my temperament and talents, before creating a “what to expect” section for the consulting page of my website. Among the points I wanted to communicate frankly, yet somewhat diplomatically, were these:
I have little tolerance for office politics and much prefer working for the one person who is in charge.
I’m direct and candid rather than chatty and empathetic.
I trust my intuition and offer quick insights that clients find surprising and helpful.
I feel better working with clients who are not in desperate financial straits.
Here is how the polished-up version came out:
2. Page on “Our Ideal Client”
Another framework for communicating who you prefer to be doing business with is a page delineating the qualities of your ideal client.
Sometimes those characteristics are easy-to-understand facts, such as “work-at-home moms” or “more than $1 million in assets,” while other times they are subtle matters of feelings, desires or philosophy, such as “openness to expert advice” or “willingness to change.”
By looking at two “ideal client” profiles from different financial services firms, you can see that this technique can convey significant distinctions that trigger the response “That’s me!” or “Doesn’t sound like me.”
Compare the picture you get from Planning Matters in Clifton Park, New York…
…to the snapshot that emerges from Prosperion Financial Advisors in Greenwood Village, Colorado:
Whereas Planning Matters declares that they want “financial delegators” who trust them to recommend sound decisions, Prosperion emphasizes client “understanding and empowerment.” Planning Matters clearly wants to be the only advisor you are working with, while Prosperion suggests you should have technological savvy to be a good client for them.
Interestingly, both firms refer to simplicity, but for Planning Matters that has to do with working with just one advisor. Prosperion talks about making “finances simple enough to easily pass along to their children or spouse.”
3. “Our Values” Page
Still another structure for encouraging certain types of clients and discouraging others is a page headed “Our values” or “Our philosophy” or “What we believe.”
This provides an opportunity to discuss ethical or professional commitments that matter to you and to your ideal customers.
No animal testing.
We work hard, play hard and deploy a sense of humor when things don’t go as planned.
You’re kept informed every step of the way — and we listen seriously to your feedback.
The pleasantness of the journey matters as much as reaching the final destination.
We donate 10% of all profits to the ___ Church.
We’ll always tell you about alternative treatment options that don’t involve drugs or surgery.
Notice how up front Advanced Chiropractic in Newnan, Georgia, for instance, is about their religious frame of reference and belief in natural healing:
4. Back-handed “Don’t Buy if…”
Some marketers feel that the best way to be really clear about who should buy and who shouldn’t is to accentuate the negative. Take a look at Perry Marshall’s “don’t buy if..” section of a sales page for a recorded seminar he is selling, for instance:
He is unafraid to turn prospects away.
Training consultant Will Kenny uses a less harsh, more humorous tone in his page, 7 Reasons NOT to Hire Me, which he says gets lots of traffic:
Up to here, the test of whether or not you have written and designed copy that primes readers to self-select appropriately is this:
Would some people think, “Yuck! This isn’t what I want!” while others feel excited and want to know more?
Your answer should be “yes” on both counts.
The last idea takes a slightly different approach.
5. The “Jump Through Hoops” Strategy
Sometimes it feels important to screen potential clients by requiring them to do something.
For instance, literary agents traditionally don’t respond positively to telephone queries from those who have a book idea. “Send me a proposal,” they reply uniformly, without any substantive discussion.
They don’t want to waste time with someone who can talk a great game but will never write things down, much less compose in compelling paragraphs and chapters.
You sometimes see a variety of this dynamic online when a service provider throws down a gauntlet in the form of a questionnaire a prospective client must complete and submit before any discussion of an engagement can begin.
By filling out the questionnaire, the prospect proves his or her willingness to participate in the process of reaching positive results, rather than expecting to hand over money to someone who finishes a project without interaction.
According to users of this technique, the ideal client will fill out the form but non-ideal clients won’t. Gone are the time-wasting tire kickers! There may be further screening according to what respondents say in the form, as well.
Here is a relatively gracious example from money coach Patricia Stallworth, who requests quite a lot of information before allowing someone to sign up for her free “Profit Acceleration Assessment.”
Notice the degree of thought and disclosure expected in Stallworth’s questionnaire. Only someone pre-sold on hiring her (or someone like her) would put forth the effort. In the prospective client’s answers, Stallworth also gets key indicators of whether or not they fit her ideal client profile.
The bottom line
As conversion optimizers, we aren’t always interested in huge numbers of responses. It’s the conversion rate that matters most.
So we prefer to qualify responses early, so only the best prospects visit our pages and respond to any offer.
That process starts with you. First, identify who your ideal customer is. Then apply one of the 5 approaches above to weed out people who don’t fit your profile.
The results will be worth the effort.
Have you used the “we’re not for you if” approach? How has it worked for you?
Read other Crazy Egg articles by Marcia Yudkin