Antion and Associates’ Tom Antion on Making Sure Your Web Site ‘Gets Personal’
Tweaking and editing your Web site to appeal to the broadest possible base of potential customers is a daunting task. Even the most HTML-savvy marketing pro blanches at the thought of constantly changing lanes on the information superhighway, and the natural instincts of many is to get the Web site up and running as quickly as possible, then leave well enough alone. This way of thinking will leave you at the back of the pack, say industry insiders.
Tom Antion, owner of Antion and Associates in Virginia Beach, Va., is one of the nation’s leading experts on successful Internet marketing strategies. Author of the popular business how-to books “The Ultimate Guide to Electronic Marketing for Small Business” and “Wake ’Em Up Business Presentations,” Antion is a sought-after motivational and business speaker who has appeared in more radio and television shows than he can count. Proudly calling himself a “non-techie,” Antion takes a decidedly common-man approach to his books, articles and seminars, preferring language and examples that anyone can understand.
Having made his personal fortune through Internet marketing, these days Antion conducts seminars focusing on increasing your return on investment through strategic use of Internet marketing techniques.
Target Marketing: What is your advice to business owners regarding tailoring their Web sites to enhance their customers’ online experience?
TA: First, you want to start looking for software that’s going to personalize your correspondence with your audience. With just a little programming, you can create what I call a “dynamic sales letter” in an online format. Its purpose is to get the customer involved from the outset, while using that information to direct the customer down different paths within your site. For example, in that opening letter, you may ask them to click one box if they are a new customer, and another box if they are an existing client. Each choice takes them to a different location on the site customized to their answers. The more detailed the questions, the more you can customize the experience offered with each answer. I call that “separating them at birth.”
TM: What are Web surfing customers looking for when they visit a business Web site?
TA: Well, of course that varies according to what services or products are being offered, whether the customer is looking to buy now or just browsing, and many other factors. But in general, customers are looking to say, “Wow! That’s just for me! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for.” They won’t get that “Wow!” feeling if everything on your site is so generically written that it could apply to anyone and everyone. If you have them follow a few simple prompts, “Click here if A” and “Click here if B,” you take them down separate paths, with every word on that path slanted to that particular group.
Let’s say your Web site offers educational help or materials for children. Your first page tells parents to click here, and teachers to click there. Then, let’s say we have the teachers click here if they teach grades one through seven, and click there if they teach grades eight through 12. We can break each category down several times, more acutely tailoring the information at every click. Each group and each subgroup are going to have different emotional triggers, different hot button issues if you will. You tailor each different path to hit a different emotional trigger, and you get that “Wow!” you were looking for.
TM: You have written that it is vital for business owners to continually tweak their sites to improve that interaction with customers. Why is that so important?
TA: It’s part of the psychology of sales. And if sales psychology was important a few years ago, imagine what it’s like today, with consumers bombarded with thousands of sales pitches from thousands of Web sites. You can’t allow your potential customer to get bored with your presentation. On the Internet, bored equals gone. If you lose their attention, even for a moment, they’re clicking out of there, and are gone forever. By custom tailoring your Web site to each part of your target demographic, you have that much more chance of keeping their attention, and keeping their business.