Web Design

Web Design: Four Points to Watch
October 4, 2006

“In my experience, the visual design of your [Web] site matters for about 15 to 20 seconds,” writes Internet consultant and author Ian Lurie in his book “Conversation Marketing.” That may not seem like a great deal of time, but it’s long enough for a first-time visitor to develop an impression of a site, and to decide whether to stick around and read its message or click away. “That means that the first thing they see has to evoke the right response,” writes Lurie, who goes on to identify a few key design areas where marketers should spend some time. • Color. “People react

Do-it-yourself Support
September 1, 2006

Let’s consider two scenarios: In the first one, which takes place in the Stone Age, a customer has a problem with your widget. She dials your toll-free number on her stone phone, and the call center rep (who’s wearing a loincloth because it’s casual Friday) spends valuable time walking the customer through the process of hooking up the widget. In the second scenario, you have a customer who has a problem with your widget. She surfs over to your Web site and clicks on the FAQ section located in a prominent place on your home-page. The first few FAQs in the list are the most

Six Questions to Determine Your Rich Media Readiness
August 30, 2006

One of my top pet peeves on Web sites is a cumbersome checkout process that requires me to flip back and forth between Web pages as I try to determine whether I filled out all fields properly, which shipping method is best for my needs and how to get a printable order confirmation form. If all these tasks could be fulfilled from one checkout page, I would shop online a great deal more often. According to a new whitepaper from Resource Interactive, an interactive marketing and technology firm in Columbus, Ohio, my online shopping future looks to be much brighter. In The Tipping Point for

Build Your Site With Conversion In Mind
July 12, 2006

The success of any Web-based marketing effort depends on its ability to turn visitors into leads or buyers. And “the Web sites, landing pages and even banner ads that achieve the greatest conversion rates do more than enable visitors to locate and navigate to relevant content and achieve the goal that first prompted their visit,” writes Jeannette Kocsis, director of online marketing at Harte-Hanks Direct and author of The Conversion Point: Leveraging the Web to Convert Visitors into Customers, a whitepaper recently published by Harte-Hanks. The entire process should be concise, easy to follow and quick. To this end, Kocsis recommends marketers and site developers

Expedite Customer Service Inquiries
June 28, 2006

Your customers need to be able to communicate with you—whether they have product-related questions, shipping questions or installation issues. Providing them with an easy-to-find e-mail link on your Web site is a good start. However, giving customers the means to send free-form customer service e-mails may actually slow down your ability to respond to their needs quickly and efficiently. “Free-form e-mails are very difficult to handle,” says Greg Gianforte, CEO of Bozeman, Mont.-based customer experience management solutions provider RightNow Technologies. “You don’t know how to route them; you don’t have any classification information, and there’s no opportunity to provide additional assistance before e-mails [are] submitted.” Instead,

Three Ways to Boost Customer Service
June 21, 2006

In today’s competitive marketing environment, excellent customer service can make you stand head and shoulders above your competition. To take your customer service to the next level, Greg Gianforte, CEO of Bozeman, Mont.-based customer experience management solutions provider RightNow Technologies, suggests implementing the following best practices: 1. Make sure all your customer service channels—e-mail, live chat, Web self-service and telephone customer service—draw information from one unified content repository, so answers are consistent. 2. Follow up every e-mail customer service exchange with a brief—one- to three-question—customer satisfaction survey. According to Gianforte, this survey can be as simple as, “On a scale of one to five, were you

The Five Steps of the Perfect Checkout Process
June 21, 2006

In the bricks-and-mortar world, people abandon a shopping cart on average 2.5 to 3.3 times out of 10. In the online retail space, people say sayonara to their shopping cart on average 6.1 to 10 times out of 10. Amy Africa, chief imagin-8-tor at online marketing consultancy Eight by Eight, used this statistic last month for emphasis in her ACCM presentation, “48 Tips for Increasing Your Web Conversion and E-sales Now!” A key reason for abandonment, she says, is marketers make it too complicated and frustrating for people to complete the process. The ideal checkout process should be comprised of just five steps: 1. welcome/cart

Royal Caribbean’s Maria Polo-Gonzalez on Rich Media for Web Sites
June 14, 2006

Ahead of this summer’s launch of its newest and, thus far, largest cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas, cruise marketer Royal Caribbean International had a launch of another sort. A year ahead of the ship’s maiden voyage, the marketer debuted its www.freedomoftheseas.com mini Web site. Available as part of its main Web site, www.royalcaribbean.com, the mini site also was made available to Royal Caribbean trade partners for use on their Web sites—that is, the travel agents who then could market the new experience to customers looking for their next vacation option. Incorporating full-motion video and audio, and featuring three-dimensional renderings

Boost Web Site Conversion
May 31, 2006

Only 1 percent to 3 percent of all Web site visitors convert into customers, reports Topica, an online marketing and sales solutions provider based in San Francisco, in its whitepaper The Basics of Website Visitor Conversion. If the only way visitors can engage with your company is by making a purchase, this means 97 percent of your traffic will leave without taking any action. One way to improve your conversion rates, suggests Topica, is to establish a lead acquisition program that captures Web site visitors not yet ready to buy, but who have expressed an interest in your product or services and may be persuaded

Design for Easy Site Navigation
May 24, 2006

The majority of Web visitors land on your homepage and never go any further. They either click on the wrong link and land on your site by mistake, or they have no incentive to stay and dig deeper. To get visitors to scratch below the surface, you need to make it easy for them to navigate your site. According to Amy Africa, chief marketing imagina-8-tor of Web solutions firm EightbyEight, an effective navigation arrangement offers several tiers of navigation and forms a large “C” shape on the page. * The action bar at the top tells visitors what you want them to do and should