Hey! People Are Excited About My New Product!

Posted on July 27, 2011 | No Comments

Following up on yesterdays “Why Aren’t People Excited About My New Product?,” here’s an example of a newsletter I received that has the potential to get users excited through Good Web Writing.

As explained yesterday, Good Web Writing:

  • is part of a conversation
  • answers questions
  • lets people grab and go

Who am I? I still sign up for newsletters to get deals.

I open this email, which tells me “Congratulations! As a member, you have access to this brand new program,” giving me an opportunity to pass along discounts to families and friends, while also earning rewards.

(Lesson: This email answered questions effectively. Who? Me and My Friends. What? A discount and promo code. Where? Online shopping. When? Now – though I don’t know when this offer ends. How? Get my friends to buy a kit so I get a gift. Why am I here? You’ll get a discount or a gift certificate, even if I don’t want the product.)

I click on the Tell Me More because in the email, there is no way to sign up for the project without clicking on the link to the site. My main goal in heading to this site is to learn how to send the deal to my friends.

(Lesson: I’m taken directly to the area of the site I wanted to go to, without a preamble sales pitch. The conversation element is there – lots of headings posed as questions, the option to sign in is in the first person (log in to my SKINID) and the graphic showing has speech bubbles to remind me of the special and subconsciously emphasize the conversational element of the deal)

The only question I have is “what is my SKINID? Is it a different log in than what I used for the newsletter?” I try to enter in the account details I use for my newsletter, but it doesn’t recognize it – so, I guess I need to sign up for something new if I want the gift certificate or the discount. Worth it? Depends on the user (me).

How Did This Email Campaign Do?

  • The website was part of a conversation – absolutely. By creating digital copy that uses questions to help guide the user through the process, this site is simple and engaging.
  • The website answered questions – For the most part. While the SKINID membership is a puzzler (why would someone have that if it’s a new product?), everything was explained – the who, what, where, when, why and how. A user knew why they were on this site, whether they planned to follow through with the offer or not.
  • The website let me grab and go – Again, for the most part. By needing to sign up for a new membership, it created a step that didn’t let me immediately grab and go. But props to the designers and content strategists who brought the user right to the information about the campaign rather than forcing then through content about the promoted product. It trusted that, if I were interested in learning more, I could find the information in myself the navigation.
Of course, not every product has the budget to offer gift certificates and deep discounts to get users to try out a new product, but any new online promotion – be it for a new product, service, TV show, or game – can draw inspiration from a well executed campaign and tailor it to meet their goals.

Why Aren’t People Excited About My New Product?

Posted on July 26, 2011 | 1 Comment

Ginny Redish, the author of Letting Go of the Words, says Good Web Writing is based on usability and:

  • is like a conversation
  • answers peoples questions
  • lets people grab and go

Using this as a base, let’s look at an email alert I received this week and determine if it was successful in its digital writing to get me excited about a new product.

Who am I?:  I signed up for this newsletter because I love coupons. It’s true. No shame.

(Lesson: A pay-off will get someone to sign up for a newsletter. Coupons, recognition, additional secret information that no one else could get… If you’re creating a persona around people who sign up for your newsletters, be sure to include one who is in it to get something)

Their latest newsletter featured a link to coupons, but also prominently featured a new product. I thought maybe I’d get another pay-off if I clicked on “check it out” to learn more about the product. Why else would they want me to click on it? The newsletter blurb gave me all the information I need… why would I need to know more?

 (Lesson: Don’t automatically assume your users are as excited about your new product as you are – if you want visitors to read more on the product, provide a reason to click on the link other than ‘to provide more information.’ Also, stop using “check it out” online. Just. Stop.)

So, I clicked on the “check it out” to enter the site.  It featured lots of information about the product (which I didn’t read), rollovers on a graphic (some of which didn’t work) and links with animations to show the razor’s different features (of which I clicked on one).

(Lesson: If good web content is like a conversation, this one was one-sided. It successfully answers questions a user may have about the product, but doesn’t answer: why am I here?

The website also featured a “love it, pass it on!” link, which I thought – ok – maybe sending info will also provide a coupon. So, I clicked on it.

Who in their right mind would send their friend an email about a new razor? Really think about this… What is interesting about this?

(Lesson: Including interactivity and opportunities to share content is great – but not all content is worth sharing. Adding a pay-off “send to 5 friends for a free sample” would encourage more use of this form)

I clicked on this “buy it now” link, thinking it might be good to find out where to buy one – and maybe I’d find a deal:

So, I click Buy It Now, and the following pop-up appears:

Wait… wha? Why is it even an option?

(Lesson: Anticipate what the user will do when they come to the site. Good web writing answers a visitor’s question – not make them ask more. Also, if you offer something on your site, such as “Buy it Now!” or “See the video clip now!” it’s in your best interest to make sure the content exists every time. Also, avoid industry speak. Rather than partner online retailer, try “online shops” and let the user know where they can find it in the real world, if that option is available)

How Did This Email Campaign Do?

  • the web writing was like a conversation – not really. While there were efforts to share the information, there was no anticipation of the user’s part of conversation when they would open this site.
  • the website answered questions – the campaign answered questions the who, what and how about the razor, but did so in the well written introductory paragraph on the newsletter. It didn’t effectively anticipate the where and why questions a visitor would ask, such as “where can I buy this?” or “why am I here?”
  • the website let me grab and go – since the campaign didn’t answer real user questions, there was nothing to “go” with on this site. I could grab the link to the site and send it to a friend, but what am I grabbing and why would I share it?
Coming up – we’ll look at a e-newsletter that got its content right.

Online Travel assistance

Posted on February 9, 2011 | No Comments

I recently had to book some flights for business travel and the online landscape has changed. Did you hear the one about American Airlines not appearing on Expedia? Back in January, American Airlines has its second falling out with an online airline sales website due to contract issues, namely the airline wants to pay these sites less money and have users book directly on their own website.

Airlines and hotels are increasingly encouraging the public to book directly on their corporate sites rather than through third party aggregators to offer additional buy-ins like hotel room upgrades and airline seat choices to the consumer. This trend could force Expedia, Travelocity and others to change their business models slightly in order to stay in business.

While Global Business Travel Assn says booking directly with the airline and the hotelier may increase costs for the customer, other sites are popping up to help you compare prices and make sure you’re getting the bang for your buck. Here’s one to show your colleagues: Hipmunk.com is a very easy-t0-use site that organizes its search based on time, price and agony. It doesn’t support all airlines, yet. Toronto’s Porter Airlines for example, wasn’t appearing in any of their beautiful charts.  Upon chatting with their very helpful live help chat, they thanked me for letting them know the airline was missing. How nice!

Bonus: OK, so say you’re flying to the U.S. and you want to check up on an airport’s hands-on TSA review process, look no further than this TSA Status site, created and updated by its users.  This heavily rainbowed site doesn’t have the cleanest of interfaces, but it is handy. It’s also a great place if you feel a compulsion to complain about a TSA agent online.

So next time you need to book a flight for work or pleasure, impress everyone with your knowledge of these two handy sites. Got others?

Paying for TV shows vs. Streaming for Free

Posted on January 23, 2011 | No Comments

I love my 30 Rock: so much that I chose, for the second year in a row, to purchase iTunes’ Season Pass for the show since I don’t have cable. This means every episode is available for me to download soon after it’s broadcast on TV… in theory.

There are a few reasons why I chose to pay for an episode on iTunes:

– I’m a good person and not keen on illegally downloading content

– much like those who pay to watch a movie at the cinema rather than wait to watch the film for free on TV later, this Season Pass gives me the privilege of watching a commercial-free episode before others get to watch it for free

The newest 30 Rock episode aired last Thursday. It is now Sunday and the episode is not yet available on iTunes.  And to add salt a $3.50 wound, I can go to my local broadcast channel website and watch this episode today for free.

When this happened earlier once before, I was annoyed, but shrugged it off… NBC  had changed 30 Rock‘s timeslot and in doing so perhaps affected its availability on iTunes. But for this to happen a second time just a few months later, without a means for me to get my money back or a gesture for a free download, shows a lack of respect for the consumer of legal content.

If companies create business models based on having consumers pay for content directly, these types of hiccups cannot happen – especially when the content being sold is already readily available elsewhere for free – first illegally and then legally by means of the broadcast website.

Now that this is the second time an episode I paid for is available for free, I shall:

– never purchase an iTunes Season Pass again

– collect horror stories by other good citizens who are willing to pay for content, but who venture to watch the content for free to avoid the hassle.

Kickstarter – crowd sourced financing explained

Posted on January 17, 2011 | No Comments

Kickstarter calls itself “a fun way to fund & follow creativity,” and gained a lot of attention after TikTok+LunaTik Multi-Touch Watch Kits for the new iPod Nano pledged for $15,000 and got just under a million dollars in funding. It’s a site where artists pitch creative projects that need funding, and it’s up to the user to determine whether it’s worth of a pledge (aka, crowd-sourced funding).

Outside of crowd-sourcing, if you work professionally in a creative field (television, gaming, etc), this site may offer a unique vision into what’s being pitched, what’s piquing interest form the masses, etc.

Zippycart created an awesome infographic so I don’t have to explain a thing about how it works. Love that! (And if you’re interested in e-commerce, definitely read up on Zippycart.)


Click to Enlarge
[Via: ZippyCart - reviewing the best ecommerce software online]

Deal of the Day site Fatigue

Posted on January 1, 2011 | No Comments

Here’s what I do now – Around midnight, I check my Groupon app on my iPhone for the latest deal, then move over to WagJag.com to see what they have to offer. In the morning, I move to DealFind, LivingSocial and finally a new site called from Red Flag Deals called DealoftheDay.

I’m sure there is a slew of other sites offering deals upon deals.  And why not? Rumour has it Groupon turned down Google’s $6 billion buy-out offer. Of course, that news would trigger other entrepreneurs and eager businesses to launch their own daily deal sites while envisioning what they would do with a few billion.

But I might be suffering from coupon fatigue. The issue I find is many of these sites are offering the same thing over and over again. How many days of the week are dedicated to specials on botox injections, laser hair removal, photograph enlargements and 3-month gym memberships? A lot.

I recently used a Groupon for a local salon and asked the owner why she went with a deal-of-the-day site. She said her main goal was to attract new clientele to the salon, but when pressed if she’s experiencing a surge of new business from the promotion, she said it’s 90% current clients who discovered the deal so far.  When Gap famously offered $25 for $50 worth of merch in August, some analysts claimed the retailer may have made $6 to $11 million, but since it’s a half price coupon, that it essentially also lost $6 to $11 million (a kind of glass-half-empty response). A recent Rice University study indicates 66% of Groupon promotions were profitable, but more than 40% of businesses wouldn’t use it again.

Many social couponing sites have a few kinks to work out before appealing to the Googles and the Facebooks. Some deal of the day sites didn’t update their deals over the December holidays (there’s too much competition to not be a daily offer in this business). Other sites have angered potential customers by offering cheap iPads that were never actually in stock for the masses. Recently, WagJag CEO, when responding in an interview to complaints from customers about poor customer service, narrowed it down to a small handful of users who didn’t know to check their junkmail. Groupon has its share of complaints as well – similarly with communication issues.

Rumour has it Four Square will be looking to partner with Groupon this year – which makes sense – check-in, get a coupon. More partnerships should happen this year as well – maybe not from Google, but maybe large-scale retailers. Think about it – Last week, Sears and Kmart in the States announced plans to launch an online Netflix competitor -which boggles my mind as it would seem the retailer went after the wrong competition – merging coupon sites with large retailers seems like a no-brainer.

Have we reached the max on coupon sites, or will there be a crash soon? How many vials of Botox must each city buy to keep these sites alive?

Online shopping and shipment

Posted on October 18, 2010 | No Comments

I ordered my first huge item from the sales website Beyond the Rack a few weeks ago: a really great looking table and set of chairs plus an ultra-cool black lamp for a very decent price. I’ve ordered from this website before, clothing mostly, so I felt confident this delivery would be smooth. Beyond the Rack delivers to Canada, which is a fantastic bonus, and they’ve got amazing communication. Every week, I was emailed with updates on the delivery of these items.

Three weeks after ordering, the package came on Friday (two weeks ahead of schedule!). However, we received the lamp in the wrong colour and most importantly, the table and chairs were delivered damaged. Despite the “fragile” warnings on the box, the corners were smashed in – resulting in chipped and damaged furniture. It’s not Beyond the Rack’s fault the delivery method failed, and it’s unfortunate they seemingly weren’t aware the manufacturer of said furniture decided to protect the goods with just cardboard and tape (nary a piece of padding in sight).

So, on to returning the item. With past deliveries from BTR, I’d get an invoice along with clear instructions on returns. This time, however, nothing – I looked in each box for my invoice, but nothing could be found. I emailed the company to receive a form letter, instructing me to use the Fed Ex return documents. This package, however, was delivered by UPS – which I assume is the company’s Canadian courier.

Getting this response meant I was prepared for the worst – the last thing I wanted was a hassle. But maybe I’m too cynical.

When I reply to tell them I don’t have the return documents, I receive an email the next morning with the documents for me to print out and put on all of the boxes. All I need to do is call up Fed Ex and done. Super easy!

Remember when getting a delivery meant waiting forever for the delivery person to return? Or even when you get home from a shop and notice a defect, you still have to go all the way back out to the store to make a return? While it’s annoying the packages were delivered in bad shape and without necessary paperwork, BTR turned the situation that was honestly beyond their control around and made it easy on me, the customer.* I’d still take shopping online over mall shopping any day.

*Of course, if I don’t get a refund, I’ll be spewing vitriol. Stay tuned!

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