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Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to Waste Money and Annoy Potential Customers

Why do some companies bid on keywords for products they don’t even sell? Or fail to provide the basic information people need to make the decision to buy? Here’s a cautionary tale-- with a happy ending.

HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?

I’m looking online for lamp shades. I go to Google and click on the top Sponsored Link in the right column: Expo.com. I’m taken to their “Lighting and Fans” page. There are 29 links in the left navigation, but no lamp shades. So I do a keyword search. Products Found = 0. All I can do is wonder why they wasted my time and their money, and move on to the next ad.

CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR.

Clicking on the second ad takes me to a home page with a “Shades” tab. I click on that and arrive on a page with information about sizes and a link to the lamp shade collection.

I start browsing and find one I’m interested in. The text instructs me to “Click on lamp image for detail.” I guess they mean lamp shade image. I click, and to my surprise, I see the exact same thumbnail I was looking at, but now I have four color choices and an “ad to cart” button.

OK, I’m a designer. I can appreciate subtlety. But what’s the difference between White, Off-White, Beige and Coffee? All this site shows me is a little grey photo-- but “Dirty” isn’t one of the color choices.

I see the toll-free phone number at the top of the page. I call (during their normal business hours) and get voicemail. They say my call is very important to them, but I’m not so sure...

THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM?

Back to Google, click on another ad which takes me to a page with lamp shades (YAY!). I can sort by nine different criteria, but even so, I don’t see exactly what I want.

There’s a link to talk to a lighting consultant. I’m skeptical, but I call. Someone answers the phone! I explain what I want and I’m told I need a custom shade. This company doesn’t make them, but the consultant refers me to two other sites where I can order custom-made shades.

Even though I didn’t find what I was searching for I really appreciate this experience. I’d be happy to return to this site and do business with this company in the future.

THE MORAL OF THIS STORY

Have some respect for your customers. Think about their needs and do everything you can to meet them. If you’re advertising a product for sale it should be available on your site. If you expect people to make a choice, provide the information and pictures they need to feel comfortable making a decision. And even if you can’t make the sale today, you can and should offer a good customer experience because there’s always tomorrow.

TIPS TO TAKE AWAY

If you place an ad for a product your site should sell that product. Don’t waste your money bidding on keywords for products you don’t sell.

If someone clicks on your ad they should be taken to a relevant landing page. Don’t make people hunt around or do a Search on your site. Show them what they’re looking for right away.

Give them the information they need to make a good decision. Don’t expect them to guess what your product is "really" like.

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