The web, as many know, is a new beast. Long gone are the days of first grabbing your phone book, flipping to the “Moving Company” section, and looking for the best looking ad or simply the nearest company. Back in those days the “leg work” of the sale was done after the initial contact. The rise of the internet era has completely reversed this train of thought.
Consumers are now looking to have the work done by researching online, reading other customer’s reviews, and gathering as many facts as possible BEFORE any contact is made with the business. As potential buyers, today’s shoppers first leverage the power of the internet in their shopping experience. They don’t want to be contacted until they are ready to be. A shopper empowered with search engines is able to gather vast amounts of extremely precise decision-making data before even thinking about contacting a seller.
One of the last things today’s internet users want to do is visit a nice looking site and have to hand over precious information about their identity so that a seller can contact them to “make the sale”. Websites should be able to basically make the sale already. Then the seller just has to close the deal!
With identity theft and fraud on the rise, website users are becoming more and more cautious of even handing over their name and phone number unless they are already 99% sure they want the products/services of a company.
Personally, I find the best sites to be ones that present information on exactly what I am looking for (rather obvious!). But what is that information? If I want to shop for a moving company there are 4 main things I am going to look for while doing my pre-contact research.
- I am going to look for reviews/consumer reports and other information from real people that have used the service. I want to see the good AND BAD reviews. Not many companies have 100% customer satisfaction if they do a substantial amount of business. There are bound to be complaints and resolutions needed. If I see 100% positive posts from “customers” then I am immediately suspicious of who is posting/editing this information. I would rather see “the company broke my favorite lamp!” and afterwards a response/resolution from the customer or the company saying “but they handled it extremely well and replaced it without question!” This goes along directly with the mantra “no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes”.
- Secondly, I want to see some pricing information. I don’t need exacts, but I need to see some estimates. Following the example of moving company, if I want to move a 2-bedroom apartment from Grand Rapids to Traverse City, I want to get an idea of the pricing the company offers before I commit to providing them with a way to contact me. Give us educated shoppers (always assume we have seen your competitors sites!) some type of pricing to add to our research.
- Third is warranty information and value added services that I expect from the company. I don’t necessarily want the CHEAPEST movers, and if your company is not the cheapest then tell me why I should allow you to contact me and what the values are in your services compared to your competitors.
- Lastly, show me pretty pictures of what I am getting/what you offer. Believe it or not there are plenty of internet users out there who simply don’t like to read much… just ask my mother J Show users detail images of what you offer and what you do! Pictures still are worth a thousand words. That has not changed, yet.
I think these 3 main areas are paramount to marketing to today’s SMART internet users. If the company is lucky enough to make it through my initial round of research, then they will be getting a call/email/contact information from me one way or another so they can close the deal. If they get this information then chances are they are very close to winning my business.
Lead Support Technician for Mindscape at Hanon Mckendry