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Web Tourists Part 2 – Helping Your Prospects Find Their Way

In part 1 we looked at how web prospects are a lot like tourists visiting a foreign country for the first time. In this post we will look at how we can make it easier for our visitors to find their way without wandering down any dark alleys or tourist-traps.

Making a destination decision

Even before a tourist decides where they want to go they are being influenced. We don’t completely trust brochures, everyone seems so forced and fake, we know what can be done with clever photography and photoshop. The media puts ideas of where is a good place to visit also of course, and travel companies try their best, but more importantly friends, family and colleagues have a massive influence. There is a great deal of risk involved with choosing a brand new destination. If someone can recommend a resort and accommodation you feel 100% more confident in your decision, particularly when this person has interests and values in common.

This is the power of the referral.

Of all marketing techniques the referral is one of my favourites. There are different types of referrals, “JVs”, “reviews”, “testimonials”, “blog links”, etc, but it comes down to social influence. The credibility, endorsement, reinforcement and evidence provided by a real person recommending something.

People don’t trust advertising!

You need to back up your advertising, branding, PR, with opinions your prospects trust. Get on other peoples newsletters and blogs, get testimonials, encourage reviews (authentic, not paid).

Arrival aggravation

We all know the “stranger in a strange land” feeling. Some places it is almost like they try to punish tourists by removing sign posts and turning off street lights.

Does your marketing and web navigation send your prospects down blind alleys? Are your links sending them into never-ending one-way systems until they starve?

We were in Toronto the other week. I had to get a couple of blocks over so I could meet some people. This two-minute journey turned into half an hour. First we couldn’t turn right out of our hotel, so had to go left into bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic. The one way system and our unfamiliar surroundings made us confused, frustrated and late. I should have got a cab.

It’s the same feeling when I visit a website for the first time. I know what I am looking for but I have to jump through hoops, search, next-next-next …. what I really need is a big fat “get it here” button right where I can see it. The website equivalent of a taxi cab.

But I don’t want one of those tourist-trap-rip-off taxis!

You know the sort. “Hehe I got a tourist, back-streets and ten miles out of the way it is!”.

Yes have sign up forms, of course you need to collect some information. But when you add inside leg measurement, mothers maiden name, tax code, just to get your newsletter then people feel ripped off. Or worse, when your email starts getting bombarded with “offers” … that’s when you know you are in a tourist-trap, is this how you want your audience to feel?

Make it obvious how to get to your main features and content. Don’t put up unnecessary barriers and road-blocks. Get your prospects to their destination fast and with a smile on their face. That’s when taxi drivers get tips!

Where to go, what is there to do?

This is all fine when you know what you want, but what about when you are dropped in a strange place for a while and you don’t know what to do?

A number of times I have found myself in strange locations through work. I might have a few hours or a full day to fill. Not particularly places I ever intended visiting, or places I know very little about, or worst of all places I have been to so many times I have exhausted the entertainment possibilities.

So many people put up their website or blog and assume people will consume from the first page right through to the last. It rarely works that way.

Take my blog for example.

There is over 100 pages of content. Many people parachute into a page smack in the middle. Call it a landing page, even though it might not have been designed that way, that is where they landed.

My visitor reads that page. Then the thought arrives “now what?”.

If you don’t supply an answer then their decision will be “anywhere but here“.

Of course there are two obvious things you want to do

  1. Give them small ideas of where to go next
  2. Be known for something fantastic, something worth seeing

Most people discover point 1 all on their own. With a little thought it is often easy to get that right.

But without point 2 you are one of those “I don’t want to be here” places I mentioned. Do you want to be Paris, London, New York, or do you want to be … no, I am not that cruel. But you can definitely think of places where there is an attraction, land mark, wonder of the world, and some places that … haven’t got any of that?

That is why you need flagship content. What do you want your destination attraction to be? How do you want your prospects to talk about you? Have you got a main draw?

Summary

Some places you find yourself confident recommending, places you would happily return to again and again. Other locations you only visit because you have to, don’t particularly enjoy or actually find painful to visit. It is the same with the web and marketing online, you can push and cajole someone into visiting your destination but if the experience does not live up to expectations … well, you would have been better that they never heard of you. Brands are built with experiences and people, like it or not, share those experiences.

Make a visit to your location fun, easy, interesting, remarkable. Give them something great to talk about and help people find it.

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Comments

  1. Nice write up Chris.

    A plugin (WordPress) that I have been playing with for about a week now is WP-UserOnline. It allows you to see in real time where your visitors are. I’m not sure I would recommend it used all the time as I’m guessing it takes a good deal of resources. Anyways, it’s been a real eye-opener to watch where my visitors are. Where are my visitors? Everywhere! They aren’t just in post that are a week old, but in post/articles that are years old.

    So it’s like you said, it’s important to know where your visitors are and help them along the journey.

  2. Nice write up Chris.

    A plugin (WordPress) that I have been playing with for about a week now is WP-UserOnline. It allows you to see in real time where your visitors are. I’m not sure I would recommend it used all the time as I’m guessing it takes a good deal of resources. Anyways, it’s been a real eye-opener to watch where my visitors are. Where are my visitors? Everywhere! They aren’t just in post that are a week old, but in post/articles that are years old.

    So it’s like you said, it’s important to know where your visitors are and help them along the journey.

  3. Yeah it’s fascinating – if you ever get chance to observe people in a usability test, behind glass or using video, it blows your mind how people navigate. You really do have to have flashing neon “click here for _____” 🙂

  4. Yeah it’s fascinating – if you ever get chance to observe people in a usability test, behind glass or using video, it blows your mind how people navigate. You really do have to have flashing neon “click here for _____” 🙂

  5. chris,

    am i right to summarize this post to this:
    – optimize usability
    – optimize instructions to user
    – make sure you don’t stuff your emails, feeds, etc with obtrusive advertising
    – don’t ask the reader too much personal information
    – make sure you recommend only the “right places” out there.

    am i missing something?

    webee
    is a design blog

  6. chris,

    am i right to summarize this post to this:
    – optimize usability
    – optimize instructions to user
    – make sure you don’t stuff your emails, feeds, etc with obtrusive advertising
    – don’t ask the reader too much personal information
    – make sure you recommend only the “right places” out there.

    am i missing something?

    webee
    is a design blog

  7. awesome write-up. I’ve been using http://crazyegg.com/ to track where my visitors go and it is usually surprising. People click random things and go to random places for who knows what reason. Easy navigation with “subtle” hints seems like an excellent idea that gets lost on many people.

    It seems like many people will show up via a google link or some other link so if they aren’t oriented right away they will just continue on. If you have something to guide them and interest them they’ll probably stick around for a little while longer.

  8. awesome write-up. I’ve been using http://crazyegg.com/ to track where my visitors go and it is usually surprising. People click random things and go to random places for who knows what reason. Easy navigation with “subtle” hints seems like an excellent idea that gets lost on many people.

    It seems like many people will show up via a google link or some other link so if they aren’t oriented right away they will just continue on. If you have something to guide them and interest them they’ll probably stick around for a little while longer.

  9. @webee – and most important, create something worth visiting!

    @Jeff – a good point, I need to try crazyegg again, the first time I tried it was beta and it wasn’t working

  10. @webee – and most important, create something worth visiting!

    @Jeff – a good point, I need to try crazyegg again, the first time I tried it was beta and it wasn’t working