Post-Click Search

  |  June 12, 2006   |  Comments

Are you waiting for your cat to bark?

I'm a marketer. And a technology geek. But mainly, I'm a marketer at heart.

That being the case, I devour marketing books by the dozen when I'm flying back and forth. Many end up getting trashed right there on the plane. As when I get to the third chapter and it's just somebody rehashing Seth Godin or [insert the name of your favorite marketing author here], for instance.

So I was delighted when a review copy of the new book, "Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?" by authors (and friends), Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg, landed on my desk a little while ago.

The three of us hang together quite a lot. As "New York Times" and "Wall Street Journal" bestselling authors, they're pretty much permanently in demand on the speaking circuit. This means we've had a lot of time together to discuss where our respective specialist knowledge dovetails.

Perhaps the single most important tool in your online marketing arsenal is the use of search to drive qualified traffic to your Web site. But post-click, what do you want that traffic to do when it gets there?

There's no doubt the Eisenbergs understand the importance of search. Yet when it comes to that post-click moment, they're in a field of their own. Converting searchers to purchasers, creating and maintaining the momentum that takes potential new customers seamlessly from the search engine to the sale, isn't simply an art form for them -- it's a patented process.

Having worked together for 11 years in sales and marketing and eventually forming their company, FutureNow Inc. in 1998, the brothers are renowned in the industry for the huge percentage leaps in conversion rates they achieve for their clients' Web sites.

They don't talk about advertising, they talk about persuasion (listen to our entire conversation). Persuasion architecture is something they developed by drawing from a number of different disciplines. "It's a multidisciplinary synthesis of lots of different ideas," said Jeffrey. "There are elements of user-centric design and elements of information retrieval and human-computer interaction and also psychographics."

I asked them about implementing persuasion architecture. As in, can you add persuasion architecture to an existing site, or do you have to start from scratch?

"You could add certain elements of it," Bryan said. "We use three questions before we begin the process: Who is it you want to persuade? What action do we want them to take? What information is needed to motivate them to take that action?"

The persona development plays a huge role in the effectiveness of constructing and implementing persuasion architecture. Both agree much has been written in the literature regarding personas, such as this year's "The Persona Lifecycle" from John Pruitt and Tamara Adlin (with a contribution from the Eisenbergs).

"Lots of companies use personas," said Jeffrey. "Their personas are similar, and then they have a whole different component because we use them in a different way. In the book we explain how to use psychographics, motivation, and some fiction writing techniques as a way of creating empathy." Basically, when constructing personas, you need to do whatever is required to get a complete understanding of end users and what buttons need to be pushed to get them to take that extra step toward conversion.

Search can certainly drive tons of traffic to your Web site. Yet there's a strong tendency for people with a not-so-high conversion rate to simply send tons more traffic to improve the bottom line. Keep it simple. If you sent 100 people to your site and 20 people purchased, you have a 20 percent conversion rate. So you could send another 100 and achieve the same. Maybe. But what about looking at it the other way and trying to convert the 80 who didn't purchase? "That's exactly it," said Jeffrey.

"It's harder to double your traffic these days than it is to double your conversions," adds Bryan.

Some time ago in New York, I sat with Bryan and Jeffrey, and we discussed an idea about content that had come from one of their clients, Jacqueline Remus, of It really struck a chord with me, bearing in mind some comments I've made recently about textbook SEO and the long tail of search.

It's more fully explained in the book, but basically there's compact and noncompact information. The idea revolves around the information continuum. Information compactness isn't a binary function; it's not either compacted or noncompacted. As they say in the book, it's like those many shades of gray: there are degrees of compactness.

Compacted information is easier to spot. It has unique identifiers that make categorization easier. Noncompacted information usually lacks unique identifiers. Straightforward descriptions and comparisons are difficult.

It goes hand in hand with stale information, such as searches that turn up three-year-old press releases or tech spec sheets for products that don't exist anymore. A page like that may guide you into a site, but there's no scenario planned for what to do next.

I've seen many examples of these types of pages, where I'm certain site owners don't change them simply because they rank for a term. Even if people click through but there's nothing for them to act upon on the other side. Who needs that page anyway?

"Waiting for Your Cat to Bark" is available now and comes with a complimentary CD and a $50 coupon to open a new account at Yahoo Search.

I predict another bestseller.

Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.


Mike Grehan

Mike Grehan is currently chief marketing officer and managing director at Acronym, where he is responsible for directing thought leadership programs and cross-platform marketing initiatives, as well as developing new, innovative content marketing campaigns.

Prior to joining Acronym, Grehan was group publishing director at Incisive Media, publisher of Search Engine Watch and ClickZ, and producer of the SES international conference series. Previously, he worked as a search marketing consultant with a number of international agencies handling global clients such as SAP and Motorola. Recognized as a leading search marketing expert, Grehan came online in 1995 and is the author of numerous books and white papers on the subject and is currently in the process of writing his new book From Search to Social: Marketing to the Connected Consumer to be published by Wiley later in 2014.

In March 2010 he was elected to SEMPO's board of directors and after a year as vice president he then served two years as president and is now the current chairman.

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