It Pays To Listen Dot Com

I have a plan. And if you steal it I’ll be cranky. But before I reveal the plan, let me first describe the need

To tap the full potential of the Internet as a place of business, you need to make your web site good at listening. After all, every good relationship is based on listening. Ask your significant other. Or your kids. Or your colleagues. Or your bartender. Or your priest.

And the Internet has a fabulous capacity to listen. It’s wonderfully interactive. Trouble is, we’ve all been a bit slow to tap into that listening thing.

Back in 1994 we had lots of lovely brochureware. No listening there. Then we had the big push with Pathfinder. True, there was an element of listening built in. But ultimately, the model was still pushy.

Then we just tried to collect eyeballs and make our sites like flypaper — so the eyeballs didn’t come unstuck. And today we created some sites that listen — but only to what they want to hear. That is to say, we listen long enough to collect customer profiles. And we listen with sophisticated programming to discern buying preferences.

But this isn’t the kind of listening that develops relationships, because we’re only listening to what we want, and when we want to hear it. Hence the need for www.itpaystolisten.com. Itpaystolisten.com is home to a unique piece of programming that enables web sites to listen at the times that suit their customers best.

Is there a need for this? You betcha. Just thinking about the need — never mind the solution — must be worth at least $50 million. At its simplest, here’s an example of how it works.

Imagine you have a site that sells vitamins and natural remedies. Each of your customers completed a lifestyle profile when they made their first purchase. This is important information as it is tied in to the product info you serve up when they return to your home page. It also influences which newsletters and emails you send out each month.

The good news is that the profile gives you important demographic and psychographic information on your customer base. The bad news is that this information is pretty static. Once a customer has completed that profile, he or she is unlikely to come back and update it. It’s tough enough to get people to read the monthly newsletter, let alone dig deep into your site to change their profiles.

So customer Jane Doe may have just finished a book on herbs and love the idea of using herbal remedies rather than vitamins. Trouble is, you’ll never get to hear about it. Because she has a life and can think of a thousand things she’d rather do than update her profile on your site. If she even remembers completing one at all. Unless, of course, you use my unique itpaystolisten.com software. Here, in a nutshell, is what it does:

Itpaystolisten enables your customers to update their customer profile information direct from an email message –without having to visit our web site.

There’s another $50 million. Right there.

Right now we can all add links to our email messages so that most customers can get to the page they want on our site with a single click. Unless they use a really old email program.

But imagine if your customers could input information within the text of a simple text email — even if it were just to check some boxes — and then have that information added to their onsite profile simply by replying to the email. The owner of the vitamin and natural remedies site could then send out a monthly email that said:

“Answer these five simple questions, and we’ll send you a ten dollar gift certificate.”

All Jane Doe has to do is check some boxes, type in a couple of words and hit “Reply.” All within her email program. Moments later her profile on the site is updated. A thank you note is generated. Etc.

Or you could do it in two stages:

“If you want to update your profile, click here.”

Jane Doe clicks there and a couple of minutes later her entire customer profile is emailed to her. She makes any changes she wants, within her email program, and then hits “Reply.” Now we have a web site that really has the potential to listen. Because we’ve made it easy for our customers.

The uses and potential of this software blow the mind. Sadly, as far as I know, there is no “itpaystolisten” software out there. But hey, send me $20 million and a busload of young programmers, and I’ll see what I can do

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