Oops, My Site Sucks

When you get permission from people to send them a newsletter or email from time to time, make sure you’re prepared.

Because one of the fastest ways to lose permission is by giving these folks a terrible experience once they come to your site.

Let’s take that imaginary site of mine, nicksButtons.com, purveyor of fine buttons for shirts, pants, coats, or any other article of clothing that requires topnotch fastening.

Now let’s say I put in place a wonderful online permission-acquisition program through sponsorships of various related but noncompeting e-zines.

Over a short period of time, I collect a fresh list of 5,000 new prospects who have all given me permission to tell them the best and latest about nicksButtons.com.

I add a few must-have offers on my home page and fire off my first promotional email to all 5,000 prospects.

I’m hoping for a response rate of about 10 percent and a conversion rate to sales from the site of about 4 percent.

Well, I’m a nifty marketer and writer. So my response rate is higher.

A full 18 percent of my list click through to the site. Nice response.

Trouble is, my conversion rate falls a little short of expectations. Well, a lot short. It’s 0.5 percent. Pretty feeble.

Worse, instead of the 2 percent attrition rate from my prospect list that I had anticipated on a monthly basis, I lose 5 percent of the list within a week of sending out the email.

My problem?

My problem was that I had spent all my smarts on the marketing plan and forgot to pay any attention to the user experience once people arrived at the site.

Oops. My site sucks.

Suddenly, I have an epiphany, and all the flaws of nickButtons.com become apparent, some of which are:

  • The home page is vague with no clarity of purpose or promise.

  • The search function is flawed, sometimes showing too few results, sometimes too many.
  • The pathway to purchase is bumpy, with confusing twists, turns, and diversions.
  • Customer support is thin, offering too little and too late.
  • Delivery is slow, prompting too many emails inquiring, “What happened to the buttons I purchased?”

The list goes on and on and on.

My point? The application of permission-based marketing to a flawed site is a waste of your time and a waste of your customers’ time.

In the vernacular of dating, it’s like finally getting to invite that person of your dreams back up to your apartment, without bothering to tidy your somewhat squalid bedroom first.

Old pop cans, food-encrusted plates, and piles of dirty washing strewn across an unmade bed are going to lose any permission you might have had pretty quickly.

A bad “onsite” experience destroys permission.

So when you’re looking to apply principles of permission marketing to your e-business, before you make that investment, make sure you get your site in order first.

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