Speed Sells

I was talking with someone about sports the other day. He was telling me that baseball was declining in popularity because it didn’t happen fast enough. Too many pauses, too much thinking and not enough action.

Hockey and wrestling, however, give you quick bursts of activity. A hundred neural-candy-bars in one game.

Make me feel good, fast and often.

Meanwhile, the same thing is happening with the TV soap operas. Perish the thought that the viewer be asked to hold a thought in his or her mind for more than sixty seconds.

In fact, both sports and TV are becoming more and more like the commercial breaks that support them.

But if you think that everyone is demanding instant gratification on the sports fields and on TV, check out the Internet.

Online, customer expectations are outrageous.

They want it now, they want it at the best price, and they don’t want to have to lift a finger to make that purchase happen.

That’s why Amazon.com is taking Barnesandnoble.com to court to defend its 1-Click shopping feature.

There’s value in that one click. It gives consumers the speed they’re looking for. It makes shopping online fast and easy.

Here’s another example.

A while back I used to write a fair number of those pop-up ads that greet you when you log on to America Online. One screen pops up and, if it interests you, you can click once to see the second screen. And that’s it. On the second screen you either move on or you click once and the purchase is made.

The performance of these pop-ups is pretty impressive.

Why do they perform so well? One key reason is that the entire purchase process takes just one click.

They can do this because AOL is the ISP. When you make a purchase, the cost is just added to your monthly bill. There are no credit card forms to be completed. No delivery addresses to be typed in. They already have all the information they need. It’s easy.

It’s all about speed and instant gratification.

In the months to come, we’ll see a lot more activity in this area as online stores fight to improve their conversion of browsers to buyers. There’s nothing so distressing to an e-merchant as the virtual sight of a thousand abandoned shopping carts.

In the meantime, before a perfect e-wallet or other one-click solution becomes universally available, what is a person to do?

First, imagine you’re the fussiest customer imaginable.

Second, go through your site and try to make a purchase or two.

As you do this…

  • Make a note of every click that’s required.

  • Count how many times you have to use the scroll bar.

  • Count how many lines of ‘instructions’ you have to read.

  • Count the number of words you have to type in.

  • Count the number of choices you have to make.

  • Count the number of mistakes you make.

  • Time the entire process from beginning to end.

Then try it again. Then try it at some other e-commerce sites and compare results.

Then go back to your site and start smoothing the pathway. Cut back. Snip, snip. Make it easy.

Because the closer you bring your customers to a one-click purchasing experience, the more likely they are to complete the transaction.

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