The Solution to Email Deluge

Here’s a radical idea: When you get an email from a prospect, rethink what’s on your web site. In other words, if your company gets an email, then your web site has failed.

That’s because most people only resort to email when they can’t find information quickly and easily. Many e-commerce and dot-com companies are inundated with boatloads of incoming email. Instead of trying to figure out why, they look for solutions to help answer email more quickly.

Exceptional web site content is the real answer to an email deluge. Content must be clearly written, well organized, and easily accessible.

Easy Access: The Open Door

How your site presents content is the door to your online business. Most visitors to your site are looking for a specific piece of information. They are looking for a particular nugget within your entire online offering.

That’s why keeping in mind the three-click rule is crucial. This all-important rule says that 75 percent of web site visitors will leave a site within three clicks if they do not find the information they are seeking.

That means up to three-quarters of your traffic may go away unsatisfied if they can’t find information quickly and easily. How do you get information to web visitors quickly and easily? The answer lies in continuously analyzing and modifying your site based on what people are looking for.

If people are seeking your product section and one item there in particular, make that the easiest section to get to. If they are trying to find out the locations of your stores, make sure this information is accessible within three easy-to-figure-out clicks. The ability to do categorized searches and a well-thought-out navigation system can also play a major role in building a straightforward information delivery system.

Did You Ever Read Your Site?

How many times have you visited a web site and found spelling mistakes or sentences that don’t make sense? This is the kiss of death for a web site. It instantly takes away any credibility that the site is trying to build.

If the information you are trying to deliver is difficult to understand or comes off as anything less than first class, it’s probably better not to offer the information. Despite what you may hear, some people actually can read. They have written communication skills and they expect the people they do business with to have them too.

So before you put information up on your web site, make sure you read it a few times. Have a number of people read it as well. It makes a better test if you solicit people from different backgrounds and perspectives for advice on readability.

Organize First, Then Present

Have you ever seen the office of a really sharp person? Most of the time, it’s a complete disaster. There are piles of papers everywhere, and no one can find anything except for that really sharp person.

This is often what happens to web site information. Web sites tend to be put together by very sharp people, but they don’t stop to consider the needs of those who might be a little less sharp. You always need to design and plan for the lowest common denominator.

This means your organization and presentation must be absolutely clear. Don’t make your visitors guess where to go. Build a site that guides them to the information. It should be like a museum tour where your navigation is the tour guide with all information at hand. This approach will result in satisfied customers and a better online presence.

The Speed of Response

The nature of the Internet is that people demand answers immediately. When people visit your site, they want the info they’re seeking to pretty much just pop up on the screen, as the three-click rule suggests.

When it comes to email, they’re even more demanding. That means you should respond the same day, but it should probably be even quicker. I usually advise companies that all questions should be answered within two hours of the email’s being sent.

This may not be practicable for some companies, but to be honest, it’s what you should shoot for. Anything less responsive is too long. Put yourself in the web site visitor’s shoes. You go to a site to find the answer to a question. You can’t find it so you email the company. You wanted that answer as soon as you got the site. Are you going to be happy waiting a day or two for the response? Probably not. This is why the speed of an email response is so important.

The next time you get a hundred inbound emails for your company, stop and think about why. Take a look at your site for clues. Because too much email is an indication that your web site is not user friendly.

Related reading