Tripping Over Permission

There’s an irony at work in the world of permission marketing.

The more you do to get permission, the less you’ll get. Here’s why.

There are various points within a web site that I call “high-risk customer-interaction points.”

These are points at which you want your visitors to do something specific, but they’re also the points at which you are most likely to lose them.

(A brief aside: Don’t you love that? “High-risk customer-interaction points.” I should call it “HRCIP,” trademark it, write a book, and retire. Authors have this wonderful habit. They look at something that a thousand other people have noticed already, give it a new name, and then claim it as their own insight or discovery. I shall call my mother immediately and tell her I have discovered HRCIP. She’ll be proud.)

(Anyway, I digress.)

The most obvious HRCIP is your home page. You want people to move forward into your site. But most people don’t. They take a brief look at what you’ve crammed into that 800×600 space, shake their heads in confusion, and move on. It’s a customer-interaction point and it’s definitely high-risk.

Well, for you it is. Not for your visitors. They couldn’t give a rat’s pajamas.

Other HRCIPs are any kind of log-in page, sign-up form, registration page, subscription page, search function, order form, or “Submit” button.

These are all points at which your visitors will hesitate, because they’re about to commit to something. And, quite wisely, they’re not sure if they should. Which is why most don’t. And why your conversion figures are so low.

But the most high-risk of all HRCIPs are those where you interrupt what the customers are trying to do in order to get them to do something you want them to do.

Here’s a typical scenario.

Someone on your site is trying to buy some of your stuff. If they are new to your site, you’ll probably ask them to create some kind of account early on in the process.

That’s the first time that you get in the way of their trying to achieve their goal.

Next, once they’ve placed your stuff in their shopping cart, they have to go through that scary hand-over-the-credit-card moment. Not your fault. But definitely an HRCIP.

By now, they’re pretty nervous. They’ve entrusted you with lots of personal information, found their way through some very unfamiliar territory – your site – and they’re ready to give up and drive down to the mall at the first provocation.

Which, of course, you are only too happy to provide.

Because once they are in close sight of the final hurdle, the “Confirm purchase” button, you decide to add one more curve to their already tortuous journey.

You throw in an extra page or some extra text with boxes, and ask for their permission.

“Please may we send you a bunch of newsletters, emails, promotions, and timely messages?”

At this point a percentage of those folks who were about to become first-time customers will throw up their hands and cry, “Enough!”

And who can blame them?

The moral of the story is: Recognize where the HRCIPs are on your site and keep them to a minimum for your first-time users.

Cut out everything you can that gets in the way of their achieving the goal they are aiming for, whether that be buying something, becoming a member of something, or subscribing to something.

Get them there smoothly. Hassle-free.

Because once they’ve made that first transaction – and it’s been a happy experience – they’ll be a lot more tolerant of your incessant interruptions.

Including those times when you want to ask their permission to market.

A little patience, people. Just a little.

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