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Oops! That time we killed a client’s conversions

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It’s fun to talk about the successful results we get for our clients – it might be how we helped a client double their business in a year, or how we assisted a Hamilton company to expand their business in Australia or Europe – but it’s harder to talk about the failures. Like that time we killed a client’s conversions!

It’s often through the failures, though, that we can learn some of the biggest lessons.

Paul Allen, Co-Founder of Microsoft, said it well: “Each failure contains the seeds of your next success – if you are willing to learn from it.”

So, how exactly did we manage to kill a client’s conversions? And what did we learn from it?

It happened a few years ago. The client was a printing company in a specific niche. They had approached us with the idea of building an interactive estimator on their website where visitors could easily get an estimate of their printing costs.

The client had mockups designed for how he wanted it to look. The calculator would give an initial instant estimate, and then users could easily fill in their details to request an exact quote for their job. We liked the concept and set to building the plugin.

It was important to the client to be able to make adjustments to the estimator calculations without needing to come back to us to adjust the code whenever the pricing needed tweaking. To allow for this we built a nice interface for him to easily make pricing adjustments. We worked hard to make it a great plugin and received a raving email back from the client: “This is the best experience I’ve ever had with a web
developer!”

We were chuffed. The client was happy. The calculator functioned well. It was time to make it live on the website.

That’s when the steady flow of leads from his website stopped. The phone stopped ringing. The enquiry forms stopped being received.

“Did our plugin somehow break the website?” we thought. “Is the code working correctly?”

There was nothing wrong with the code. The site was working fine.

What was wrong was that we had accidentally fallen headfirst into breaking a fundamental rule of lead generation. We were giving the website visitors exactly what they want to know – to the point that they no longer needed to make contact.

In this business, like many others, the number one question that enquirers had was, “How much will it cost?” That question drove nearly all of their enquiries.

When a person enquired, the business owner was able to engage in a conversation with them, find out more details about what they wanted, and position themselves as a great business to choose to print with – all this as part of the process of providing a price.

By putting the cost estimator on the website, visitors no longer needed to make contact, as their number one question had been answered.

Needless to say, after all that work, the estimator didn’t last more than a few weeks on the website. When the estimator was removed, website visitors started turning into leads again.

The big lesson we learnt from this failure was that, if the main question enquirers ask you is “How much?” then don’t publish the price.

Good digital marketing should present your business as an excellent solution, without giving away the answer to the main question that gets people contacting you. When people contact you they move from being an anonymous website visitor to a lead you can engage with, follow up with and turn into a customer.

I see many businesses making the same mistake today. Giving away the price often kills conversions.

There are, of course, many types of businesses where displaying prices does make sense. For example: ecommerce sites; businesses that have strongly competitive specials; and businesses where price is not the primary question that enquirers have. 

However, if the main question your potential customers ask is, “How much will it cost?” then don’t give away the answer. Your digital marketing should be warm, engaging, solution orientated – and guide visitors to enquiring to find out the answer to their number one question.

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About Author

Josh Moore

Josh Moore is the managing director at digital marketing agency, Duoplus. www.duoplus.nz