Are your Online Marketing Conversion Pages The Sweater Song or Cotton Eyed Joe?

Today I was on the way to work and instead of listening to books on tape I was listening to the radio. I hit a Pittsburgh station and on came Undone – The Sweater Song by Weezer. The static was horrible. Yet I continued to listen.

Background: I don’t own any Weezer cd’s, I wasn’t heavy into them when they came out, and didn’t get into their music until I lived with a guy who lighted candles and incense to their posters each night. So Weezer never felt played out to me and I get excited the very few times I hear their music on the radio.

Thus, even though it was scratchy during open aired driving, I was in a tunnel for 20 seconds, and I could make out very few of the bars or lyrics, it was worth holding on for those few brief, fleeting moments when I could make out “Hold this thread as I walk away.”

Now what if the song I had heard was, say, Cotton Eyed Joe? Do you think I would have held on? Side note: the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’m sure there’s a snake bed in hell with my name because of it happened back in 1996.

My friends and I stopped at a Taco Bell on our way to the Olympics in Atlanta. I put $5 in a juke box – really unbelievable considering how cheap I am and that $5 then is probably $4,400 in today’s dollars – and played a song I liked. Then Cotton Eyed Joe played 39 times in a row. We took off during the first rendition. Pure evil or a youthful indiscretion – you be the judge. By the way, if I ever did it again, I’d play it 20 times in a row, then something else, then 19 more times.

Even if you have different tastes in music than I (seriously, you love country-techno? Do you live in Knoxville?), understand the point. I put up with a lot (static) to hear something I really liked (Undone – The Sweater Song). Crystal clear reception from a radio next to a tub of free beer probably wouldn’t be enough to get me to listen to something I hated.

Above, static represents a high level of friction. Free beer represents incredible incentive unless you’re a communist that hates America (obviously). Now think about your own Web presence and online marketing.

Friction’s Effect on Online Conversion Rates

How easy do you make it for people to sign up for a free newsletter, make a purchase, or request to be contacted? Do you ask for information you don’t truly need? Do you make them jump through hoops to do something they already want to do? The less friction, the better conversion rates and higher return on investment (ROI) you will see.

How Incentive Affects ROI for Online Marketing

The better the offer, the more people will put up with to get it. You give away buckets of gold and emeralds and people will complete a 72-hour survey, provide you with social security numbers of their 5 closest friends (any Germans seen The Lives of Others yet?), and film themselves lighting their ankles on fire. Come up with a great incentive and you can give your sales staff all the lead data they could ever dream of.

How You Determine the Right Mix of Incentive and Friction

This can get pretty complicated, but follow the following steps for your landing pages, shopping carts, and site architecture and you’ll be on your way:

1. Figure out the information that’s absolutely necessary and ask only for that.
2. Give the least costly incentive you can to get real leads – not freebie hunters – to complete your conversion goal.
3. Test.
4. Test some more.
5. Test a little more.
6. Cheer on your Pittsburgh Penguins.
7. Test again.

That’s it for today. I hope you find this useful – I feel bad for missing posts so much this week.

Justin Seibert

About The Author

Justin Seibert is the President of Direct Online Marketing. Justin holds a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University. He contributes a wide range of online business-oriented topics, including the subject of exporting. His contributions can be found on publications such as the Pittsburgh Business Times, Advertising Age, SES Magazine, and La Voz del interior. Justin and his family enjoy learning about new cultures during their travels.

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