Reducing Buyer Anxiety Leads to Higher Conversions, Happier Customers

Joe Francisco Medelita Lab Coats and Scrubs

 

 

Our guest blogger this week is Joe Francisco, President and CMO of Medelita.com.  He is a tech savvy businessman who has been building his company using digital marketing as the foundation of his company’s marketing strategy.

Follow Medelita on Twitter and Facebook.

 

In 2011 Medelita was growing our online business, but not as fast as we would have liked. We were still in the launch phase of our business attending over 40 medical conferences in 2011 to introduce our products and brand Medelita Lab Coats and Scrubsto our key customer base; physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, dentists and veterinarians.

Our customers told us we had a great product. We experienced success selling our lab coats and medical scrubs at medical conferences throughout the United States and Canada. Customers were reacting very positively to ancillary services we provide such as free name and title embroidery and custom logo embroidery for group orders. Our goal was to replicate the medical conference experience through our website, www.medelita.com.

We needed to remove the new customer’s anxiety regarding the price, fit and sizing, and make it easy for them to understand the embroidery process. 85% of our orders receive some type of embroidery. 75% of the visitors to our site were new and we needed to convert them. We could not continue to go to 40 medical conferences per year. There just aren’t enough margins in our product to support these astronomical sales costs.

So we set out on another redesign of our site and emphasized “eliminating buyer anxiety.”

How’d we do it?

1.  Complimentary shipping on everything: orders, exchanges and returns. Truly FREE shipping.
2.  Our toll-free number and click-to-chat on every product page.
3.  Built a whole new interface for embroidery inspired by www.indochino.com
4.  Extended our Professional Courtesy Guarantee from 90 to 180 days.
5.  We added a powerful recommendation to our size guide – “Order two sizes. Shipping is free both ways.”
6.  Made returns insanely easy. Including a return label in sizing orders and making label and forms easy to access from customer’s accounts.

We launched most of these initiatives in 1Q212 with positive results:

1.  8 months at historic high conversion rates and a huge November.
2.  YOY traffic up by nearly 60%
3.  Dramatic increases for our brand searches.

Feedback is positive with extremely high Biz Rate reviews, daily effusively happy emails from customers and repeat business. We took what we learned about our customers’ fears and our success in direct selling and applied it to eCommerce.

Song Stuck Friday – You WILL hate me today.

This Friday, for snickers & giggles, and just to be annoying, I bring you one of the most difficult to eradicate of all sticky songs.

Like many of those hard-to-get-out-of-your-head songs, this one brings back special memories. For me, they are of our end of year camping trips in the farthest reaches of the Scottish Highlands.  Each year my University pals and I would pack up our tents, some food, lots of booze, and some other items we found necessary at the time, and drive far north of Aberdeen.  We’d pick a spot,  hike as far as we could from the road, and set up camp for a week.  There were few people, lots of sheep, and lots and lots of laughter.

So here it is… you can thank me later.

The Confidence to Question Your Heroes

I believe in having heroes. My entire life there have been people who astounded me with their leadership, and I have aspired to be more like them. First there was my grandmother, and then my beloved high school teacher,social media heroes Lewis K. Webster.  As I moved into adulthood, I found additional heroes… and many of them were from the business world.   My main heroes outside of the 2 already named, are:

1. Muhammed Ali

2. Howard Schultz

3. Bill Gates

4. Richard Branson

5. Warren Buffet

All men of incredible success who maintained an immense humanity.

There have been other heroes I’ve outgrown or began to see through a different light as I grew.  Teddy Roosevelt, once my all time favorite American, appears to me now as admirable but impetuous man.

When I entered the Social Media world I was overwhelmed with how much I needed to learn.  There were so many Rockstars, Gurus and Experts I was overwhelmed again.  I latched onto a few who were accessible and had large followings; I read every post, newsletter and communication they put out.  It seemed that the more I learned, the more I realized I didn’t know – for months on end I couldn’t catch my breath trying to keep up with every new network and application.

Over time I found my bearings and started to understand this ‘social thing.’  It s became clear to me that Social Media had changed a lot about how consumers and brands communicate, but it had not changed everything; business is still business.  Being strategic minded, understanding the importance of a great product and excellent customer service, knowing how to build a culture within a company – all of those things aren’t ‘fixed’ or developed with Social Media.  As this thought process began to crystallize  some of the the communications from my Social Heroes began to look a bit fluffy; when you dug deep, you saw that it was the same advice recycled regularly – often aimed at getting me to buy into their latest scheme.

A wise friend of mine suggested that I go and check out the LinkedIn profiles of many of these ‘gurus’ prior to 2006. Too often I found very little actual business experience.

All is not lost; along the way I have met a lot of smart, social and business savvy folks that provide me with insightful posts and interesting discussions.  I don’t know that I look for Social Heroes anymore… it seems redundant, considering the fact that most of the people I admire in business today understand the power of Social anyway.

The lesson, of course, is to continue to question those you look up to. If they’re worth admiring, they’ll be able to withstand your critical eye.

How Annoying Can I Be?

If I’ve had a good week, by Friday I’m fried; my brain just can’t ingest anymore heavy information.   I’m always thrilled to turn to more lighthearted fair on the blog front.  I always check out Gini Dietrich’s #FollowFriday post… she regularly delivers when recommending good folk to connect with.  Lately I’ve really been looking forward to Jason Konopinski’s Poetry Friday.  Last week’s was especially divine as it was dedicated to yours truly and featured one of my favorite poets.

I’ve been thinking hard about what I’d like to do on a regular basis to bring a smile to your face, but of course, I don’t mind being a wee bit annoying either.  I decided that I would feature songs you just can’t get out of your head once you hear them…so, here goes:

  Song Stuck Friday 

That’s right. Each Friday I will deliver one of those songs that you just can’t get out of your head.  Some you will love, some you will hate.  Here’s our first episode. Enjoy.

When is it time to fire your customer? A review.

I wrote this post in August of 2010, and I still feel strongly about the topic. The brilliant Margie Clayman started a discussion on Facebook after reading this post on Entrepreneur.  After an interesting debate I thought I’d dust off my blog archives and re-read this to see if almost 2013 me still thinks 2010 me was right. Yep, I do.  I haven’t changed a single word: 

When do you fire your first customer? Certainly not when you start out and can’t pay your bills. When your business is new, your main concern is earning enough to pay your rent, light bill, and hopefully buy enough groceries to feed your family. You’ll take jobs sometimes knowing they may not be worth it; the customer will be unacceptably difficult and you’ll put so many hours into that one project that you basically work for free. But hey, you’re the new kid in town and as the old saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers.

And that’s ok, in the beginning. You need to get some work under your belt, build up your portfolio, and get the word out that you’re good at what you do. But there comes a point when you must start saying no to the obvious fire a clientproblem customer and be much more selective with who you work with. When you finally get so busy that you can’t keep up with all of the work you have, you must do two things:

1. Raise your prices.
2. Fire, or don’t hire, your problem customers.

If you own a small business, or even if you’re a consultant and part of a larger group, you cannot clone yourself. Only so many jobs get done, so you must pick the profitable jobs that will help your reputation, not harm it. That means the client that makes a million changes because they never know what they want and can’t make a decision to save their life must go. That means the customer who wants to haggle over price at the END of the job must go. That means the client that drags their feet and doesn’t get you the information you need in a timely manner, slowing you down and costing you time you could be spending on other projects must go, no matter HOW much you like them.

If you’re sought after because you’re good at what you do, you deserve to earn a living and work with people who can help you maximize your, and ultimately, their potential. The entire point of self employment is having control over when you work, how hard you work, and YES, WHO you work for. Not every sale is worth it, and not every customer deserves your time. The key is, recognize when you’ve reached the point that you cannot keep up. If hiring new staff is not an option, you need to raise prices and be more selective with clients. I guarantee you that it will improve your bottom line, and your quality of work-life.

If Mark Cuban is right, you should rethink your Facebook marketing strategy.

The post Mark Cuban wrote last week about Facebook really resonated with me.  I can’t get these words out of my head:

People go to Google Search with every intention of leaving it. They want to “engage, click an

Cuban was actually ranting about Facebook’s new policy of charging brands to reach the followers they’ve worked hard to collect, but that’s a different story.  What I can’t stop thinking about is:d leave”.  On the exact opposite side of the spectrum, people go to FB with the expectation that it is very likely they will stay on FB for an extended period of time. In fact we spend more than 26 minutes per day on FB. As this study said, FB is an alternative to boredom. FB is far more like TV than it is Google Search.

If Facebook is like TV, should our Facebook ads act more like TV Ads?Is Facebook advertising interruption marketing?

I disagree with Cuban that Facebook is just a time-waster; people spend time on the network to connect with family and friends, for entertainment, for product reviews, political discussion and for a zillion other reasons.  We ENGAGE  on FB; it’s a whole lot more than just plunking your rear down in front of Jersey Shore for some good old fashion television escapism.  Watching  TV is a passive experience, unless you’re in my family and you enjoy shouting at Jeopardy.

But Cuban’s right, using Facebook is not the same as searching on Google.  Your Facebook follower is not on the network to seek out a product; flashing PPC ads won’t work – they’re far too intrusive.

So, if we agree that a Facebook user is engaged and interacting, unlike TV, but not specifically ‘shopping’ for something, like someone using search, how do you craft an effective post to grab their attention without being annoyingly intrusive?  And that is the $64,000 question.

The answer: differently than either TV or PPC.  I know, some help that is, right?

It’s a difficult question to answer because there are a whole host of additional questions that have to be answered before you even begin to get creative:

  • Who is your target customer?
  • Are they on your page?
  • What other networks do they hang out on?
  • What problems can you solve for them?
  • What are their biggest complaints about what they’re using now?
  • What have they reacted to positively in the past?
  • What pisses them off about Social Marketing?

Creating any effective ad is tricky, difficult work. Crafting an effective one for Facebook can be even more complex because the space is still so new and ever changing.  The honest answer is that you really have to know your customer to get it right.

Should You “Dabble” in Social Media?

A smart marketing friend and I have had a few discussions revolving around the question:Dabble in Social media

What is the proper response time for Social Media complaints?

He has stated a few times (and I’m paraphrasing here, because he is fully capable of making his own argument) that our expectations are too high; we, as in the social junkies, expect responses within hours if not minutes.  There are situations that are too complex, and companies that are too busy, to fix a problem or get an answer to you in a matter of hours.

I agree wholeheartedly with that thought process: some problems are complex and require time to sort out.    However, I do not think there is an acceptable excuse for not RESPONDING quickly, as in within hours. His question for me then was “‘What if company x is just dabbling in Social Media.’

I had to think on that one.

OK, I’ve thought.  Here’s my answer:

You should not dabble in Social Media.

I understand that not every small business owner is internet or tech savvy; some of us are just too busy getting work done to maintain a Small Business Facebook Page or Twitter account and respond within hours.  If that describes your business approach to social media, my advice is: get off of the social networks.

Here’s why: having a Social Profile means that your social savvy customers will find you there, and when they do, they’ll expect you to use it as a channel of communication.  If you are only going to check it infrequently, you are opening yourself up to unintentionally disappointing your customers who reach out to you via your page or profile.  It’s like setting up a voice mail at your business and only checking it weekly.

Do I think really Small Business should abandon social marketing? Absolutely not. But if you can’t commit to checking your social pages and profiles at least a couple of times a day, then perhaps you should rethink your social existence.  It is supposed to be a 2 way conversation, and if you’re not listening and responding, they’ll stop wanting to talk to you at all.

What I learned from blogging 19 straight days.

On November 4th I began my annual Thanksgiving Countdown blog series and wrote every day for 19 straight days committed to writingfocusing on one thing I was thankful for.  This was definitely a series that I wrote primarily for myself as an exercise in gratitude; a fine reminder of all that I am blessed to have.  It was also labor intensive and there were many days when I had to force myself to focus hard to squeeze the few paragraphs out.

I learned a very important lesson: if you are 100% committed to writing, you can do it regularly.

Admittedly I have been inconsistent in my commitment to my blog over the past year.  Too often I was distracted by other work or guest posting on more popular blogs.  Being forced to write daily for my own blog was like exercising; it became easier as each day passed.  I even turned out a couple of additional posts per week that I know I would have let slip by if I wasn’t primed and in the habit of writing again.

The moral of the story is one I’m sure you already know: if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to get it done and stay committed.  I will end 2012 and start the next with a new commitment to showing up in this space with focused and relevant posts, even when I have to force myself to get it done.

 

Thanksgiving Countdown: It’s Here!

Today I am thankful for the most important thing in my life: My Family.

And I don’t mean my bio…   I mean the wonderful family that I have woven together over the course of this amazing life.  For most of it, my ‘family’ has been founded on my Milton Hershey brethren.  At age 37 I met my man, and at 38 I was blessed with the love of my life, Princess Adelaide.  These two are the core of what drives me everyday.

I am even more blessed to have deep friendships that feel more like family than anything else.  And today, my favorite of holidays, I am so thankful to spend time with our dear friends and hear the squeals of the neighborhood kids in our yard. We’re that family – the place where all the kids come.  And I am blessed to watch my daughter grow up making memories with a pack of kids in our darling little village.

Even though my life didn’t have the best of starts, Milton Hershey taught me one thing: that I could make my own future. And I have.  I am blessed, everyday, and I am grateful to understand that while I’m living it.

I hope you are as loved, loving, and thankful as I am today.