By watching shoppers, we’ve seen that there are specific moments where designers are most likely to influence a shopper to investigate a promotion or special offer. Most of the time, these moments come after the shopper has satisfied their original mission on the site. If we identify the key seducible moment for a specific offer, we can often see over 10 times as many requests. (Jared Spool, The Seducible Moment, emphasis mine)
E-commerce sites have done a pretty good job of integrating the seducible moment into shopping since Spool wrote this original article in 2002.
But most web services and web applications haven’t. Every product manager I know has at least one feature that they’ve painstakingly researched, spec’d, and worked side-by-side with engineering and QA to get released, only to see it languish mostly unused.
I’ve watched or conducted dozens of user testing sessions where people complained about the lack of a feature that’s right there under their nose. (The look of anguish on the product owner’s face at that moment is just heartbreaking.)
Why does this matter (other than the feelings of the anguished product manager)?
Because there are direct ROI implications. In the last two industries I’ve worked in (media, finance), the loyal user is significantly more valuable than the casual user. They are the audience that advertisers will pay a premium to reach. They are the audience who will generate revenues by using additional services. They are the audience who will tell all their friends about you.
And – you don’t have to spend money finding them and dragging them back to your site.
They’re already there. So how (when) do you get them hooked?
1 – Time of registration.
I’ve included this just because it’s the obvious option. Everyone uses a promotional page, a Flash demo, a follow-up email in the hopes of hooking the first-time user.
It works when: Users have mentally prepared themselves to invest time in learning a new system. (This isn’t necessarily a good thing – it means they expect the experience to be difficult.) With one banking customer I worked with, we saw around 30% of users watching the promo video to learn about available features, compared to anecdotal feedback from an ex-Yahoo! product manager friend of mine, who saw demo-watching usage closer to 10%.
For most other web applications or services, users want to come in, complete their task, and move on. If you force them through a “learn about us” funnel, you risk losing them entirely. Plus, there’s just a limit to how much stuff a new visitor can absorb.
So here are other opportunities I’d love to see explored…
2 – In-application notification, after 3 sessions
Why I think this would work: The first time a consumer uses an application, they feel like they had to tackle a learning curve. The second time, they may still not be convinced they’ll ever use this again. After the third login seems like a great time to reach out and effectively say, Hey, it looks like you’ll be sticking around. Want to learn some new tips to get more value out of us?
You want to subtly point out that the user has been using your product and has gotten value out of it, and therefore that it’s worth their time to invest even more of their time into learning/exploring/using it.
LinkedIn introduced a version of this a couple of months ago, with a progress meter indicating users’ level of profile completion. Unscientifically? Every professional I know whose profile was 85% or 90% complete, took the initiative to get their profile up to 100% completion within a week of seeing that indicator.
A substitution I’m dubious about: Email notification, a specific number of days after registration. It’s definitely easier to schedule emails than to build in-application messaging, but there are so many downsides: being perceived as spam, putting up a barrier to entry (if they’re reading email, they’re not on your site), missing the opportunity for a personal touch…
3 – In-application notification, after 5 minutes on-site
Why I think this would work: Consumers are often coming in to complete a specific task (read an article, pay a bill, research a symptom, add a social contact) – and until they’ve completed that task, you don’t want to get in their way.
However, if a consumer is still on your site after five minutes or so, you can safely assume that their critical tasks have been completed and that psychological burden “lifted”. At this point, they’re either going to close the browser or (maybe) respond to your prompt. (And if it takes more than 5 minutes for them to complete their tasks, maybe you have bigger information architecture problems to solve!)
4 – After multiple logins within a short period of time
Why I think this would work: Based on my sample size of one, I know what it means when I log into a site repeatedly within a short period of time: I’m bored and trying to kill time. After the fourth Facebook visit in one day, I am primed for time-wasting. My friction coefficient is effectively zero, which means I’m likely to respond to a well-written win-back email, a survey invitation, or an in-application prompt.
5 – After seeing someone else’s endorsement
Why I think this would work: Outside of the tech bubble, I’ve seen technology learning spread mostly by “over the shoulder” guidance – a friend saying, hey, did you know about this? try it, I’ll help you. Some sites use customer testimonials, but rarely (if ever) follow it up with a direct action that a user can take. (No, a “learn more” link doesn’t count.)
This would work well for the kind of service where people can’t quite imagine the results until they see them – like Google Alerts, which I have showed numerous people how to set up. A promotion gets your attention, and if the user can take action immediately you increase the chance of follow-through.