WriterAccess Webinar Archive

Online Customer Behavior

Friday, April 29, 2011 – 1:00 PM ET

Over the years, businesses have invested enormous energy and money into connecting with customers. The ultimate measure of customer experience has been the face-to face conversation. But what do you do when your customers are online? How do you learn the wants and needs of your customers? How do you bring human connection to the web, and what is the impact?

Join host Byron White and guest Patrick Bultema, CEO of CodeBaby, as they offer insights into human behavior online, drawn from neuroscience and social psychology, which uncover the myths and mistaken assumptions we often make in developing the online sales funnel. We'll explore a number of new "online behavior measurement tools" that help pinpoint what's working and what's not on your site.

In this webinar you'll learn:

  • Misconceptions of online behavior
  • Online behavior research tools
  • Methodology to improve conversion rates
  • Mistaken assumptions in online content

Slidedeck Download

The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.






Video Transcription

Byron: Welcome everybody, to the infamous monthly webinar! Byron White here. We’re going to start this webinar in a couple of minutes. I actually haven’t had a chance to talk with Patrick yet. Patrick, are you on the line?

Patrick: I’m on the line.

Byron: We’re actually recording this section live now. We have not spoken. It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for joining us for this webinar.

Patrick: Thank you, Byron. Good to be here.

Byron: Yes indeed. So, we’re just going to go ahead and dive in. We’ve got some attendees listening in already

, and this presentation is also being recorded. So I’m going to give everybody a brief overview of what’s about to transpire and make a couple of announcements.

We’re going to have a fascinating guest, Patrick, who’s going to give a presentation after I buzz through my presentation in about ten minutes. He'll offer some insights into his vantage point over at CodeBaby. This is going to be really exciting and interesting for our fans over at IdeaLaunch and anybody else joining us. So without further ado, let me give you a quick schedule of what we’re going to do.

I have a couple of announcements that are pretty exciting that I want to buzz everyone through. Then I’m going to go through my traditional monthly quick review of content marketing, so everybody has a firm grip on what this revolution is all about and how it's changing the way we run our businesses. I pulled up a few conversion enhancement tips that got a rave review, both in search engine strategies and conversion conference. A couple of conferences I spoke at -- one of which I did a one-hour solo session -- were really pretty riveting, and I continue to get emails from people who attended that one presentation. I wanted to tune everybody into some of the insights on conversion that was included in one particular section on conversion enhancement.

Also, I wanted to announce a couple of things: The first of which is we have a new publishing service over at LifeTips. Lifetips -- I started that company in 2000, and it continues to grow wildly. As a matter of fact, after the Panda Farmer release, our traffic went up about 22 percent. We’re driving about 1.3 million unique visitors over there now. There’s abundant content over there now. But I’ve been struggling with how best to help entrepreneurs and business owners and CEOs, so I’ve launched this book-publishing service that’s part of Lifetips. Take a quick peek at it -- you can become a guru at Lifetips.

My "101 Content Marketing Tips" book is being marketed over on ContentMarketing.LifeTips.com, but we all ready have about five or six other business owners that I”ve worked with over the years and published books for. We’ve published over 55 books now at LifeTips so it might be worth taking a look at. CEOs are really looking to be thought leaders now. It really helps with the conversion. It helps with sales. It helps to establish a leadership position and speaking engagements and all kinds of fun things, so it’s worth taking a look at.

Another quick announcement -- WriterAccess is also going like gangbusters. We launched that business model four months ago. We’ve all ready put 8000 orders through that engine. Clients are finding great ways to connect with freelance writers for paid assignments. The work is guaranteed satisfaction -- you don’t pay for anything that you don’t like. We’ve built in levels of proficiencies to all the writers and screen them and all kinds of good things. We have API that feeds approved content over there directly into Wordpress. We have Copyscape originality verification, and it’s just crazy. It’s really revolutionizing the way that you can buy content safely and easily. You can look for writers who have experience in your background. Here’s a couple of quick stats:

Time to complete assignment: 31 hours.

Average word count: 31 words.

Love list is an interesting term. You can either select a love list of writers you’ve chosen using advanced search features, or you can send a project out to one writer or to a group of writers or just maybe to everyone in level 2 -- first come, first served. So we have some real interesting innovations over there. Here are some other stats: We have one writer who’s on 35 different lists. He’s done a lot of great work for a lot of clients. They like what he’s doing. We have one writer that’s created 339 single projects. We have a payment to a single writer of WriterAccess -- $7265 paid to the writer -- to a single writer. And then if you looked at all of the writers total, we paid $74,000 dollars -- not just in the four months but at IdeaLaunch where we do work as well.

So, our most popular states are California, Massachusetts, New York, Texas -- not too strangely off there -- the size of state which seems to make it interesting. There’s lots of fun stuff over here.

We won’t go through all of these slides now because I want to do a couple of other things in my few minutes I have before I turn the floor over to Patrick. But ordering is very easy with an engine we built as well. We can choose the project complexity and the level rating of the writer and the word count. There’s fun stuff over here, we’ll look at this if anybody’s interested. I think I have a coupon in here for a $10 bonus that’s a trial offer you can use if you’re interested in that.

But let’s circle back to content marketing and the purpose of today’s meeting and discussion and webinar. So, I think it’s critical that we all understand what content marketing is, and I have eight or so slides to go through that I really want everybody to tune into.

Content marketing is an art of listening to your customers wants and needs, and that’s probably the hardest part of content marketing. And I think that’s what Patrick is going to talk about today -- how can we listen to what our customers are doing on our websites, how they’re acting, and what’s motivating them. How can we dig into what their wants and needs are?

I think you’re going to see some tremendous revelations in the marketplace in the next couple of years in how we learn what those wants and needs are.

One that's getting lots of attention is Google, with iPhone, and the ability to essentially spy on your movements and your behaviors as you travel around. That is great data and great information, and I hope Google and Apple and everybody are able to hang on to the ability to track and monitor and measure where people are going -- to pop up relative, targeted ads to where they are at specific periods of time.

The next part is the science of delivering content to readers in a compelling way. And the big news here is you need to reach readers with not just blog posts or articles. You need to be thinking about books and ebooks and RSS feeds and all kinds of other ways to distribute content. And that again is complex. It’s difficult. It’s challenging. It adds more tasks to your list everyday -- to try to distribute content to a wide platform, but it is critical for success online.

And catching readers at the right time and the right place is also a challenge, but one that we need to focus in on. Is it an app? Is it a widget? How are you going to get your information out to people? If you think you can survive just by pushing information out to your website, you’re wrong. You need to look way beyond the scope of your site, and catch people at the right time and the right place.

And the other key is to provide them with information that they want and need. Webinars work for educational events like this one where we’re all listening to how to get good information to the people. How do you learn this great quality information? We’ll talk about that in a little while.

And, of course, it’s testing campaigns to learn what does work and what doesn’t work, and finally -- finding the most efficient path to engagement. Again, all difficult and all expansive. Every one of these slides I could talk about for an hour, probably, and not be repetitive.

Let’s dive into the conversion enhancement tips and advice. I wanted to go over these with people quickly so they could get some good data from me.

First of all let's cover on-page testing formula. I believe there is a formula that everyone should adhere to, with regards to looking at what is on a physical page. You can certainly look at what’s happening on a page and what actions people take with click-tail and other elements -- where people came from and where they go, and that’s important. But at some point, you’ve got to analyze what’s on that page. We’ve gotta look for:

  • Are you earning trust with information that customers want and need?
  • What’s the usability of the page?
  • How are you motivating people? Are you able to judge what is a good motivator and a bad motivator? Are you using AB testing and multi-variant testing to try to learn the answers to some of these questions?
  • What’s your incentive? Are you offering anything that is motivating people with some incentive or award?
  • What’s the friction? This is the hard part -- identifying the resistance. Why aren’t people taking the action that you want them to? And how can you begin experimenting to reduce those pain points? That becomes a really difficult thing and a negative motivator. That’s what’s hurting you, essentially.
  • What anxiety do people have? Which, by the way, might only be able to be learned by talking with people and asking them questions or tuning into your customer service dept and asking people, “Why didn’t you buy? You’re on the phone with me, but what would be on the site that would decrease your anxiety of why you didn’t want to buy? Was it trust? Was it our brand? Was it something we were missing? Why do you buy on other sites versus ours? These are all important aspects of improving conversion rates.

I think one of the big things to discuss is a wonderful book by Barry Schwartz called “The Paradox of Choice”. A walk down any aisle in a grocery store will certainly convince you or a visit to the next micro-brewery will certainly expose you to -- way too many choices. This is wonderful, you know. It’s great to have choices, but how does it affect our design and our copy and the way we market to people? And are there new rules for this whole complex decision-making process?

The answer is yes, yes, yes. There are new rules. There are too many choices. There’s new strategy. There’s new methodology to be formulated to basically make all of this happen.

Here are some testing words. IdeaLaunch is very focused on content creation and optimization distribution and testing, publishing -- anything that begins with content -- chances are we’ve done a project or a few hundred thousands of them. Content is a big deal for us.

I wanted to leave you with a few interesting actual “feel” words to improve conversion rates and actual “sell” words. Words and linguistics in general are actually extremely powerful. A big part of Panda Farmer -- the recent algorithm release by Google -- really took a much deeper dive into the algorithmic understanding of words that were strung together. There’s a lot of discussion online about Panda Farmer and the removal of poor-quality content. We have our own theories and we track about 1.1 million listing positions for a couple hundred clients. Content Six and Word Vision are proprietary technologies that track performance of content. But the net of it is -- we see a difference, and we see a difference with conversion improvement when you’re using particular sets of keywords. Particularly in headlines and other areas, these words are meaningful. They resonate. They say a lot of things.

Here are some sell words. Some of them are popular, but others are aimed at other things. It’s very rare that we see a "no-fuss" sign up, but we actually use that word in testing, and it’s worked. It’s different. It stands out. So try and experiment with different words, and I’m going to try and get this deck available and send this out to everyone who's here. So fear not on whether you’re going to get this deck or not. I”ll send it all over to you.

Positive versus negative sell words -- are you connecting? Are you identifying with people’s wants and needs? Are you talking their language? Have you built up personas? If so, what do these personas look like? Are some of these personas of people who are more concerned, nervous Nellie-type people? Do they need to see negative-type keywords that better connect with them, particularly if it’s longer content? Or do you have positive people who are looking for quick solutions to problems? I like to say sometimes we market to ADD Andy and Sophisticated Sally. You might use different sets of words for each audience.

And of course, widen the funnel. In taking a preliminary, initial glance on a page, notice the headlines, the visual, maybe some video. We’ll talk about that more today. What is the preliminary view of the page? There are heat maps and all other kind of tools that can tell you what people are looking at and what they’re interested in. And then, of course, there’s the investigating element and capability in action. These are some great sites. There’s a road map of New York that I love ending on slides. I usually show a Boston grid -- an antiquated architecture system -- versus New York -- a logical workflow where you can actually find your place from A to B. Your funnel should be looking more like New York than Boston, even though I live in Boston. Go Bruins, by the way. They just won their 7th game last night.

I wanted to give everybody a link to where they can download for free. I’ll send you a link to my book -- a pdf version of it. But without further ado, I’m going to turn things over to Patrick.

Patrick, welcome.

Patrick: Thanks Byron, good to be here.

Byron: “A couple of footnotes for you, Patrick. I sent the links out to everyone who’s listening in, so they’ll actually be able to click on the links in the email from me if any of these videos don’t happen to work the way that you want them to.

Patrick: Thanks Byron. I’m assuming that everyone can see my presentation. And Byron, I very much agree with your notions on what stands behind linguistics and engagement. It’s the realizations that, ultimately, we’re not measuring clicks, we’re measuring human behavior.

It’s really human dynamic that makes them want to be a part of a website. I think we’re still very early in understanding the human that’s behind a click. That’s been a preoccupation throughout my career, but I’m trying to understand the motivation.

There's lots of innovation in the world of neuroscience to really understand what moves us to take action, and Byron, you alluded to Barry Schwartz’s book. There are a bunch of others who are really trying to understand what is the neuroscience -- what is the social psychology -- that moves people to take actions and make decisions.

It turns out the initial reaction is the old brain kicking in. It’s the instantaneous thing that happens. And what we’re doing at the old brain level is really a pattern-matching function. We’re asking a question -- Is it friend or foe? Is it something on the track that you are repelled from? Is it something that makes you feel safe or feel threatened? And those pattern-matching reactions happen instantaneously, within milliseconds.

And then, after that initial reaction, we go through emotional processing -- how does it make me feel? And it turns out that it’s emotion that moves us to action. And this is part of the problem that comes with having an over-abundance of choice. When we’re confronted with too much information, we tend to get prompted into this mode of thinking -- let me consider all the facts. Let me consider all the information. And it turns out that we just flat-out don’t make decisions. It’s really emotion that moves us to make a decision, and reason then provides interpretation after the fact. This, in some way, is an accommodation of the human brain.

The human brain actually turns out to not be a really efficient computer. To think of it in computing terms, the process that I just described is a 4-second-long process. And if you think that every single algorithm and possibility was going to be considered, and multiply that by 4 seconds, we simply end up in process of analysis. And the way that the brain compensates for that is to effectively pre-load decisions that are then triggered by emotion.

We’ve tended to operate with this historical bias that that process really won’t help us make the best decision. But it turns out those pre-loaded decisions are very effective, and it’s reason that helps modify those decisions after the fact.

I find this whole business of consumer behavior and neuroscience to be incredibly intriguing. Four books that I’ll recommend quickly if you’re interested in learning more:

  • One is a book written by a guy named Antonio DeMassio. He actually heads up the Brain Neuroscience and Creativity Center at the University of Southern California. He wrote a book called, “Descartes’ Error”.
  • And then applied at a little more pop level, Daniel Pink wrote a book called, “A Whole New Mind”.
  • And then around this whole business of how we make decisions -- if you’re only going to read one book here -- I recommend Jonah Lehrer’s book, “How We Decide”. He’s a neuroscientist but creates a very popular presentation. He really unpacks this whole theme of how the decision process works. He really debunks the historical myth that if we could all be perfectly rational and make absolutely rational decisions -- that somehow we would make better choices, and the world would be a somewhat better place.

​It’s turns out that’s not the case. In fact, we make our best decisions when there’s a subtle interplay between intuition, emotion and reason. When we make our decision with that interplay and balance of things, we make the best decisions. And it turns out that we really have known this all along. Think about the standard advice we give for test-taking -- go with your first impulse, and only change that answer if you can definitely, absolutely prove that it’s the wrong answer. And research shows that about 50 percent of the time, even when we think we’re changing it because we know that it’s the wrong answer, we change it away from the correct answer.

Think about, too, the advice we give to family and friends about significant decisions in our lives -- we say trust your heart. Go with your gut. So it is really the subtle interplay between intuition, emotion and reason that leads us to make the best decisions.

In case you’re interested, there are a number of business books applying these insights: One written by a guy named Dan Hilt --”Emotionomics” -- very insightful. And then in the more consumer space -- “Buyology” by Martin Lindstrom. And then for the web space, a book I highly recommend called "Neuro Web Design", by Susan Wine Shanks. We know Susan well. She’s a friend of CodeBaby and does some consulting work with us. She’s trained as psychologist, but applies the insight of neuroscience to the whole business of web design.

The first takeaway that I think is important if you’re going to understand customers and customer behavior when they come to the online space, is that you must engage customers at an intuitive, emotional level as a real human being -- taking into account that at the level of intuition and emotion is where we make most of our decisions and take most of our action.

That’s one of our challenges and it’s a non-trivial challenge because when you think about the nature of the Internet, it’s infinite choice. It’s a presentation of more information. It’s information we can really actually apply. It’s intelligence. We can address the issues. We’ll be able to read what’s going on with the customer. We’ll be able to apply our skill as humans to either get them to make the sale decision or to stay with us as a customer. Again, we just know that there’s this dynamic that we’ll be able to engage personally -- that we’ll be able to apply the basic principals of emotional intelligence and being able to read the situation in a kind of way that moves them to the desired outcome.

Now part of the challenges we’ve got is increasing this proliferation of increasing channels for how we interact with customers. And initially the first channel is the telephone, and if you’re around call centers much, you’ll learn there are tons of folks who are providing all kinds of training on how to create very conversational style interactions on call centers -- how to use top customer service skills and to use voices that communicate emotion and listen for emotion and handle customers. And again we basically said, how can we make that as personal an experience as possible?

The one place where we have some historical experience as marketeers -- where we haven’t been able to connect voice-to-voice has been the space of TV. Think about TV. It’s a space where we want to be able to move somebody to take action, but we know we don’t get any feedback from the customer, and we don’t have any ability to create a more human-style interaction.

I think there’s a lot of things where the context is somewhat analogous to the challenge we face in the whole Internet marketing space. There’s been a huge amount of energy in marketing and in the advertising world devoted to making the most compelling TV commercials. I would argue, when it comes to engaging emotionally, the folks at Hallmark have made this into an art form. They’ve completed these unbelievably compelling commercials that address emotional themes that engage at that more human level. What I encourage you to do is just take a look and reflect a little bit on this whole business of Hallmark TV commercials. I know you have a link from Byron. I’m going to pause for about a minute and a half for you to watch one of these Hallmark television commercials:

[Hallmark Commercial Runs here]

I hope that all of you are able to see it. I have to admit, these commercials do go a little over the top. They are unbelievably effective at touching people at an emotional level. When I present these at offline conferences, I can see these micro-expressions, and people will be prompted to look at another human at some of the most touching points of the commercial. And that’s just a natural human reaction -- when something strikes an emotional chord with us, we look to make a connection with another human being.

Now think about the TV versus the online context -- and again, the folks at Hallmark do have to go a bit over the top -- because think about the challenge they face. TV has the potential to be emotionally engaging, but not interactive at all. So Hallmark has to hope that they move you with such powerful emotion, that the next time you’re walking through the grocery store, you think --”You know, I ought to get a greeting card for appreciation or whatever." And you'll divert into the greeting card aisle and you’ll prefer their brand over any of the other brands. It’s a huge challenge. The emotional connection has to be so powerful that it will persist for days weeks or months until you’re at the appropriate point where you’ll be moved to act on that emotion.

Now consider the online context -- infinitely interactive -- but it tends to be an emotionally flat context. The challenge is, when there’s always more information to take away, how do you make that more analogous connection? When you frame it this way it kind of asks an obvious question -- "Why don’t I just put a TV commercial on my website?"

And even as I say it, I’m sure that some of you are kind of going, “Yeah, that’s not going to work.” Intuitively you know that that’s just not going to work. In fact, it doesn’t work for online customer experience. And, in fact, if you go to Hallmark.com you won’t find a single one of those incredibly effective Hallmark commercials on their website. Remember these are the people who literally wrote the book on "Emotion Marketing" -- another book that I will highly recommend.

So why?

Let’s go back to the greeting card analogy if you will. I’m an old married guy of 32 years now --one of the crowning achievements of my life -- that I’ve managed to convince this girl to stay married to me for 32 years. And if you knew me, you’d know that I’m a bit of a schmuck, and that it’s an accomplishment to be able to keep this girl married to me. There’s a season of life that one of the things you do when you dig a hole with your wife is to go and try and find the “I'm sorry” card that will help get you out of the bind.

Now imagine you’re in the greeting card aisle and you’re in that same kind of emotionally charged situation where you need to find the right card. You’re there, and you’re looking, and you pull a card up, you open it and it isn’t right -- you pull up another and another and another, scan them and back and forth. Now imagine I’m in that situation and in a highly activated state and the clerk comes up that greeting card aisle and says, “Sir, are you finding what you need?”, and I say, “No, I messed up with my wife again.” Now imagine the clerk said to you, “Oh, I think I know just the thing. Let me show you the latest Hallmark greeting card commercial.”

You’d think it was the stupidest clerk on the planet, right? Because she doesn’t respect this highly activated context. I want a conversation. I want an interactive style of encounter with the clerk where the clerk says something more like, “Are you finding what you need?”

“No.”

“Oh. well, you’re in the humor section. Are you looking for a humorous card?”

“Well no. Nothing humorous about this situation.” and you want the clerk to say, “Oh well let me get you over to this husband-sucking-up-to-their-wife section.” -- the largest section in the store. “Does that get you where you need to be now, Sir?”

“Well, yes. Thank you so much. Now I can do it on my own.”

Again, when you’re in that highly activated state, we don’t want this kind of broadcast. What we really want is a conversation. And to understand online customer behavior -- it really is analogous to that behavior that is going on in the greeting card aisle. Customers are in a highly activated state when they’re there, and a broadcast doesn’t respect that behavior that the customer is in at that point. One of the challenges is to be able to match a highly activated state with an interactive experience for the customer at those key points.

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with eye-tracking studies. I want to have you look at one here in a moment, but before you click on the link, let me explain.

If you haven’t used eye-tracking studies on your website, it’s useful to understand where this came from. Eye-tracking studies really came from advertisers who were trying to do TV commercials and to make those TV commercials as effective as possible. So what the technology does, is actually triangulate where your eyes are looking on the screen and correlate that with what’s going on in the TV commercial. So if you look at TV commercials, what you’ll find is a highly fixated quality.

It’s a little politically incorrect, but I’m going to say it anyway, if you look at an eye-tracking study, it will take a whole group of people and create these swarms, or these hot spot,s where you can see where these people are looking. Similar techniques are applied to websites, but the nature of those eye-tracking studies are fundamentally different. If you go on YouTube and search and look at a TV, you’ll see that people tend to look at two things -- faces, where we tend to communicate most with emotions, or boobs, and I think that has to be a very gender-related thing. So faces or boobs. And a good combination is if I can get faces-boobs-product, or face-product. But the emotional expression overwhelmingly comes through the face. And then the challenge is to try and associate the product with emotional communication. If you look at a web-tracking study, you’ll see something radically, fundamentally different.

I want you to click now on the link to the eye-tracking study.

[Eye-tracking study runs here]

The extreme contrast you’ll see between TV eye-tracking studies and web eye-tracking studies is this incredibly activated state that humans are in when they’re online. It is very much analogous to the state in the greeting card aisle where I’m navigating. And again you’ll see that all through this one session on the Ikea eye-tracking study.

And that leads to takeaway number two -- if you’re going to be effective as an online marketeer, if you’re going to have that needed insight into customer behavior, you must respect this highly activated human dynamic of online customer behavior. Broadcast-style interruptions just don’t work. You have to figure out how you’re going to match this highly activated state with a highly interactive style of engagement to be as effective as possible.

Really, the approach of websites has changed little over 15 years. It’s somewhat astounding that the basic approach of websites and browsers really haven’t changed much over the last 15 years. It’s basically this kind of read and click approach with this hierarchical approach through logically organized web pages. Granted, we’re putting more shiny objects on the pages, but still, it’s this context of information overload and a real lack of how we actually engage real humans.

It’s an interesting progression because if you think about the development of how we’ve done websites -- the first wave of innovation was just to build websites and put them up on the Web and come up with some standard usability. Folks like Jacob Neilson and others came up with these standard usability conventions of how the technology would work, and there’d be some predictability and some logical organization and that was really the first wave of innovation around websites. The next was -- how are we going to get traffic to these websites? Enter all of the themes of search engine optimization and management and pay-per-click advertising -- all the different ways we get traffic.

I would say the next wave would have been -- how do we track what people are doing? A little too much focus on clicks and not enough focus on human behavior, but I would say the next wave of innovation right now is how can we create innovations around the web that are much more enlightened from a human perspective? Thinking more in terms of experience streams that come through a website? What are the contexts and outcomes and how can we tune websites for different kinds of personas?

One of the innovations is what i would term a structural innovation on doing websites differently. The two most common structural innovations for websites are the notions of landing pages and micro sites. Landing pages are all about having one objective. I’ll have a landing page that's tuned for one type of persona, and my objective is -- I want this kind of ultimate outcome. More often than not, it’s a single page that’s just looking to capture a lead or a sale or get some kind of an opt-in or affiliation.

Micro sites take landing pages to the next concept, which is really these experience streams that are tuned to particular kinds of people who are interested in particular kinds of things. I’m hearing about more and more companies that are doing hundreds of different micro sites and abandoning the notion of a main webpage all together -- a series of micro sites that are tuned around particular experiences for particular kinds of people and I think both are moving in the right direction.

I think social media is also an innovation of changing website functions. The basic premise of social media is that I'm going to create a site that’s organized around the whole theme of my friends -- in the case of Facebook. If you look at the Facebook page and think about how a website like Facebook works versus most websites, it is radically and fundamentally different. The organizing principle of the site is not some logical organization notion, but instead -- one of the things I do to interact with my friends. Again, a fundamentally different approach to doing a website.

I do think that from an online marketing perspective, the core innovation of social media is borrowed emotions -- drafting off the emotions of a community. I think it’s valuable and legitimate, but I think it can only take you so far.

The approach of CodeBaby, and there are other innovations, there are folks who are doing proactive shot and proactive triggered kinds of engagement models, but we’re trying to provide a similar innovation to change the dynamic of innovation and we’re doing that using a fully animated digital character to create a highly interactive conversational style of interaction. We’re trying to understand who’s coming and trying to create the most personally engaging experience for them. How can we apply basic principles of emotion intelligence -- analogous if you could actually do a face-to-face conversation with them -- and then create this highly interactive experience that leads to conversion results?

Net Nanny provides Internet software filtering for children. It’s a subscription-based thing -- parents sign up to keep their kids safe from experiences they don’t want them to have online. The primary way that Net Nanny sells is through an opt-in trial process. So you sign up for a free trial. Get a feel for how good it is, and then convert to a paid subscription. So we created a conversational style interaction at that key point and that’s the third link. I’m going to pause for just a moment for you to click on that link and see the way that we’re transforming the dynamic of interaction.

[Net Nanny plays here]

You get the sense of what we’ve done there. Without the character there, they’ve all ready clicked to say, “Yeah, we want a free trial.” Net Nanny’s had a 19-percent conversion rate. We continue this split testing. These numbers have been amazingly consistent when that conversation is there. When we transform the dynamic of interaction, conversion goes up to 56 percent -- almost a 300-percent increase in conversion. We know, again, it’s not because there’s some cute thing happening. We’ve transformed the dynamic of interaction, respecting the online customer behavior.

So the third takeaway is whether it’s us or something like us, one of the key takeaways is to apply new techniques and innovations for creating a more human dynamic of engagement than what’s been this old approach of websites. And again, if we’re going to be as successful as possible with online customers and decoding and understanding their behavior, three key things:

  1. We’ve got to engage customers at a more intuitive, emotional level.
  2. Respect the highly activated human behavior.
  3. Look to emerging innovations to create a more human dynamic of interaction.

I’ll just end with a prediction. I really think we’re beginning to see what I would argue is the fourth wave of innovation of the space that is the web. And I think it’s going to end with websites looking a lot less like pages and buttons and clicks and looking a lot more like human interaction.

So, that’s what I’ve got, and Byron, I’m assuming you’ll take over monitoring. Do we have time for Q&A, or what’s the plan?

Byron: Indeed. I know I’ve pulled up about 721 questions for you -- a great presentation, Patrick.

Feel free, everyone, to use the question format, and I’ll get to everyone’s questions and present them to either of us that you direct them to. But here’s my first question for you: I really think you’re spot-on with emotions driving our decisions, but we’re all aware that some people are more- or less- emotionally driven than others. The extremes might be your typical Italian, hot-headed, emotionally passionate, driven person versus the calm, cool, collected CFO from Price-Waterhouse, so how much does emotional influence vary from person to person? And do you therefore design different emotional connecting points to people at different levels of persona?

Patrick: Yep. That’s a great question, Byron. As it turns out, some of the neuroscience stuff is universal. It’s hardwired across the board. There are some differences in style and the degree of emphasis. But it really is across the board emotion that moves us to decisive action. The context though is quite different. If it’s something that is very personally motivating, then I will be much more emotionally tuned and responsive because it’s something that I hold close and personal.

I think often it’s -- is it something that I’m really personally involved with, or do I hold it more arms-length? So for us, we know that trying to really leverage the human dynamic of emotion -- if it’s a business transaction that’s kind of arms-length and it doesn’t really affect my wife and kids personally, for example, the role of emotion will be much less powerful than if I’m looking to buy a safer car because I want to keep my kids safe. So if I’m a fleet manager buying vehicles for my business -- guess what? It’s going to be very much about the specs. Where, for me personally, it’s going to be about safety, about image, about dating. It’s going to be about a bunch of more emotionally charged themes. The cold, analytical purchasing officer, buying vehicles for the fleet will experience a very different emotional process than if he’s buying a personal vehicle. Does that make sense?

Byron: It does. And the key part there was that emotional connection may not apply for all goods and services. Can you give us some examples of what product you’ve seen where emotional connection might not have had an impact or could even have hurt the impact? It might be a complete turn-off for some people, yes?

Patrick: Yes, and we try to focus on themes that are much more emotionally charged -- entertainment, travel, leisure -- there’s a very emotional kind of thing with that. I want to be entertained. I want to have memorable experiences. I want to have fun. I want to meet people.

Personal products -- hearth and home, products around safety. Insurance is overwhelmingly sought for reasons of safety, security -- a very emotionally charged theme. We’re doing things with Internet gaming space, online gambling -- very emotionally charged.

We’re going to focus a little more on personal space and how it affects the consumer. The further it gets from a personal dynamic of decision, it’s probably a little less compelling in terms of where a product like ours created a more emotional style and engaging experience.

Byron: Thank you. That was a perfect answer. Someone has a question on interactive chat. Have you found this to be effective?

Patrick: We’re actually partnering right now with an interactive chat vendor. The world’s becoming very aware. Some of the examples of interactive chat that I see are problematic because they don’t apply good intelligence to the algorithms when they pop the chat session. We’ve all seen and experienced the offer-to-chat box that pops up, and there’s no intelligence applied. I think the most interesting interactive chat things are getting triggered by proactive analytics. They’re doing predictive things to understand who I am -- behavioral patterns. To understand when popping that chat is going to be most effective and welcome.

It’s like the clerk in the retail store who walks over and asks, “So you need anything?” and they just keep coming over and asking you that. Well if I’m not sending some signal that leads you to believe that I need help than I just find that an annoyance. And I think that’s one of the challenges of proactive chat.

The other thing that we’re actually doing is wrapping the code-based experience around the chat session so that a character could say, “I kind of get a sense you’re having some challenges here. Can I help you?” And then if that doesn’t resolve it, for the character to say, “Can I connect you with one of my live colleagues in our customer service center?" and then segue into a web chat session.

We’re looking for ways to create an experience to make that live chat session as appropriate, relevant and as effective as possible.

Byron: I wanted to ask you about three different types of uses for this iconic human interaction. By the way, what do you call your iconic characters?

Patrick: Well, obviously, we’d like the brand to be CodeBaby but we’re not quite Kleenex yet so aside from that, we call it a digital character because it technically really isn’t an avatar. An avatar is a character you create that represents you, and really this is kind of the digital concierge, if you will, for the company. We refer to it as a digital character.

Byron: Okay, well I’m going with CodeBaby, so let’s brand that out. I’m on the bandwagon. Count me in. So there are a couple of different types of strategy that you could use CodeBaby for. One is a push-message strategy. One is a solve-problem strategy. One is sort of an entertain-me strategy. Another might be a decrease-your-anxiety. Of all of those, could you talk a little bit about some of the variations you’ve seen and developed? What’s worked best?

Patrick: We’ve created these standard conversation models. Your first example is what we call a call-to-click conversation, because sometimes, you’re just looking for somebody to make any click, right? They hit your website. They hit your landing page. The challenge is to just get that first click. A very effective conversation we create is called a call-to-click. And most often, it’s called a call-to-first-click. You’ve just got to get somebody to the click screen. You’ve just got to get them to engage at all to have any chance of getting the outcome that you want with the customers. So that’s a very common example for us.

And then there are some things that are inherently complex. That could be a form-fill or a web-wizard process. In a number of contexts, whether it’s lead-capture or form-fill or whatever, we can warm up that experience -- make it easier to understand or feel friendlier. All of these things get better results.

And again there’s a range of other things -- cross-sell, up-sell, add-to-cart -- we’ve designed all of these standard conversations and understand then how we can marry them to personas and brand identities to drive better conversion results on websites.

Byron: Got it. And so most of the products you’re developing are there to measure conversion rates, I’m sure. I mean, that’s the measure in ROI success of your product -- is that correct?

Patrick: Overwhelmingly, but you did touch on another theme. There is another brand identity and just some general online customer experience enhancement. We’re also doing some projects that I would put into the category of gamification. It’s not as much of a “What’s the improvement in conversion rates on this session?” but “How can we create experiences that create better brand identification? That create better stickiness and/or return?" Gamification is a big, hot online growing theme around online customer experience. How can we create these entertaining game-style experiences that create more engagement over the long-haul?

I would say, probably 80 percent of what we do has a very direct, optimized conversion on this session kind of objective. But we’re also doing some things that I would say are a little broader- brand, gamification, online-customer-experience kinds of projects.

Byron: First of all, I want to thank you for joining me today. We could go on here forever, but we’ll stop here at 2:00 so people can trim this down to see a replay of this and/or see it for the first time. But how do you want people to get ahold of you or anybody at your company if they’re interested in learning more or a demo of your product?

Patrick: Yep. Our website, of course -- Codebaby.com -- and I have a regular blog there. I’m on LinkedIn. I’m on Twitter, so there are lots of ways to connect and follow. But the easiest way, if you get to our website, you’ll see the blog that we have there and you’ll see all of my personal ways to connect on social media. I’m very interactive around the blog and in the social media space as well and, as you know, Byron, at a lot of the industry events. I’m always excited to learn about innovations and things that people are doing with customer experience online.

Byron: Terrific. Well, I want to thank you once again for joining this fabulous webinar.

Patrick: Thank you so much.

Byron: Thanks everyone, for listening in and until next month, I hope your life’s a little smarter, better, faster and wiser with some great information on this fantastic topic. Thanks for tuning in everyone. We’ll see you next month.