Can I Help You? Nope, Just Looking



can I help youThis is one of my most favorite terms that fellow #METS fan and renowned blogger and podcaster, Kerel Cooper of treats me to every time one of our pitchers strikes out a batter looking. It is not a way that a batter wants to go down, especially at a crucial time in the game. I was thinking joking about this recently as with my relocation to New Jersey I have now changed this to, Can I help you? Nope, just turning around. Awful but so true. This got me really thinking about our activity online and our home base; our websites.

Nope Just Looking

This is something that we quickly reply when we walk into a store and we are greeted with a friendly but annoying salesperson who asks if they can help us. Generally we immediately reply, “no, thanks, I am just looking.”  Many times we have just entered the store and have not even had an opportunity to look around the store to familiarize ourselves with our surroundings. Isn’t this the same when we visit a website? We are just reading an article or arrived on a page that has us … then Woop, there it is! The pop up to subscribe. I know these perform well but, then again, it is industry folks or real customers who are just looking and have barely spent the 15 or less seconds on your site before being asked if they can be helped. The pop up is an offer in the same way that is like the salesperson asking your for help. We want to scream, can I just read at least 1 paragraph before you are shoving yourself down my throat? In retail it is the 20 second rule, in social media we have lessened it to 15 seconds or under.

Nope, Just Turning Around

When we went the wrong way, we have to turn around. Turning around – it can be a myriad of things. We can be in a store and go down he wrong aisle, or be driving and realize we are going headed the wrong way so we flip a U-ie. I am the queen of the u-ie. In Las Vegas, the traffic engineers developed a center lane that allowed a u-turn in the middle of the street into oncoming traffic (scary at first but then you become a pro … until you have family and friends come for visit and it freaks them out!) In New Jersey you are pretty much turning into a driveway and performing a 3 point turn on surface streets. Hmh. Let’s think about that for a minute. An easy means of turning around or a complicated means. How easy is it to find your website and garner the attention of visitors vs the ease of having them leave? We do not want them to leave but at the same time if they are dead weight where they would never buy or come back, shouldn’t it be easy for them to move on?

Turning Around and Bounce Rate

Turning around for a website is a bounce rate. We care about the numbers so it matters. A high bounce rate sucks, however, when we put it into perspective of how many businesses we drive by each day and see their sign but do not go in, that is, in essence, a bounce rate. We saw them, read their sign and never stopped for more. We either drove past or turned around. In website traffic, at least they stopped by to push the traffic but they also hit the back button or the dreaded  X. They turned around as they did not find what they were looking for. Sometimes what we are initially looking for has us dead set on getting THERE but there are alternatives. An alternative that performs as well as or almost as well but more convenient without the turning around is going to get the sale. Not sure? Look at your competitors and watch them and you will see how they easily they are to turn around from. Are you that easy? Or is it hard to turn around from you? Content matters but the ability to leave you without clicking the back button to the level of frustration never will get them back. When they turn around easily and go back to the search, the alternative comes into play. The alternative is not always 2nd best, it is the unknown and that makes people uneasy. Once we are forced to pay attention to them, we find that there is no just looking …we found what we are looking for.

We want what we want. We want to get there sometimes quickly or sometimes are on the fence or afforded a luxury of time. Time for certain products is limited; seasonal. In a way, I guess when we think like more like a consumer, we are seasonal as when we are offering our services, products we really have to consider more of the buyer than the launch. We get that confused or lost sometimes as while we are turning around or just looking at the target market, we forget that they can do that as well.

Hmh, I end it here, so short for me but looking for reactions on what when we are finding what we are looking for, even if it was an alternative and if we remember that the target may just be not ready.

photo credit: alexindigo

  • Marla Hughes

    Suzanna, great analogy. There’s a reason we call it ‘traffic’ online.
    I totally agree that a website that I find it hard to exit from isn’t going to get my traffic in the future and yes, those popups are annoying. I think that sign up rate from the popups needs to be analyzed for all those who, like me, sometimes sign up just to get rid of the popup if they trust the authors already when they arrive (from Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn, etc..).
    One of my pet peeves is to BE signed up to a website and still get that popup! I know, deleting cookies, private browsing, but they are  supposed to be reading my mind. lol

    • Marla

      That is my pet peeve as well. I know the pop ups do well but I just cannot bring myself to do it on this site. I thought about it and then the very same day had 4 pop ups and abandoned those thoughts altogether.

      We are not much of a business without customers and when they have a bad experience, we have a bad business.

  • I think it is all about thinking like your customer instead of expecting your customers to think like you. Sure you’re there for a reason and that reason is to make sales and money.  Think your customers care a whoop about that?  Probably not.  Make the customer experience a good one (one that you would enjoy) and they will be good customers who will recommend you to their friends.  Make them jump through all kinds of hoops in order to do business with you and the likelihood that they will return is greatly diminished.  Why is Amazon so successful?  Go to the site, browse around, make a purchase, and then compare the experience to the same process at your site.  Amazon figured it out.

    Great article Suzanne. I really like your analogy to driving.

    • Mark

      So very true about Amazon. Every single time I have purchased from them it has been flawless. If we look at them as a model, can our customers say the same thing? Many can say yes however it is really that flawless? I know the experiences I have and tend to be more forgiving as I am online so much of the day that I abandon and move on and do not every really think about it again. Many do not do this as we see the reviews and we hear the chatter.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and commenting. Makes the article that much better.