Jun 16, 2008
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By Anne Holland, Founder
Ten years ago this week, innovative marketers tested adding the first call-us buttons to their websites. Results were delightful –- so much so that early testers, including several divisions of IBM, rolled out call-us buttons to more of their Web pages.
Yet, beyond a certain circle of best-practices-type marketing organizations, call-us buttons never really took off the way they should have in the larger world. I'm not sure why –- possibly it’s because the buttons cost next to nothing to implement, don't use razzle-dazzle technology and aren't as cool and sexy as videos, search ads or viral campaigns. In the ceaseless marketing march toward Web 2.0 hipness, call-us buttons got left in the dust.
Well, now that we're in a recession (which we are no matter what the government proclaims), it's time to add a call-us button to your site improvements agenda. You don't need razzle-dazzle or the latest great thing. You need what works –- what's proven to increase responses quickly, cheaply and effectively.
How call-us buttons work:
You add a button (or form) to every page of your site (or to landing pages), which prospective clients might abandon because they have questions they need answered to continue. It works best on considered-purchase page paths –- something expensive or complicated that folks may want to talk to a human being about before making a decision to buy or to add your name to the vendor shortlist for the boss's consideration.
The button lets people request to be called by an expert service rep who can answer any questions they might have. It's not a chat box –- some folks don't like chat at all, and others feel it's too annoyingly “slow.” It's also not a sales-rep-will-call offer – nobody wants to be sold. They want to be assisted.
You can set up the button, so that your call center calls immediately (the faster the better, just like chat; no one wants to sit waiting) or at the time each user asks to be called. If you have business clients, be sure to ask for extension. If you can operate only during limited hours, state the hours upfront on the button and include a cross-link to a Web form for questions during off-hours. Make sure someone actually responds to the Web form (a shocking number of companies do not).
Start with a small test that measures what percent of visitors to one page with a highly visible call-us button actually use it. Also, measure what percent of those calls result in a favorable activity (anything from a request for more information to a direct conversion.) And, consider having the reps making the calls ask folks to hang on the line for a brief satisfaction survey at the end (“Was this helpful?” or “Would you be more likely to buy from us as a result of this service?"). This will give you the call volume and results measurements you need to create projections and sell your management team on a rollout.
Last, don't abuse the phone numbers you receive. Calls should be placed based on prospects’ wishes. If they didn't ask you to call again, don't. Otherwise, people will quickly learn to never click on a call-us button again.
Why do people prefer call-us buttons to picking up the phone and reaching out to you? They're sick and tired of automated phone systems, on-hold wait time and being passed from person to person while trying to find the right expert to answer a question. It's a pain in the neck to get through to most companies these days. Call-us soothes the pain point.
Every time you overcome a pain point that's a barrier between you and a prospective customer, your sales rise. The only question is by how much.
Were you one of the Few, the Proud, the call-us-using marketers of the past decade? Please post your comments below. Tell the rest of us how things worked out.