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Sweat the Small Stuff

December 18, 2009  
In this space, we usually discuss massive successes and epic failures. Sometimes, though, there's inspiration to be found in delightful little details that wouldn't normally merit the spotlight.

Let's say you want a copy of The Official Preppy Handbook, a humorous dissection of the preppy lifestyle written by Lisa Birnbach in 1979. It's been out of print for years, so you visit Alibris.com and browse the inventories of used bookstores around the country.

After selecting a paperback copy from a seller that has a high reliability rating, you then check out as a guest, providing the usual shipping and payment information. Once you've finalized your order, a confirmation page appears, along with form that reads, "Create an account—in a snap! Take a second now to save time next time. Simply enter a password below and we'll keep an account for you."

Beneath are two boxes for selecting and re-entering your password, and also a few arguments for opening an account right now:

  • Easy & quick future orders
  • No need to retype everything
  • Takes only seconds to create

You decide it couldn't hurt. And it is, indeed, as easy as entering your password twice; the next screen announces an account has been created. At the same time, a discount code for your next purchase arrives in your email inbox.

Because of a small tweak to the checkout process, are you more likely to revisit Alibris.com, even if you had considered this a one-shot visit for an out-of-print book? Probably. And that's why we suggest looking for Marketing Inspiration in the small stuff—where you don't expect to find it.

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Comments

  • by Randall Seefeldt Fri Dec 18, 2009 via web

    Very well presented, and I wholeheartedly agree with the philosophy...as far as it goes. I think it bears emphasizing that how the customer is treated AFTER they sign up for an account plays as important a role in retaining them as does the little touch of the easy sign-up.

    More times than I could count, I've signed up exactly this way for accounts with online merchants large and small, only to find my inbox bombarded with daily or more frequent messages about this or that sale or product I've expressed no interest in. And in too many of these cases, the process of trying to unsubscribe has been nothing short of infuriating.

    My point is this: making it easy for your customers to give you permission to market to them is only the first step; marketing to them respectfully, with restraint and with an open ear to what they want from you will keep them on your list and in your checkout. Otherwise, you may just be patting yourself on the back for accumulating an ever-growing list of people who wish they'd never visited your site.

  • by TheCynicalMarketer Fri Dec 18, 2009 via web

    Nice post and I like the addition comment from Randall.

    Almost every online merchant today tries to get their customers to move from guest status to having an account. This merchant does a journeyman job of identifying one of the benefits of joining.

    I think they could have gone two steps further though and addressed the fears and concerns that remain an impediment for many. Randall addresses one of the biggies, email abuse. Another big fear is loss of credit card or other sensitive data. Most consumers believe if they remain a guest, they will lessen this risk, which is often true.

    As more data breaches occur, look for greater sensitivity to security concerns among online customers. Fear of financial loss caused online retailers to miss $28B in sales in 2008 (Javelin S&R). Smart merchants will address these fears and reap the benefit.

    TheCynicalMarketer

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