2 Online Marketing Segments: Insecure Focused, Secure Unfocused

Back in 2001 I met up with Vince Gerlormine at the Association for Internet Professionals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A few months later he asked if I could build a speed dating website for him that could run events in multiple cities, run by multiple event hosts. By mid-2002 we were in 15 cities and growing fast. Pre-Dating.com went on to be the largest speed dating business in the US, in over 80 markets and was sold in 2004 to Cupid.com.

One issue that I observed working with Vince was is he would often overload the home page with tons of details and he went on to write an enormous FAQs page. He was concerned about the customer not having enough information to make a decision to sign up. He had questions in there like “What should I Wear To The Event?”, “Where Should I Go Afterwards”, “What Happens If It Snows?”, etc., etc. And we also had several clicks till a person could actually purchase the speed dating event.

I told Vince that my preference would be to have the registration form right on the home page and to not have all this cluttered text and information and links on that home page, so that it would be clear to me how to buy.

So a few years later I realized that he and I had two differing ways of surfing a website and that is why we had a different opinion of the checkout process. In 2009 I was certified by Marketing Experiments with a Landing Page Optimization Certification and went through their quite amazing training on optimizing web forms and step by step usability methods. So, I do have a background in this area now. Back in 2001 I was simply the web developer. We can actually take our two ways of thinking and segment the market of surfers into Insecure Focused and Secure Unfocused. If you are going to segment and don’t know what they are, this is one way of segment and serving these two audiences. Years ago at another large ecommerce company we segmented on new vs. existing, which is another common way to go. But the Insecure Focused, Secure Unfocused is a psychographic we discovered, making it a good way to segment.

Insecure Focused

Insecure Focused are people that surf a website and have a lot of concerns about buying and need to have these issues overcome by selling the customer and providing enough information to get them to be “secure” about their feelings of buying. These are people who are concerned about the site being a rip off and not providing or living up to the standard that they are reading about. These people sometimes go as far as reading the terms on a website and they will read all the fine print. I am not sure of the % who fit this segment, because each site will be different. Though that would be an interesting number to figure out. Let’s just say that the Insecure Focused person most likely has to leave the website and think about buying before checking out the competition sites, the better business bureau and mulling over it in their bed overnight…

Secure Unfocused

Secure Unfocused people are just that. They are confident in taking a risk on a website, and generally have arrived at that website for a purpose that they knew in advance they would jump at. Basically think of these people as having tunnel vision. Their eyes lock on to an actionable part of the website page and if it makes sense they take action. People like me don’t read everything and if we do, we often miss some of the details. It is like the whole page on the site other than the actionable items gets fuzzy. Some people have laughed at me when I say to put an email box saying “get on our list” on their website, even if there is no reason to get on the list. These secure unfocused folks will jump on the list. I had been working on Websites.com for Verio/NTT corp and put a box on it like this and several months later we had a couple thousand emails. I am a secure unfocused person. I will basically not want to take the time to read everything. I am a sign up kind of guy. I don’t believe its worth my time to read all those terms and if the deal looks decent enough, I just jump in and get it. Thus, we end up with sites for Secure Unfocused people like Woot.com. One of my favorites.

So, as a web manager you have to say to yourself, where do my beliefs lie. If you are Insecure Focused, then you have to not just design a site you would use, you have to solve the problem for quickies like me who don’t want to read everything. If you are Secure Unfocused type of person, you have to understand that there are people who look at a big form box with fear and trepidation and will never put their email in… unless you coax them. You need to create a path for success for both types of visitors.

There are two mantras for site visitors to consider here, Insecure Focused and Secure Unfocused, in addition to a many other ways to segment. But overall this way is a very actionable way to design for both types of individuals and solve both paths towards successful conversion.

Anatomy of a Redesign – Pre Article

This series of articles are going to be about a site redesign. While I am not a designer, and some say I am a hack programmer, I have been around the web enough and been a member of quite a few top notch teams on redesigning small sites to very big ones. And trust me redesign always means “a fluid changing process”. This means that there is never one redesign and it is over with. Redesigning is an iterative, a constantly improving process. Like a shark, when the shark stops moving it dies…

The site I am going to cover in this redesign is LockAndKeyEvents.com (LNK), because this site was originally programmed by me back in 2002, and the storied site, which is doing well these days, was thrown together in a 3 week period, albeit, it was literally made with chunks of PHP from here and there, and the design was a actually acceptable back then. But that was then and this is now. We are in a new era of Post Web 2.0, almost Web 3.0.

Fast forward 7 years, 3 owners later, tons of changes in the world from programming to design to SEO to business practices and LNK was basically left alone, did its job and grew and grew, but little of the technology and design went along with it. This means it is time for a redesign. By redesign this includes everything from design improvements to technology addons, open source implementations and the bells and whistles by the time the team working on it is finished.

So, this redesign concept will cover what is happening and the impact from a functional perspective through to a design perspective and what all of this means. And along the way I am going to mention how we are using the conversion formula of MarketingExperiments and the theories of “Don’t Make Me Think”, a classic. Plus you need to know the conversion rate improvements and why and how we are doing them. We are going to let you into the mind of what is going on being these improvements and why. If you have a comment for me or want to throw your hat in the ring and let us know how we can even improve it more, that is great…

Either sign up on this blog to find out about the next installment of this article or follow me at twitter @dgudema.

Landing Page Optimization & MarketingExperiments

Last spring I attended the 2009 Omniture Marketing Summit. By chance, right before I left, I noticed there was a landing page certification program being run by MarketingExperiments (associated with Marketing Sherpa). Those of you familiar with the MarketingExperiments formula and principals know how this program works. And when I attended the conference and spent the 8 or so hours getting this certification, I ended up finding out how little I actually did know about landing page optimization and site optimization in general.

I have been a hard core web developer, a Unix SA, a web content management analyst, a web analytics analyst, a web manager, and most recently a web marketer, but all those experiences over 10 years were somewhat dwarfed by the simplicity of the MarketingExperiments experience. Since then I have graciously put the experience to work on several websites, some for fun, some for consulting work, and some general comments at my day job. The formula is still the same, C=4M+3V+2(I-F)-2A… And I am not going to get into it exactly, but the formula helps figure out what is wrong with conversion process on a web page.

Case in point, most recently I was asked to do this type of analysis of a website I did all the programming for called LockAndKeyEvents.com. This site is a popular singles events site, that has not changed design much since it was created in 2002. Since then the site has had 3 owners and has grown to over 20 cities in the US. The current owner is doing a great job, but the site need work from a design perspective and needs a lot of small programming improvements which hopefully will be fixed over the next few months.

On an unrelated note, well maybe not unrelated, I was asked by a colleague for a specific guide to improving an internal UI. I told him about MarketingExperiments, but more importantly, it suddenly occurred to me that there was a little book sitting on my bookshelf called “Don’t Make Me Think”, which I have carried with me for the last couple of years. The book is all about meeting customer expectation and meeting standards that people use on web pages. Both the book and MarketingExperiments make the point that you don’t need a PHD or oversimplification of UI design. You actually need to be both in the head of the customer, not make them think to hard and finally guide them properly, with little if any friction through the end-goal of conversion. Sounds easy.