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“If I Knock On Your Website Door, Will I Answer You?”

Written By: Roger J. Burke

Here is my latest article. It may be freely used in ezines, on
websites or in e-books, as long as the Resource Box is left intact.

I would appreciate notification of where it was used, and if
possible, a copy of the ezine or newsletter that it was used in.
Please send notification mailto:webmaster@online-wealth.com

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For quite a few months now, I’ve been – well, not inundated but – receiving a number of emails urging me to take advantage of interactive facilities such as LiveHelper, HumanClick and the like.

At first glance, such a tool should be very useful, thinks I…and I mention this to Sherry, musing about whether people visiting our websites would feel the same way. Sherry, after much prodding, tears her eyes away from her monitor and replies, “Well, dear, I’m really not all that sure…” and slips back into her near-catatonic state as she concentrates on the next batch of emails pouring in.

“Well, y’know, when you go inna store, y’know, you expect some-one to talk to you, right…sort of like to help, y’know?” I stopped, momentarily nonplussed, for I suddenly realized *that* doesn’t happen anymore in stores anyway, as Sherry’s almost-glazed eyes swept over me like a laser beam and then back to the monitor.

Recovering quickly, I says, “OK, lookit, ferget about the stores – they’re dinosaurs anyway, only they don’t know it yet – but, onna web people want *interaction*, they *want* to be told what and how to buy, right? Riiiight? At least, that’s what *we’re* told, right, in all those ezines, OK!” I look at Sherry fiercely, willing her to unglue her eyes from the screen.

Her face suffused, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed turned her radar on me, fixed my position finally and gritted through her teeth, “Why don’t you find out, dear? Why don’t you just ASK THEM?” As she finished and calmed down, she smiled sweetly at me now, and repeated, “Run a survey or poll, on our main site, then you *might* have some idea!”

Brilliant, I thought. Organize a poll to find out what our visitors really think about those tools before we go to the trouble of trying them out! Hey, maybe such a poll would even tell us whether there is any acceptance of the concept, out there anyway?

“Fantastic, yer a genius”, I shouted as Sherry went back to her screen and I set about designing suitable survey questions and form. A day or so later, it was all done, with the poll sitting on three of our domains. The questions I was putting to all visitors were essentially:

1. Do you know about HumanClick, LiveHelper etc?
Answers: Yes No Don’t Know.
2. If you know about them, would you use them when you visit a website?
Answers: Yes No Maybe.

That was two months ago.

Now, in the scheme of things, our websites are not what you’d call big hitters, y’know. The three together would get around only 8,000 visitors each month, give or take a few hundred. So, I wasn’t expecting big returns, as I knew that the majority of people don’t like to complete surveys anyway. But, I was hopeful of *some* response.

Well, overall response for that period was around 0.5%! Not very good, I thought, but better than nothing, I suppose. ;-(

“Look at those numbers”, I said, plaintively.

“Well, now, dear,” says Sherry, “at least you can establish some sort of pattern or percentages…” She looks at me, “At least you’ll know more than you did two months ago!”

Hmmm, yes, that’s true. Even though the numbers are small, the distribution of the answers is more important, after all. I could have used a number of online services to conduct the survey, but I’d decided at the outset to collect all the data myself. So, after a bit of number mangling, I shouted out to Sherry, still fixated on her screen.

“Lissen t’this: 66% of respondents didn’t even *know* about interactive facilities and – hey, this gets better – again only 70% say that they’d only *maybe* use it, even if it was available!” Sherry grunted acknowledgement, but carried on with her work. “Hey,” I said, “there’s more – two-thirds of those who knew about those tools gave a big thumbs *down* about using them!” Furiously, I went over the survey data again, “Get this: not *one* respondent gave a definite “yes” to using HumanClick and suchlike.” I shook my head in wonder…

You go into a department store and, after a while, you’re sure that all the sales staff have been abducted by aliens, right? It’s true: you can never find a sales assistant when you want one, right? But…when a sales assistant on a website is begging to be bothered, to give his/her visitor all the help needed, nobody wants it! Or, only a very qualified “maybe”.

“Well, what about that?” I says to Sherry, finally.

Sherry moved in her chair, but didn’t quite get her eyes off the prize…”I’m not surprised”, she murmurs, as she clicks some more on the keyboard and mouse.

“Hmmm,” I said to myself, “wonder if HumanClick or LiveHelper did any surveys first *before* they developed their programs?”

Now, there’s a thought. After a while, I called out again to Sherry: “So, I guess we’ll wait a bit, huh, see what happens with LiveHelper and others? Waddya reckon, eh?”

“What ever you say, dear…what ever you say.”

About the Author

Roger Burke has been involved with computers since 1967, and has managed to break quite a few, over the years. He, and his wife Sherry, are now actively engaged in online self-publishing and promoting specific affiliate programs at http://online-wealth.com . If you have any comments or questions about this article, please send emails to mailto:webmaster@online-wealth.com .
Copyright 2001, Online-Wealth. All rights reserved.

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