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Internet sales

Constructing a Clear Path to Internet Sales

Kelly “Rags” Ragland is owner and operator of Rags to Stitches Productions, a holistic advertising-specialty company providing a range of services from web design and development to customized apparel.

Speed bumps, those little concrete troublemakers. We get it; we really do: Go slowly in this or that area. But what if you're in a Corvette Stingray that rides 3" off the ground with the capability of speeds near 200 MPH and you see one of these impending hassles? Speed is not the issue! You might be driving a mere 10 MPH, but the first thing that comes to mind is the obstacle ahead and the looming potential damage to the undercarriage of that $70K car, no matter the current rate of travel. You instinctively reconsider the current path to avoid that speed bump at all costs. It isn’t about slowing down, it’s about stopping and redirecting.

All two readers of this column who can afford a new Stingray will certainly agree. If business is doing well enough to fund said Vette, my salute and congratulations on the success. Give me a ride to McDonald’s in that sweet ride and I’ll buy dinner with the spare change, empty bobbins and lint from my pocket!

When I was eight, I hit a speed bump sideways on my bicycle at a modest pace––lightning fast at the time––and crashed hard. Such a stellar faceplant landing was achieved that my mother thought I’d been run over by a lawnmower when I ran home to her screaming and bleeding with road rash and various bike parts sticking out of my ribs. I hate speed bumps. So does Mom. And so do Internet users.

Today’s Internet is all about speed. Web users ranging from young (and young at heart) video gamers to more seasoned browsers have adapted to today’s laser-fast technology, which is the equivalent of the Corvette on desktops and mobile devices. Internet surfers expect that sports car speed and shiny, immediate results.

Marketing or speed bump?

Business owners need to take pause in aggressive Internet Marketing strategies to avoid adding speed bumps to the online avenues intended for leading customers to products and services offered. We are challenged with creating paths for web surfers to explore our professional talents and experience, yet we often hinder progress by adding unnecessary roadblocks.

Online business goals should certainly include the gathering of email subscribers, promoting the latest products and services and earning social media followers. But when is the message pushed too far?

Take the pop up window, for example. Many sites engage this method of gathering email addresses by tossing a billboard advertisement in the user’s face the moment a webpage loads. The screen suddenly tints dark like a Corvette’s windows, with just enough transparency to see the webpage in the background. Now visitors are blocked from viewing the destination page until the unnaturally bright call to action has been acknowledged and acted upon or dismissed. (Sign up for our newsletter! Buy this gizmo today only! Follow us on Twitter!)

Marketing or speed bump? The page has basically said to the user, "Welcome to my site, but you can't see it quite yet!" It halts the process of engaging in the action of researching consumer needs and offering your goods to meet those needs, along with the momentum that gained their interest initially. This speed bump creates hesitation, forces another click of the mouse or tap of the mobile device and stands in the way of the products and services meant to be highlighted.

Guests might now reconsider their path…avoiding that speed bump at all costs. It isn’t about slowing down, it’s about stopping and redirecting.

How about automatic-start videos? If any time is taken in creating video media to push your marketing efforts, of course you want to do everything you can to make sure it gets viewed, and that it is an effective marketing tool. It is your Internet commercial. It is engaging. And, according to HubSpot.com, statistics show that video marketing accounts for 50 percent of all mobile traffic, with 78 percent of Internet users watching videos every week. Besides, we’re talking about speed here. Watching a video is easier than reading, isn’t it?

However, video play requires several bytes of information to be transferred, and for the browser or mobile device to engage certain functions that support video formats. This can slow page loading time to a snail’s pace, and if the user forgot about blasting Metallica at full volume the night before, they’re in for an unwelcome, unsettling surprise when your message screams, “HELLO!” in their face.

Marketing or speed bump? Some users may leave due to slow page load times; others flee from the panic attack the auto-play video caused, ruining a researching experience and killing a potential sale.

They reconsider the path, again avoiding that speed bump at all costs. It isn’t about slowing down, it’s about stopping and redirecting.

Focus on making business Internet strategies simple and navigation-friendly, a smooth road to cruise down. Try offering your well-meaning sales messages effectively as options, rather than forcing them upon the audience. Remember, more often than not, the aggressive approach forms a speed bump that may as well be a fence, and driving business away like this is a marketing dead-end street.