March 20, 2014

Never Send Your Local Customer, or Even a Local Warm Lead, to Your Website - Even if They are Not Local

Never send your customer, or even a warm lead, to your website - Why?  Let's set the stage first.

Do you ever get the feeling the "Internet" is spying on you as it knows exactly what you are doing, even offline?

Maybe you have been doing some home improvement or some car maintenance in the last few days; maybe you have been doing a little research on how-to.  Then, all-of-a-sudden, it seems like every web page you visit has very specific ads for items you have searched; maybe an air filter or a circular saw - the very one you were researching or searching for - scary...

You need to understand - Websites do know what you are doing and it is not scary.  When you are are researching a product or a service, "cookies" (small bits of data and information) are planted on your computer. They are not harmful and there is nothing you need to do (or can do about it). Cookies are designed to improve and enhance the user's Internet experience (your experience).

Let's get to why you should not be sending your customers and warm leads (or any referral) to your website.  Very simply put, the same Internet spying that happens to you, happens to them.  Let's say you are the local Sherwin Williams paint store and you get a phone call (warm lead) asking, "Do you carry "X-Quality Paint" and rather than answering them immediately, and potentially writing up an order, you send them to your website, after they look at your website, that warm lead will likely be exposed to ads from other websites that will not only be specific to the product they wanted to ask you about, but  even more specific ("X-Quality Passion Blue at Lowe's").  It's gets even worse if you email the answer to a public mail service like GMail - the ads are email specific - all these ads pop up IN YOUR EMAIL that say"ME TOO - WE HAVE X-QUALITY PASSION BLUE TOO".  This is called Intelligent Ad Delivery.  Obviously I am embellishing my point here, but the question still is, who wants to expose their customers to the competition.

Why does the Internet work like this?  Very simply put, it is the Internet companies that have an interest in you buying there.  Advertisers bombard us with information because they have identified us as A BUYER.  Whats even worse, the Local Sherwin Williams Paint Store, can't profitably compete there, even if it knew how.

Sometimes we need an analogy - It's like sending a caller (warm lead) back to the phone book to see the list of colors you carry.  Think about how dumb that sounds.

This situation seems so obvious if you understand all the ingredients, but so few of us do.

Make your website is a one way path - from your website to you.  That is its purpose - to make your phone ring. If people are calling, they want to talk to you and get questions answered - answer them and take their order.  Your website did its job.

So what inspired this article?  I called a local HVAC company who I knew carried the AprilAire air filter I needed (high-tech air filter not available at Home Depot or Lowe's).  Instead of giving me the information over the phone (I was a buyer), he told me he would immediately email me if I gave him my Gmail address (collecting email addresses).  He did immediately email me the pricing information as well as pricing for removal of the old filter and installation of the new filter.  Up popped ads with similar pricing and detailed removal/installation instructions - stupid-is-as-stupid-does - convenient local instantly became very inconvenient.  Don't repeat his mistake.

Lesson Learned.  You have zero privacy anyway . . . . Get over it."  ~ Scott McNealy

Bob Leonard