How to watch the right people doing the wrong things.

There are two stand-out things I’ve done in my career that have helped me spot campaigns that are likely to fly, and they both rely on feedback of different sorts.

The one that fewest people get to do is to watch real users go through websites before they’re launched.

I got to sit behind a 2-way mirror watching them trying to shop, and it was fascinating.

Clients that spend 6 figures and more on traffic each year, know how critical this step is.

I’m amazed how few other agencies have the nerve to admit that they don’t have all the answers, and that you need to watch “real” users to iron out the wrinkles.

It’s a great way to learn how our prospects “lie” to us, or at least tell us things that they believe in, but aren’t true.

Here’s what I learned watching over the shoulder of other people using the sites I’d built.

In a typical test, We’d ask users about their shopping habits, and then watch what they did when we set them tasks.

A typical task might be “look at this pair of trousers in a magazine, and try to buy them online.”

Now, everyone embellishes the truth a little. They’d tell us they shopped at stores that were really a little out of their price range. They’d tell us they spent less than we knew was the case.

Little things mostly.

But every once in a while we’d have to bin the whole test because of one thing.

They’d never spent money on those products online before.

People who had never bought clothes would get completely stuck in places that regular shoppers wouldn’t, and they’d accept mistakes that regular shoppers would pick up on.

The same thing happened in projects for skincare brands, fashion, food, and even coffee beans.

After a while you could tell as soon as you started that these people would only ever be gift buyers in that market, and that they’d behave very differently from the high-volume shoppers we really wanted to please.

Listen up, because here’s where this affects you.

If you’re struggling to sell a product online, you need research. That’s where the best offers and copy really come from.

Maybe the reason you’re struggling is that you don’t know where to find that market for research, let alone for sales.

I’ve just spoken to one coach who has wasted over $5,500 on a campaign because she followed the advice of a bunch of well-meaning peers in a Facebook group rather than talk to her actual market.

There’s a relatively quick fix to it though.

I’ll go through it in tomorrow’s email, but for now I want to share the book that I’ve gifted to more clients than any other in the last 20 years, to help them think differently about what a “good” website is.

Stephen Pratley
Copy & Conversion Consultant
The Conversion Co.


c/o The Conversion Co., 2a The High Street, Thames Ditton, KT7 0RY, United Kingdom
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