Thursday, March 12, 2015

Software Buyers'
First Impressions

Paco Underhill studied consumers' buying habits in brick-and-mortar stores. In his book "Why We Buy - The Science of Shopping," Underhill writes about the merchandise that stores place directly in front of the entrance to their store. These are the items that prospects see immediately when they walk in from the parking lot. And these items, Underhill learned, don't sell particularly well.

Move this merchandise back 10 or 12 feet, so customers can get oriented to being in your store before they observe the merchandise, and sales go up. In fact, sales go up quite a bit.

What does this information mean to microISVs who are selling software from their web sites? For years, I've been saying that software developers shouldn't start their home pages with "Welcome to the Widget web site." Do you have to let your prospects get comfortable before you talk to them about the benefits of your software? Or perhaps Google is your website's "parking lot," and when your home page starts loading, your prospects are getting oriented to being on your site.

It's hard to determine what Underhill's findings mean to your software website. You have to measure the results of your current sales presentation, change things, and measure again. It's the only way to know for sure.

Filene's Basement, Underhill tells us, puts a bin of deeply-discounted merchandise in front of you when you enter their store. And it's one of the most popular places in the store, contradicting Underhill's findings about other retail stores. Again, software developers need to measure, change, and measure again.

Underhill found that it's not always best to let the customers' first impressions be about the item that you most want to sell. So, on your web site, should you start with the item that you want to sell the most of? Probably.

There are major differences between a brick and mortar store and a software developer's website. microISVs' websites have a stronger focus, and much better targeting. Since your site offers fewer distractions than are found in a typical physical store, it probably makes sense to present your prospects immediately with the software application that you most want them to buy.

But it wouldn't hurt to measure, change, and measure again.

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