So, what’s in it for me?

When faced with an offer, an action step or a request, we all want to know one simple thing: What’s in it for me?

For instance, how many times have you received an email like this one:

“Thank you for (staying at our hotel, talking to our customer service rep, buying something from us.) We’d like to invite you to fill out a form so we can improve our customer service”¦.”

And how many times have you junked that email as soon as it hit your in-box?

Chances are, your first thought is, “Why should I spend my time filling out your survey.” And really, why bother? Even if it takes “just five minutes,” that’s five minutes you could spend working, answering email, or watching The People’s Court reruns.

In short, filling out the survey wouldn’t benefit you one iota. So why bother?

But even as we laugh at the survey example, how often are we violating the “what’s in it for me” rule on our own Websites? It’s easy for us to rest on our online laurels and figure that “hey, everyone knows our brand,” or, “our specials are listed on the “˜specials’” tab” – why list them again?

Think about this behavior offline. Imagine walking into a store looking for new tennis shoes. Would we want the salesperson to grunt and say, “All shoes are on that wall. Pick the ones you want.” Or would we want her to tell us about the different brands and how they’ll make us run faster, tone our legs while walking and improve our game?

If you really think about it, you’ll realize that we’re often missing the benefit boat. We don’t tell our customers what’s in it for them. We don’t mention how our service will exceed expectations. We sit back and hope that our prospects will figure it out.

This point really came clear during the DMA’s ACCM conference last week. We evaluated many catalog sites with:

  • Pages chock- full of thumbnail pictures with no benefits nor calls to action
  • Benefits like “free shipping” hidden towards the bottom
  • Feature-based product pages with no benefits

If you consider the inverted pyramid style of online writing, your most important information (think benefits) should be near the top of the page. Additionally, we know from Jakob Nielsen that people first scan Web pages horizontally and across the top of the content. So, it’s not just that people need to know what’s in it for them. They need to know right away.

Scour your site for benefits and see where they appear. Do you shout your benefits on every page? Or do you hide them below the fold? Just one “what’s in it for me” statement could make the difference between sluggish sales and a top-converting page.