Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Making online forms as easy as possible

May 14, 2013

I’m in the process of writing an article for CUES’ CU Management magazine, about KickStart Online Lending Generator and Holy Rosary CU’s results. Editor Lisa Hochgraf had some excellent questions for me which prompted me to do a little bit more research into the universal conclusion that removing barriers and streamlining online forms from the user’s perspective leads to better results and increased sales.

So I thought I would share with you some of the eye-popping research that I discovered (and thus why Carol and Holy Rosary CU are getting wonderful results with KickStart – i.e. 10.49% growth in their loan portfolio over the past 6 months):

• Google’s Marissa Mayer: Speed Wins

The $300 Million Button

How Amazon’s website usability affects consumer product choice (This is a lengthy research paper)

In addition to the above research on the importance of streamlining the user/member/customer experience to improve sales, we’ve done some streamlining of our own. One item that proved to ourselves that we get better results when we make things easier online is that when we took the step of pre-filling out our own Online Switch Kit demo for you, dozens and dozens of you tried it out, compared to nearly no one trying it out when it was not pre-filled. It seems simple, but often times the little things can make a BIG difference!

So in our continuing quest to make our own forms and demos even easier to try out, we’ve now also pre-filled out the already-simple KickStart Loan Request form to make it even easier for you to test that for yourself. Kick the tires on KickStart yourself right here: KickStart test site

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – did you find you got better results when your streamlined your online processes, forms, applications, and navigation? Was there ever a time when making things easier for your members online was a bad thing?

Under the hood of a blog

August 27, 2008

During the World 2.0/PR Buzz workshop I gave for the Georgia Credit Union Marketing Council in June, I showed attendees how to start a blog, and even created a live blog posting, complete with photo, right before their eyes. One of the questions from the group had to do with stats and tracking of the blog. All blog platforms have some type of stat reporting. In fact, WordPress recently announced new and improved stats.

I realized that unless you start your own WordPress blog, you won’t know what kind of stats you can expect to see. So to clear up that mystery, I’ll show you some of the stats from this blog.


Today, it’s Search Engine terms. When you check your general stat page on WordPress, you’ll see the search terms people are using to find your blog. The image to the right is a 30-day snapshot of search terms people are using to find this blog. Much to my amusement, ‘amish’ and related searches are always the number one way people find me via search. This month ‘decoupled debit card’ is running a close second. I never expected ‘amish’ to be so popular. (Here are my entries on Opening new accounts for the Amish and Decoupled debit lives again.

I don’t know which search engine these hits are coming from (and I’ve checked the first 10 pages of Google, and looked at,, and, so if you uncover it, let me know. I realize that these hits are not relevant to the purpose of this blog, so I take no pride in the 450 readers per month who find this blog that way. These hits are like strangers knocking on your front door who are really looking for a neighbor’s house.

There is not yet much information online about ‘decoupled debit cards’ so these results show that to gain readership, either blog about things that are very popular (Amish) or things that are very unique, or not yet widely discussed online (decoupled debit cards).

However, random searches are not the only way people find this blog, and I’ll discuss the other ways in a future post.

(For people who are already blogging reading this: I bet you have some funny or unusual search terms people are using to find your blog. Please feel free to share the terms you never thought would lead people to find you!)

Nuke “Possibly related posts” from your blog

May 28, 2008

Apologies for the brief blog hiatus; I’ve been at two different CU conferences for the past two weeks, and each has been a whirlwind of activity. I have much to write about both of these events, and hope that time permits soon.

This post is for blogwriters only, and those planning to set up a blog via Please do yourself a favor, and immediately eliminate a new scourge infecting your blog, the “Possibly related posts.” This well-meaning service was brought to you by WordPress itself. However, with this one, they got it WRONG.

Here is how you eradicate the pestilence: Go to your dashboard, then click Design, then click Extras. Then click the checkbox for “Hide related links on the blog, so which means this blog won’t….” so that the checkbox is CHECKED.

Why is “Possibly related posts” antithetical to what good blogging is all about? Because good bloggers are people who you TRUST. Good bloggers will tell you what THEY think is important, and provide you links to that information. But when WordPress shoves auto-generated content in your face, it APPEARS to be endorsed by that blogger. This whole thing could have been avoided if WordPress had handled it differently.

For example, WordPress could have added a button to the end of a blog entry that read something like: “Click here to generate a list of other blog entries like this one.” That would have been much less onorous from a reader and writers’ perspective. But the way it is set up now, it looks like those extraneous links are being endorsed by the author. And many times, the WordPress suggestions have nothing whatsoever to do with the author’s true subject. The other problem I have with these “possibly related posts” is that I can EASILY accomplish the same thing by doing a Google search, or even better, a Google blog search.

When I am reading a blog, I expect all links to come from the author, and that the links are being either endorsed as worthwhile or discussed in some way. When I want random, machine-generated blog posts on a topic, I’ll google them myself.

Thanks, but NO THANKS, WordPress.

What WordPress has done here is very different than when they introduced Snap Shots (a link pop-up preview window system). That was a good service, in that it helps the author give the readers an even better/quicker/easier glimpse at the sites to which they are discussing and referring.

(P.S. It also would have been very NICE, POLITE, and PROPER if WordPress had notified all its millions of blog authors BEFORE making that change to their blogs, EXPLAINED it clearly, and made it an option to ADD, instead of SURPRISING everyone, adding SPURIOUS content to millions of blogs, and making it opt-OUT.)

Update 6/10/08: Here are some others writing about this WordPress feature:

Segmentation is OVER!

October 1, 2007

I realize I haven’t ranted about this one on this blog yet… segmentation segmentation segmentation… if I hear segmentation one more time, I think I’m going to puke. Didn’t anyone get the memo? Segmentation is OVER. Done. What put me over the edge on this subject?

I just got an email with the following sentence from CU vendor, promoting an upcoming webinar about improving your CU’s web site: “Two findings illustrate the importance of examining segment differences: 1.) Satisfaction levels vary by age. 2.) Members with incomes over $100,000 give the lowest ratings except in terms of providing up-to-date information, where satisfaction levels are similar. Members with higher incomes do tend to visit a wider range of areas of the credit union website and issues related to these experiences may be impacting their ratings.”

So what are they implying? That you need to create different pages depending on age? We’ll show page A to 18-year-olds, but show page B to 35-year-olds and page C to 65-year-olds? And we need to create different pages for high-income earners versus low or middle income earners? If we create a basic 3×3 grid, for young, middle-age, and seniors, and the other axis is for low-income, middle-income, and high income, that’s 9 different Things We Need to Make. Oh, wait, we forgot gender. Let’s add a male/female axis, and now we’re dealing with three dimensions and 18 variations on the web site. Now, is that 18 different looks for each existing web page? Or is it 18 completely different web sites? How does the content vary by segment? Does the look and the content vary? Is your head spinning yet? Does anyone see how this makes no sense whatsoever?

Your members want one thing: That your site is clear, easy to use, easy to navigate, and accurate. We don’t want or need MORE complexity, we want SIMPLE, CLEAR, and UNCLUTTERED. Think of Google as the gold standard. Did you know that Google has a senior-level executive whose primary job is to keep links OFF the home page? Can you imagine the pressure she’s under as scores of product chiefs of a multi-billion dollar company want THEIR link to appear on the home page?

It no longer makes any sense for a company to be segmenting. The most successful companies DO NOT segment by demographics, nor by psychographics. They pick a SINGLE psychographic. In addition to Google, another good example is Starbucks. Starbucks does not have a separate strategy for teens, college-age, Gen Y, Gen X, or baby boomers. Instead, they make a great experience for people who need an oasis in their lives. Period. (That’s why drive-ups and flourescent-lit stores with uncomfortable chairs within a Barnes & Noble are off-brand for Starbucks.) People who like Starbucks want to perceive themselves as hip, cool, trendy, environmentally-conscious, and making a difference to change the world in a postive way. When Starbucks does things that fit people with that mindset, they succeed. It’s not about how old you are…. check out the wide range of ages the next time you are in a Starbucks.

I don’t know why the financial world still hasn’t gotten the memo that you can’t be all things to all people. If large corporations such as Starbucks, Nike, Apple, Google, and Amazon aren’t segmenting by demographics, why does a financial institution think it can? You can’t be a chameleon and appear to be different depending on who you are talking to… because THEY are talking to each other, and they don’t understand who you are when you try to be different things to different people. There’s one other profession that tries to do this and get away with it — and that’s politician. And we all know how highly they are thought of when they deliver different messages to different audiences.

Here’s another thought-exercise: What would you think of a restaurant that claimed to be a Mexican/Sushi/Italian/Indian/Greek eatery? A restaurant that was both family-friendly, and also great for the singles scene? A restaurant that was both a greasy-spoon diner and boasted a world-class wine selection? Does it make any more sense in the financial industry?

Advice: In World 2.0, pick ONE target audience person and revolve your world around him or her. Create a great experience for your favorite customer/member, and others that share the same psyographic characteristics will appreciate it too.