In search marketing, we work in the communication business. Two aspects of communication which are often forgotten — or at least not seen to be a part of the “message” — are the buying or inquiring forms and the price.
Let’s deal with the forms first. Many writers at Search Engine Land have talked about the usability of forms, about them working and about avoiding obvious errors.
An example is avoiding making postcode fields mandatory in a country such as the Republic Of Ireland where there are no postcodes. Hey presto, guaranteed zero performance!
Forms Are Highly Significant To A User’s Stickiness To Your Site
But, there is much more to forms than just collecting the customer’s key data to record a sale. Users frequently “kick tires” to see how something works — or doesn’t. And that means they’re going to have a play with your forms as a part of choosing you as a supplier.
The fields and options your form presents are highly meaningful to the user. They can inspire everything from a focus on service to pure greed. For instance, if the form says, “You may want to take an extra bag on your flight, book now to save 30% on airport prices,” then that’s a service even though it’s asking for money.
Do You Tell Your Customers You Are Greedy?
If the form says, “Book extra bag $50,” then that’s more of the greedy variety, and yet, these two form questions are doing pretty much the same thing.
Now, add culture into the equation and things do get a little more complicated. Firstly, you have to consider regulations. In Europe, for instance, extra charges have to be declared up front, not late in the booking process. And if you are going to charge extra for credit card bookings — and you don’t allow bookings any other way — you’ll have to include the credit card fee in the up front price.
Beyond regulations, there are other cultural questions to consider beyond the obvious address fields. Asking certain questions can seriously offend the user — even if the questions are not mandatory. For instance, some enquiry forms ask for comments on existing supplier relationships — and in many cultures around the world this question would be considered inappropriate, and in others, it would elicit a response that had nothing to do with the reality.
Trust — That’s What It’s All About!
Ask yourself how you will earn greater trust from the questions your users are asking. For instance, for retail or e-commerce, one of the big worries concerns whether there are extra costs for delivery: how long the delivery will take and am I able to return the product if it doesn’t work for me?
Don’t forget also that putting such things on a page does not always mean that your customer has actually mentally engaged with them. Think about asking the customer to confirm the delivery address required and whether this should be where any potential returns are collected.
Or, is there an alternate way customers can return goods to you? Do they have a choice? By confirming acceptance of a statement that delivery will be to x address, you can actually reinforce the delivery approach you have.
Pricing also communicates. I’m sure we all know that a high price indicates better service and quality than a low price. But the trick is: what’s high and what’s low?
Global Pricing Or Locally-Differentiated?
Some companies, Apple is well known for it, adopt a global pricing strategy where all products cost the same everywhere, and if prices vary, then it is because the product has been varied for that market. For some, this is definitely the right approach — but it’s not right for all.
Bearing in mind that in your own established market, you have a brand and a reputation which help you to reach the giddy heights of your current domestic margin, that means you may have some fiscal cliffs of your own to contend with in new markets and should consider varying your price appropriately.
Currency Mayhem — And No, We’re Not Talking Exchange Rates!
Different currencies will completely blow up your “just noticeable difference” strategy completely.
Trying to price something just under $99 might seem cheap in Euros at €72.95 and expensive in Russia at over 3,000 Roubles. Pricing it just a little lower for the Russians would bring it under the three thousand barrier — but maybe Euros could be a little higher?
Taking account of economic strength also impacts your pricing strategy. Selling to India or China would not justify prices as high as in, say Germany.
What Difference Do Pricing & Forms Make To Search?
But, let’s get to the nub of the issue: what difference do pricing and forms make to international search strategies? For once, I think a list is the best way to answer the question:
- Price points directly affect media conversion rates — if you’re A/B testing ads, then you should be thinking of A/B testing price, too!
- Reviewing competitors’ pricing may lead you to vary prices to enter certain markets.
- Including price in the ad texts you promote will have a greater impact in some cultures than others. Think about varying it!
- If you’re very high priced, you may want to think about delaying the display of your prices as you don’t want users to “bounce” and return to Google too quickly!
- If you offer highly competitive rates lower than competitors locally, get them up front early! That’ll get users to stick around and is especially significant if you’re new to the market. It is also important for both SEO and PPC strategies.
- Be careful with your border pricing differences in markets next to each other — especially if they use the same currency and language — such as Germany and Austria. The consumer will start preferring your site just over the border.
- Making your forms stress the questions your users have in the target market will give them more confidence in buying from you and improve your conversion rates!
- Getting prices in local currency into your page titles can have a significant effect on getting customers to click through to your site — and therefore, even promote good rankings. This is especially the case if your competitors don’t do this or don’t offer local currencies!
- Don’t leave pricing and forms out of your thinking or separate them from your search strategy!
Don’t forget — both forms and prices have a significant effect on communication, and communication is what search is all about!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.