Where’s My Cookie?

Marketing should give customers something. In retail, direct mail, print, or the venerable 30 second spot, we try to show what our product does and what’s in it for the customer. Our communication and programs associate our brand with a customer goal, sometimes called a “cookie.” 1 Depending on customer needs, a cookie could be information such as a product description, prices, free samples, the ability to do or buy something here and now, etc. We don’t deliberately challenge readers or viewers to work long and hard to figure out where the good stuff is. Once we’ve understand which cookie customers want, lift notes, end aisle displays, and headlines take them there.

There are some notable exceptions. If you’ve ever stayed at a Las Vegas casino hotel, you have probably had the frustrating experience of having to navigate acres of gaming tables on route to your room.

That’s Vegas. In the real world we don’t deliberately frustrate customers. What about the virtual world? After we manage to get prospects to our web site can they find their cookie? This is a four part problem:

  1. Finding the site
  2. Finding the relevant page
  3. Finding the relevant content on the page
  4. Being able to get to the next step by clicking, calling, or going somewhere

Trying to negotiate many sites feels far too often like being trapped in a labyrinth. The bounce rates on many landing pages, show that visitors get frustrated, fed up, and leave.

Far too many web sites are more concerned with design than usability. In post mortem interviews within companies having dysfunctional sites (some of which were “award winning”) we often find no consensus on what the site was supposed to do. In some cases it seems the cookies are missing altogether. Where do you hide your cookies?

1) I am indebted to Nadia Direkova of Razorfish for this metaphor.