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Saturday 28 April 2007

Online transactions: 18% > 25% - how?

I got a challenge: How do we go from 18 to 25% take-up for an online transaction?

In the question time at an egov conference I first asked about the biggest community site supplying potential transactees. The issue was very defined, annualised and the audience likewise.

Caveat: I've not and not likely to use it myself, so I can't speak to the usability of the transaction, except to say that this is your most important consideration - nothing is more important - and worth spending serious money to get right.

They got to 18% online take-up using the existing, extremely direct channels very, very well.

After the question — I had pointed to the use of online marketing, that they didn't make use of the online space — came the challenge.

Their prime barrier was that you can't say 'go here' for more information because the transaction happens at different times in different places. It's complicated.

There's no way, they say, that you could run a single promotion to a single spot because of the consequent drop-off as people discovered that they couldn't - yet - do the transaction. They had to come back.

Well the projects run by MySociety are all about pulling previous all-over-the-shop public information into one, easy-to-use, localised interface.

Not only that but geekdom and the current web 2.0 buzz is alive with mash-ups like livebus which take scrapeable, complex information into simple interfaces.

Plus, when they are seeing that the transaction isn't yet possible you capture their contact information so you can send them a reminder — see DiscoSarko.

  • The central barrier is fixable.

So how could you enter these spaces?

The transaction is a very important one. It represents what often gets termed a 'life event'.

This is exactly the sort of thing which is driving people to the web for more information, which as recent research has found is now most of the population.

  • This makes your numero uno priority Google — because that's where they start.

Think of the possibilities if you can 'capture' them at that point, using advertising across the broad spread of key phrases they use as they start off on that journey.

Think of big websites, or community, local websites, like you'd think of local shopping centres (like the ones hosting eVoting pilots) or Tesco sites - here I mean physical space.

  • Using the 'Web Channel' means getting into those spaces, not just the end point online that you manage.

On the community websites, where the transaction is already discussed
  • be there with sponsor or partnership arrangements,
  • supply content,
  • provide widget entry points into the transaction.
But most importantly you need to
  • sell the use of the transaction - and I mean usefulness.
If it saves time, remind, remind, remind.

What is your key selling point? At present for this transaction it seems to be 'it's possible to do this' — that's not really selling it.

So this involves spending more money in this area, but when online advertising spend now well outstrips all print, and has the potential to reach your exact audience so well, it's difficult to see why budgets don't shift — until you realise it's an egov transaction.

In commercial arenas setting such a target would be expected, perhaps seen as a low-aim. ROI on spend in that area for transfer of transactions is well-documented.

Postcript: searching for more about the people running the transaction I ended up first in a dead end — No web site is configured at this address.

This couldn't be a clearer two-fingers up technically to this project. Redirection being easy (and happening to other, similar, projects). The lady who posed the challenge was extremely nice so I did feel for her when I saw this.

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