By Chris Conner

Converting Prospects into Customers: Choose the Right Format for Your Selection Tool

Posted by Chris Conner

10/15/2013

Magic Eight Ball Selection GuideDon't make your customer guess

A complete content marketing plan tells you what content will attract your ideal customers and what makes them decide to buy your products. But only about 30% of companies recently surveyed have that plan.

As people approach the decision stage, you'll need to provide content that helps them find the right product for their needs. A “selection guide” is especially valuable when you offer customers several alternatives.

How should you present your decision tree? Flow chart? Interactive web-based application? Video? Webinar? None of the above?

The simplest option is a multi-choice form. But it’s not the only one.  This post examines two approaches.  I’ll share the pros and cons of each and leave you with a few suggestions for creating a selection guide that helps you convert more prospects into customers.

Life Technologies has created a video selection guide for selecting immunoprecipitation reagents. It is a series of linked videos hosted on YouTube that comprise a decision tree. Users make selections based on choices shown as embedded links in each video. Watch the first one below to get a sense of how it works.

After making choices based on your needs, the last video tells you which product to purchase and gives a short url to go directly to the purchase page.  As a bonus, the text description below the final video gives a summary of the product and the choices you made to get there.  This confirmation of your process ensures you didn’t make the wrong selection somewhere along the line. Well done!

Thermo Scientific have chosen a different format for their Solid Phase Extraction Product and Method Selection Tool.  This web application requires only four pieces of information, three of which are selected by a radio button. The output is a list of one or a few suitable products along with the method for each. Adding the method removes any mystery about the process before you buy -- a smart touch if that is a concern for your customers.

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Format Comparison

Video Pros

  • Educational - Explains the choices
  • Videos are highly shareable and scientists love to share. 
  • Video description summarizes the selection criteria as a confirmation of your choice.
  • The personal approach communicates a helpful culture - a good choice for the target persona.

Video Cons

  • A bit cumbersome to go from video to video. Some customers might prefer a faster approach.
  • Relies on willing and moderately talented employees (or expensive actors) to deliver the message.

Web App Pros

  • Fast and easy. 4 clicks to get a result.  
  • Delivers the product AND the method.
  • Straight forward, to the point, no chit chat.
  • Oriented toward results for the busy analytical chemist (the likely target persona).

Web App Cons

  • It's possible to make invalid selections.
  • Some selections deliver 3 products. Will it ?be obvious to the user which is best?

An animated slide deck with interactive links and a voice-over explanation could be a compromise between the complexity of a video and the simplicity of a web app. Consider a SlideShare presentation to deliver this in a highly shareable form.

How should you select the format for your Selection Guide?
The goal is to make it as easy as possible for your customer to make the right choice with confidence.

1. Keep in mind your target Persona. You do have one, don’t you? No? Call me.

2. Consider where in the buying cycle it will be used. Is it a true Selection Guide intended to sell immediately (Action stage) or a comparison of different technologies (Interest stage)?

3. Based on your target persona, decide on the depth of information desired or amount of interaction required.

4. Think about offering more than one format. Some people like to watch videos, some don’t. Sometimes I am forced to watch a video help guide and wish they would just give me a PDF.

5. Remember there are many formats to choose from with advantages to each. Here are a few:

  • Video
  • Web app
  • Slide Deck
  • Webinar
  • Flowchart PDF

Want more ideas about content marketing for scientific tools? Subscribe to this blog.

If you need help with your personas or the whole plan, why not email me now.

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