Let Your Customer Sell Themselves with Online Self-Service Tools

online self-service tool
Online self-service tool that sells

Most web sites are stale and boring. When you only have a few seconds to grab your prospect’s attention, you don’t want to bore them with long, stale text. Instead, you want to keep your message, short, concise and relevant.

Of course, good copywriting helps. And so does the inclusion of colourful charts, graphs, photos and illustrations.

Some companies and freelancers will even record video webinars or online PowerPoint presentations to show the value of their services. But the problem with these is that they can only show hypothetical scenarios that apply to other people.

In order to have the strongest sales impact, you must appeal to your prospect’s selfish interests and provide an easy way for them to get a fully customized demonstration or report. This is why online calculators, quizzes and simulators are so incredibly useful.

Online data protection company Storagepipe Solutions (http://storagepipe.com) uses an online cost calculator that helps clients perform emergency drills. It turns server downtime into real-world monetary figures which IT managers can use as arguments for IT budget increases.

The tool can be seen at http://downtimecost.com.

downtime cost
Downtime cost example

For freelance programmers, this could open up a whole new potential market. The future of the web is definitely moving in this direction, and demand for these types of simulation tools will certainly increase in the near future.

A few tips to keep in mind when designing an online tool such as this:

  • Give it an EMBED code so that other people can place it inside of their blog posts. This was a major secret to YouTube’s viral success.
  • Make sure the app contains a small button which links back to your site, and track the referring web page. This allows you to see who’s embedding your widget, and potentially lets you reward bloggers for their kindness.
  • Avoid asking for personally identifiable information. These days, privacy is a valuable commodity. Make your forms as anonymous as possible.
  • Use drama in your design. You’ll notice that the Downtime calculator uses a PANIC button instead of a submit button. Also, the downtime cost figures are updated in real-time”¦ as big red scary numbers. This really grabs people’s attention.
  • Give the app its own dedicated domain. This makes it easier to share on Facebook, Twitter, email or word of mouth.
  • Use the tools for case studies and blog posts. If a major company like Sears were to suffer a few hours of downtime, you could use this tool in a blog post to provide readers with all sorts of interesting statistics and insight about the incident.
  • Keep it simple. People want fast results, and the practicality/usefulness of the widget decreases with every unnecessary question.
  • Eliminate any unnecessary typing. Make sure that your default settings reflect realistic customer scenarios, and replace text fields with dials, buttons or menus whenever possible.
  • Use it as a PR tool. Whenever a major event relating to your industry appears in the news, use your online tool to compile a report, and send the details to reporters in your field. Reporters love quotable statistics, and it’ll position you as an authority.

If you’re struggling to get your message across or attract new customers to your site, you may want to consider creating an online benefit simulator similar to http://downtimecost.com.

Ivan Widjaya

Ivan Widjaya is the Owner/Editor of Noobpreneur.com, as well as several other blogs. He is a business blogger, web publisher and content marketer for SMEs.