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Q: evaluate the text,style and impression given to customer on website ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: evaluate the text,style and impression given to customer on website
Category: Business and Money > Advertising and Marketing
Asked by: kotemaori-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 23 Nov 2003 16:58 PST
Expires: 23 Dec 2003 16:58 PST
Question ID: 279805
my website is recieving a growing number of visitors,30% are repeat
visitors,the average visit is nearly 2 minutes,but this is not
resulting in enquiries in the expected numbers.the URL is,  the targeted market is the us.the site
design attracts visitors to look into it further,it is very simple to
navigate and questions are:[1]what is it that is not
encouraging visitors to enquire for further information,[2]if,as i
suspect it is the impersonal style of the site,what can i do to
improve this without losing the clean and simple design,[3]am i on the
right track not advertising prices of my services,i removed the prices
and the subsequent stats showed an increase in time spent and page
views,i need to get certain information from customers before i can
give an estimate
,[4]is there a rule of thunb ratio for visitors converting to enquiries.
some ideas i have considered,a photo of the owher,not really a great
idea for a private investigator trying to maitain a low
profile,publish my P.I.licence no or a scan of it,make the site less
anonymous.use terms in the text that get across the idea this is a
company that gives clients personal attention,cares about them,can be
trusted[seems very difficult to do without sounding false]and adheres
to values such as diligence,reliability,trustworthy,painstaking care.
Subject: Re: evaluate the text,style and impression given to customer on website
Answered By: angy-ga on 24 Nov 2003 02:16 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi, Kotemaori !

It's certainly a good-looking site and you are justifiably pleased
with it, and it is delightfully easy to navigate.. I've worked through
it, keeping in mind that you want to pinpoint problems, but not to
change the overall feel of the site.

Firstly, the Home Page:

It is actually a little difficult to work out what it is you actually do. 

Your most important paragraph is in tiny letters down the bottom of
the first page. It looks like the "fine print" at the bottom of a
contract that nobody bothers to read. It also unfortunately reads as
if you specialise in finding Australian people, rather than being an
Australian firm who specialise in finding people who happen to be in
Australia. This paragraph needs to be clearly legible and up front, as
well as less misleading - this is where you sell people on what you
can do for them. Clear contact details need to be right there - not a
mouseclick away.

Incidentally, I'd replace "utilising" with "using", thus avoiding
having every American think you've made a spelling mistake (they write

Working on through your site:

The biggest problem, to my mind, is no phone number. I suspect people
who would happily chat about confidential issues by phone, are
reluctant to set out their problems "on paper" in an email or Fax. A
quick call to Directory Enquiries gave no listing under the business
name (not good). This really undermines your credibility.

If you are concerned about nuisance calls,  try a dedicated line
(Telstra can even give you two numbers with different rings on the one
phone line) and put callers through to a voicemail message ("All our
operators are busy - please leave your name and number" etc) so that
you can check out the callers before returning the calls. If you do do
this, make sure you call them back within the hour, if possible.

The street address suggests you are running the business from a home unit. 

Now, there's nothing wrong with that - I run my business from a home
office - but if it's obvious it undermines your credibility. Try
putting "Suite 3 / 210" to make it look like business premises without
confusing the postman.

Going on to your "People Search Service" page, you are underselling
yourself badly here. Your first description - the budget service -
strongly suggests that I might as well save my money and do all the
work myself. I'm sure you have access to specialist databases that I
do not have access to, but that is not how it reads. Remember, the
client does not know how your profession works - they probably still
have a fuzzy memory of Sam Spade or Nero Wolfe to work from - and the
mental image of someone who "only" looks things up on a computer
doesn't fit.

I suggest reversing the order of the services you present, putting the
professional level skip tracing at the top, and offering your budget
service last. Stress the specialist nature of the work, and make it
clear you are using databases "and other resources" that are not
available to the general public.

Avoid the implication - at the end of the "Standard Search" paragraph
- that you may be coming at them for more money in the middle of the
investigation. The time for making that clear is in the contractual
agreement with the client.

Remember, this is not about what you really mean; it is about what
people reading in a hurry think they've understood.

Again, put the contact details right there on the page, not a mouseclick away.

"Commercial Skip Tracing" page: 

I would write:

"Commercial Agents, Private Investigators, Lawyers, Attorneys,  Businesses -
ozpeopletrace will locate debtors, witnesses, heirs, and missing
people, using up-to-date technology and methods.
Please contact ozpeopletrace for a quote for a single locate or
multiple searches. "
Never mind about the "special arrangement" - you're offering a
discount before they've thought of asking for one.
Once more, put the contact details on the page.

"Payment options":
Unfortunately, this is where clients will expect to find your price
list. If you don't want to list your prices on the site - and I agree
it's not necessary, especially if you are prepared to negotiate,  -
you need to rethink this page.
Also, two things undermine your credibility badly here. 
Firstly, the cash options - and worse, the cash by post suggestion. It
suggests - at best - an intention to defraud the Tax Office, with the
feeling for the potential client that "if they cheat on their tax, are
they going to cheat me?" Certainly, accept cash when somebody hands it
to you, but let them suggest the option.
Secondly, - and I'm sorry about this one - the lack of credit card
facilities. I hate this too, but the popular perception is that if you
don't take credit cards then you can't be a big enough business to be
bothered with. For the US market, look at third party international
processors such as CCnow or
Rather than say "personal cheques from outside Australia are not
accepted" try "Company cheques from outside Australia are gladly
accepted". Tip: some banks (eg St.George /Metway) charge the same
transaction fee whether you present one US cheque or several together.
Go for a bank that charges a flat fee, not a percentage.
Maybe all you need is something on the Home Page or the Services page
that says: "We accept payment through Paypal and whatever" in one
simple, clear sentence.

"Terms and Conditions":
Again, popular perceptions. You say:
"All fees are payable in advance of any investigation being commenced"
But everybody "knows" that you pay a PI a retainer, followed by the
balance of the fee and expenses. It doesn't matter whether that is
true or not - it's hat is popularly believed. Also even here in
Australia we now have lawyers who work on a "no result, no fee" basis.
So this condition is a real put off for the potential client who has
got this far.

"Cancellation of a search is at the discretion of ozpeopletrace. Once
a search has commenced, no refund will be considered "
This is really arbitrary. Do you really mean that you want to take my
money, then decide you want to cancel the search because you want to
go on holiday with your auntie, and I can't have my money back? This
is a case for actually spelling out the legalese ( the circumstances
in which you would genuinely feel justified in with-holding a refund)
OR spelling out the circumstances in which you might grant a refund.
A hefty deposit or retainer which is specified as non-refundable would
get round the problems of both these paragraphs.

Links Page:
What on earth is this doing here? Are you trying to sell your services
or not ? Forget about everything you've been told about lots of links
= lots of hits. This page effectively tells the potential client to do
just what you suggested under "Budget Service" and do the job for
OK - leave the Southern Cross Group there, and try some other socially
useful links, if you must have a "links" page. Try bookshops
specialising in crime mysteries - anything, but NOT sites that do your
job for free.

Finally, if what you want to convey is:
"...this is a company that gives clients personal attention, cares
about them, ...and adheres to values such as diligence, reliability,
trustworthy, painstaking care" SAY SO, just like that. Preferably on
the first page. Potential clients are not mind readers.

I don't think there's really a rule-of-thumb as to visitors and
conversions - or at least I've heard it quoted as anything from 1.3%
to 5% so I think it varies by product. For reference, my own site,
advertising a Sydney based client customised  service, converts 8 -
10% of visits (world wide) to phone or email enquiries, and 20 - 25%
of those enquiries convert to a sale. However, we are an extremely
specialised company.

I hope this doesn't all seem too daunting. It's not intended to be,
and it mostly involves a bit of tweaking and fine tuning to a very
handsome site.

Good luck.


Search strategy:

None -client requested website evaluation.

Request for Answer Clarification by kotemaori-ga on 24 Nov 2003 04:05 PST
hi angy.i have understood all that you are saying but think you are
misunderstanding this particular industry.some of the work done by
P.I.s necessitates keeping a very low profile,did you check my ABN?you
would find the ATO have granted supressed ABN,it would be foolish to
include a ph no.,also the time difference would entail recieving calls
from the us during the australian night,they couldnt be replied to
within a short time.i would like to avoid recieving and making phone
calls to enquirers as it eats into my time too much,and is you have any ideas to let people know that a phone
contact is available if absolutely necessary but an email contact is
preferred,i am happy to contact an established client,or even an
enquiry by email seeking personal contact,but not on an ad hoc of the difficulties faced in presenting as a legitimate
business in the P.I. or commercial agent field is keeping your
anonymity and location secure.that is why many use MBex addresses and
answering services,i asked if publishing my licence no would be a

Clarification of Answer by angy-ga on 25 Nov 2003 00:56 PST
I do understand the need for you to protect yourself by keeping a low
profile, but you asked about "impression given to the customer on the
website". How you conduct your business is one thing; how you sell it
is another.

I had thought in terms of your using a phone number which you allowed
to divert to Voicemail rather than answering in person - so that you
could vet callers before replying. (And you could unplug it from the
wall at night and still pick up those US messages in the morning.) But
if you don't like the idea of posting a phone number which could be
traced to you - and you do post your street address - why not use a
third party answering service ? Or try your mobile number. Remember
most people regard email as an extremely insecure method of
communication, and are converned about Faxes being picked up and read
by office staff.

Certainly put your License number on the site if you like. It can't hurt. 

One tip when fine tuning a website: make one major change at a time
and monitot it for a few days, to judge what makes a difference and
what doesn't.
kotemaori-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: evaluate the text,style and impression given to customer on website
From: robertskelton-ga on 23 Nov 2003 17:48 PST
Just some ideas, as I have a similar service that has the same problem...

Most people who will find such sites via search engines are looking
for a free service. Search results include many sites that proclaim
"free people searching", "free credit checks" etc. The average
internet user will believe that such services really exist, and they
are looking for them. It could be that the increased page views is due
to the visitor looking for a list of prices.

Are you really targeting USA customers? Your site seems to be solely
for finding Australians.

It would help if you had a sample report, some testimonials, and your
PI license number. I would only use your photo if it was combined with
a convincing mini-bio.

Try a contact form instead of just an email address. In my experience
people prefer to fill in forms.
Subject: Re: evaluate the text,style and impression given to customer on website
From: kotemaori-ga on 23 Nov 2003 18:36 PST
hi rob.thanks for the comments.i have excluded free from my search
terms but recognise this is part of the targeted market is
indeed the usa,over 90% of visitors are from the usa,8% from oceania
and the rest from other countries.i have targetted the usa for several
reasons i wont go into her but if you want to email me i'll go into it
with you
there is a page that clearly states an estimate will be provided if
visitor contacts me,there is a contact button next to each of these
i will look into providing a short form for visitors to fill out,at
present there is a microsoft outlook email page
Subject: Re: evaluate the text,style and impression given to customer on website
From: endo-ga on 23 Nov 2003 18:44 PST
As a user I would be reluctant to "contact for pricing information" on
any website for several reasons:

1-) It takes time, more time than just reading it.
2-) I don't know how long the website would take to respond, so I
might have a better chance getting an answer faster from elsewhere.
3-) I don't know what the website is going to do with my contact
information or whether or not it can be trusted.

Hope this helps.

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