It’s funny watching old television programmes sometimes. I’ve been viewing some old X-Files episodes on my train journeys recently and, in this one episode I watched there’s this scene where a young boy is receiving signals from an alien race via the static from an old television set.
I can’t remember the last time I saw static on a television. Can you? I know for a fact that my kids have never seen any. They wouldn’t even know what it was! (And would be even more confused by the analogue tape recorder used during suspect interviews…)
Anyway – in this particular episode, the boy in question was receiving binary messages from an alien race. Lots of ones and zeros, in case you’re not conversant with binary. (There’s only 10 types of people in the world after all. Sorry – geek joke!)
Late in the episode there’s a big reveal about how all the ones and zeros turn out to be a picture of a missing girl. It’s a good job the boy was able to receive the signal clearly, otherwise Mulder & Scully might not have known who they were looking for!Which got me to thinking… How do you know whether you’re being signalled by your prospective customer? Do you know what signal to look for? Are you receiving it clearly?
When you’re selling your product or service online, you need to have some way of understanding what your customers are telling you. A feedback mechanism of sorts. A signal, by any other name. If you’re not tuned in to what your potential customers are telling you, you might miss an important message. It could be a critical element in solving your own [business] case.
If you’re running an online business and want to understand your customers signals, and how strong or weak they are, consider the points below:
If your customer has made a financial commitment – if they’ve prepaid or put down a deposit – that’s a strong signal of their intent to do business with you. Another strong signal could be some kind of pre-approval process that requires the customer to submit financial information or pass some kind of credit checking.
A medium strength signal could be the purchase of a minor product. An e-book or information product that is ultimately intended to steer your prospect towards a core offering. Other medium strength signals would include doing things like doing one of your training courses, attending an event or filling out a detailed survey.
If a prospect signs up for your mailing list, downloads a lead magnet, watches and likes one of your videos, comments on an update, they’re sending you a weak signal. At some point, these people may convert to customers – but you shouldn’t rely too heavily on them.
Now you know there’s a signal – in the same way as Mulder & Scully needed to interpret what all those ones and zeros actually meant – you need to figure out what your customers are saying. How much confidence should you have that you can move forwards with your offering, whatever it is, based on the signals you’ve received back from your prospects?
If you’re advertising a product and you’ve got 5x more people sending strong purchasing signals than you’re aiming for – that’s a good sign you should move forward. So if you have 100 products to sell, to be confident you’re probably going to sell them all – you should be looking for around 500 strong signals from your people.
If you’re only receiving medium signals, you need to have 10x the interest. And if you’re only receiving weak signals, you’ll need 100x interest before having any real confidence. And even then, watch out for the tunnels: it could go dark!
With any luck, the information above will help you to crack your own case and track down any of those pesky missing customers. If you do need some Mulder and Scully assistance with your online business though, don’t be afraid to drop us a line. The truth is out there!
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P.S If you're interested in learning more about performance testing, checkout my Performance Testing 101 course here.