Your Side of the Fence

By February 2, 2008blog

I am up in Vail right now, it was dumping yesterday and the slopes were PACKED with people. I heard there were cars lined up the highway to get into Vail too. I was thinking about it. Here are all these people who like to ski, who were contemplating skiing, but were on the fence about going skiing until something (like 8″ of reported new snow) pushed a ton of them over the fence into the “Yes” zone. And BOOM, truckloads of people are lined up to ski.

At RegOnline we have this way-underutilized service called incomplete registration emails. What it does is automatically email anyone who starts registering but doesn’t complete (because we collect their email address first). The number of “incompletes” is like 3-t0-1 to every completed one. These are what I call the fence sitters. Right now the email just says “You did not complete your registration. If this was unintentional please click here to return.” My sense is that it’s almost always intentional because they are on the fence about whether to go to the event… and instead the email could help push them over the fence by saying “Here are 10 more reasons you want to go to this event.”

Which brings me to what I consider a HUGE theory of marketing. Most of our prospects are NOT solid Yes’ or No’s, they are Fence Sitters. Our job as marketers is to nudge people over to our side of the fence! Each incremental improvement tips a couple more percent of people to our side.

For example, about 8 years ago Vail decided to test out the Colorado card, an all-you-can-eat five mountain pass (with limitations on Vail & Beaver Creek) for an incredibly reduced rate of $399 (when most season passes were going for $1500/year). The theory was that they could get all those people who fence sit on whether to go skiing regularly at $65-$85 a day. It was a HUGE success for them. They got a ton of people who otherwise would have never spent $400 a year skiing, to start spending it. Plus, they now get most of their money up-front before anyone knew what the snowfall was going to be like!

At RegOnline we are constantly split-testing concepts to see if it nudges a couple more of our fence sitters to start using our service. How can we reduce the friction on the fence? How can we grease the fence and have it lean more towards us? Every little thing counts… simple navigation, headlines, call-to-actions, simple pricing, easy ways to tour the product. I’ll talk more in my next post about this.

So, my main point here is… think about YOUR fence sitters. How can you entice them to your side of the fence?!

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