From Romania with order – the secret to conversion

When I was in Romania about 10 years ago I had some drinks with a local Optician and a Romanian rock star. We enjoyed many drinks and Raresh, the Optician, invited my girlfriend and I back to his apartment after the bar closed.

Raresh lived in a Soviet style apartment that was very very clean. It was disturbingly ordered. All that was missing ware the plastic sheets to protect the furniture.

He hated Romania and his low socio-economic status. He declaimed “I hate my country!” and told the rock star that he wished he has his life.

The life of an Optician was not a comfortable middle-class life in Romania. It was a life of struggle and worry.

As a result Raresh hung out in the bar where we met him.

The man did know about taxonomies though. He asked us if we wanted to listen to some music and handed us a collection of exercise books that contained a hand-written index of his collection. It was a magnificent thing and Raresh’s logical ordered mind was wonderfully evident in the careful scrawls of music from the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Each entry contained a code which mapped to a tape in his collection. It was better ordered than my Ipod. And by hand!

The desire to organise and classify is a uniquely human activity. Imposing systems on a chaotic world makes us feel like we’re in control, that we’re managing to keep our heads above the water that threatens to drown us in a beautifully fluid and disorganised way.

It is also how we expect to find stuff on the Internet.

We visit a website looking for a trace, a scent of something that relates to our need. Clothing, shoes, belts, books, musical devices, portable storage devices. Each might relate to something that we’re looking for, something that makes us think “yeah, that’s it”. And then we click a link and somewhere someone pours a Gin and Tonic happy that there’s been a micro-conversion.

Finding the right words to describe the right stuff or the right actions is the key to conversion.

The great thing about Google’s AdWords is that it reduces all the fluff and bubble of the creative process to a headline, 2 descriptions and a display URL. No pictures, no logos, no pictures of babies smiling coyly at the camera; just good old fashioned words.

The only tricks you can play are with words and the right words can deliver lots of clicks.

Too often people get obsessed with the glitz and forget the words that order the chaotic disorganised world of their buyer.

I reckon start with the words and add the sparkle later. Test the words in AdWords or Yahoo. Test them on your customers.

Like Raresh, build a beautiful framework to structure the world of your buyer.

Raresh wasn’t distracted by the colourful tape cases, they were kept hidden until his visitor had made a choice.

I like to think that Raresh is happily married now with kids and a business thriving as the Romanian economy improves.

He deserves it.

What do you think?