Sending people away from your product or marketing isn’t a sin. In fact, it might get you more customers.
There’s an irrational fear in older companies (or those run by people with older sensibilities) of “other websites”. Those of this mindset feel that everything is a potential distraction, and you must keep people laser-focused on giving you money.
Wake up. Your potential customers already know that there are other sites on the web. They probably know about your competitors. They know that there’s a new episode of 30 Rock three clicks away on Hulu that is more entertaining than your offering. Stop worrying about trapping them and start thinking about delighting them.
Let’s look at MailChimp (oops, I just linked off of our site!), one of my favorite companies. They provide a simple, powerful mailing list tool aimed at small businesses. They’ve got a very defined, fun brand – after all, their mascot is a smiling monkey.
Considering all the competition in this field (I know, I’ve had to research them in a previous position), certainly MailChimp should try to avoid letting their customers go anywhere else on the web. No links on the homepage that aren’t to sales pages, no links in the application that go off-site, and if they’ve finished their task in the app, give them another one so they don’t leave.
MailChimp calmly ignores this.
The aforementioned monkey mascot sits in the upper right of every page, providing some bit of wisdom. One day it might be “How much mail could a MailChimp chimp if a MailChimp could chimp mail?”, the next a link to this video:
Even when you’re in the midst of working with the app, they provide opportunities for fun, such as when I completed sending an email. They offered a few further app options, but they also offered me this:
(here’s the paper toy pdf link if you want to make your own)
Has MailChimp ever distracted someone from their app before they even got it set up? Yes – they distracted me with a video of a monkey on a segway when I first started setting up my mailing list. But I came back, even more enthused about the service, because they made me smile.
Don’t be afraid to link off your site, as long as it’s relevant and rewarding. If you’re truly offering a great product, people will appreciate your link generosity and come back to your page even more excited to try out your product.
Photo courtesy of Jetheriot.