Posted in October 15, 2015 - 11:13 am.by Tami Demayo
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Making calculators better marketing tools

ROI CalculatorWe all love to try before we buy. But when that’s not possible, we’d like at least to estimate our future benefits. Assuming specific requirements, what will the whole solution cost, and what will we gain by using it? ROI calculators provide the answer, offering in-depth spreadsheet functionality fronted by a user-friendly question and answer interface.

Whether designed for use by the sales force or the end user, calculators have pervaded nearly every industry. And they are used in both B2C and B2B contexts. Today, when customers expect to know nearly everything they want about a product before they even contact the vendor, calculators have become table stakes. Here are some points to consider if you want to make your calculators more engaging, effective, and shareable:

The fun factor

ROI is serious business, but calculators should invite prospects to play. Layout, color, and interactivity all play a role in keeping users engaged–sliding sliders, turning dials, pressing radio buttons, selecting from lists–and watching what happens.

Immediacy

Rather than gathering all the input before calculating the result, it is much more rewarding for users to see how each piece of information they enter changes those results. And the more visually you can display the results, the better. Combine graphs, pie charts, size-changing or color-changing indicators, and more to amplify the perception that they are fine-tuning their way to an optimal solution.

Logical flow

A calculator isn’t simply a list of questions in graphic form; it should echo the way a salesperson would walk a prospect through the product selection process. Identify their market segment and existing solutions first, then narrow down the field by homing in on specific needs. That way you can minimize the input required and avoid asking irrelevant questions.

Conversational tone

Always remember that a human is on the other end. The input instructions should not read like a checklist; they should ask questions in clear, simple sentences.

Hassle reduction

Prospects probably don’t have all the input you are looking for at their fingertips. Help them guesstimate by providing default input, lists, or typical ranges to select from. In other words, don’t make the calculator user calculate.

Value to prospects

Prospects tinkering with a calculator are like shoppers who tell sales associates that they’re “just browsing.” They want to figure out if your offering is right for them before they give you any identifying information. So, although you may want to gate the results with a contact form, you may gain more eager self-qualified prospects by foregoing  immediate lead gen gratification.

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