This post is part of a series examining some oft-neglected online customer touch points and exploring ways to optimize them. Today, I’ll look at a type of page very similar to thank you pages – the logout confirmation, or logout thank you page.
As appealing as a loading dock?
Logout thank you pages are utilitarian, and often overlooked. Similar to an e-commerce confirmation page, a logout page appears after a completed transaction, so it’s outside the sales or conversion funnel. Also similar to other types of thank you pages, logout pages are typically starved for design and marketing attention. All that creative attention is focused on the site’s interior – the cool account management tools, real-time information, or whatever else is provided in the logged-in area.
It shouldn’t be this way. Logout thank you pages can be a prime opportunity to support your brand and offer more ways for your current customers to engage with you.
It’s where and when you say it
I recently re-read Paco Underhill’s great book “Why We Buy” and was struck by how his discussion of store signage and zones could apply to web sites. According to Paco, it’s important to take every opportunity to communicate with customers, but communication alone is not enough.
The message must suit its environment.
Store owners, in Paco’s example, should understand what shoppers are doing in each area, or zone, of a store before placing signage there. What actions are customers taking in that zone? Are they walking quickly past, or are they waiting in line? What else is in that zone to look at, what might customers be thinking? As he puts it,
“Each zone is right for one kind of message and wrong for all others. Putting a sign that requires 12 seconds to read in a place where customers spend 4 seconds is just slightly more effective than putting it in your garage.”
If we relate Paco’s insight to web site design, we’d realize that most sites ignore this considered approach to messaging. Advertisements and other peripheral content are usually plopped into whatever space is available, regardless of other factors such as what the site visitor is doing, what their state of mind might be, and what else is on the page.
Which results in promotions and important messages being missed or ignored, and underperforming. And what happens when an on-site promotion underperforms? Usually the message itself is blamed, or its design. Sometimes its position on the page is blamed. Too seldom do we look at the selection of web site “zone” as the culprit.
What’s happenin’ in the logout thank you page ‘zone’?
Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a site visitor for a moment. He’s been logged in to his banking, investment, dating, or other membership site. For our purposes we can consider the entire logged-in area as a single “super-zone” where the visitor completed a number of tasks. She checked her account balance, sent a message to customer service, maybe updated her profile. Now she’s done using the site, and logs out.
And sees, however briefly, the logout thank you page. Here is a transition state, a zone where the visitor’s attention is not yet focused on a new task. Here’s your opportunity.
What will you say?
Five examples of logout thank you pages
CityMax is a nifty self-serve site creation tool, one of the most usable tools of this type I’ve used. But their logout thank you page is a wasted opportunity. Here’s what you see after managing your site for a while, then logging out:
Positive things to notice here:
- The page is well-branded. At least the visitor knows she hasn’t completely left the CityMax site.
- It’s confusing! There’s no acknowledgement of the log out
- It’s a little rude. No thank you for using the service.
- At this point the visitor is asking: Didn’t I just log out? Did I do something wrong? Why am I being asked to log in again? OMG, were my changes saved??
LinkedIn is a well-known business networking site, one I’m certain I don’t use enough. Their log out thank you page is slightly better than CityMax’s, here it is:
A couple major positives:
- The page is well-branded
- There’s a very clear page title and content-area message confirming that the visitor is logged out. Great reassurance.
- There are two potential next steps presented in the content area, which is where the visitor’s attention is likely to rest – “return to the home page”, and “sign in again”. This page has considered the visitor’s state of mind, what they’ve just finished and what they might want to do next.
A missed opportunity?
- The standard site header & footer navigation elements are available here, nearly overwhelming the content area.
- For a site this large and well-known, it seems a little odd that there’s no promotion or advertising on this page. Have they tested it, and found it too annoying for their members? Even a bit of soft self-promotion to make members feel good about their choice of networking platform?
#3: Bank of America
Bank of America is, I’m told, on a bubble, near the edge of collapse unless they receive an additional $6 billion or so. But I dig their online banking tools, and plan to use them until I can transfer to a safer bank. If there is such a one.
In any case, here’s the logout thank you page I’ve been seeing for the past couple months:
Some positive points:
- Strong use of the opportunity.
- Good use of their knowledge of me, their customer. This offer invites me to extend my engagement with Bank of America from online banking to a credit card. Appropriate not only for the ‘zone’, but also for the audience.
- Good use of simplicity to focus attention on the offer. Notice there’s no navigation other paths unrelated to the offer. I’ve cut off some legalese, but that was positioned well below the offer.
- The simplicity also allows it to be repeated. It keeps coming back on my next logout after I’ve clicked the “No thanks” button, but it’s not annoying. Not too much, anyway.
- Repetition is a valuable tactic. This touch point is so brief, the message should bear repeating. I saw and bypassed this credit card offer possibly 30 times. On the 31st, I clicked the “Apply Now” button. That’s the potential of message repetition.
A big negative:
- No validation that I’m logged out of my banking account. I can’t afford to bail out BofA, but access to my little checking account is still a pretty big deal to me.
#5: American Express
American Express is a financial company currently scrambling to get customers off their books. Guess I’m just waiting for the hammer to fall, here. While I wait for that, here’s their logout page:
- Confirms that the visitor is logged out
- Polite and pleasant! It thanks me and wishes me a great day. In all-caps! (The all-caps thing is not recommended for everybody, by the way).
- Great visual prioritization of task paths. The “log back in” and “visit home page” paths are placed high on the page, but visually they’re ‘quieter’ than the large message box below them.
- Appropriate offers for further engagement – and only 3 of them, so they don’t overwhelm the visitor
- A nice self-promotion about Amex’s 50th anniversary, which subtly reassures me that hey, they survived the Cold War back then, they must have the chops to survive the economic crisis now.
- Promotions are labeled “From American Express” and “From Our Partners”. Which is a nice way of saying they’re not responsible for the ugly animation on their beautiful page. Also puts the information into context for me.
- None, really. Amex obviously thinks this seemingly minor touch point is important, and given their logout thank you page the attention it deserves.
Logout Thank You Page Optimization Guidelines
An optimized Logout Thank You page contains answers, and extends to visitors opportunities for further engagement. Let’s look at this from a visitor’s perspective, answering the questions they may have at this web site ‘zone’:
|VISITOR QUESTION||OPTIMIZATION GUIDELINE|
|Is this the right place?||Maintain a consistent branding experience. The Logout Thank You page should look similar to the logged-in area’s design. This is also your last chance (for a while) to reinforce your company ethos and leave your customer feeling good about the interaction.|
|Am I logged out?||Provide a clear confirmation that the logout process is complete. For example, “You are now logged out”|
|Are you grateful for my continued business?||“Thank you” is such a simple, easy thing to say. “Have a nice day” might not fit your brand, but the sentiment is one that encourages engagement.|
|Whoops! I forgot something. How do I log back in?||This is a very common need for membership sites. In the page content area, provide a clear link to the site login, even if you already have a similar link in the global navigation or site header.|
|Hmmm, is there anything else interesting here before I leave?||Offer 1 – 3 opportunities to engage further with your company. This could be a new product or service, an offer of your newsletter, or simply an invitation to contact you.|
I appreciate your reading this post! You may also be interested in these other posts in the “Touch Point” series: