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A Human Touch

Posted on 8.02.2007
By Mike Phillips

Web surfers have countless options to get the information they need. While one click of a mouse will bring them to your site, another will take them somewhere else. As website owners, the challenge is to find a way to engage visitors, keep them on your site and get them to take a desired action. One way is by closing the gap between a digital experience and human interaction. Rovion's InPerson and Oddcast’s SitePal are two powerful tools for every website owner to increase conversions and interact with users.

Len Ostroff, CEO of Rovion was looking for a way to take the Web out of a two-dimensional space and really interact with the user. “The Web was lacking personality and lacking the engagement factor,” says Ostroff. “Rovion really does create that third dimension.”

Rovion’s InPerson places real people on a website — walking across the screen and talking to the site visitor about special promotions, new features of the site, news or any message the website owner wants to send. By clicking on the person, the site visitor sent to an area of the website determined by the site owner for further details.

The goal of this interactive tool is to increase sales, conversions and create a positive return on investment. Ostroff cites engagement rates (interacting with the character) of 30-70 percent. And that is typically defined as a user watching more than half the message or clicking on the character.

Rovion features a full platform, including shooting footage, coding, server usage and reporting. A site owner can choose from a selection of models and characters, use their own clients (or themselves), shoot footage on their own or request the help of Rovion. According to Ostroff, about 80 percent of InPerson clients use their own clients or themselves for the character.

Fees for InPerson are calculated on a campaign basis, typically 90 days. On the lower end of the scale, some options can cost about $1,500 per campaign with others running several thousand for extended campaigns and on a year-to-year basis. Rovion has plans in the very near future to launch an InPerson product aimed at small- and medium-sized businesses on a more cost-effective scale.

SitePal is another option for website owners, offering the same message deliverability as InPerson but through animated characters instead of real people. A host of attributes are available for a fully-customized and unique character designed by the website owner. Choices include age, sex, hairstyles, skin tones, voice tones and clothing, among others. Clients can also call a toll-free number or record their own voices with a microphone. Once a character is created, SitePal provides HTML or Flash code for placement on your site.

Some interesting features of SitePal include lead generation, where below the character are fields for email collection, phone numbers, etc. and FAQ, where a site visitor clicks a question and the character provides audio answers. SitePal’s Gold Package offers Artificial Intelligence. By providing information about your company or products, your site visitors can ask questions and the character will answer, creating an intuitive two-way communication. Reporting is also provided, and SitePal claims to have a more robust reporting system in the works.

Packages offered include Bronze ($9.95 per month), Silver ($19.95 per month) and Gold ($49.95 per month). The different packages are determined by number of streams per month and some of the features, such as the FAQ and Artificial Intelligence. Free trials are available for the Bronze and Silver packages.
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