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Part 1
Web Success: What's Your Online 
Audition & Site 'Batting Average'?
By Paul Strikwerda
Voice Actor
©2009 Paul Strikwerda
Some people can’t live with them, and some can’t live without them: voice-over online casting web sites.
Let’s be honest: have you entered a co-dependent relationship? How much do you rely on them to get work?
I remember when I first joined a few of these sites ... 
In the beginning, every new job posting seemed to open an exciting window of possibilities.
I attacked my auditions with vigor. Every single demo had to be spot-on. Every letter to a job seeker was unique.
And when I finally released my masterpiece into the universe, my adrenaline was pumping and my hopes were high.
I paid to play, and boy did I play!
A few days into my membership, it happened: I hit the jackpot!!
My very first booking was right up my alley: an audiobook. I was so excited; I was glowing in the dark!
This project was followed by another one, and another one … it was almost addictive.
Soon - I told myself - I would join the ranks of the high rollers.
A few months into my subscription, the universe intervened. The gods of voice-over roulette decided it was time to bring me down to earth and pop my beloved bubble.
It was early in the morning and the neighborhood was still asleep. I had … a rude awakening.
There is no other way to describe it.
That morning I decided to take a closer look at one of the voice-over web sites I subscribe to, and I particularly looked at all the auditions I had submitted in the past couple of months.
What I discovered didn’t exactly make my day. Here’s why:
In four months, I had submitted a total of 185 auditions. For about 80% of these job offers, the indicated deadline had passed. In other words: one might assume that the client would have hired a voice by now.
However, much to my surprise, I noticed that in only 10% of the above cases a talent had actually been selected.
Mind you, not every selection ends in a booking. When I looked even deeper into the postings that never lead to anything, it got worse.
I saw that at least half of those had over one hundred submissions!
The bottom line: a majority of auditions didn’t result in an actual booking - not because the job was awarded to another talent, but because the voice-shopper never became a buyer.
In most cases, the client had plenty of talent to choose from.
And with 100+ submissions per project, bidding must have been fierce.
What’s going on here? At least four things came to mind:
  • Is this an overall trend, or is it unique to my situation?
  • These missed opportunities mean a huge loss in revenue for the site in question, as well as for the subscribers who pay to play, and not to be thrown away.
  • There’s tremendous untapped potential! Why are some sites barely scratching the surface of a goldmine?
  • What can be done to turn browsers into buyers?
To take up the last question first, this refers to what marketing guru’s call the “conversion rate.”
Consumer behavior expert Paco Underhill is the author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping. He writes:
Conversion rate measures what you make of what you have - it shows how well (or how poorly) the entire enterprise is functioning where it counts most: in the store.
Conversion rate is to retail what batting average is to baseball - without knowing it, you can say that somebody had a hundred hits last season, but you don’t know whether he had three hundred at-bats, or a thousand.
Without conversion rate, you don’t know if you’re Mickey Mantle or Mickey Mouse.
One could also describe conversion rate is as “the percentage of visitors who take the action you wish for.”
For instance, in the case of my blog, I hope readers will leave a comment, become a subscriber and visit the rest of my web site.
Of course, I also hope they find my writings entertaining and take away something useful.
But what I’m ultimately aiming for is “engagement.” Remember that. I’ll get back to it later.
It’s obvious that the conversion rate of the voice-over web site I mentioned in the intro left a lot to be desired.
Yet it’s nothing new for an Internet-based business.
Here’s the deal. This “just looking” behavior is ubiquitous online. That’s inherent to the medium.
It gets worse, though.
Some studies suggest that over half of all online shoppers abandon their carts part way through the check-out process.
Why is that?
The beginning of an answer to that question lies in the “interception rate,” the percentage of customers who have some contact with an employee.
Paco Underhill:
The more shopper-employee contacts that take place, the greater the average sale. Talking with an employee has a way of drawing a customer in closer. With no sales assistance it could be the difference between a conversion rate of 22% and a conversion rate that’s 50 to 60%.
So, let me ask you this:
When’s the last time you went on an online shopping spree, and had any type of interaction with an employee? Where’s the engagement? Where’s the relationship? Where’s the interception?
Now, let’s go one step further and bring this closer to home.
If you are a voice-over actor with a personal web site or a blog:
  • Do you know your conversion rate?
  • If not, wouldn’t you want to know?
  • Do you even know how to measure your visitor’s response?
I could care less about the number of hits you get on an average day, or your ranking on Bing doesn’t pay your bills.
Don’t get me wrong: getting people in the door is a promising start. Keeping them inside is even better. Getting them to take action is the ultimate goal.
Here’s the 64 thousand dollar question: how do you do that?
If customer interception plays such a big part in increasing your sales, is such a thing even realistic in an anonymous, impersonal virtual world?
How could you possibly turn browsers into buyers? I have two words for you: STAY TUNED!
Did you take a close look at your audition submissions lately? If so ...
  • What’s your conversion rate?
  • How many colleagues tried out for the same job?
  • Did the voice-seeker actually make a selection?
  • If not, what do you think happened?
  • What’s your pay-to-play site’s overall conversion rate?
  • Are you happy with that number?
  • What could be done to increase it?
Paul Strikwerda is a 25-year veteran of the voice-over industry whose Nethervoice service features German and Dutch voice-overs, translation and evaluation services. Born in Holland, he has worked for Dutch national and international radio, the BBC and American Public Radio. Although 90% of his work is in English, Strikwerda also records in Dutch, German and French. Clients include Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, and the Discovery Channel. He also publishes an informative and entertaining blog, Double Dutch.


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