Meet Passenger Steve (Your Website Visitor)

I was flying in for Ed Dale's event (Over The Edge 2 aka #OTE2) and had settled into seat 42G with a good book. The title was The Power of Full Engagement, but I didnt end up getting fully engaged in the book (well, not on that day anyway - but more about that later).

Instead, I ended up having an interesting conversation with "Passenger Steve" who was seated next to me for the 90 minute flight.

I really wish I would have had room to maneuver, because I would have caught this conversation on video. Unfortunately between elbows and seat belts it just wasnt possible, so you'll have to settle for the text recollection...

I dont recall how the interview conversation started, but Passenger Steve (like most 20-somethings) said that he used the internet daily and shopped online frequently. I couldnt resist the opportunity to ask him a few questions 😀 .

Me: What search engine do you use?
Steve: Google. I like the simplicity of the search page. No distractions, and ad-free.

Me: True. So do you just look at the listings on the left side of the page, or do you also check the ads down the right side?
Steve: If I'm searching for information, I look at the results on the left. If I'm shopping, I check the ads on the right first. But I never click on them. I just type the URL into the address bar.

Me: Yeah? Why is that?
Steve: Because I know they are "pay per click". Plus I want to check out the main page of the site.

Me: What you see in the ad is called a Display URL. Its not always the same as the Destination URL, or the page you actually go to if you click on the ad.
Steve: I thought that might be the case.

Me: So do you do a lot of shopping online?
Steve: I do. A big selling point for me is if the merchant uses Google Checkout. It makes the process so simple since I have my Google account integrated in my mobile device and my computer. If I have to fill out a long customer form, half the time I end up changing my mind and abandon the order. But if they use Google Checkout its two clicks and I'm done.

Steve also mentioned that he doesnt use PayPal and wouldnt purchase anything that is sold only through PayPal. He said that he simply doesnt trust them.

The entire conversation was very interesting. It's not often that you get an opportunity to sit down and talk to someone that is basically on the other end of what you do every day.

Passenger Steve is the person who types in the search queries that end up in your keyword research results. He is the one that clicks on your search engine listing, and decides whether to purchase a product from your web page. He represents one of those impressions for your pay-per-click advertisement that didnt result in a click-through.

Now you know what he is thinking. And why.

Passenger Steve ultimately asked what it is that I do, and I gave him the quick spiel. When I mentioned Affiliate Marketing, it got his attention. That's when the tables turned, and he started asking the questions...

While reading a magazine about one of his favorite hobbies, he ran across an advertisement for an affiliate program. The ad mentioned that he could earn money promoting their products. Products he bought from them himself, and would gladly recommend.

That advertisement stayed in the back of his mind, but he said that he had no idea how to proceed from there. We still had a good half hour left in the flight, so I gave him a quick overview and ideal marketing plan for the niche.

His first question: About how much would it take to get started?
My answer: Ten bucks.

I told him to go to and look in the right sidebar. Start with the link under the blue subscribe box that says "starting a free online business". Read the free tutorials I link to there. Next, look further down in the right sidebar for the link to the HostGator coupon code. Use that to set up your hosting account. That will get you the first month free, so your only cost upfront is the domain name (which is less than $10).

When I returned home from my trip, I had an email in my inbox from Passenger Steve. He had registered a super cool domain name, and set up his hosting account.

That really made my day.

Its impossible to do what I do on a one-on-one basis like that every day, but I love that rare opportunity. Passenger Steve represented 1 new unique visitor in my stats last month. And unlike random marketing, my face-to-face conversations always result in a 100% conversion rate.

Not only did I make a sale, which is always good... I had the opportunity to make a difference, which is even better.

And yes, I told Passenger Steve that I would earn a commission when he signed up for his HostGator account (full disclosure). I explained that it was also an affiiate program. We both thought it was a fair trade.


p.s. On the way back from the OTE2 event, I had another great conversation - this time with Passenger Cathy. Somewhere between Orlando and Atlanta, she shared a cool little piece of information with me that I have folded up and stashed away for future use. I cant say what it was, but it was a sweet little nugget for sure 😉

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. Chris Kellum says:

    So, "Steve the Passenger," huh? 🙂 (I know, I know - the election is FINALLY over, but I couldn't resist one more ____ the ____ comment!).

    Cool insight, though. I might sound totally weird for doing this, but every once in a while I'll log into one of my various accounts, look through my orders, and then just think about who they are.

    I'll read their name, where they live, what their email address is (a lot of people have email addresses that are related to a hobby or passion) and try to picture who they are, what they look like, their home/office/computer, what do they think when they're reading my content, etc.

    Always nice when you can get back to that "human" element and remember who you're actually doing this for, who's responding to your content, and who's behind all of those neat little statistics.

  2. CoronadoCookie says:

    Great post Lynn. It is a reminder that we have to think like our customers/market. I see too many people fall in love with their own idea or perception and then wonder why they aren't getting any traffic.

  3. Actually we have to know how customers
    think and how they decide to purchase our products.

    This is very important becuause when we have
    those informations we can be better sellers; therefore, we will ,make more money in the


  4. I agree - someone else's perspective is invaluable. I found the conversation with Steve particularly interesting - especially the bit about how he views free listings vs paid, and how appealing Google Checkout is now that its integrated with mobile devices, etc.

    Anyone with a niche ecommerce or affiliate site could appreciate the insight, I'm sure. I actually wrote this blog post in the shuttle from the airport to the Hard Rock hotel (on my way to the OTE2 event). I did quite a bit of blogging while I was traveling - I just didnt get it all published. Yet 🙂

    And Chris - I dont think that's weird at all. Many marketers teach that you have to get your target market in mind, all the way down to that micro level of being able to connect with who they are and what they like and how they live. Being in tune with your market is what helps you stand apart from the rest and dominate your niche!

  5. That's really cool! And a bit of free market research to boot.

    I find it hard sometimes to understand how others view pages on the internet since I know more about them than the average user, but this is a good reminder that we need to continually put ourselves in our readers' and customers' shoes.

    Also, it reiterates the fact that we need to keep everything as simple as possible when it comes to how our visitors interact with our site. Keeping the long, complicated forms on our site will end up costing us a lot of customers.

  6. Great Q & A session!

  7. Alan (new baby help guide now available) says:

    However, you have to keep in mind that Passenger Steve was just one of your potential customers, and not necessarily a representative one.

    For example, PayPal is way more used that Google Checkout, even though the latter has a much more trusted company behind it. Also, it sounds like Passenger Steve had some idea about IM, even if only a basic view from a consumer. Most people would never think about PPC and typing in the URL.

    So, very interesting, lots of fun, but be careful how you use such information. You can end up rewriting your core business based on the opinions of one person, only to find out that most people don't think like that!

    Thanks for a great post Lynn,

  8. Great story Lynn. There are those that complain about those around them and those that choose to take the opportunity to better themselves, better others or just look at it as an experience. It's nice to see that not only did you take the opportunity to talk to someone, but care enough to reflect on it and write a post about it.. kudos to you it sounds like that short flight just changed a life.

  9. Passanger Steve says:

    Lynn Great job writing the interview up. I cant believe you remembered everything I said. I'm impressed!

    Yes, I prefer Google because everything I use is Google. My cell phone is a T-mobile G1, my search engine is Google, my address book, my calender, my contacts, everything is linked with Google. It makes it easier to have everything is one place. I can click on the link and check out, my info is saved and it takes me less time preventing me from getting buyers remorse and canceling that sale that you could be profiting off. Overall Google has everything I need, I'm comfortable with Google!

    Yes, Alan PayPal may be used more, but it has also been out for nearly a decade. Where Google just released check out about 2 years ago. That's five times longer to build a clientele and establish itself as a leader. I just don't trust pay pal anymore. It reminds me of old dirty chairs and pyramid schemes. I would rather pay more money and use Google checkout than use PayPal. Also, Google is growing and spreading its business model from just a search engine to producing operating systems for telephones, to street mapping the entire world. I think its time to jump on the bandwagon and understand that Google has a bright future ahead of it.

    Just so everyone knows I had very little knowledge of internet sales, marketing, or being an affiliate. Most people who have a little bit of internet/computer knowledge could tell you what pay per click is. I'm not saying your average 15 year old myspacer could tell you but a good majority of people do understand the concept.

    Great Job Lynn and thank you for your help and inspiration,


  10. Alan (new baby help guide now available) says:

    Hello Steve,

    Just to clarify, I wasn't defending PayPal, just pointing out a fact. I agree with your comments about them, and push my customers to use Google Checkout wherever possible (even though this is against the PayPal TOS!).

    I'm surprised at your comments on the way people view PPC though. I assumed (maybe wrongly) that most people wouldn't think so much about them.

    Ta ra

  11. Great to see you here, Steve 😀

    I hope you didnt mind my sharing our conversation with ClickNewz readers, but I knew they would enjoy it as much as I did!

    Your new site looks great - very nice start. Perhaps one day I'll get brave and become a customer of yours... *grin*

    Regarding PPC etc- my mother shops online and is a general internet user like most, and understands that there are paid listings vs free listings. She has always been incredibly helpful to me when it comes to insight on outside perspective with things like this.

    It might be fun to grab my cam and do a random public survey at some point - I think we might all be surprised to hear what people think of the things we are overly familiar with...

  12. Hugh Fraser says:

    Lynn & Steve,
    It is so interesting to hear both sides of the fence, I love marketing online but I have real trouble finding my niche, I so wish I was like you, perhaps I shall I start promoting Gadgets I love to use or computer stuff as I like to think I know my way around the inside of a computer!!

    Steve, What is your web address, Lynn, you have my permission to give Steve my email address so he can contact me with his web address.


  13. Hooray for Steve, anybody who doesn't use PAYPAL gets my vote and hopefully he is the usual newish internet user as this is the best way to cause paypal to go out of business.

  14. Hopefully Steve will at least give us his email address(or give it to Lynn Terry with your permission for her to post it inside the Elite Forum. I would also urge that he join the Elite Forum at SSWT

  15. There was some invaluable information in there Lynn thanks for sharing. I feel much the same way about Paypal but it's so standard you can't seem to get away from it. I will definitely consider adding Google checkout in the future.

  16. Alan (new baby help guide now available) says:

    While we're on the subject of people using PayPal, I thought I'd share a small point.

    I had three site selling toys, which I launched about a year ago, and sold (for a great profit) six months later. The sites all offered both PayPal and Google Checkout as payment methods.

    I had a look at the number and value of orders processed by each over the six months, and it was about equal.

    On the one hand, you could argue that this is great news for GC, as it was fairly new at the time, but still managed to grab 50% of the payments.

    On the other hand, you could call it a victory for PayPal, since Google is a very trusted name in the web world, but they still only managed to take half of the payments. If PayPal were really as hated as some people make out, then you would expect a trusted name like Google to sweep the board clean.

    So I'll leave to it to you to decide, but it is clear to me that you need to offer both to make the best of your site.

    I would like to try some experiments with this, and split-test offering both, and one or the other. It would be interesting to see how (or if) sales are affected.

    Ta ra

  17. I must have missed this post the first time around, so I'm glad you linked to it from your recent post 😉 Very cool conversation and a good reminder to take into consideration your ideal customer and how they're going to get to your site and what they're going to do when they arrive there.


  1. [...] conversations, I once turned a conversation over lunch into a blog post, as well as a conversation during a short flight. Get creative, and realize that if you’re thinking… or talking… you’re [...]

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