Recently I attended the SEMPO / SEO MeetUp in Denver, organized by Dave Carlson of Green Chair Marketing Group.
The topic of the meetup was Conversion Analytics, with Todd Barrs of Spyglass LLC as the headlining speaker. Not only did Mr. Barrs give an excellent presentation, but he also raised some important issues that are often overlooked or misunderstood when approaching web design.
Without giving a play-by-play recount of the presentation, I have broken the ideas into five categories that summarize and expand on some of the issues that were presented. This blog entry will deal with the first three, followed by another blog entry detailing the next two categories. The five categories are:
• Alignment: Aligning the selling process with the customers buying process
• Movement: Establishing "scent trails"
• Engagement: Engaging visitors
• Endorsement: Using logos, ratings, and links
• Improvement: Improving sales conversion
One of the first points that Mr. Barrs made was that sites should align their selling process with their customers buying process. That sounds great, but what does it mean? As Mr. Barrs explained, each customer is in a different stage of the buying process when they land on your site. Some may be skeptical and still in a learning phase, whereas others may already be hungering for the purchase. It is important that sites are able to accommodate all types of buyers (as appropriate) and be able to guide visitors to the next natural phase of the purchasing process.
For developers this means that landing pages need to be able to engage each potential customer, or ideally, a site should have different landing pages that embrace each type of customer and can interact with them on a more personal level.
For example, buyers who know exactly what they want (e.g. they search for the product by its exact name) should be directed to a page that really showcases the product and predominantly places Point of Action (the BUY ME! Button), whereas buyers who are not quite sure what they want (they search a little bit more generally) would should land on a page that is still exactly relevant, but displays user reviews and product features a little bit more predominantly.
Even though we are not always able to predict exactly what the customer wants it is our job to lead them forward. According to Mr. Barrs, this is the difference between Navigation and Search. Search brought them to your site because they were looking for something in particular, or because they have a problem that they are looking to solve. Navigation is what you have to help them do once they get there.
For developers this means establishing clear "scent trails" that can lead visitors from the landing pages to exactly what they are looking for, and encourage them to buy it. These continuity trails can greatly increase conversions by leading visitors forward and creating persuasive momentum in order to complete the sale. This can be accomplished by reducing the number of steps required to make a purchase, showing the value of buying it from your site right now, addressing concerns that they many have and taking into account other considerations related to your product or service. This is explained more in the next section: Engagement.
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