No amount of online marketing, be it world-class search engine optimization, email, or endless paid search campaigns, will amount to anything if visitors aren’t converted to customers when they land on your website.
Driving online conversions is a relatively simple process, but it can be derailed very easily if each of the different stages of a website’s sales funnel doesn’t align properly.
Keep it relevant
Chris Tew, senior vice president AU/NZ at digital marketing company Alterian, says that the most important thing at every stage of the process is relevance to the visitor’s interest.
“Relevance means the right content for the right person at the right time at the right speed,” he says. “If you come to a website as a new customer, you need to see the information you’re looking for.”
Relevance mightn’t necessarily be an instantaneous thing, explains Tew. It might take some time for a visitor to determine if a site is relevant enough for them to make a transaction with the associated company.
“Quite often visitors to a site will come and go away and come back again,” he says. “More often than not, they’re coming to research the site. In that instance, it’s relevant to have more dynamic content.”
This goes for existing customers as well as new visitors.
“The more times people come back, and the more new things they see, they start to get a feeling for the dynamism of the content, and therefore the relevance of and their interest in the organization they’re going to.”
Know your customer
Many businesses still make the mistake of thinking a website is just a cloud-based brochure for products. They create it, leave it, and wonder why it’s not generating any traffic, let alone converting visitors.
It’s impossible to make an entire website relevant to everyone that visits. Instead, businesses should develop a handful of personas that represent different existing or ideal customer groups, and tailor separate sections of the website to what these types of customers will be interested in.
“With any sort of web development, what you really want to try and do is identify who you want to service. This is called persona development,” explains digital strategist David Turner. “Most businesses will have a general idea of that, and most businesses will be able to generate four or five personas based on certain criteria. It could be age, it could be demographic, it could be education levels, it could be desires and goals.”
According to Turner, certain customer personas will almost always ask certain questions. To keep the content on your site relevant to each type of customer, make sure you tailor landing page content to address these questions.
You need to be clear about what it is you want visitors to do when they arrive on a page. Sarah McIntyre, managing director of TomTom Communication, stresses that this comes down to the strength and tone of your calls to action (CTAs), as well as the relevancy between the source of the traffic and the landing page content.
“Hopefully you do have a landing page for that piece of promotion that you’re doing, and not just driving them to your homepage,” says McIntyre. “When you look at it holistically, you need to try and get in the mindset of your visitor. Why are they there? What do they want? Does it make sense, is it easy and do they trust you? Those are some key things to consider about what this landing page looks like.”
Before you go about consolidating specific landing pages with a CTA, it’s important that you know what the ideal conversion is for that page. A conversion isn’t always a transaction; it could be the completion of a booking form, or the download of an e-book.
“Whatever that conversion process is, it needs to be as simple as possible for it to happen,” says Turner. “You don’t want to put any barriers to that. You want to make sure that the reach of that conversion is as broad as possible. For some conversions that are very easy. If it’s a soft conversion, it might just be making it really obvious that you can download a PDF, or watch a video.”
Turner explains that different types of products require calls to action of differing strengths. A strong call to action, for example, would suit a sales cycle that is entirely online, like the purchase of digital music.
“[That would need a] really ‘buy now’ sort of action, to get them into that sales funnel, to drive that conversion,” he says. “If you’ve got a bigger ticket item, the calls to action will be softer. A call to action in that scenario might be to download a brochure, or book a test drive because you know that the complete conversion of that sale will actually be further down the line, or it might be offline.”
Don’t ask too much
A massive barrier to seeing conversions through – particularly if they’re transaction-based – is to request too much information.
“You want to collect only the details that are necessary to facilitate that transaction,” says Turner.
While marketing information can be useful or even crucial for a business to know, it’s much safer to ask it after the conversion is completed.
It’s also important that potential customers feel confident on your site. There are many factors that contribute to this, from the feel of the design to the use of customer testimonials, but the stage at which confidence is most crucial is at the checkout.
“One of the common methods is to have are Visa and Mastercard logos at the checkout because there are familiarities with those brands,” suggests Turner. “Then, obviously allowing the conversion on the consumer’s terms. Is their preferred payment method by credit card, by Paypal, or by fax? They should be the options that your user wants.”
Finally, pay attention to how your visitors respond to different stages of your online sales funnel. Using a service such as Google Analytics or Clicky allows you to see where visitors are dropping out of the conversion process so that you can isolate which stage needs to be revised. If this is the case, Turner recommends investigating an A/B testing approach; creating two landing pages and splitting the traffic between them to see which performs better.
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