A few days ago I wrote a guide to business blogging, where I covered traffic sales conversions a little, but I figured it’s such an important area, it would be worthy of a post of its own. In my experience, this is an area that a lot of businesses barely pay lip service to, with many completely ignoring how their website looks and works for potential customers.
For many businesses, effectively converting web traffic into sales can make or break your online marketing campaign, but why don’t people pay more attention this crucial area?
I believe the problem stems from the way periphery services are promoted and perceived. Technically, website sales conversions should be an area covered at the design phase – perhaps by graphic designers or website designers. But the focus at this stage both for client and service provider tends to be form and function, rather than delving too deeply into the psychology of the implementation. Or perhaps it should be the job of your SEO provider – they are the ones responsible for traffic generation after all, but many don’t deal with this at all.
I’m not saying you should run off and start pointing the finger at particular people or providers within your organisation for not taking ownership of this concept – the issue has naturally arisen from the way online business has developed over the years. But there is one person that you should be giving a hard time for not dealing with this with more effectively.
That person is YOU. You, as a business owner, are responsible for the success of failure of your business, regardless of your knowledge, experience and understanding of the things your business does, and that includes traffic conversion. YOU are the one that should be sourcing staff and suppliers that can cover all the bases for you.
Am I saying you should run off and ditch your amazing graphic designer for not thinking more about sales conversions? No. A talented designer is an amazing resource to have – YOU should be briefing them on sales conversion issues. Should you ditch your website designer for not coming up with ideas to turn traffic into sales? No. An awesome web designer is the genius behind your web presence, so why jeopardise that? Maybe your SEO provider needs a stern talking to? Nope. They bring you traffic and if they’re doing it well, that’s not something you can afford to lose.
Regardless of who isn’t taking responsibility for this area just now, there is one thing you can know for sure. There’s good chance that someone in your organisation is capable of doing this job and you should be encouraging them to do that. It’s a no brainer. You’re paying for design and traffic generation – better sales conversion just means more bang for your buck!
Your site’s design and why it’s important;
The design of your site – how it looks, how the content is formatted and presented and how easy it is to navigate – is essential to how effective your sales conversions will be. Let’s look at some of the key points you should be considering;
- Does your website inspire confidence? It’s difficult, as a business owner, to step back and objectively critique your own website, but think about it hard. Would you buy from a website that looked like your own? If you have any reservation at all in the back of your mind, then the answer is probably no and you should certainly review your design.
- Is your page design clean or is it cluttered? A messy page will instantly put people off and that’s hard to come back from, no matter how compelling your content is. Why are you diluting your core objective with excessive graphics and marketing messages?
- Do your visitors meet uncessary obstacles? Convoluted sales processes, registrations, less-than-obvious call to actions and broken links. Every instance of a negative action reduces your sales conversion effectiveness. Don’t make people jump through 10 pages to buy a product or even scroll back up a page to register / comment / buy a product / share via FaceBook or whatever. Remember the KISS principle!
- Remember – design is the online equivalent of customer experience in shop. A good experience means return visits and repeat custom. A bad experience means you won’t see that person (or their friends) again. You wouldn’t have sloppy sales staff and an untidy shop floor in the real world, would you?
- Font choice is important and don’t be caught in the corporate marketing trap of sticking to “official” fonts as determined by your management team. It’s OK to vary the font choice on a page, as long as the page as a whole looks good and the core content (your articles for example) and secondary content (your call to actions) are easy to read. All too often, websites choose smaller fonts that are difficult to read just because they match the website logo!
- If you are using a content management system, have a think about how individual pages will look and don’t focus solely on your template mock-ups. Remember, some pages may have less content than others so do you really want to stuff your pages with ads and superfluous content? It’s not great for SEO and not great for user experience. Sometimes the shotgun approach to design can end up hurting you – a good design can be made into a bad one when the page isn’t filled with a certain amount of content.
So you’ve covered the design of your website as best you can – it is a subjective area, so don’t worry if there are conflicting opinions on the best route to take as long as your pages are clean and easy to use. But that’s only part of the battle when it comes to converting your web traffic into sales – the next area you really need to think about (and in my opinion, something you should have a formalised strategy for) is your content.
So how does your content help convert traffic into sales?
Well the obvious area here is through search engine optimisation. If you consider each page on your site as a product – then each keyword it is optimised for is a unique target market – each market has a slightly different selection of potential customers. Some are out to buy now – these are your main targets and an effective site design should convert these visitors quite easily. But others are just information gatherers and window shoppers – these can be equally valuable in the long term, but much harder to convert. These people are the difference between a good visitor / sales conversion ratio and a bad one.
Some tips for improving your conversion ratio;
- Inspire trust. As with offline business, trust and confidence in your business is a huge factor in online business. Prominent display of contact details, company information, accreditations, user reviews and guarantees can all help to inspire trust before you pitch your potential customers.
- Inspire authority. Customers naturally gravitate towards authoritative businesses – that’s why big brands attract much higher volumes of custom when, at times, the quality of product and service offered is similar (or even worse) than smaller businesses. Your content can help you stamp your authority on your industry.
- Inspire loyalty. You want people to come back right? Some people call it sticky content – it can also be called link bait (although the term link bait also refers to other types of content). Essentially, you are providing information that people will bookmark and refer to time and time again – “how to” guides for example. This article is an example of sticky content – it will still be as relevant in a year’s time as it is now.
- Inspire focus. Your content is all very well when it brings in more traffic and builds your brand, but what use is that if it doesn’t convert into sales? That’s why we’re doing this, right? The bottom line of your content strategy should be your sales objective and all roads should lead in this direction. Funnel your visitors through effective page design and get them to your sales pages as efficiently as possible.
What tips do you have for improving sales conversions? Anyone care to share some examples?