More Than A Means to an End
The majority of businesses who take advantage of all the web has to offer will appreciate the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Of course, some will be better than others, but most will hold their hands up if asked if they utilize SEO.
While this is all well and good, there is often a fundamental problem with this focus on SEO: it is a means to an end and mostly not an end in itself. What is meant by this can be explained by using an old-world example: if you wanted customers to visit your local general store you may have placed advertisements in the yellow pages not just under general stores but under fuel and groceries. In web terms this means usingthat the customer will search on (fuel, groceries) so that they arrive at your site.
The problem is that that is just a means to an end. There is a big difference in getting someone into the store and getting them to part with their hard-earned cash. This is where web conversion optimization comes in.
Web Conversion Optimization Basics
- The first thing to understand is that relevancy is key. If we continue the above example, it is all well and good to utilize SEO to get the customer onto your site but if they search for groceries and end up on a page about wood burners, the chances of them making a purchase are greatly reduced. It is therefore essential that keywords are optimized to lead a customer to the right page within your site and not just to the site itself.
- Design. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that website design is just the dressing to the substance of your site. Of course, we’re not talking about over elaborate themes (these can be off putting, as can too much Flash), but rather the layout of keywords and headings. Once the customer has landed on the page, give them all the help you can to get to exactly what they want as soon as possible. Product images that are placed well can make all the difference (a poorly placed image can result in a potential customer moving on). Calls to action or a general direction you want the user to go next are a great way to help increase conversions.
- Meet customers’ expectations. Are your promoting an offer or having a sale? If so, make sure when the customer lands on your site, the promoted offer is right there in front of them. Don’t expect them to start searching menus to find the offers. This can leave them feeling cheated and unwilling to put the effort in. Remember that conversion optimization is all about converting a visit into a sale. Don’t put barriers up by ensuring that the landing page is associated with the promotion/campaign.
- Remember to keep it simple. Most customers will be asking what the offer/service/product includes; so don’t make them wade through long blocks of text (they won’t, they’ll move on). Instead, go for concise bullet points detailing the headline characteristics of the offer (25% off, valid on all products and so on).
- Above all, focus on the message. If a customer has landed on your site because they are looking for something in particular, stick to that message. Keep on message and the customer is much more likely to turn a visit into a purchase.
- Last but certainly not least: If you’re hesitant about making any changes, why not perform some A/B testing? Track how your changes are effectively increasing conversions. Try out many options and track them over time.
Just like SEO, Web conversion optimization is a superb tool than can have a significant effect on a business as long as it is utilized properly by following a few basics. These basics should form the bedrock of a marketing strategy, as they will lead not only to more visits to your site, but to visits to the exact place you want your customers to land.