In the first article of this three-part series, I explained how to determine your current performance metrics to set a baseline for selecting and measuring website conversion strategies. In this article, I’ll explain the process of website conversion for a paid search campaign and identify some strategies to reduce the gap between your baseline performance and your website performance goals.
What are Website Conversion Strategies?
Website conversion strategies are marketing and technology efforts focused on increasing your website’s efficiency with turning visitors into prospects or customers. The majority of website conversion strategies involve redesigning your current website and re-writing your website’s copy. However, to build an effective paid search campaign, conversion efforts must also be allocated outside your website and on selecting keywords, re-writing paid ad copy and considering the paid search engines’ user demographic and psychographic profiles.
The process of converting visitors into prospects or customers through a paid search channel starts the moment a person sparks a thought, launches a browser to search and selects a keyword. At that moment, the potential visitor has developed a preconceived expectation to what they are looking for and what they are planning to find. As a marketer, by choosing the right keywords, you begin the process of pulling a qualified search user to your product or service.
After the search user enters their selected keyword, they scan the search engine results page for relevant listings that match their preconceived expectation. By knowing your customers and therefore understanding what potential customers want, your ad copy targets the search user’s expectations and pulls them into a click-through. The click-through transitions a search user to a website visitor.
Your website visitor has followed a “path of consistency” from the keyword they selected to the relevant ad copy they clicked-through. They expect to continue to find equal consistency and relevancy as they land on your website.
For example, let’s imagine a visitor entered the keyword, “silver apple ipod.” They found your “Sponsor Results” ad on Google which stated, “Silver Apple iPod; 32mg, free shipping; $439” and clicked through to your website.
At this point, the visitor’s expectations have been met with the keyword they selected and the keyword ad copy you displayed in the search results. As they land on your website they expect to find the same consistency and relevancy that led them through the click-through.
Let’s assume you understood the “path of consistency” concept and the visitor landed on your website with a headline stating, “Apple iPod” with clear product specifications including the $439 price, a “silver” color choice option (clearly visible), a free shipping statement (including shipping policy) and other essential e-commerce policies and shopping cart components. The consistency immediately identifiable by the visitor increases their confidence, comfort and commitment to completing their intended action.
Unfortunately, many marketers view paid search as a way to generate traffic versus a way to increase website performance that generates positive financial results. By sending the pay-per-click traffic to a website’s home page, a marketer mistakenly creates a disconnect in the “path of consistency” process.
Using the same example, if a visitor clicks-through an ad stating, “Silver Apple iPod; 32mg, free shipping; $439” and lands on the home page which promotes hundreds of technology products, the visitor will momentarily feel lost. They expected to find an Apple iPod but now are confronted with the task of searching again for an Apple iPod using the website’s navigational and on-site search architecture. A momentary break in the path of consistency forces the visitor to think, reassess and decide whether to move forward or back-track in search for greater consistency and relevancy from a competing website.
By completing the “path of consistency” from keyword to ad to website the visitor has a greater probability of converting to a customer. As Leonardo Da Vinci stated, “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
This is very similar to the traditional salesmanship strategy of getting the prospect to say “yes” multiple times before asking for the sales close. Your job as a marketer is to get the search user to say, “Yes, that’s what I want” from keyword, to ad copy to website. Then your website’s specific call-to-action asks for the close.
Website conversion occurs when you satisfy a visitor’s preconceived expectation.
The primary strategy for increasing your website conversion is getting to know your customer. By satisfying your customer’s needs first; you will correspondingly satisfy your own. In the book, “The Psychology of Persuasion” author Kevin Hogan describes the Law of Reciprocity which states, “When someone gives you something of perceived value, you immediately respond with the desire to give something back.”
Although effective website conversion is not always as clear-cut as the Law of Reciprocity suggests, the principle applies – if you give your website visitor what they require such as confidence, comfort, convenience and fair value then they will reciprocate by completing your call-to-action.
Whether you are a B2B or a B2C enterprise, website conversion strategies concentrate on connecting a visitor to what they want in a convenient, clear and consistent manner. Here are some quick website conversion strategies to keep in mind for your website or custom landing pages…
1. Always add your phone number (preferably a 1-800 number) in a prime location on each page of your website – preferably in the header or another prominent position like the upper-right margin of your web page. A phone number not only adds credibility but also provides a convenient communication channel for visitors to contact you if they need assistance.
2. Use customer-benefit copy meaning more “you” and “yours” than “us” and “we.” The principle here is to focus on serving the needs of your visitors. Answer their question, “what’s in it for me?”
3. Offer multiple order or relationship-building contact points. For example, B2C enterprises should provide the means to order products via mail, fax, phone, and online using all major credit cards and even PayPal. For B2B, offer a white paper download, a webinar registration, online brochure or product demonstration in exchange for the visitor’s primary contact information, as well as a phone number and a contact us form. Make it easy for your visitor to start a relationship with your enterprise.
4. Test various calls-to-action, headlines, positioning messages, testimonials, layouts, graphics and other website components under an A/B split-testing format. One of the greatest benefits of paid search and the Internet in general is your ability to quickly test and track results from different website conversion strategies.
5. Implement keyword-specific landing pages for your paid search campaign. Consistency and relevancy are essential and a custom landing page offers the most effective opportunity for completing the “path of consistency.” Coupled with A/B split-testing, custom landing pages have helped increase many of our clients’ results by 60% and greater.
Website conversion is a process and not a destination. By continually identifying and learning new conversion strategies for fulfilling your visitor’s desires, you will increase your website’s performance and generate greater positive financial results in return.
The next and final article of this series will focus on lifetime value of a customer and how it enables you to turn more visitors into prospects and customers regardless of rising paid search costs.
Until next time, get to know your customer and test new website conversion strategies to more effectively satisfy your customer’s needs. Remember the “path of consistency” and implement landing pages for your paid search campaign.