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When you walk into a retail clothing store, you’re not just walking into a room randomly filled with garments. You’re entering a carefully organised space specifically designed to get you to buy products.
Items from the newest range take pride of place while images of gorgeous models flaunting the items plaster the biggest walls. The perfect jacket to compliment that pair of skinny jeans is displayed nearby, with a helpful shopping assistant on hand to suggest you try them both. Special deals displayed at eye level catch your eye on the way out. These are all important tricks of the trade that shop managers use in the hopes of driving people to make purchases.
When it comes to websites, however, sales are made online, not in stores. Your website is effectively your shop window, and your site needs to be conversion-driven. Here are six reasons why:
1. Customers do research before they buy
A high percentage of the people visiting your website will be there to do research and won’t necessarily be ready to buy. The bigger the client, the more research they are likely to do before making a decision to purchase. Corporate bureaucracy usually stipulates that certain processes are followed before deals can go ahead.
To maximise your conversion rate, you need to recognise which people are visiting your website to do research and appropriately market your product to them. Remember that the earlier you get a customer to convert, the more influence you have on their purchase decision.
2. Website visitors are at different buying stages
Every visitor to your site is different. For example, some have just arrived at your site for the first time, some are returning or existing customers and some are in the final stages of their buying process and have put you on their shortlist of potential suppliers. You need to have different methods of conversion for each of these unique categories, and any others that might apply.
An existing customer won’t click on an ‘order now’ button and a first time visitor isn’t likely to click on a ‘contact us’ button. Conversion-driven design takes each type of visitor into account and offers tailored options for driving that person to convert to the next stage of the customer lifecycle.
3. No one likes being hounded by a commission-driven sales person
Many B2B websites have only one conversion tool. It usually takes the form of a ‘contact us’ button. However, potential customers who are still in the research phase avoid clicking on ‘contact us’ buttons because they don’t want to be hounded by a commission-driven sales person hungry to make a deal. Because not every website visitor is ready to buy, you can’t only count on ‘contact us’ buttons to drive conversion. Conversion-driven website design will have multiple conversion strategies angled towards web visitors in different stages of the customer lifecycle, thereby helping you convert more anonymous web visitors into leads.
4. Blogs and articles should do more than just engage
Producing content that doesn’t include a call to action — even if it’s brilliant content — is a waste of time. Content that doesn’t drive conversion can only do half the job; it can attract people to your website. Unfortunately, after they’ve enjoyed your article, they’ll promptly leave. The bottom line: you’ve achieved nothing.
A conversion-driven website design will have a conversion strategy for your blog to convert readers into leads, and leads into customers. Without this, you’re simply working very hard at giving away content — with no return.
5. Your home page is not the page most visitors arrive on
Many companies make the mistake of pulling out all the stops for their homepage, including video, call to action buttons, contact forms and so on, but then neglect the other pages. In reality, most people don’t arrive on your homepage – they find your website through a Google search that links them directly to a product page or blog entry. Conversion-driven design ensures that there is continuity throughout your website, so that no matter which page your visitor lands on, they are driven to convert.
6. Selling your product is the point of having a website in the first place
If the fundamental aim of your website it to get people to buy your product or service, it would be foolish to base your website design on any other principle. Website design is not about creating an online version of your company brochure, it’s about making sales. Think about it: once you’ve read someone’s brochure, you seldom go back to reread it later — it invariably ends up gathering dust in a forgotten desk drawer. Don’t let this be the fate of your website. Basing your website design on the latest tech trends isn’t going to help you in the long run; always base your website design on achieving your marketing objectives.
Image: Jason Milich (via Flickr).