For most small to medium sized business owners, the most important aspect of their web presence is the performance of the site in the search engines. But what if we told you that there was another aspect that you could be missing and which could prove even more critical to your Return on Investment?
Even for the most simple of "brochure-style" websites, the chances are that the overall aim of your site is to generate a lead or a sale of some sorts. If you're not already thinking of your website as a tool to leverage sales then you need to start getting into this mindset; a website is an infinitely more powerful sales tool than a printed brochure. It can respond and adapt to a visitor, and a well thought-out website should be seamlessly channeling visitors to your overall goal; whether it be an enquiry form, a shopping cart checkout, newsletter signup or similar.
Let's assume that your website is already performing well in the search engines or has traffic being driven to from other sources; this is your website's footfall. So you've got a visitor, what are the next steps?
The first thing that should happen is that your website instils a sense of credibility for the visitor via your company's corporate identity, brand and website design itself. This is no different to selling or marketing your services through any other channel, whether it be a shop front or brochure. Basically your site needs to look professional and relevant to your market sector though use of colour, images and style.
Is your site relevant to what the visitor is looking for? Don't let the essential information of your landing page get lost in wordy copy. Website visitors often scan-read pages, so make sure they know straight away whether the page they have just landed on is relevant.
Give the visitor a Call-to-Action. The visitor has now likely ascertained that the site is relevant to what they're looking for and scanned the other copy and information on the landing page. So why not invite them to click further into your sales funnel? This could be anything from a "Sign-up" or "Add-to-cart" button to an invite to complete some other action or visit a further page. The point being that you can gently invite a visitor to "walk" through a pre-defined channel of your choosing simply by making your Calls-to-Action clear and visible.
Of course it may be that your visitor would like to look at further information or products on your site rather than follow your pre-defined path. This is fine; your navigation menu should also be clearly visible to allow them to drill into further content if they wish to. As long as they don't get confused and click out of your site altogether! If you find you have a high "bounce-rate" in your analytics package, then this is what is happening.
If your website achieves the first three steps successfully, this should just be a formality. But of course, there are still plenty of opportunities to lose the sale or lead even at this late stage. For an ecommerce site, this is usually called "cart abandonment"; you've successfully got a visitor to the checkout or latter stages of your sales funnel but then they drop out before actually completing the process. How to minimise this problem is worthy of another whole blog post, but suffice to say that much like your landing page, your checkout pages or signup form should be simple, clear, concise and instil confidence and trust throughout.
It should be clear from this article that merely having high traffic to your website is not enough; if you spend thousands on a Search Engine Optimisation or Adwords campaign that drives high traffic, but then fail to build a website that is well designed and thought-out in terms of converting those visitors to leads/sales, then you are failing to get the most out of your site. And of course it doesn't end there; your website can be fine-tuned, and by running A/B testing, you can often test variations of your pages to see which ones create the most leads.
This is Conversation Rate Optimisation, and is the logical cousin to your Website's Design, Build, Search Engine Optimisation and Adwords campaigns.
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