Website Conversion May 14th, 2010
Whether it is for a client or for my own surfing, I look at a lot of websites each day. One of the things that I try to do when looking at a website is actively think about whether or not the website is doing a good job of persuading me to move towards the end goal. The most recent thing that I’ve been noticing is that while some websites do present a strong value proposition and call to action in their top banner and sidebar, the main content just feels like pushy sales fluff. So today, I thought I would share with you a few of my own tips for optimizing your content to be more customer (and hence goal) focused.
Many website owners write their copy with the intent to sell the website visitor. This is also known as a “hard sell” or “push marketing” approach since you’re trying to push your products or services on the potential customer. My own preferred strategy however, is to educate the potential client by flexing your knowledge muscle and allowing them to realize your genius through education. This “soft sell” approach all starts with understanding why they are visiting you in the first place.
In his book, Customer Centric Selling, Michael Bosworth does a fantastic job of explaining that to sell effectively you need to actively listen and ask questions first, instead of standing at the front of the room with a PowerPoint, rehearsed script and megaphone. When you truly understand the problems, needs, and wants of the client you can repeat this information back with a focus on the features or benefits of your product or service that solves their problem or satisfies their needs. Understanding your prospect shows that you have truly listened and understood where they’re coming from. You’re not pushing them to buy; you’re letting them describe what they need and relating that back to your product or service as the solution.
You need to do exactly the same thing with your website copy. Instead of pushing your customers, pull them in with content tailored to what they need and want. Show customers that you understand them, educate them, and when they are ready they will move onto the next step and take action – they will.
The important thing to remember is that customers don’t want to have to read a novel before they are presented with the option to move forward. Unlike reading a mystery novel, people didn’t come to your website with the intent of being driven crazy before finding the answer. They come to the internet because they want answers and FAST! If your website visitor is bored with the content you are offering they aren’t going to keep reading to find out what to do next. So you will need to think the other way around.
Before going into the sales pitch in your copy, present the value (in a single phrase) and action first. Give those customers who have already been convinced by a past visit, another page or give the opportunity to convert. If they want to read more they will, but at least they’ll know where to go next when they’ve seen enough. Read my post on the importance of value propositions to get a solid understanding of this.
This rule applies for headlines, action buttons and website copy. Don’t tip-toe around the subject; simply tell it like it is. I recently stumbled on a nice example of this. Lighting and Production Magazine has done a nice job with their top banner. They could have said, “We’ll light up your day” or something similarly vague. Instead, they kept it simple and said “For professionals working in the lighting and production industry.” See how they didn’t waste my time having to figure out what they do? They made it clear that I've come to the right place and they’ve given me two strong actions, “Subscribe now” and “view online edition”. This is clarity at its best!
You need to walk, talk and think like a customer. Try writing a mock review of your product or service as though you were the customer who had just purchased and loved it. How would you describe it from their perspective? What, specifically, did it GET you? Once you have learned to write for the customer, it’s time to persuade them to take action….but I’ll save that for my next blog! To learn more about conversion make sure you also check out our post on Sales Funnels.