Wednesday, June 28, 2006

From Interest Generation to Conversion

The road ahead…
Background …
Need Analysis

I had a simple quest; I wanted to find out a good “beach resort”, somewhere in “Southern California” and well, in a “romantic” set-up. I was planning to take a tranquil vacation with my husband.

My best bet was to ‘google’, which I did. And within few seconds, I got a list to select from – 847,000 links of responses to my query of 3 parameters. Hmmm…

The journey begins …
Search Engine Strategy

That is where the journey begins – for an online marketer; to get his/her business result on the first pass of a customer’s search. Not just that; different search engines provide top results that are very different from each other. Thus by optimizing only for one search engine online marketers may loose a bunch of Internet searchers who use a different search engine. This included, the first step towards customer conversion is developing a crafty search engine strategy. Dominant search engine presence is critical to attracting potential qualified customer during this needs assessment phase of their purchasing decision.

How do I look?
Design to kill

One does not require a research result to prove that it is the first look that makes you turn and look back again. Still to substantiate with research, several studies indicate that a visitor to a site evaluates its visual appeal in less than 3 seconds. Brand presentation, type treatment, layout, imagery and consistency all visually cue the visitor that this is, or is not, a professional organization. Design convinces prospects—in fractions of a second—that you're a contender for their business and they can trust you with their purchasing needs.

Inner Beauty lasts long
Content and Copy

If you could make your prospects to stay around for a while, good! But, if you do not have content or copy to match the expectations of prospects, providing them concisely with value proposition that will involve them further with the site, the interest of the prospect will not last for long. And next time, even the ‘design to kill’ will not work for this prospect.

In this stage, when prospects are doing research and evaluation of their purchasing needs, provide them with content (value statements) that will not just differentiate but also be superior to competing sites.

Make it happen!

The prospect is ready, don’t delay; get him NOW! Don’t just give a call to action, make it happen too. Do all it takes technological and aesthetically to encourage your prospects to complete their purchase. Remember their last visit actions, remind them of benefits that accrue on purchase and recommend them of items that would genuinely interest them. In all, give them the ownership of site during the time that they spend purchasing.

Let’s Go
Summing up

Businesses are investing more and more on online marketing as it is one of the most reasonable and rewarding avenues available. Building a site with critical understanding of each stage of buying process—needs assessment, requirements analysis, evaluation, and purchasing—makes the journey from ‘interest to conversion’ the most sought after trip for online marketers.

My search process ended only in first 20 links, leaving 847,980 (that was tough!) unlooked at. I clicked through 5-10 links, all within first two pages, and with link descriptions that attracted my need. Some results had ‘Wedding location’ in the subject – I rejected, just because ‘Wedding’ was too prominent and disjoint to my search– in spite of the fact that the location could have been ideal for my trip, I rejected, that is how human psychology works!

After quickly scanning through some sites, I found few that promised expected value. I almost went half way filling up forms, after selection – but the process turned out so unfriendly, that I did not pursue it to purchase. I am now looking at the last link in my selection list ...