Give ‘em what they want

Web sites are designed to convert a prospect into a customer, but it takes more than an online brochure to get this done. Here are some tips to help you build a better web site.

KISS

With thousands of sites available and every possible design, the sites that are most successful in creating customers are sites that work exactly as a visitor expects. Resist every urge to be so creative that visitors have a difficult time navigating or finding what they need. Major sections should be represented by a menu bar at the top. Categories in the site should be accessible from a left-margin menu bar or drop-down menus below your main image. Don’t make your visitor try to figure out your site — it’s usually easier just to return to the search engine and find a new site.

Build pages for each customer type

Before you begin building pages, create a spreadsheet and list the types of visitors that are likely to visit your site. It may help you to add pictures that remind you of the visitor to your spreadsheet. For instance, if you sell pet supplies on your site, you are likely to have a wide variety of visitors, such as:

  • Karen, age 22, college student, 1 cat, on a tight budget
  • Gladys, age 70, retired, 4 poodles, wealthy
  • Dan, age 12, student, 1 lizard and 2 gerbils, middle-class parents
  • Jack, age 26, graphic designer, 1 lab, comfortable salary

Your spreadsheet can be as simple as this or much more detailed; whatever it takes to help you put a face to the visitors.

With these personas identified, add another column to your spreadsheet and write a short summary of what type of text would address each visitor’s needs at your site. Develop one or more pages specifically for each type. Timex delivers a great example of a site that has not only identified their visitors’ personas, they’ve put them right on the home page and associated products with each persona.

Pages for each level of engagement

It’s easy to lump all of your prospects (visitors to your site or search-engine users) into a single group, but a closer look shows us that these prospects are aligned with one of five different stages of the buying process:

  1. awareness
  2. interest
  3. learning
  4. shopping
  5. buying

With that said, not only do you have personas to identify, but also why that persona is visiting your site. Are they price shopping? Researching? Comparing features? It’s important that your site contain content that addresses each stage and in some cases for each persona. Browse through your site and evaluate whether or not this is the case.

If you use PPC, think about the buying funnel as you develop your ad copy. Do you have ads that address each stage of the funnel or all of your ads focused primarily on the buying stage? With the ad copy set, are you sending them to a landing page with a clear and aligned message with that of the ad?

Give thought to what you want this visitor to do when they get to this page. Do you want them to subscribe? Download a white paper? Watch a video? Buy a product? Put a call to action on every page. Put it at the top where it’s expected and easy to find. It’s okay to repeat it elsewhere as well, but don’t make your visitor look for it. Follow your visitors’ progress by tracking the call to actions that they complete and use those to create buckets. Use this information for a drip-marketing campaign.

Creating an effective web site is simpler that you might think. The trick is to think like your visitor and make sure you get the answers you think you should from your web site.

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