Building Better Website Conversion - Part 2

by Mat Greenfield, founder and CEO of Faster Marketing

The elements of your website (i.e. structure, messaging, calls-to-action, design) are strikingly similar to those of your email campaigns. In fact, you can apply website expert Mat Greenfield's advice to any email campaign and get great conversion. That makes this week's Hints & Tips a one-two punch!

In part one, we discussed identification of site goals and understanding your target audience. Armed with that knowledge, let's explore how to design an effective web presence. (This is where the rubber meets the road.)

In addition to identification of site goals and target audience assessment, there are 4 key areas for consideration when creating a high-conversion website:

  1. Site Structure
  2. Messaging
  3. Calls-to-Action
  4. Graphic Design

Site Structure

In essence I would suggest that you build your website backwards. What I mean is: begin with your site goal (i.e. a conversion) and create a site structure that effectively leads up to it.

For example, instead of creating a very open navigation structure with many clickable links, consider reducing the number of clickable links in order to drive visitors down a specific path. Let me tell you why I think this is important. Imagine you have the opportunity to sit down with a potential client to do a sales presentation. My guess is that you have a 'story' you tell in a specific sequence. In other words, layer-by-layer you build the intellectual and emotional reasons for owning your product or using your service.

I believe that effective websites use the exact same strategy, guiding visitors down a specific path that builds an understanding of the value of your product/service.

Messaging

In many ways, your messaging is the single most important element of your website. The key is to speak to your target audience in a way that they really understand. Just like an effective email newsletter, promotion or any other marketing copy, your web text needs to be concise, clear, and compelling.

  • Concise: We're all busy, so don't use 57 words when 7 will do.
  • Clear: I understand that some target audiences are more technical than others, but if your message requires a PhD or a technical manual to be understood, then you've probably lost most of your visitors in the first sentence.
  • Compelling: You need to appeal to emotion as well as intellect. Tell me why I want it before you tell me what it is.

Remember, your message is what highlights your unique value in the marketplace. It's what sets you apart from your competitors. Give people a reason to do business with you. Get them excited about the benefits of working with you.

Calls-to-Action

There are really two types of calls-to-action on the web. The first type is what I call the "next best click." This is basically a 'signpost' that shows your visitors the ideal sequence to browse your site. Essentially it says, "if you like what you read here, then go here next." Examples are "click here for more, " or "next" links at the bottom of a web page. This type of call-to-action is used to guide visitors through site information sequentially, rather than letting them click around at random. It's one of the elements that turns a website into an effective sales presentation rather than an on-line brochure.

The second type of call-to-action is your 'offer.' When visitors accept your offer - that's a conversion. Here are some examples:

  • The visitor purchases a product in an eStore (conversion = dollars in exchange for a product).
  • The visitor signs up for an email newsletter or other email contact (conversion = permission to email the visitor in exchange for valuable information).
  • The visitor signs up for a free trial (conversion = permission to follow-up with the visitor in exchange for a free test of the product).

The key to an effective offer is that it must be of high-perceived value to the site visitor, and low-cost to the company. If you use this measurement, you'll find a "contact us for more information" isn't terribly effective...

Graphic Design

At the risk of being stoned by an angry mob of graphic designers, I'm going to commit web-heresy and tell you what graphic design is actually for.* The truth is that graphic design only accomplishes 3 things:

  1. Graphic design provides AFFINITY. That is the instant recognition that you've arrived on a site that was built with you in mind. If you're 25+ and have ever visited a website designed for teenagers then you know precisely what I'm talking about.
  2. Graphic design creates CREDIBILITY. This opens the door for the visitor to make a buying decision. It makes the visitor say, "this is the sort of company that I'd consider working with."
  3. Graphic design provides FOCUS. Good design makes your message clear and easy to read, it can illustrate benefits and spotlight your calls-to-action, etc. If your design is so cool that it actually distracts from your message, however, it will harm your conversion rate.

Anyone that tells you that graphic design can do more than these 3 things is probably trying to sell you graphic design services...

*If you're a graphic designer and would like a full-color photograph of me for your company dartboard, please feel free to email me at: mg@fastermarketing.com

Remember to consider the four areas of Structure, Messaging, Calls-to-Action, and Graphic Design against the backdrop of your site goals and target audience. As you tweak and refine your website presence to align these elements, you'll find that your conversion rate increases and your revenues grow.

Mat Greenfield is the founder and CEO of Faster Marketing, a consulting firm that specializes in developing high-conversion websites.

P.S.Mat is extending a great offer to the first 100 Hints & Tips readers who respond! Mat will give you a conversion analysis of your website - absolutely free! Just fill out the short form and Mat will get back to you! Remember, this offer is good for only the first 100 respondents, so act now!