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The problem with the word “conversion” is many assume it means “clicking on the call to action (CTA) and following through with the sale”. In other words, it’s assumed that there’s only one point of conversion. There isn’t; there’s many. With that said, let’s get to the good stuff…
How Conversion is Like a Relationship
There’s a reason why it’s called the buying process – because buying is much like a relationship. It’s a process of interactions, sharing and conversation. Now, we understand your imagination might not work like ours, so let’s walk you through it.
For the purpose of this illustration, Jack is the searcher. Jill is the page. Got it? Here we go…
• Jack is looking for some hot action in the SERPs.
• Jill’s title catches Jack’s eye.
• Jack checks out Jill’s whole package, eyes undressing her title, description and URL. He might even check her “posted on” date, if she’s showing it. Don’t want a result that’s too old, you know.
• Jack is in lust – it’s a date! Click through to Jill, advance to having coffee.
An invitation to coffee is like testing the waters. After all, you don’t want to end up stuck for hours with someone you realize you can’t stand within the first three minutes, right? Well, unlike relationships, where you might invite a first date to dinner, searchers are always in coffee mode. They’re going to test the waters first.
• Jack first gets the small talk out of the way and scans the page. Jill’s images are hot, layout is hot, logo is sexy and she’s just as good looking up close as she was in the SERPs.
• Jack enjoys the small talk and proceeds on to some in depth conversation. Jill shows him her title, adds a little paragraph and, maybe, if he’s lucky, a few bullet points.
• Jack likes what he hears and agrees to a second date, this time over dinner, by clicking on the “get more info” button. He gives Jill his contact details and says goodbye.
• Jill contacts Jack, says, “Hey, thanks for giving me your contact details. I really appreciate that. Let’s meet for dinner – I’ll give you more information.”
The rest, as they say, is metaphorical history. However, if you read between the lines, what you find is more than one conversion point. What you also find is more than one place where you get the chance to continue a conversation.
The Art of Converting Conversation
Having a converting conversation is an art. Ask any star sales person and they’ll agree. So, how do you practice the art of converting conversation?
Rule #1: START with an interesting headline.
Many headlines read like really bad pickup lines. For instance, Bad Headlines: Double Meanings From Around the World gives some great examples of news headlines that obviously weren’t well thought out. The headlines mentioned in here could be considered the equivalent of tripping over your tongue when you’re nervous around a new date.
- Diaper Market Bottoms Out
- Queen Mary Having Bottom Scraped
- Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
- Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
However, they would make a great conversation piece. Oh, come on… you know you’d click on a few of them (kind of gives you that “watching a train wreck” feeling, doesn’t it?). With headlines like these, the first conversion point – the click through to the page – is almost guaranteed.
Rule #2: STAY on topic.
The second conversion point continues the conversation that began in the SERPs. You gave them a hint that you had something interesting to share, so they clicked. Now, you have to actually share that information. The news headlines above probably lost a few once they reached the page, because the on page conversation didn’t mesh with the SERP conversation.
Now – keep in mind that people are used to visual, as well as verbal, communication. We pay attention to body language; we also pay attention to images. Therefore, as JR stated in Website Conversion – Forget About the Obvious, it’s important to make sure your images are also on topic. They should enhance, backup and reinforce the textual content.
Rule #3: SPEAK their language.
If you’re speaking Spanish and the other person doesn’t understand the language, you’re not going to have a very satisfying conversation, right? Right. In the same way, you have to speak the same language as your target market. Marketers know this, which is why so many dollars have been spent researching the responsive difference between such words as act vs. buy.
This is the third point of conversion – the on page content. It has to speak to them, and it has to use their language. If you fail the on page content, you’ll never make it to the buy now/act now step.
Many people talk about a Yale study, or a University of California study, that outlined the twelve most powerful words in marketing. While the study can’t be tracked down to an actual research paper, the list of words is pretty powerful, indeed: Free, Now, You, Save, Money, Easy, Guarantee, Health, Results, New, Love, Discovery, Proven, Safety.
The list says a lot about what people are thinking. Of course, you can’t just use the words and expect conversation and – consequently – conversion, to happen. You have to make sure you’re using the words in the right order and tone, as well.
For example, in Are You Asking the Right Questions, Karon Thackston writes, “Behaviorally speaking, not everybody responds in the same way to the same questions. Those with different communications styles will relate in a variety of ways depending on how you phrase your sentence.” She then goes on to discuss a set of behavioral profiles, and what type of headlines each profile would respond best to.
In short, you have to speak their language; otherwise, it’s not going to be a satisfying conversation for you or for your visitor.
Rule #4: STEER the conversation.
Have you ever gone to a site, followed along, tried to sign up/buy now and not understood how to do it? When you’re writing conversion copy, you have to tell them what you want them to do. You can’t hide this vital step in beat-around-the-bush style. The last thing you want is for them to get to the buying part and then say, “How do I sign up?”
The fourth and final point of conversion is the actual buy/sign up. This is your call to action, transaction page and, finally, the thank you page. For each of step of this three-step process, you HAVE to guide them with clear directives.
Continuing the Conversation
Don’t make the mistake of thinking the conversation is over once they get to the thank you page. Even if your services/products are one-time deals (buying a central air conditioner, for instance), you don’t want to close the conversation. Why? Because that customer has the potential of bringing more customers due to customer satisfaction.
Offer to continue the conversation on your final thank you page with a list of your social accounts, support email or other contact information. Allow them to connect on a personal level!
No article can contain all the information necessary to teach you how to write converting copy, or how to keep the buying process going. However, if you keep in mind the rules above and practice the art of converting conversation, you’ll be taking the first of many steps to a truly rewarding online business experience.