Conversions are the holy grail of online marketing. After all, a conversion means that the visitor has clicked on your call to action (CTA) and followed through with the sale, right? It means your MQLs have become SQLs and then customers, doesn’t it? It means your strategies for conversion marketing are working exactly as planned.
Not necessarily. The problem with the word “conversion” is many assume it means just that; the visitor has bought the product, signed on for services or otherwise contributed to the bottom line of the business. In other words, it’s assumed that there’s only one point of conversion.
There isn’t just one, however; there are many.
How Conversion Marketing is Like a Relationship
There’s a reason why it’s called the buying process – because buying is much like a relationship. Conversion marketing is 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.
What Does Your “Hello” Look Like?
With that said, how well does your website match the promises offered by your search engine snippet? If a prospect clicks on your site, is the date going to be a good one, or is it going to be more like coyote ugly?
Having a converting conversation is an art. Ask any star salesperson 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, there are many 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, it’s important to make sure your images are also on topic. They should enhance, backup and reinforce the textual content.
Does your conversion marketing keep topic and website structure in mind? Do your on-site pages match the off-site promises? A few tips to look at to keep your conversation on track:
- If you use images, do they clearly support the text, or are they just pretty pictures? Example: That picture you have of the man sitting in an office, in front of a computer, staring at a cell phone, may not mean “mobility” to your visitors. To them, it could mean, “lazy employee always dinking around with his cell phone when he should be working.”
- Do your navigational links clearly define where a click will take your visitors? Example: Does the link “Clients” mean –
- Click here if you want to become a client
- Sign in here if you are a client
- Click here for a list of our clients
- Do you have a clear call to action? Examples:
- View our products
- Call today
- Act now
- Sign up for more information
- Contact us today to…
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 must speak to them, and it must 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 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 must 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 should 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.
The real trick is to write a call-to-action that doesn’t immediately evoke memories of cheap, in-your-face advertising. As an example, for some, “Act Now” has a decidedly more pushy flavor than “Contact Us Today” – but that varies from person to person. Your CTAs should be brand-aligned and follow your overall conversational tone – which makes it harder to do right. It’s also why CTA wording is a great candidate for A/B testing.
Do your 404 pages end the conversation?
Ah, the 404 page; that frustrating page that says, “You know that thing you were looking for? Yeah – it’s not here.” Many visitors won’t take the time or don’t have the time to go digging in your site to find what they were looking for. Most of the time, they’ll just return to whatever search brought them there.
By creating a custom 404 page, you lessen the visitor’s frustration. Custom 404’s can start a conversation or continue one. For example, “We’re sorry – the page you’re looking for isn’t available. However, our top pages are listed below, or you can use the handy search feature.”
Check what your 404 page says. Just type in your URL, add a forward slash and a couple of characters ( http://mycompany.com/xya ). This will take you to your 404. Look it over with the ideas of convenience, consideration and keeping visitors there.
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 – both of which are a part of conversion marketing. 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.
If your conversion marketing is lacking and conversations are falling silent, reach out to Level343 for SEO consulting and tap into four decades of marketing experience. We have the experience to keep your relationships growing.