Every brand needs a web presence to survive in the digital age, but how do you know that web investment is actually performing?
The answer begins by shifting your focus from simply generating more traffic to generating more traffic that converts to actual business. Traffic that doesn't convert has little value.
Don't take the "kitchen sink" approach, where you clutter the home page to tell buyers every reason they should buy versus focusing on the single most important reason. With consumer attention spans at an all-time low, visual storytelling has a higher likelihood of engaging with most demographics than traditional paragraph-form text.
Equally important is identifying a realistic next step that site visitors can take on your site -- making that call-to-action crystal clear. If you're selling a $100 product, it's conceivable that a prospect's next step is to buy. Alternatively, if you have a law practice with a more complex offering and higher price point, the sales cycle is more involved. A realistic next step might be the request of a consultation or downloading of a white paper written by a staff attorney. In this instance, your objective is simply to continue the "conversation."
A site visitor's eye is naturally drawn to the upper-left hand corner of a website first. Consider using that prominent real estate for your "opt-in" request to boost email address captures which can later be used to convert visitors to customers via an email campaign.
When designing your site, select a couple of conversion elements for what is called "A/B testing." For example, test your "Order Now" button in one spot during the first week of your test and another location during week two -- ultimately comparing conversion rates.
Allow customers to share reviews of your products and services on your site, which can significantly improve conversion rates.
By 2014, the number of mobile Internet users is predicted to outpace desktop users. If your website isn't optimized to look and function well on a smart phone or tablet, you're dead in the water.
For a snapshot of how people are using your site, consider ClickTale.com, which maps your site visitors' mouse movements and pinpoints where visitors are on your site when they leave it. This tool arms you with information to make adjustments that improve conversion.
The time it takes for a web page to load is also vital. The average Internet user won't wait more than two seconds for a page to display. Various studies suggest as little as a one second delay in page response can have nearly a double-digit reduction in traffic that converts to a sale.
As you implement strategies designed to improve web conversion, monitor your successes and missteps through free reporting tools like Google Analytics, and adjust your approach accordingly.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing in Memphis, TN, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).