Online marketing is an extremely competitive and ever changing business channel. Competitors' knowledge on how to use the internet to find customers increase daily, leaving businesses and marketing professionals to try to figure out – what is the best strategy to gain additional customers?
Online marketing has always been seen as a numbers game. The more people that visit your site, the more likely someone will convert and you make more money. The flaw of this system is that not all searches and searchers are created equal. For example, if I sell widgets and bid on the phrase "widget information", the likelihood that this person is at the proper stage of the buying cycle is not high. If I were to compare this search term to say "widget manufacturer in Northern California", which is the more likely to convert?
One of the most overlooked statistics is conversion rate. If 100 searchers come to the site and 3 convert what happened to the other 97? Instead of targeting additional click volume and searchers to the site, how about focusing on the reasons that the majority of traffic is leaving? By having a website that is properly maintained, user friendly, consistent, and employs clear navigation, it will facilitate more people continuing through the conversion process. The term that is often times used is scent. Scent can be many different variables including:
- Placement of Text
- Page Layout/Design
- Hyperlink Placement & Anchor Text
- Confidence Builders
- Calls to Action
- Website promotions
- Website Colors
- Website Fonts
- Placement of images/text on page
- Pictures on website
In other words, scent is the information trail visitors are following through your website. If the process is broken within the website, the searcher may lose the scent of the process they are trying to complete and abandon it.
Using the widget example again, the company offers free shipping on orders over $150. They use a banner on the top of the home page and every product page the searcher may see. The searcher now goes to the shopping cart to complete a purchase and free shipping (or shipping at all) is not mentioned. What are the chances this visitor will complete the checkout process?
User experience is the hardest metric to track within online marketing. Most companies convert in the 1%-3% range. However, if a company converts at 1% and increases their conversion rate to 3% (assuming volume to be the same), that would give them 200% growth in sales.
The first steps would be to identify the problem on the website. Is it a marketing issue, or is it a site issue? Once that question has been answered, the website testing can begin, allowing marketers to increase the likelihood their users will complete the conversion process.