4 Online Sales Success Pillars
A lot of people do not understand Online Sales fundamentals . So I think it is vitally important to cover the fundamentals around internet business strategy and make sure they are understood and valued, as successful internet marketing strategies will not happen if each Pillar is not given its due attention.
The 4 Pillars of Online Sales Success
When I develop a conversion optimization road-map there are 4 Pillars of an Online Sales Strategy I consider.
#1 – Good Web Design
#2 – Good Website Coding
#3 – Driving Relevant Visits
#4 – Maximizing Conversion Rates
Good Web Design
My 1st Internet profession was as a Developer. After 5 years of programming, I thought I knew something about good web design. I KNEW NOTHING! It was not until I moved to the business side and was charged with increasing conversions, in that case B2B leads, that I started to really consider what good web design is.
Good web design is not making things look pretty . Good web design is achieving the objectives of the site or page. Normally the objective is to drive conversions, and the disconnect is on this point. Sure, things need to look good and professional or they hurt conversions, but this is only part of the Web Design equation.
Business objectives need to drive the design of a website or landing page. There has to be careful consideration of what information is present where, and how it is presented. The information that the use wants to know must come first with anything you are trying to sell or tell them being secondary. Good Web Design can place focus of the user better, but its primary role is to answer the immediate questions, and get them where they and you both want them to go.
Take a look at the following website for a curtain shop in my area of Denver, Co. The design is good as far as look & feel goes. I know EXACTLY what this site does and if I am looking for curtains, I get the all important “ah ha!” a visitor needs to stick around a site more than 8 seconds (its like riding a bull). Not only is the top navigation clear, but so is the sub navigation. I could dig deep and pick on the “scent” of the site due to it not telling me “where I am right now” , or the page title not following the same font style as the top menu, or the menus not changing state when mouse over them. I could, but won’t because the architecture of the site, the layout of the pages, and the presentation of the navigation options make this site better than 80% of other sites right off the bat.
Good Website Coding
As a former developer, this is the area I mastered early on, but was all I really knew . Not only do people have a hard time following things like navigation “image maps” (several links in one menu), but so do search engine “bots”.
Another mistake is drop down menus (this is poor web design as well since people can’t “see” the options without having to take an action based on the limited information they get from a main menu title). Drop down menus are often done with Java Script and search engines don’t read this type of coding and with therefore not follow the navigation. With the search engines looking at internal links as a factor in ranking a site, sites with image map and java script drop down menus miss out on being more attractive to search engines and the result is less inbound traffic from the search engines. aka, You’re not being found.
Take a look at the site above again. Windows Dressed Up has image navigation. That is killing the site’s search engine rankings. In fact, I was searching for the site, but could not remember its name and tried a few searches like “Window Coverings Denver ” and “Drapes Denver ” and could not find them. They did not turn up noticeably in the search results.
These searches could have turned up Windows Dressed Up by this business doing 3 things.
- Make the navigation images into text links. You could make them look identical with HTML.
- Optimize the navigation links names for search.
- Optimize for Local Search.
There are also so other opportunities to improve search engine rankings.
- The images to the right could be separated into separate images, each with its own ALT tag providing a keyword rich description of what the image is.
- They could use better page title tags, and add keyword and description tags, focusing on a Local SEO strategy.
- They may also want to submit to all the Local Search Engines, Directories and Data Providers since currently they don’t have any incoming links to their site, this would at least give them a start, not to mention help being found by those people using those sites to search locally.
Drive Relevant Visits
This is the one Pillar most businesses focus on despite really needing to first handle Good Web Design and Coding first . Nonetheless, it is a key Pillar when considering strategy and internet, and where I spend a lot of my time as an internet strategy consultant. Driving people to a site that is converting poorly is a waste of money if the traffic is paid and a waste of effort if the business is engaging in social media or SEO efforts.
Once a site is ready to recieve traffic and can convert well, it needs to start driving relevant traffic to it. To drive relevant traffic, a business needs to know it audience, where they are online and how to best engage them. For instance, if you know your audience is interested in “home decorating”, are women between the ages of 30 and 60 and reside in the Metro Denver area ( in the case of Windows Dressed Up ), then you could target them with Pay per Click, Online Advertising, Social Media Ads and a few other tactics that allow you to target by demographics and geography. You just want to make sure your traffic is relevant and highly targeted, as Internet Marketing is very unforgiving to those who don’t target well.
Maximizing Conversion Rates
To achieve success online, you need more than good Web Design, Good Website Coding and Relevant Traffic. You need to to focus on conversions. You’re site has at least one objective. It might be to generate a lead, to make a sale, or have someone donate to your cause. Whatever the site objective, you need the following to start achieving them;
- Make it easy – Don’t have too many steps to achieve something. Registration for example should only collect essential info.
- Keep it simple – Don’t overwhelm people with too many options.
- Relevant Offerings – If someone is seeking information about cooking, don’t try to push lawn equipment on them.
- Good Placement – Make offers
- Clear Calls To Action – Don’t have a button that says “submit”. Make the button have meaning like “Book your package today”.
- If possible, offer things that are unique and valuable, preferably both.
- Have special or free offer your site audience would really want. See #6 above. This is related to nurturing business and something we’ll go into at a later date.
Streaming is identifying an audience and taking them through your site in the way you want them to proceed , but more importantly, the way they want to proceed. Lets say Windows Dressed Up in Denver had Interior designers as an audience. Calling out to them and leading them into a part of the site that addressed their needs, separately from regular customers would be streaming. As long as you provided all the information the audience wants, they will be where you can offer them relevant offers and in a place dedicated to your selling to them. Streaming audience types to areas meant for them will increase conversions.
Test & Tweak
All the best practices in the world will not make the best website. You need to analyze your site statistics, talk to your customers, learn from it and try new things. Try a new Headline or image. Move an offer up. Take out offers that are not performing. There is always better results with testing. I think what and how to tweak is a future post as well.
I hope this offers a foundation on Internet Marketing. It is important to understand the value of each Pillar and approach your web presence from the 1st to the 4th in order to save time and money.