SES New York: Convincing Visitors To Buy

Tips for turning traffic into sales

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Suppose you’ve achieved undeniable search engine success – Google’s throwing as much traffic your way as the servers can handle.  A normal business still requires more than sightseers, and a session at SES New York concentrated on converting visitors into buyers.

(Coverage of the SES New York conference continues at WebProNews Videos.  Keep an eye on WebProNews for more notes and videos from the event this week.)

Mike Moran, a distinguished engineer at IBM, emphasized a sort of trial and error approach to getting results, and not just good looks.  So that you know what’s going on, he suggested using Google Analytics as a way of counting Web conversions, and offering things like coupons as a way of tracking customers offline.

Then the experimentation can begin.  Continuously change things, including product offerings, prices, content, policies, and even the shopping cart’s location, if you want to adopt Moran’s method.  He posed the question: "Are you really listening to which things work and which things don’t?"

Nigel Ravenhill, a program manager at McAfee, was up next.  He made the solid point that a lot of people simply won’t buy from you on their first visit.  You can still manage things like site design, pricing, and shipping costs in order to increase the odds of a purchase upon their return, though.

Then came Mike Sack, the director of SEM technology & Development at Idearc Media.  He talked about scientifically "orchestrating the experience" in a manner that was reminiscent of Moran’s testing procedures.  Yet generally speaking, Sack felt homepages have become terrible, with far too much information and way too many links.

He compared the average homepage experience to walking into a store and seeing all the products displayed on a big shelf.  To avoid this information overkill, Sack believed people should connect specific searches to specific landing pages, expand keywords into the tail, and again, test and adjust as they go.

Finally, Howard Kaplan, the COO of Future Now, finished things up with some specific tips.  Provide unusual product images – angles, zoom, and video.  Test headlines using fractions or percentages, and ask questions.  As a key point: make things load faster.

Kaplan also said, "The secret to conversion online is not about you.  It’s your customers, deciding to click or not to click.  Understand who your visitors are and give them what they came looking for . . .  In order to achieve your goals, your visitors must achieve theirs first."

SES New York: Convincing Visitors To Buy
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