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The problem seems to be converting the sale. I can get the traffic there but how does the client create a pitch that doesn’t mess around with my optimization yet still sells the product?
What works for search engines doesn't work for most potential customers.
We usually end up 'batting' the site back and forth until we find a mix that suits both our customer's view of sales pitch and our SEO needs - always a compromise of sorts.
There are tricks with css and layers that can put our optimised content lower down the visible page, but still at the top of the HTML, but I don't like 'tricks' - they have a lifespan.
I think getting the compromise right is the single biggest challenge to us - SEO is OK, but WSO is better (alright, I made it up - WSO = 'web site optimisers')
When in doubt, I look at the competition for the main phrases - find those who are doing it right and learn from their style, content, phrasing and structure. Then try to do it better.
Its not an easy one, is it.
The SEO's function is to bring the targeted traffic there.....period.
What are some of your tips to creating a quality sales pitch and how do you place it on your page?
I think that a product should in essence sell itself. Your product should be something different than the product that everyone else is offering.
Promote this aspect.
Whether it be a lower price, an added function or feature, etc.
Yes, I agree, totally different - but 'conflicting', and that is the essence of the problem. My company acts as consultants, advising on 'making your web site work' - and this includes both SEO and conversion.
The way that we bring visitors by SEO, often conflicts with attempts to convert sales when they arrive.
IMHO, products don't sell themselves, they need selling. If you are selling a product that others sell (which perhaps applies to the majority of our sites) then you sell the 'people doing the selling', but you still need to 'sell'.
Sure, you emphasize your 'unique selling points', but the 'best' attempt to sell your USPs often conflicts with the 'best' attempt at SEO.
Depending on the site, and its market, we can sometimes get away with an SEO page which is designed to 'encourage' the viewer to quickly move on to your sales copy page. Where this is not appropriate, we are back with the compromise solution.
I completely agree with. Maybe I worded it wrong. I agree with you that a product does not entirely sell itself......it always has to do with the website, the USP, and most of all the salesman!
Your consulting work is somewhat different than what alot of others are doing......but probably better.
......but probably better.
<blush> I wish </blush>
Where we are a little different (maybe not??) is that most of our customers are very small local businesses in the North West UK.
They are mostly semi-computer literate and have little or no idea of how the internet works.
We built our company one getting these customers and 'keeping' them, which means educating them on all the relevant issues - not just doing the SEO. Thousands (I hope) of small companies paying a fair fee make us more secure against reccession etc than a few large accounts.
It would be very easy for us to 'frighten them off' if we use too much jargon, as many of them have been 'burned' by unscrupulous 'take the money and run' web designers.
The end result, to get back on topic eventually, is that we often have to do all the content on their behalf. Often they don't even have a brochure to go from and need to be given the full 'Gestapo' interrogation to pull their content out of them.
Which has just given me an idea for another post.
I have seen a strong shift in the thinking behind page design and content to fix this problem in the last 6 months or so. Evident by Paynt's post. We, as webmasters, have become very talented in coding and placement, but our skills in the sales area has become very weak. Supported by the fact you can find thousands of pages on the topic of search engine promotion, but not nearly as many on converting those visitor to buyers or users. Doesn't this defeat the whole purpose of a page in the first place. Did we get so focused on placement that we forgot the whole purpose in the first place.
The cause of this delima can be debated and I don't want to start on that touchy subject. But, the simple fact is we are where we are. So what is the solution? Basically, you can try all the tricks in the book with the code in the document, but you can only go so far and probably won't get the desired affect or result. Which, of course, is closing the sale.
agerhart posts: "I think that this is a totally different topic from SEO..."
I must disagree. If you only focus on YOUR job, as in getting visitor to the site, but think it is not your responsibility any furthor, you may want to rethink that statement. A web site project needs to be a team effort all working together smoothly to get the desired goal achieved. If you don't, this is short term thinking and the business will fail, period. I myself really don't ever want any site I deal with to wind up on the big lists of "The web sites that could have been...". Yes, your job may be to get people to view the site, but that is not all. You need to get the right people there in the right frame of mind and the page they enter on MUST continue that effort to get them to the next step. If anyone thinks that getting 30% of visits to view more than 1 page is good, wake up. How long will Wal-Mart stay in business if 7 out of 10 people drive into the parking lot then drive away. Or, heaven forbid, 98% walk out empty handed, about a month and they shut down.
Thanks to the great invention a flashy banners and gimicks to get people to your site just so you can watch them hit the back button and pay your bandwidth bill, how neat.
"I think that a product should in essence sell itself."
How many time have you walked down the aisle at the supermarket and a watermelon jumped out in front of you and acted sweet and juicy for you?? Products don't sell themselves, people do. Our tool to do this on the web is the words and effect of the page they visit. 4eyes, your right on target I think.
"an SEO page which is designed to 'encourage' the viewer to quickly move on to your sales copy page"
Do your logs really show this happening? In my opinion, unless 90% of them do you either didn't have the right page, probably because of SEO constraints, or you have the wrong visitors. Since the SEO business has become more proficient and so focused, this usually turns into our pages just don't sell or get them to the next step in many cases.
Snipped. netcommr, self promotion is not allowed.
We all need to get past this road block of just thinking all we do is put eyeballs on a page. If you don't get in the path of the right people, pre qualify them with the right ad, and continue that thought pattern with the first thing they see on the site, we will continue to stuggle. This is the job in full. Getting a page listed is just one aspect of that job, and without the whole package it is just a waste of time.
ROFL!!!! Too true...
Copywriting has been an artform since long before anyone imagined the internet. A real, full service web promotion firm should be able to offer quality copywriting services, IMO. Of course, larger clients may have an in-house copywriter, but small clients definitely won't.
If you use a grocery store as a guide, they're rectangular, but the three most important product areas: meat, dairy and baked goods, are laid out in a triangular fashion at opposite ends of the store. The hope of course is that the shopper who needs those three items will impulse buy while passing the other products. Then there's the check out line where they place periodicals so you can see them while you're waiting. While this approach may apply to people who browse shop, I think it has little affect on those who are Purpose Minded. For them, you need tie-in products.
Except for e-commerce sites like Amazon, most are product or service specific. Using DeWalt tools as an example, obviously someone goes there to buy a tool - let's say a circular saw. So how do you get them to buy something else? Tie-in. Advertise a carpenter's square or saw guide on the same page, but do it repetitively. I think most people are turned off by flashing banners whereas an ad that repeats page-to-page has more effect. So you're selling widgets? Push the widget storage box while they're reading the specs or filling in the order form.
On my one site, which is a entertainment industry resource directory, I offer three forms of advertising: display ad type listing under the appropriate category; a page banner (non-active); and what I call a site sponsorship which places a 140x120 pixel static graphic on every page. Stats show that the latter gets the most click-throughs. Granted, people come to the site to look for specific products, but the ads must work because the companies keep renewing them. I also place "See Also" sections on each page. Going back to the circular saw, you could have "See also blades, safety glasses..."
I'm not saying what works on my site will work for everyone's, but a lot of these concepts are universal. Of course, you could try the buxom blond holding the product in front of her chest approach. :) But I think as long as the presentation of the product is clean, clear and professional looking, repeat and/or impulse sales will occur.
Yes,Yes,Yes!!! Great tip Marshall. When looking for shopping cart systems, you must make sure of a related products display and a section for special products you want to promote heavily is contained in the software. Not only for the product pages themselves, but as a dynamic section for your shopping cart checkout pages. Makes a BIG difference.
The way I do things is that I pick a very targeted phrase that I want to promote.... I go in with the mind set that anyone who ends up at my site is actually looking for exactly what I offered..... that means I don't want to distract them *at all* with any other advertising.... they came with something in mind, and I want to do nothing that pulls them away from this purpose.... that means as soon as they hit my page, I want that bad boy to load FAST... no slow-loading-lame-*ss-rotating-banner-bs.... then allow them to get right into whatever they came for.... I abhor 'fluff' marketing language... say it direct and give them an idiot proof way to order it before they change their mind. lead them through a process that is simple, clear and orderly.... move your chair back 5 feet and see if you can navigate to the order page from there. If you can, you are on the right track. Also, don't paralyze them with product choices and options.... you convert more when someone doesn't have to think too hard.
As far as tips and tricks... if you know what platform most of your surfers are using, and you control your font, you can write text in Photoshop, save it as an image, and drop it anywhere you want.... for that matter, put the real text on the page with a big image/splash image with navigation links in it in the first page fold.... that way your text can stay the same if you rank well, and the people can click on the idiot buttons to get them to order form.
Andrew, I have to disagree with you to some extent on not worrying about what the traffic does once it hits the index page... if they hit their back button, your traffic isn't worth anything to them.... if it is their fault, you need to solve it before they realize your check is bigger than theirs. I only make money when someone 'buys', so I always think with sales in mind from the get go.... because I don't have any 'clients', I have the ability to work from scratch.... from domain name, to content, to order process... without interference or concern as to what anybody but me thinks. However, that freedom comes at a price....I know that my paychecks might be bigger if I sold clicks for a quarter or if I got a regular paycheck... but where is the rush in that;)
Keep the faith.....
The content of and context of the ad, IMHO have as much to do with successful conversions as the actual copy on the site. GoTo tells advertisers when submitting as on the site that listings with the keywords in the title and descrption of the listings get better click rates. If that visitor then lands on a page without those keywords plus some pursuasive language that encourages them to do whatever it is the desired action is, getting the visitor there isn't going to do much good for the site. Banner ads and now rich media ads don't get most of the attention (and budget) because they work especially well most of the time. The fanfare that goes into production and the exciement of creating something "cool" are worth more to the advertiser than the actual results.
Andrew mentioned that this is a totaly different topic from SEO and in the eyes of most web site owners it is. Every other advertising medium enables the advertiser to detatch the (content of) site from the advertising. That seems to be how lots of marketing depts think. The job of the SEO person is just to bring traffic. Often the job of SEO ends up being just to bring traffic to the site because that's what the client thinks it is and doesn't want to hear otherwise. Just like fueds between IT depts and marketing depts over the budget for SEO and who actually has to do something with the site; content creation vs the optimization stuff gets in the way of success.
When people work together and recognize that SEO and and content are closely related to sales anything is possible. Projects in that realm are often very rewarding. They are rare though.
I completely agree. The narrow focus of most SEO pros will have limited long range impact and survivability. There are many sites with great traffic that fail. I talked to a local brick and mortar owner the other week who had no idea about how content can affect a sale. Good content increases rapport with visitors and the reputation of your site. When those increase, so does consumer buying confidence which is the whole point behind bringing traffic to a site. I don't know many site owners who hire SEO pros for traffic....they hire them to make more money.
I worked in the advertising/printing industry for over 20 years.
Along with a focus on good copy, the photo presentation was all important.
The amount of time spent on any photo seen in print is beyond the casual viewer.
Starting the process the art director gives multiple photo layout directions to the photographers the prop department, and the folks that stage the shot.
This is after the Layout has been designed modified and approved through multi-layers of marketing and advertising groups.
Props pull the materials and construction of the backdrop is completed the shot is staged and multiple photos are taken.
The art director makes their picks and they are added to a rough comp. More reviews by buyers, marketers, etc . .
They may pick several photos for each photo used.
These photos are enhanced and reviewed several times.
Once the final photo's are selected and place in a advertisment
the ad is reviewed and each photo is enhanced to compliment all the photos contained within the ad.
How may excellent images do you see on the web pages?
Time to realize the power of an photo/images.
As it's been suggested, bringing in traffic is no longer enough if you want to succeed. For me I have become my own client by taking on projects with a partner that is stretching my talents beyond the obvious. As an equal partner now in a few projects I find that selling is becoming even more important.
I agree with minnapple that photos and images are important and very much a part of the content of the site. There is a need for creative balance and presentation. I agree with dogboy and Skibum that we need to “give the visitor exactly what they came in to the site to find”. I’m still having trouble though in the converting to sale part of this. It seems that in traditional marketing and advertising that it’s the hype and tricks, the clever little ditty that plays over and over in your head that folks remember. If folks are coming from this persuasive advertising atmosphere aren’t they expecting some of that on the web as well, or not? How much room do we have to play before we compromise the traffic? It can be very competitive and messing with code isn’t an option I’m comfortable with.
There is a jumble of questions here. I’m not sure how to make myself clearer but I continue to appreciate your ongoing contributions.
I'm quite new to all this (ok, I was in lurking mode for the past 6 months!)and really enjoy the massive wealth of information you guys provide on a daily basis. (I can't believe I'm actually nervous writing this post)
To get to the point, I found a really interesting tutorial related to the subject (it might not be really advanced but it helped me and might interest other lurkers ;))
Let me know if it's worth a look.
thanks again everybody.
(edited by: paynt at 12:01 pm (gmt) on Oct. 22, 2001
I'm looking forward to checking out the site you suggested. Thanks for the heads up.
A list of features asks the reader first to understand each one and then to make the leap on their own to visualize how they will benefit.
But a list of benefits immediately stimulates the imagination: "how my life will be better when I own this widget" Good copy makes this mental image very real and tangible -- using words that apply to the senses and the feelings as much as possible.
Example: "This widget has an automatic timer" is a feature. "Never watch the clock again" is a benefit.
In some situations it takes a lot of work to create a "benefit" oriented sales message. But that work makes a LOT of difference.
You can combine benefits with their associated features: "You'll never watch the clock again when you're using the Acme Widget with an automatic timer." But always lead with the benefit to grab the prospect's attention.
A post election analysis of the presidential election that had Ross Perot running showed that he would have probably won if he simply said "vote for me".
For those of you who remember, he kept pulling out charts and graphs and all manner of information, and did a very nice job with it. He just NEVER asked for the order.
I see that on a lot of sites..."click here for more information" ad nauseum, and the whole purchasing purpose gets lost in the sea of charts and graphs and more pages and well...you get the idea.
Yes, and then make that ordering process very direct -- eliminate all the jumping through hoops and if you must collect un-essential demographic information, do it after the credit card is authorized.
It's important to keep the number of clicks needed to place an order at a bare minimum. I once saw the conversion rate double on a site when we reduced the number of screens required to place an order by just ONE SCREEN.
Building the point-of-sale pages for a site is one important place to use a number of beta testers. Every screen needs to have just the right amount of "comfort information", with no sudden surprises. Only uninvolved beta testers can catch the many elements that scare away prospects in those closing moments.
A speaker at an online catalog conference I attended said many customers that abandon a shopping cart do so because they would like additional information about company practices before buying. Be it a guarantee, return policy, or customer service contact. And according to a study, as quoted in a recent issue of RankWrite:
"The results from a Jupiter Media Metrix study, released in September, point to some interesting tidbits:
* Only 20% of respondents would visit a site more often if it had rich media enhancements.
* 40% of respondents would visit a site more often if the pages would load faster.
* 59% of retail shoppers wanted more product information (and yes, this means more text on the page)."
The more product information bit is really the kicker. On the web people can't talk to a salesperson, they can't pick the thing up, read the label, or any of the things they usually do in a store. They have to make their whole buying decision based on the page in front of them. This is one of the reasons that Amazon's book reviews are such a hit in a medium where you can't thumb through the pages.
One of my favorite sites for the subject of conversions is [useit.com...] a well respected source of usability information. If you really want to make it easy for people to navigate, and especially of course to buy things on a site, Nielsen has the dirt.
I would add to that consensus favoring an educational side to SEO work. You only have to look at a few sites to see that by and large people don't know what they're doing on the web. They don't understand its difference from other mediums, they don't have enough information to make valid decisions in many cases, and they don't usually have the time to figure it out. How much repeat business can you get from people who mismanage their online presence?
Images, minnapple, are important, but on the web it's soooo easy to overdo them. You put a text graphic over here because you want the perfect font, and the 3-d button there..., and sooner or later people aren't going to wait for your page to load. Some site novices don't even run their graphics through a compressor of some kind, and real estate sites are the dead worst. At my last job we had a client who wanted a giant background graphic of a mealy yellow soybean with it's black spot in the center. We couldn't convince them not to use it on any grounds other than download time, because they weren't being persuaded by taste.
When you have a magazine, the decision is left to the creatives. When you have a web site (speaking of the majority of non-creative, non-Fortune500 folks), everybody thinks they know everything, and fully believe that their nephew could do as good a job as a professional. Most sites end up with too many graphics that do nothing but turn people away. It would be a public service for many of these sites to go back to the days of plain text only.
Your advice is totally valid, but is dangerous in the hands of the laity ;)
And Bob Bly, a legend in the copywriting field, is coming out with a new book on "Online Copywriting" in the next month or so.
I am a professional copywriter and I sell some great products for copywriting. If you do a little studying you can grasp the fundamentals pretty easily.
1st: Who is your Ideal Customer? This is your most lucrative target market. This is whom you write to, in a very personal way. Your product has to fulfill that Ideal Customers emotional needs and desires. This is the number one key to achieve more sales, and the secret ingredient in website copywriting that will create a recipe for success.
2nd: Come up with the "Unique Selling Proposition" (USP) of the company or product. That is what sets the competition. Example: "Ford Tough".
3rd: You have to know what you want your customers to do…
What is the goal of your website? What is the Most Wanted Response (MWR) your want that customer to do? Do you have a Back-Up Response (BUR)? This is one of the biggest failures I see in web sites-you don't know what that site wants you to do.
4th: Benefits Sell, Not Features…
You have to turn your products or services features into benefits that will evoke emotion in your site visitor. To let the visitor know how you can solve their problem. That visitor will turn them into a customer. Please don't waste your hard earned traffic. Turn traffic into sales by the magic of selling benefits, not features.
5th: 80% of website visitors read this…
What? Your Opening Headline! There are secrets to headline writing that are unique to the internet. For one thing, you have to make a promise. Then you use Sub-Headlines to pull your customers through your site to get the order.
6th: You have to ask for the order…
As a professional in website copywriting, this is one of the biggest mistakes that I see on web sites: They do not ask for the order! This is the biggest thing you need to do.
7th: You have to have a Guarantee-- 100% money back. The longer the period, the better.
That is the essence of copywriting, in a nutshell.
PS: 70% of your readers will read this! So, you have to use a "PS"! Use the PS to either re-state the key benefits of your product or service, to offer a bonus, or to offer a secondary product or service.
"This widget has an automatic timer" is a feature. "Never watch the clock again" is a benefit.
You can combine benefits with their associated features: "You'll never watch the clock again when you're using the Acme Widget with an automatic timer."
Nail on the head, Tedster! Though I've no doubt countless copywriters would rework the text (a question of grammar), the last sentence leads to the equation:
SEO + GOOD CONTENT = SALES
What’s more, the first two components of that equation have become pretty much indistinguishable from one another. We therefore get back to our departure point, SEO = SALES. Alternatively, GOOD CONTENT = SALES.
With engines like Google rooting through content for keywords in close proximity, the right mix of benefits, features, and other keywords worked appropriately into your copy will leave your marketing director squealing and giggling with delight and your financial director rubbing his hands with acquisitive glee :).
There are many creative ways to enhance Risk Reversal (a guarantee is one form of Risk Reversal -- making the prospect feel that you are taking all the risk, not them). We've all seen the infomercials that throw in a "free gift" and let you keep it even if you get a refund.
Risk Reversal is a funny thing. Most businesses are afraid they will lose their shirt if they go overboard with a guarantee, but that almost never happens in practice. What does happen is you get a LOT more sales.
I used to work in the Natural Food industry, back when it was a young upstart with an important product, but very few customers. This one small company in Boston began offering a 500% guarantee if a customer was unhappy with any purchase. And because the purchase was usually food, there was nothing that could be returned, so they were just taking the customer's word, period!
There definitely were some very "unfair" refunds given out, but the business's customer base grew like Topsy! At this point, that one little store evolved into the number 2 natural foods chain in the US, and then they merged with number 1.
It's a business lesson I'll never forget.
1. EVeryone doesn't use credit cards or like them or think they are a good way to do business. I've slept with some [clipped - verbiage]before, but those guys take the cake plus interest. I'll tell ya what I don't have in my wallet.
2. I don't like sites that make you choose everything you want to buy before telling you that the only way they will accept your money is through a credit card. I will not consider a purchase from a site that will not let the visitor know how the money exchange is going to work until after you filled out the order. Forget it, I'm out of there.
3. You really want my money???
Set up a shopping cart that will total my product choices and then give me a printable order form with the address on it that I can mail in with a check. Otherwise, I'll look at your site for info and find the product locally.
I buy hundreds of dollars worth of stuff off of ebay every few months. Why... They don't ask me my age, address, and telephone on anything except a private email. Nor, Demand that I live a lifestyle that makes me eligible for a gold card.
With a order form, I can print it and send it in at my financial convenience, like a catalog order form which, at present, I am about 1000 times more likely to use because of this convenience.
Too many sites require a lifestyle requirement that millions of people don't have.
And in case your wondering, I am educated. I just choose to live a simple life doing a 2 hour and 40 minute a day job with all holidays open. [clipped - verbiage].
(edited by: paynt at 10:52 am (gmt) on Oct. 24, 2001
I cannot be even remotely confused with a professional WEB master however I have been responsible for the creation an maintenance of our organization's site for the past several years. We are now embarking on a new design which will be far beyond my abilities and therefore outsourced, however I will continue to be involved in the design and content as part of the editorial board.
Our organization is involved in social advocacy so our site will not be selling a "hold in your hand" product but selling a concept or idea. Our phylosophy has always been to promote our cause through education and legislation; one of a soft sell rather than using the approaches taken by the much more radical segments of the movement.
Do you folks view this as using the same techniqes discussed above for the selling a product on the WEB or should we be using a different approach?