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Conversion Not Placement
Posted 25 June 2004 - 12:48 PM
I can't learn everything, and only understand bits and pieces of how to convert traffic into sales, that's why I make sure I can refer my clients to those who do. I mentioned Future Now, Inc. earlier in this thread, and in fact, I have a call in with them for next week, to discuss how they might help my favorite client.
Hopefully, they'll end up hiring them so I can see how it all gets put into action! I get to learn tons with this client because they're willing to spend money on hiring the best of the best for everything. They understand that it takes money to make money.
Posted 25 June 2004 - 01:03 PM
They(business side) spends more time trying to get more traffic (paid and organic) and not fixing the whole conversion issue.
This is one of the reasons why Jill and I, Christine and I (and others) joined forces. They realized the strong value of adding a usability review that would help clients convert clicks to sales, or better, make that high rank placement productive by increasing the return on the investment it took to get it there.
It's a genuine concern for SEO's, as evidenced here in the discussion by some of you. You really care about your clients and their success, but you're not to be held responsible if they fail to take full advantage of all the leads your work gives them.
Every click from SERPS has a duty to be productive somehow. It should convert to a sale, or referral, or bookmark for a return visit. If not these, then a link back to the site then. Any one of these has value.
It's more than design though. I work a lot with small businesses and self taught folks whose web sites may not be a designer's dream site, but they're still selling candles, baby announcements, kids toys and car organizers. Some of them, I know for a fact, suddenly find themselves featured in print magazines, even when their sites aren't professionally designed.
They've got the rank, but what else is it that turns these small operations into successess? This is what fascinates me. Conversions can be something as simple as a well placed product image, well written description, excellent customer service and word of mouth, or perhaps a site that, though not coded to standards, is warm and friendly, or shows great passion for the topic.
SEO's aren't responsible for this part. You just can't control user habits. There are ways to influence them via copywriting, well planned information architecture, persusasive design techniques, etc. SEO's can encourage clients to take these steps that will add more punch to all your hard work.
Posted 25 June 2004 - 01:06 PM
<<Added: Another point I want to make is that I feel that the efforts SEO's put in on behalf on their clients adds to the overall credibility factor for a site. By that I mean, there's an assumption by some that a well ranked site is also more credible or authentic than those ranked lower.
Of course, we could argue forever on how factual that thinking is, but it's still how many searchers feel. Since credibility and authenticity are factors in user testing, what you do as SEOs has tremendous value to their usability factor.
Edited by cre8pc, 25 June 2004 - 01:20 PM.
Posted 25 June 2004 - 01:39 PM
Reviewing a site for usability or conversion issues is part of the holistic internet marketing approach. Optimization and driving traffic are one step in the process. Ensuring the visitor has a good site experience, can understand your navigation, and can relate to your copy are just as important.
You can have the best SEO in the world and drive tons of traffic to your site, but if the site has problems, the visitors will leave without buying. If you fix the site problems and have good copy, the sales go up and your client is happy.
Reviewing sites for problems just makes good sense. It's better if you find the problems than a visitor finding them.
Posted 25 June 2004 - 02:28 PM
I have looked at FutureNow, and tons of others sites and written materials. They all show you how to calculate conversions or ROI. Maybe I am thick but the numbers do not help me. I mean I know the number of single page visitors, but I do not know why they only come to one page and leave. I used to have a Pop-Up that would ask a visitor that was leaving my site with out buying why, this worked well and I made changes but the days of Pop-Up are dead.
I do follow up sales calls and random interviews with my clients, I have several areas on the site where they can ask me questions, but I can only talk the people that bought or are willing to talk to me, I really need to reach the people that did not buy and ask them why.
Short of hiring a company to do a focus group, Iím not sure what to do. Sometimes I just want to shut the Website down and open a brick and mortar. Other times I think that I should rewrite the whole site with an eye to optimization.
Then I get comments like this
What do you like about [my site]? -- I love how you describe things in a casual way. It really feels comfortable and low-pressure when I'm reading descriptions. I also like the little personal anecdotes and stories, like I'm buying from a real person and not a cold, impersonal conglomerate.
I just wanted to tell you what a pleasure it is to find your site and browse around in it. It's wonderful to experience your enthusiasm! I found the information about the bead factory in India fascinating; it makes me want to book a flight right away. Keep up the great work. Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to get back to browsing your site. I might not buy anything this time, but I will be checking back and recommending you to my beading friends!
Posted 25 June 2004 - 02:45 PM
Posted 25 June 2004 - 03:10 PM
Fact is that where people leave is just if not more , important than what page they get to you at. If you pull together your exit page data, then you could get someone to look at those pages and tell you what they think.
Just my Friday night thoughts, (my head is really way ahead in tomorrow as Wales play South Africa in Pretoria, so I am a little pre-occupied
Posted 25 June 2004 - 03:18 PM
The comments you got are really important. When you get comments, of any kind, especially for an ecom site, you can make good use of them by writing back a thank you note from you personally, and offering a discount on something, or a coupon they can use on something they choose.
Or, ask them if you can use part or all of what they said as a testimonial and link back. Links are valuable. Other incentive for inviting feedback are free ebooks, or discounts on products, or anything a merchant can think of that would excite customers. This indicates company interest in customer satisfaction, adding to the credibilty factor in usability. It also is simply common sense, in that a good deed often leads to others. Happy customers are only too happy to refer good service.
This is one of the reasons why I say usability is a process. It's not just design, or information architecture, or SEO. There's much more to it.
As to those mystery click offs, this is where user testing does help. But, if you can remain objective, you can look for things in your site that may be distracting, confusing, hard to find...sometimes it's a picture of a product that doesn't highlight the real selling point of that product, or a poorly written description, or a shopping cart process that leaves out information.
I swear that sometimes it's the little details and small changes we make that make all the difference
Posted 25 June 2004 - 03:44 PM
[url="http://"http://semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/000029.php"]User Centered Design[/url]
The article, by Peter Morville, talks about "findability", IA, etc.
Last Summer, while redesigning the Q web site, we identified findability as a top priority. Our quest to make this small site more findable took me beyond the discipline of information architecture and deep into the realm of search engine optimization.
That experience proved useful last Fall, during a redesign project for the National Cancer Institute, in which we used findability concepts and SEO statistics to alleviate an unhealthy fixation on the home page, raising awareness of the need to design findable documents for direct access via the Google, MSN, and Yahoo! search engines.
And this Spring, I was hired to perform my first findability audit for a major international nonprofit. Feeling a bit concerned about dedicating four weeks exclusively to findability, I asked whether I should also consider usability factors. "No thanks," my client replied. "We already had Jakob in last year to focus on usability."
Posted 25 June 2004 - 06:01 PM
Lest you think I'm crazy
Sorry, kiddo...way too late for that!
Posted 26 June 2004 - 02:51 AM
No argument at all here, Jill. My only point is that it has to be a team effort. I see SEO as being pretty focused on attracting leads & traffic. Turning the traffic into sales/conversions is another discipline-- maybe the same person, but with different tools and different goals. Ultimately, we're all here to generate business for our clients and I expect most folk here find themselves straying into other parts of the process to help clients succeed. Just have to remember that it really is a bucket line and you're just one pair of hands.
I agree with you to a point, Lyn. But the problem is if they're not converting, they won't be in business for long, which also then puts you without a client!
Posted 26 June 2004 - 02:58 AM
So Eisenberg really does know his stuff?
I second the vote for FutureNow too. Bryan Eisenberg and company are leaders in conversions, and measurement and analyzing traffic. Subscribing to his newsletter is something I highly recommend
I get his ClickZ letter whenever it comes out but, for a while now, I haven't taken much time to read them. For one thing, I don't do much in the way of e-comm or retail sites so conversion metrics in not a current obsession for me yet. He also seemed, at one time, to be way into finding fancy names for labelling fairly ordinary (I thought) marketing principles - put me off some.
If he's getting big time endorsement here, I'll start paying more attention.
Posted 26 June 2004 - 07:09 AM
I think that's the way it was a few years ago, but our field has expanded with the understanding that rankings and traffic usually aren't the kind of goals one should be setting for a site. That's why many of us refer to ourselves as search engine marketers rather than search engine optimizers.
I see SEO as being pretty focused on attracting leads & traffic.
Personally, I think "web site optimization" or "web site promotion" do a better job of describing what I do, but I call myself an SEO because that's what people are looking for.
Posted 26 June 2004 - 08:19 AM
It seems more SEO's are becoming sort of like the general contractor who oversees the other parts of the process- usability, link campaigns, copywriting. All of those specialities are best handled by the people who are really good at them. But it still takes someone with the "big picture" to make sure everything works together.
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