I can’t tell you how often we write a blog post using examples from an ecommerce site and receive an overwhelming number of comments from service-based, lead generation businesses to say what we’re recommending doesn’t apply to them. We see the reverse when we write a post using examples from lead generation sites. The multitudes of questions we receive about when we’re going to do a case study or make recommendations for an XXXX or YYYY “kind of site, like mine” are a milder symptom of this same mistaken belief.
The truth is that our methodology to improve website performance is applicable to every business model. Whether you’re an ecommerce website, or a service-based, lead generation site, the strategies and tactics we employ apply to your business. The only difference is the kind of action you are trying to drive from your visitors, not the strategies and tactics you use to drive that action. If you need proof, consider that we’ve used our OnTarget subscription strategies and tactics to help companies drive all of the following endpoint goals:
… and we’ve even used it to help our clients improve their average order value or increase bundled orders. And because the high level strategy aims to affect your end goals by driving more action at each step of the path people follow to get there, it impacts a whole slew of intermediary goals along the way. These include actions such as:
… and any other measurable action that represents your goal to move your visitors toward the commitment you ultimately want from them.
For example, if you’re a service-based business such as a dog walker or a chiropractor, the buying stage rules still apply. You still get the biggest bang for your buck if you focus on driving more late stage visitors who are ready to take action (give you their contact info, or request an appointment or quote) today. You still want to make sure the scent trails you bring this traffic through (just like conversion funnels) are optimized at each step so it is easy for this persuaded visitor to take the desired action on your web site. Find out how scent trails work and learn how to set up funnels on your site.
If you’re a chiropractor in Ottawa, Ontario, you likely are interested in optimizing your site for the geographic-specific keywords that demonstrate someone is searching for “chiropractor in Ottawa.” If you’re paying for this traffic on search engines, you can choose to be featured only for specific keywords in the location you specify. If you’re looking to optimize your organic search, then follow SEO rules for using keywords that actually specify the location within the keyword.
Once you actually start attracting this late stage traffic, it’s time to see what’s becoming of it once it reaches your site. Is it converting? How much of it converts? Are there hot spots where most of it lands? Where does it go from there? Are there easily identified points along the way where you see a big abandonment or drop off of traffic? Analysis should always start with data digging. In your analytics, look at the performance for the landing pages for each of your late stage sources of traffic and keywords. Go through each step within the scent trail, and through the final conversion point and let the data tell you where problems might exist. For example, if you see evidence of problems (bounce rate, pogo-sticking) when visitors first land on the site, you need to make sure that you’re featuring a landing page that speaks directly to the visitor’s search, and that you’re featuring the answers to the visitor’s questions on this page, or at the very least, visible links to those answers. Once you’ve identified where holes in the data exist, walk through the scent trails on your site, keeping the late stage search terms in mind, and make sure that you’re answering these three questions at each step along the way:
1. Who are you trying to persuade? (ie: what do you know about this visitor based on their search term)
2. What action do you want them to take? (ie: ultimately, to fill out a lead generation form or call a 1-800 number, but at earlier steps of the scent trail, the desired action may be a precursor to that, such as to click through to the next step)
3. What will persuade them to take the action you want them to take? (On each page, what questions does the visitor have? What links and information are you providing there to help the visitor get answers and gain confidence moving forward in her buying process?)
When we work with our clients, we always start our analysis by looking at the data. But for the sake of showing you how to optimize late stage scenarios on your site, I will happily to choose an example from one of the comments on this post, and write a follow-up post about it. So, if you have an interesting scenario that you want me to analyze, place a comment on this post telling me the late stage keyword that is sending traffic to your site and giving me the landing page to which you’re currently sending this visitor. I’ll pick someone’s example and I’ll walk through the analysis of a late stage scent trail in my next blog post.