A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how the FutureNow methodology to improve website performance applies to all business models. Regardless of business model and type of site, we always start our work by focusing on improving the experience on a client’s site for their late stage visitor because these visitors are ready to take action today, and therefore should be the easiest to convert. By finding the stumbling blocks preventing these late stage visitors from taking action, and by improving their experiences, our clients realize increased leads and/or sales almost as soon as they start doing conversion rate optimization (CRO).
At the end of that post, I mentioned that although we always start our analysis of client sites by looking at their data, for the sake of showing you how to optimize late stage scenarios on your site, I would take a stab at analyzing a suggested late stage scenario sans data. I invited our readers to suggest an interesting late stage scent trail on their site they are willing to have me analyze. I asked them to provide a late stage keyword and the associated landing page to which the visitor is sent.
One reader suggested his late stage scenario for baby sleeping bags. He mentioned that he wants to expand his current brand-specific campaigns to include late stage, non-brand keywords such as “babies sleeping bags.” The landing page for this type of keyword would be www.motherslove.com.au/babies-sleeping-bags.
It’s important to note that “babies sleeping bags” is not exactly a late stage keyword; it’s more of a middle stage keyword. If you’re feeling shaky on what makes a keyword one stage versus another, review the 3 buying stages before you read any further. To qualify as a late stage keyword, this phrase requires a descriptive element such as “babies sleeping bag with legs” or “babies sleeping bag pods.” The addition of increasingly descriptive factors to a keyword demonstrates the stronger intent to purchase typically associated with late stage buyers. However, for the sake of showing you how to go about analyzing your site using search terms, I’ll use the middle stage keyword that was sent in, “babies sleeping bags,” and the corresponding landing page.
The first question you want to ask yourself is, Who are you trying to persuade? What do we know about the intent of the person who types “babies sleeping bags” into their browswer? The answer to this comes from the keyword itself: this searcher is looking for sleeping bags for babies. She hasn’t identified a brand or even a specific type of sleeping bag she wants. She likely will want to see different types of sleeping bag options, so she can determine which type best fits her needs.
Next, answer the question, What action do you want them to take? Although, you ultimately want her to buy one of your products, a realistic indication that she is moving forward in her buying process is if she actually finds a category that suits her needs. The next objective is to help her find a product that she’s interested in, and only then will the desired action be to get her to add the item to her cart.
Lastly, you need to ask yourself, What will persuade this person to take that action? Remember, we’ve already determined that the most realistic next step for this visitor is to select a category. Therefore, in order to move this visitor forward in her buying process, you will need to show clear categories of baby sleeping bags on the landing page. This is the trickiest of the three questions to answer, and will constitute the majority of your analysis of any given scenario.
Now, let’s start to walk through the scent trail. Let’s pretend the visitor’s name is Marie so that we can talk through the visitor’s experience with a more personal approach. Marie searched for “babies sleeping bags” and we already discussed her intent when she searched for this term. She clicks on the ad in the search engine results, and lands on http://www.motherslove.com.au/babies-sleeping-bags (see snapshot at right).
Now you need to ask yourself, “What will persuade Marie to move forward in her buying process and ultimately add an item to her cart?” To begin to answer this question, let’s talk through the top 3 problems on this landing page that prevent Marie from taking the action you want her to take:
We would recommend creating a variation of this page with guidance from this mockup (see snapshot at left). Test this variation against your original landing page with the success point being the cart page. Our hypothesis is that by more effectively laying out the page and featuring links that help the visitor move forward towards selecting the category or product that suits her interests and needs, she is more likely to move forward towards adding an item to her cart.
To effectively optimize every scent trail from this page for Marie, you need to click on each of the links from this page and go through the three questions exercise all over again. Make improvements to this scent trail one by one, and step by step, moving more and more visitors to take the action you want them to take.
Use this example to start making some improvements to your website. By going through this outlined process for your late stage scenarios on your site, you’re likely to get the highest possible impact, most quickly. And if you’re still struggling to do this on your own, learn about our OnTarget subscriptions to make your website better. They use this same technique to help our clients see results quickly.