Volume 87: 2/1/2004

How Do You Measure Conversion?

Enter alternative textWhat does a visitor have to do before you consider her "converted"?

"Uh, duh, Grok," I hear someone say. "Like, buy something, dude."

Bing, bing, bing. Confetti falls. The crowds cheer.

Nobody would get that wrong, right? Well ... it's a good partial answer. But the real answer is that most Web sites have multiple points of conversion. Dozens. Hundreds. Sometimes thousands!

"Say what???"

Come into my parlor.

Here's what I'd really like to tattoo on the ebusiness lobe of your brain: Conversion takes place whenever a visitor takes an action we want them to take. And because it can only be the participant's decision to take that action, we must persuade them. If you want a bottom line on doing business online, that's it.

A better answer to my question above would be: She's converted when she signs up for the newsletter, downloads a .pdf white paper or calls for more information. These are also conversions.

Stroll with me through the home page of Future Now, Inc(opens new window). Just off the top of my green head, I can see six obvious goals we have for folks:

  • Sign up for The Grok newsletter

  • Download calculators

  • Check out resources

  • Request a Real World Sales Analysis form

  • Download a free report

  • Contact us by phone

Each of these points is an entry into a process that is not complete until the goal is achieved. That goal is the "macro" action, the Big Picture Conversion. You can measure it: today 72 people downloaded the free report. And if 200 people came to the site, we have a conversion rate (for the report) of 36%.

Sometimes we get so focused on the end point, though, we forget there was a journey to achieve that end point. You see, not all your visitors know exactly what they want when they land on your site. On top of that, they are each in different stages of the buying process. They might not be ready to take that macro action right off the bat.

In fact, to complete a macro action (the Big Picture Conversion), your visitors take any number of steps. "Micro" actions. And every one of those is a conversion too!

Let's say you landed on our home page, read all that text and were persuaded to click through on the "Conversion Assessment System" hyperlink (a measurable conversion point in the process, but not the goal).

You land on a page that gives an overview of the value and nature of an assessment. If you can't be bothered with the text, we offer the option of going directly to the assessment information via the top navigation. Or we offer itemized options in a bulleted list. You decide you want to convert more eCommerce traffic, so you click that hyperlink.

You land on a page that gives you a detailed description of what goes into an assessment, and, if you scroll down, you'll find a request form and the telephone number. The goal is not achieved until you have clicked "Contact Us" to submit the form.

One macro-action conversion, three micro-action conversions. And at each point of conversion, we must persuade our visitors to take the next action. Think about it ... counting casually, I now find at least 27 points of conversion on our home page. Not all of them look like they have the goal in mind at this point, but they all provide a point of entry. They're like the point of the spiral that starts the Yellow Brick Road.

Are you measuring these different points of conversion? They all matter. When you think of each step on your navigation paths as a conversion point you can test, measure and optimize, you will truly know if you are converting your visitors successfully through each stage of their journey.

What makes people do the things they do online?

Why do people visit a website? What psychological, physiological and technological factors affect how people act on the web? Why and how do people buy from, subscribe to and/ or register with a website? What happens to those who don’t buy, subscribe or register but could or should have? Those and other critical questions are what drive Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg to investigate and inquire about the world of the commercial Internet.

Learn how to make online experiences more persuasive by attending the Wizards of Web Academy.

P.S. If you missed our telesiminar of Persuasive Online Copywriting hosted by Annie Jennings you can get you free copy of the taping. Just visit http://www.anniejenningspr.com/futurenow.htm.

Have you checked out the other places to meet us on our latest event schedule?

Emotionally Speaking

People often ask me what I mean when I say it's important to appeal to the emotional needs of the folks who come to your Web site. Like, is it really about writing extravagantly, in a fashion that suggests the emotions of the copy's author are stirred up and yours are about to be next? Should we be in search of flamboyant prose?

It's then I realize people don't really have a handle on what it means to appeal to emotion. I mean, if you're looking to acquire an excavator, how meaningful or appropriate is effusive, flowery language? Think it will stir you up or send you running?

And yet, however much they may rationalize the result, every single person who sets out to acquire an excavator will base his or her decision on emotions.

We've talked about this before, but it bears talking about again. Studies have demonstrated that when a person can't connect emotionally with whatever task he is undertaking - even if it is something as simple as scheduling a doctor's appointment - he will not be able to make a decision.

Take scheduling that doctor's appointment. You'll only schedule that appointment when it feels right, when you know the value of getting a checkup, when you have been able to imagine the benefits you will enjoy, when you can actually see yourself doing it; or when you are afraid that not doing it would be worse. You put yourself in the picture and weigh the emotional options.

When you appeal to those options, you help your visitors make their decisions. How?

Benefits and Features

The easiest path to making an emotional connection is by focusing on the benefits, not the features, of your product or service.

Certainly features imply benefits. But if you only list features - if you don't spell out the benefits for your visitors - then you are hoping they'll take the time to translate each of your specified features. And that means they have to think on the fly. And if you make them have to think, you might as well wave goodbye.

I'm looking at the packaging for a Korg Orchestral Tuner. It lists about six features, one of which is:

  • Built-in microphone

Sure enough, if I go looking on the Web, I can find any number of sites that include this feature as part of the product description. But nobody tells me the benefit of this feature. A built-in microphone is not a benefit. But it sure is beneficial to have one, because that means the tuner can hear your instrument, and you haven't got to mess with long cords that always get tangled and a separate microphone that you have to carry around and fidget with. A built-in microphone makes you very portable. It's a pick-up-and-go sort of thing.

Now I'm starting to get to some of the benefits of a tuner with a built-in microphone: I can easily take it anywhere; it's much easier to figure out how to use it; it streamlines my equipment needs; it can tell me if my instrument is in tune (so I haven't got to guess if I tend to hear things a bit on the sharp side).

If it's a feature, there's a benefit. And when you sell the benefits, you appeal to the emotions. Which means you stand a much better chance of persuading your visitor. So take all those feature lists and start translating them into benefits. Then get that benefit-focused copy up on your Web site.

Should you ignore the specifications? I wouldn't ... but you don't need them to be occupying primo screen real estate. The sorts of people who emotionally need to see those specs are going to find them.

Dominant Personalities

Which brings me to the other aspect of this emotional stuff. Emotional needs. No they are not needs for stuff that makes you cry or stuff that makes you giggle. These are the emotional needs that are characteristic of different dominant personality types.

Take a Methodical individual. She values order, neatness, facts, attention to detail, accuracy in reporting, credibility, data, truth. She'll be interested in comparisons with similar products or services. She'll appreciate seeing all the tables and product specs, but she'll skip over the testimonials because she doesn't really trust somebody else's opinion.

This person truly doesn't need flowery, evocative language to appeal to her emotions - in fact, that sort of language would incline her to write you off. She needs to feel that you have understood and met each of the qualities she values: facts, order, analysis, information, detail, truth. She likes this stuff - it's what helps her feel the cosmos is in balance.

For the other three dominant personality types, I've assembled a list of qualities that suggest the emotional needs that define their cosmos.

Humanistic: belonging, cooperation, giving, caring, service to others, creative, entertaining, acceptance, freedom, big picture

Competitive: competence, understanding, control, curious, appreciate challenge, goal-oriented, motivated, success-oriented, accomplishment, future success, direct, to-the-point

Spontaneous: enjoyment, adventure, authentic, internal integrity, honesty, values, opinions, big picture, personal detail

Unless you know for a fact that your customers slurp up syrupy emotive stuff, it's best to steer clear. Instead, communicate the benefits of your product or service and meet the emotional needs your visitors - that's the best way to create a human-centric persuasive process that speaks to emotion.

Volume 87: 2/1/2004

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