I could see you nodding your heads when I discussed the need to marry your sales process to your visitors’ buying decision processes. “Yep,” you murmured. “That sounds about right.” Then I heard a collective pause, some head scratching and this: “Uh, nice theory, Grok. But how do I put it into practice?”
You make this theory a reality in our business through hyperlinks. Hyperlinks that persuade action. Hyperlinks that answer the questions your visitors ask by providing relevant information. Hyperlinks that allow buying to co-exist happily with selling. Hyperlinks that establish and sustain persuasive momentum.
So let me introduce you to the hyperlinking strategy that is the backbone of a persuasive Web site.
For illustrative purposes, we’ll be in the grommet business – Grok’s Grommets! (A grommet allows you to make a secure hole through another material, like the holes shoe laces go through.) We make brass, steel and titanium grommets. We have three different ways grommets can be joined for light-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty applications. But you can only buy our grommets from authorized retailers.
The core of our grommet sales process is aimed at helping folks find the grommet that’s right for them, then getting them to skedaddle off to one of our authorized grommet retailers. Each step in our sales process requires a visitor to take a specific action. Our site goal is to get folks to Locate a retailer near you. But we acknowledge that on the path to our ultimate goal, folks might want to: Contact a representative; Submit your form; View all steel grommets; View grommets by application.
Calls-to-action are the hyperlinks that move your visitor through your sales process. You create a call-to-action hyperlink by pairing an imperative verb with an implied benefit.
Calls-to-action give your visitors the opportunity to take the action you want them to take. These are the links that are critical to you, the ones you want your visitor to click on. Without these links, you can’t achieve your goals.
Sam Sailmaker is coming in very early in the buying process – he’s just starting out, so he’s definitely not ready to locate the nearest retailer. He needs to understand his fastening options to decide if a grommet is the best solution for his application. A terribly conscientious fellow who wants to create the best sail possible, Sam also wants to understand what makes for a superior grommet.
Points-of-resolution are the hyperlinks that answer the questions your visitors need to ask you. These links help resolve sticking points in the buying decision process. You create point-of-resolution hyperlinks with nouns and place them where your visitors are most likely to ask their questions.
These links have nothing to do with hierarchy. Folks are never required to click on a point-of-resolution to move through the sales process; the links simply let visitors collect the information they need to feel confidence in making a decision.
Sam needs us to answer his questions by laying out and comparing different fastening options, explaining grommet applications and how grommets are made. So, even before we try to sell him on the value of Grok’s Grommets, we offer pages that will answer his buying process questions about grommets in general:
Grommets, Buttons or Zippers? We offer Sam information about the advantages and disadvantages of his available fastening options (even though we don’t sell buttons or zippers). The point-of-resolution hyperlink pointing to this page might say “when you need to fasten material together your choices are grommets, buttons or zippers.”
Common Uses of Grommets. We explain how various industries make use of grommets. The point-of-resolution hyperlink might say “You might be surprised by all the industries that have discovered ways to use grommets.”
Grommet Technology. We examine the differences between okay grommets and stellar grommets. The point-of-resolution hyperlink might say “Grommets have improved greatly due to new grommet technology.”
You must resolve Sam’s questions before you can start selling him on Grok’s Grommets. No resolution, no Grok’s Grommets!
A point-of-resolution hyperlink takes the visitor to a resolution page, where the question is answered with totally relevant information. A resolution page can offer additional point-of-resolution hyperlinks, so a visitor’s path through resolution pages often seems circular. Resolution pages frequently need to link to one another, hence "resolving" door. Think of those hotel lobby revolving doors.
Now think of the nightmare scenario where you’re stuck in one of those doors and can’t get out. You can’t ever lead your visitors into a dead end! You must either offer another answer or return your visitor to the sales process.
If at any time, on any of those resolution pages, Sam feels confident his buying process questions have been answered and is ready to exit, he'll find carefully worded hyperlinks – Choose the Grok Grommet that’s right for your industry – that lead him back into our sales process. These exit links, worded as a call-to-action and interwoven into the copy on a resolution page, relate more to the sales process than the buying process – they introduce our product-specific solutions to the questions Sam is asking.
Creating the perfect interrelationships between selling and buying requires an understanding of what people do with what you offer, how they approach buying what you offer and which questions will influence their decision to buy. Accounting for and designing with point-of-resolution hyperlinks can be complex.
But the complexity that comes from marrying your sales process to their buying decision process is part and parcel of a persuasive Web site. It can't be avoided. More than that, you don’t want to avoid it. A commerce site without point-of-resolution hyperlinks is nothing more than a glorified, relentlessly linear PowerPoint presentation that will convert only a handful of your visitors.
I really don’t want that for you! The click’s the thing that helps visitors meet their needs and you achieve your goals. So, marry selling with buying through call-to-action and point-of-resolution hyperlinks – truly a match made in heaven.