Yesterday I had the good fortune to squeeze my way into a presentation by Laust Sondergaard, VP of Business Development at Sitecore, “5 Ways to Improve Your Online Conversions by Better Understanding Your Visitors”. The room was packed as Laust Sondergaard delivered a plethora of information into a short 30 minute session.
There are many reason I am a fan of Sitecore, but in particular their solutions are very business-oriented and not focused on “tool sets” (plus I love the OMS). The more you get to know Sitecore’s culture, the more you find that they live and breathe providing solutions to create a better all around web presence.
So how does Laust Sondergaard propose you improve conversion rates? Well before I share that, I’m going to share some of Laust’s insight about factors that have changed consumer behaviour.
The combination of economic pressures and unprecedented access to information via the internet were a perfect storm to drive up the importance of having a great web presence. The uncertainty of the economy made us less risk-tolerant and more cost v. value conscious. With increased adoption of search as a primary means to find the information we seek – our expectations for what we find on websites has increased as well. This is where the “Long Tail Effect” comes into play. Business used to play by the 80/20 rule: 80% of our business came from 20% of our customers. But the web makes it increasingly cost-effective to increase the profitability of the 80% we historically valued less.
Laust also discussed some key changes in consumer behaviour: people are more educated by the time they are ready to make a buying decision (Laust noted that B2C consumers are now behaving more like B2B consumers), now people qualify YOU, they want solutions not products. When people land on your website they expect to find relevant products or they leave. And it is simply astonishing how even websites like MSN.com still fail at this. If I go to www.msn.com there is a box near the bottom of the homepage that says “Search for Other Sale Items”.
I typed in Nike and clicked search. This is what I found:
Note at the top of this image you can see the search box in Google Chrome: there are no instances of “Nike” found on this page. How does it make you feel as a consumer when you experience that? There is nothing that tells you, “Sorry there are no Nike items on sale”. That’s not a good user experience. In fact, I tried a bunch of different search terms and kept landing on the same page. So why doesn’t MSN offer a search box to enter in keywords if they just want you to navigate to the next page and THEN search?
Anyway, back to Laust! Next he reviewed how the sales process has changed – notably that the sales process starts earlier. You must engage website visitors with solutions to their challenges, identify key issues and drivers for visitors (by audience), uncover latent pain for prospects and be able to nurture high value prospects.
So here we are…the 5 ways to Optimize:
1. Make your website a customer intelligence engine
2. Nuture your prospects
4. Analyze success and guide similar prospects on path
5. Blend community content to help overcome risk
I’ll delve deeper into how you can do this in future blog posts.