Compartmentalizing Conversion

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I am a avid reader of psychology books. I was actually preparing to master in psychology when a psychology professor asked me why. After he commented about not making enough money in psychology, I changed my educational path to marketing while studying psychology for fun on the side. I say this because I recall reading about how people tend to compartmentalize their lives (the opposite of integrity.) At business they act one way, at home another. They place each role into a compartment locked away from one another based on internal and external pressures and expectations maybe even as a survival mechanism. Nevertheless, the whole is broken down into parts.

I find that many web businesses compartmentalize conversion…

How? Web businesses focus on advertising and how to go about attracting customers separate from how they interact and hopefully convert those customers into prospects or buyers as they arrive on the website. In my experience, building a successful conversion process requires a holistic approach. The customer’s experience with a business starts when they first become aware of the brand and/or a product or service. How a customer becomes aware, whether it is word of mouth from a trusted associate or by chance through a keyword search, sets the tone of the customer’s website visit and the foundation for trust.

A customer arriving to a website via a word of mouth referral (especially from a friend who related a great buying experience with the brand) will have less hurdles and more confidence towards buying. A search-driven customer may require more credibility-building through assurances and be more critical before being comfortable with buying. Because the process of conversion starts in the advertising channel, when improving conversion, you cannot focus solely on website redesigning. A holistic view compares advertising with design as well as with technology, usability and influence. Improving conversion involves assessing how the entire web business can create a satisfying experience for the customer.

I was speaking with an associate today who runs a decent size e-commerce company. He was telling me about his progress with increasing sales and the disappointment he had with using a prominent search engine marketing company. As he put it, “All they did was spend my money and not bring enough extra business.” This is a situation of compartmentalizing conversion. Advertising was executed without the website (entry or landing pages) also being optimized concurrently. The advertising failed potentially because the entry pages were not effectively connecting with the customers being attracted through the pay-per-click marketing keywords and associated ad copy.

Compartmentalization creates a chicken and egg scenario. For example, with paid search and landing pages, do you write effective ads and select relevant keywords first and then fit the landing pages to the ad copy and keywords or do you develop an effective landing page and fit the ad copy and keywords to it? What if conversions are low? Do you correct your ad copy, your keywords or do you adjust your landing pages?

One approach is the “toothpaste squeeze” method where you start at the farthest end from the final goal like a specific advertising channel and you improve the performance of each conversion point from ad click-through to entry page click-through to checkout and finally to a completed order as if you are squeezing toothpaste out of a toothpaste tube. This linear process will breakdown as individual customers’ buying processes unfold (causing non-linear paths) however if more than less move forward at higher rates then the approach works.

Consider improving your lead or sale conversion by asking how your entire business can serve a more satisfactory experience to each customer starting with your advertising and leading every step through to the final completed order.

About the Author

Kevin Gold is Director of Internet Marketing at iNET Interactive, a social media company operating prominent online communities for technology professionals and technology enthusiasts. Kevin is a frequent contributing author to multiple publications including Search Marketing Standard, Practical eCommerce, DIRECT, Entrepreneur.com, ConversionChronicles.com, About.com, and On Target (Yahoo! Search Marketing newsletter).

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2 Comments

  1. You're absolutely correct: search should be seen as just one component of a (hopefully) seamless marketing plan that takes customers/clients from acquisition to final sale and even after in a way that makes them feel valued. The psychology isn't all that difficult to figure out. What marketers might want to consider is something called "transition marketing," during which there's a transition from prospect to ongoing customer through special communications, new member-only information and sales, introductory rates and adding an educational component to the whole so that by the end the customer feels understood and understands the company's offerings to him or her as well. This works best when the company is engaged in emarketing as well as simply offering a product or service off the website, and it's well worth considering doing. Jeannette Cezanne

  2. I absolutely agree. Your "toothpaste squeeze" metaphor is brilliant! Many businesses need to realize that spending so much on keyword campaigns without "following through" for the customer when it comes to their landing pages is a huge waste of money. Spend money on making the whole funnel effective and your ROI will improve significantly, not only boosting profits but allowing you to continue to grow your search advertising campaigns. Focus and test every piece of the funnel and increased conversions will follow. -Billy Shih, Optimization Analyst Widemile