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Converting Searchers to Buyers

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Attracting people to your Web site through optimized content or sponsored links is just the first step in an effective search marketing campaign. To be truly effective, your site must also persuade visitors to take advantage of your products or services.

One of the most popular sessions at our Search Engine Strategies conferences is Measuring Success, which focuses on strategies for optimizing a Web site for post-search visitors and the tools to track whether your efforts are effective.

Bryan Eisenberg is a regular speaker on the panel—and with good reason. He consistently scores among the highest of all SES speakers in participant feedback surveys. Bryan is a dynamic speaker, but he also presents some great ideas for integrating search marketing with Web site design and persuasive online merchandising.

Bryan advocates taking a holistic approach to selling online, getting inside the mind of the user from the moment before the first search all the way through to the ultimate conversion event (conversion is just a fancy synonym for purchase, register, call or any other behavior you want someone to do when they visit your Web site).

Beyond search marketing, Bryan dubs this whole process "persuasion architecture," and together with his brother Jeffrey Eisenberg he's mapped out this approach in a new book called Call to Action. It's an excellent, eminently readable tutorial that anyone involved with search marketing should buy and read immediately.

The book begins with the basics—what people really want when visiting a Web site, and how to create sites that fulfill those needs. One of the major themes is the idea of laying down "scent trails" that people can follow, in much the same way a dog can track scents, to locate what they're looking for.

You can create scent trails anywhere, starting with your search optimization or paid listings efforts, and continue weaving these trails through your Web site for people to follow. Another important concept is to consider the differences among people—even people with strikingly similar demographic characteristics—and design your site so everyone gets exactly what they're looking for.

This isn't "personalization," per se, but rather creating different navigation, content and incentives for various "personas," or archetypes of visitors to your site. By offering an experience that caters to these different personas, versus a one-size-fits-all approach, you're far more likely to have a successful Web site.

Although the book focuses on some novel, industrial-strength approaches to online merchandising, it's also packed with practical tips gained from years of experience actually developing Web sites using the techniques described. How do you create the most compelling content for your site? Have you considered basic usability factors such as layout and color, which can have subtle but often very powerful effects on user behavior?

I found the suggestions for site design and architecture particularly valuable. The book outlines an approach to site development that's both sensible and efficient. If you struggle with containing costs or sticking to schedule in your site development efforts, this part of the book alone is worth the price.

The book also offers one of the best overviews of the increasingly important subject of Web analytics. These tools have been virtually indispensable to search marketers, providing insight into their increasingly complex campaigns.

I also found the numerous "conversion tips," sidebars contributed by other experts in search marketing, usability, online marketing and other areas, to be valuable. These nuggets of wisdom, contributed by luminaries like Jared Spool, Jim Sterne, Anne Holland and others are a pleasing bonus, icing on the cake of this excellent book.

If you ever get the chance to see Bryan or Jeffrey Eisenberg present on a panel at SES or other conferences, don't pass it up. Meanwhile, plunk down the $13.95 it'll cost you to get Call to Action. Applying just one or two of the techniques outlined in the book will return your investment many times over.

Call to Action
by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg
Wizard Academy Press, $13.95
ISBN: 1932226397


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