The Decision-Making Funnel, Stage 2: Interest

In "Landing Pages and the Decision-Making Process," I described the well-known AIDA conversion funnel and how it governs all Web conversions.

The key AIDA stages are:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

Last time, I examined awareness. Now let's take a closer look at the interest stage.

Interest

On the Web, interest is very fleeting. A world of other Web sites is just a mouse click away. People at this stage are in an "If it's interesting, I'll check it out" mindset. The level of commitment is very low.

Interest is often tied very closely to awareness. The attention of the person flits like a butterfly across all of the available points of interest on your landing page. So awareness can also be described as an ongoing scanning process.

Interest is akin to the butterfly alighting for a moment on a particular flower. Interest can be viewed as a transient pull and concentration of the attention on a particular object.

Often, interest on the Web is expressed in a split-second decision to click on something. If the attention surge is strong enough, you'll take the action of clicking.

If not, your attention will subside back into a more diffuse scanning mode. If your needs aren't being met and you grow frustrated enough, interest can peak instead as a desire to leave the current Web page.

The key to creating the interest is to focus on the visitor. Elements of your landing page must be relevant to them, and they must self-select because they recognize this relevance.

The rules of Web interest are:

  • Understand who the visitor is.
  • Understand what the visitor is trying to accomplish.

Web interest comes in two main flavors: self-selection and need identification.

Self-Selection

In order to self-select, I must be given a discrete choice of specific classes of visitors to your site, and the appropriate path to follow. In effect, I have to raise my hand and say, "Yes, I identify with this label."

A perfect example is the home page for the University of California, San Diego, my alma mater for undergraduate and graduate studies. The main navigation method is the menu of typical visitor classes near the top of the page:

  • Prospective Students
  • Current Students
  • Parents & Families
  • Faculty & Staff
  • Alumni
  • Friends & Visitors

It allows a visitor to self-select, proceed down the correct track, and get information that is specifically tailored to them and their concerns.

Need Recognition

Another way to increase interest is to have people identify with a specific need they have. Needs can change more quickly than roles. Need recognition is another way of describing the specific task that someone is trying to complete on your landing page.

The main portion of Southwest Airline's home page prominently features a needs-based navigation section. To the right of the large graphic, visitors are invited to select among the following choices:

  • Book a Flight
  • Check In Online
  • Check Your Flight Status
  • View or Change Your Flight

Note that these choices are aimed at two roles or classes of users: prospective travelers and booked travelers.

The last three choices apply only to booked travelers. So the visitor's role alone isn't enough to distinguish among them. However, on any particular visit, a booked traveler will likely need to complete one of the three tasks.

In Part 3, we'll look at the desire stage of the AIDA funnel.