You see it all the time: web marketing that fails to satisfy customer wants and needs in the buying process from first exposure to conversion. The problem is that it's so easy to simply leave a buying trail that you're on with the web. All it takes is a click. This puts buyers in total control and makes them uber-sensitive to what they engage with online. The challenge for us as site owners and marketers is to build trails from exposure to conversion that customers won't want to leave.
So, when it comes to providing the "scent" that an online customer can pick up on, what does it mean to build a "trail"? Well, studies have shown that when people search for a solution to their need/want/problem online, they behave very similarly to animals on the scent trail of their food. They pick up a scent and then follow it until the scent is broken (they've reached the end of the trail). They then either end up with their food, or they experience the frustration of following a trail only to reach a dead end. If they reach a dead end, they then go back to the hub and start over until they're satisfied.
We've all experienced this when using a search engine. You click a result and it's not quite what you're looking for, so you go back to click on another result and begin a new trail. Or maybe you click on a result and sense that you may find what you're looking for, but then the trail ends after 4 or 5 pages. So, you go back or refine your search or give up.
All too often, the web experience gives users dead ends. The good news is that since this is the case, you've got a great opportunity. If you can get really good at knowing what your customers are "sniffing" for, you can test and optimize your "trails" to provide a better experience and more satisfied customers for yourself and less for your competition.
So, what makes for a broken trail? It's simple really, but not so easy to fix. A broken trail is when a website fails, at some point along the way, to help a customer reach his or her goal, whatever it may be. As soon as customers sense that where they are will not help them accomplish their goal, they are out. Since people are always just one click from goodbye, this happens more often than not on the web.
What can you do to make sure you are providing the trails people need to reach their goals? The first thing you must understand is that different people are at different stages of the buying process when they come to your site, so it should be prepared to deal with all the possibilities. Second, you must take into account that you can't sell to every individual that comes to your site differently. But, you can narrow it down to four dominant temperaments and how each of them approaches a buying decision. If you can address the needs of each temperament, you'll provide more trails for your customers to go down, decreasing the breaks in their Internet hunting adventure.
Here they are and how they approach the buying process...
To best reach every customer that enters your site, it's best to think about them in this way. As you get familiar with your customer temperaments, you'll be able to develop more specific buyer personas that will give you a framework for how your customers prefer to be engaged in their online experience. Once you do this, you can then develop testing scenarios based upon what you predict buyers want and need to improve your scent trails. You won't have to test random ideas you come up with out of thin air, but ideas born from customer intelligence that will help your business grow.
Mike Fleming specializes in Analytics and Paid Search for Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @SEMFlem. Mike enjoys playing, writing and recording music along with playing basketball to get his workout in. He resides in Canton, Ohio with a girl who threw a snowball at him one day…then married him.
Mike and the team at Pole Position are available to help clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Contact them via their site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
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