The online conversion path is a series of steps your potential customer takes on your website before they become a lead. While there are many variations of conversion paths, it generally has the same flow.
What Is An Online Conversion Path
Think about your own behavior for a moment.
What do you do when you want to buy a new laptop or phone?
I figure you’d do something like this:
Open a browser and type the brand & model (e.g. MacBook Pro)
Read several articles that talks about what you were looking for
Refine your search to something more specific to your needs (e.g. Can the MacBook Pro handle Photoshop)
That process is most likely the same process your customers do when they want to buy something.
The Importance of the Online Conversion Path
If you look closely at the path I described above, people aren’t looking for prices and discounts.
When people start their buying journey, they care about getting answers to their questions. They care about solving their problems.
This is where a lot of businesses go wrong.
In digital marketing, it’s important to remember that people’s buying behavior have changed. In some cases, people are already 80% through their buying journey when they reach out to businesses.
If you are not present in that early part of their research process, you will most likely not be their top choice.
And that’s where the online conversion path comes in.
Focus on the Customer, Not Yourself
Most of the time, businesses produce content that only talks about themselves. Promos. Discounts. How awesome their products and employees are. That they care about their customers.
But do all that content help prospects who are looking to buy something during the early part of their journey?
A big no!
The 5 stages of awareness tells us that if you focus on creating content about yourself, you’re alienating a lot of people.
What you should do is start creating content that solves your industry’s problems. Focus on your customers’ needs first, before your own.
All these actions somehow reinforces the fact that what we see, matters. A lot.
Today, we judge someone by their Instagram profile. Is it consistent? Do they have a lot of followers? Does it look cool?
And even if we keep telling ourselves that aesthetics don’t matter, our actions say otherwise.
People try to compensate for this by actively telling themselves or simply being mindful about it.
But it is so ingrained in our culture that we can’t help but wonder, can we escape this?
Can we really be objective and stop judging people/companies/brands based on their outward appearance?
The Problem: Digital Marketing Is Visual
When it comes to digital marketing, websites and social media accounts are the first ones to get judged by people. And even if that’s something we don’t want other people to do to us, we can’t change what people think and do.
Changing other people’s behavior, much more their beliefs and value system, is very difficult to do.
A lot of people would say, and I agree with them, that only you can change your own behavior. Trying to force other people to conform to what you want will only result in unnecessary conflict and stress.
Others claim that content is king. That content is all that matters. Yes, that is true. And design matters too. You simply cannot neglect it.
What do you do instead?
Change what you can so you don’t get judged negatively.
When people visit your website or blog, before they get to “read” your content, they “see” your website first. That’s the first thing they experience.
Make your website (and social media accounts) look awesome! Even if you don’t have any background in design (hey, I’m the worst when it comes to stuff like this; I’m more of a numbers kind of guy), you can still avoid getting judged negatively.
Let me show you how.
Solution: Focus on User Experience
For most people, design is how it looks on the outside — graphic or visual design. This is a very limited view of design.
I’m no authority in this topic so I’m not going to even try. But, one message that stood out for me is how Steve Jobs described it.
Design is not just how it looks, but how it works.
He was one of the biggest proponents of great design. If you look at Apple products, it doesn’t just look good on the outside. It also looks great on the inside. It is easy to use and intuitive. And what’s what contributed to Apple’s $1B success.
It just works.
Jobs’ tenacity for great design was well-documented by people and even included a ton of stories in his biography. Which brings us back to design in digital marketing…
Great design isn’t about you. It’s about your website’s visitors and their experience with your website (and with your entire brand for that matter).
Most people worry too much about how their website look. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a good-looking website. Aesthetics do matter. But that shouldn’t be your end goal.
In digital marketing, having a great design means a great user experience across the entire buyer’s journey. And that’s what I’ll focus on in this post.
Step 1: Map your customer journey
It’s not about what you think. It’s about what your customers think. Focus on their experience with your brand.
Imagine with me for a minute here.
Let’s say you have an awesome website. It looks great. It has all these fancy animations and videos. When you scroll down, images and text appear like magic. Kind of like how some portions of Apple’s product pages look like.
But the difference is that yours load slowly. Does this qualify as having great design?
User needs to research about the best X in town
User searches Google for X
Finds your website among others
Opens top 5 results in background
Go through search #1
Moves to search #2 (your website)
Page still doesn’t load
Closes the browser
Moves to search #3…
What if you’re an eCommerce site? If the photos of your products loads after 15 seconds, do you think your customers will hang around your site?
This is even worse as there are a lot of options in the market. So if your website fails to “impress” now, you’d have no way of getting them back to your website again.
47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
The best way to really understand your customers is to look at your own behavior. Chances are, you’re not that different from them.
How did you feel when you encountered these situations before?
A website loads too slowly or not at all.
The website loads all the ads first before you get to find the content that really matters to you
Looking for the FAQ section of a product on their website, but is no where to be found
A problem a lot of websites don’t realize (or accept) is that having a ton of ads loading on your page slows it down.
It ruins the user experience.
These are the reasons why ad blockers are so popular these days.
It’s these same reasons why browsers have a read-only mode or why people use Pocket — because they don’t want to be distracted from what they see and focus on the content. But if your site doesn’t have all these distracting elements, there’s no reason for your visitors to go out of their way just to be able to find the content they are looking for.
Great design supplements your content. If people can’t get your page to load, they’d most likely not try at all. If people can’t find the answers from you, especially your customers, they’ll look for it elsewhere.
When I try browsing a site and it doesn’t load, I either check again later or not bother at all. I only check later again if it’s the only choice I have. But most likely, I’ll close the browser and search for another site that can answer my questions/problems.
Step 3: Get objective user experience data
Does your website meet customer expectations?
The only way to know if your website meets your customer’s expectations is to ask them yourself. This is easy if your site already have thousands of unique visitors a month. You setup a survey and look the results.
But what if you’re like most websites who only get a few hundred visits a month? You’d get 1-2 responses a month. This won’t provide you with any insights.
So, what can you do instead?
Step 4: Improve your website’s speed
One of the things you can do is improve your site speed. Use this free tool from Google where it can provide you a lot of actionable items to make your site faster.
What’s even better is that once you go through this list, you’d be on the good side of Google. That means you’ll have better chances of ranking on it.
You can use other tools like Pingdom, etc. to give you a different perspective on how you can further improve your site’s performance.
Step 5: Make your content flow coherently
One of the things that frustrates me when viewing a website is when I don’t understand what I’m looking at.
I’ve come across sites where the marketer simply puts EVERYTHING on the website.
But there’s no story being told. It jumps from one place to another.
In one page it talks about a product X, then on the next section it talks about the company, then the next it talks about a features of product X. Then the next section talks about the founders. Then you’d see a video about the history of the company.
Focus on sharing one thing at a time on a single page.
This way, you’ll hit two birds with one stone. You’ll get a better user experience and improve your SEO.
The best way to start with this is outlining what you want to share. For example, here’s what mine looks like. Note that I’m a consultant so the way I structured my website is different from how you would structure yours.
Essential features and capabilities of an email marketing software
12 different types of marketing emails
Email malpractices you should stop doing now
Examples of ineffective email marketing and how to improve them
Everything in this page contributes to the objective of the page — which is to provide an answer to people searching for information about email marketing. And in case you’re wondering, this page is a type of a cornerstone content.
Outline the content you want to place on your website or blog posts. Put a structure around it. Make sure you always put yourself in the shoes of your customers (or potential customers).
Step 6: Use headers, sections, and images to break your content
After you have your outline, use them as headers or sections in your content. Add a couple of images to make it easy to read as well.
These are rules of thumb that you can follow, but in no means dictate the way you create your content.
h1 —> title of the page
h2 —> section 1
h3 —> point 1 / step 1
h3 —> point 2 / step 2
h3 —> point 3 / step 3
h2 —> section 2
h3 —> point 1 / step 1
h3 —> point 2 / step 2
h3 —> point 3 / step 3
You get the idea. For example, in this post, here’s how it looks like:
h1 —> Commandment 9: Design Matters Too
h2 —> The Problem: Digital Marketing is Visual
h2 —> The Solution: Focus on User Experience
h3 —> Step 1: Map your customer journey
h3 —> Step 2: Understand these statistics
h3 —> Step 3: Get objective user experience data
h3 —> Step 4: Improve your website’s speed
h5 —> Step 5: Make your content flow coherently
h6 —> Step 6: Use headers, sections, and images to break your content
So, what are you going to do now?
Design in digital marketing is all about the user experience and how everything flows from one to the other. It’s not limited to visual or graphic design.
Make sure your site loads fast, has a coherent message, and easy to read and understand. Use data to guide you in your decisions. Stop relying on assumptions.
Does your website have a great design? Let me know in the comments below!
Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a tag management software — a tool that allows you to add/delete/modify code on your website (or app) without the need for programming knowledge.
The current trend in digital marketing is to install a piece of code (or snippets of code or tracking pixels) from the different software that you use. For example, if you want to track your website’s traffic and user’s behaviors, you can install Google Analytics.
To do so, you need to install a code that looks like this:
<! – Global site tag (gtag.js) - Google Analytics -->
<script async src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js?id=UA-12345678-9"></script>
window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || ;
gtag('js', new Date());
This comes with an instruction to add it to all pages on your site at the start of the <head> section of your website. But most often, a business will want to use several of these tools.
Problems of Not Using Google Tag Manager
Let’s say you want to capture visits and target those audiences on Facebook, you install the Facebook Pixel. Then you heard about the new feature in your CRM software that allows you to track your contacts’ website visits as well. That way, you know which pages interest them. What about your email marketing software? Or that shiny new live caht or chat bot software
You need to install several lines of code for each of these tools to make them work.
Traditionally, these sets of code is added by programmers/developers manually.
Marketers give the code to be added and where to add it. Then, the programmer/developer comes back to you in 1-3 weeks to say that they’ve added it.
Using GTM to manage all these code implementation/changes makes it simple.
Main Benefit of Using Google Tag Manager
Using Google Tag Manager eliminates all these unnecessary steps.
Instead of going through a lot of time and effort coordinating with 3rd parties, you can easily implement and manage the changes on your website quickly. You can also test whether the app or software is working properly without going back and forth.
To get started, all you need to do is give them the GTM code to install. Once that is installed, you can use GTM to handle all additions/deletions/changes of code inside it.
Of course, there are a lot more you can do with GTM like using it to create events that you push to Google Analytics, or use the Data Layer to gather more information to your reports. But that’s for another time.
Are you using GTM on your website? Does implementing new software take you so long because your developers and programmers take a while to get back to you?
Let me know in the comments below!
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