Convert Browsers to Buyers

May 20, 2006
Make certain your site presents relevant information in a clear, well-organized, and concise manner.

Your website is the central nervous system of your marketing and sales. Every marketing activity, business card, sales sheet, email or presentation has your virtual address — it’s the key to your company’s storefront. It is your 24-hour a day sales vehicle. So, you may ask why more visitors aren’t converting to customers from your website?

The first question to ask is why did you build your website?

Some manufacturers simply consider it a convenience for the public. Others want to showcase pictures of their factory and process. But, most companies genuinely want to generate sales or sales leads online. It sounds simple. It seems obvious. Unfortunately, two-thirds of websites miss the mark, and that’s unacceptable.

If your website isn’t converting sales you’re not alone. The bad news is one of your competitors has developed a user-focused website and they’re taking your sales right now.

The fundamental challenge to overcome in order to increase sales from your website, is recognizing the only people that matter are the customers and visitors actively using the website.

Today, global competition is more intense than ever. Manufacturers can’t afford to have a website that doesn’t produce results. The days of having a website with a picture of the corporate headquarters and an explanation of your company should be long gone. If you have a picture of your company headquarters and a mission statement on your home page, you’re not giving yourself a chance to compete for sales. You may start to slide in your seat as you’re reading this, but there are several things you can do right now to increase the number of visitors who convert to leads and sales.

First, you must realize to achieve your goal requires a website built for your customers and visitors. It doesn’t matter much what company executives prefer from a design perspective, the site must be user-friendly and help customers achieve their goal. That means removing information barriers like pop-up advertisements, large graphics “that look cool” and contact information forms that ask — or worse, require — visitors to provide excruciating details of their life.

In addition, a successful sales website will not bombard visitors with marketing and sales messages on the home page. Instead, present the information that is most relevant to your customers in a clear, well-organized and concise manner. This is the point of entry for a majority of your visitors — make it easy and intuitive for them to navigate. If there are specific industries of specialization, highlight those industries so a prospective buyer can find that section immediately upon arriving to the home page.

Unlike traditional concepts and methods of advertising, your website’s home page should serve as an easy-to-read table of contents for visitors to locate the information they need. Once visitors navigate to a “secondary web page,” they expect more detailed information like product specs, pricing, locations/distributors, product applications. This is the information they will use when deciding to take further action online or offline. If your website isn’t designed to guide them to this information quickly and easily, you’ll lose a majority of prospects within 2-3 seconds of arriving to the home page.

Once a visitor has navigated to a secondary page, you have their attention and are gaining trust. You’ve made it easy for them to locate specific information and they feel good about achieving their goal. However, most metalcasters fail to capitalize on these “seducible moments” — the moment when prospective buyers feel comfortable providing personal information or requesting direct contact. Of the buyers who research or compare products online, 97% take further action online or offline, so it is imperative to clearly mark a call-to-action, such as “request a quote,” or “contact a sales agent.” It is also important to highlight all contact information so the visitor doesn’t have to search for it., a New York-based Web directory for industrial sellers recently released a report showing that 93.4% of industrial buyers use the Internet to research purchasing decisions. The report also reveals that several manufacturers design sites to serve their own purposes rather than to fit their customers’ needs. To ensure your website is designed to convert browsers to buyers, you can conduct market-research surveys to gain a better understanding of their online needs. Most importantly, try to think of your website from the customer’s point of view. How would you prefer to navigate? What information is the most relevant? Do I need an engineering degree to decipher the language?

Increasing the effectiveness of your website to meet visitor demands and increase conversions is an ongoing challenge. Ensure your focus is dedicated to boosting sales, by meeting the minimum standards of purpose driven design. Otherwise, you’re not giving yourself a fighting chance to win sales.

Internet behaviors have evolved. Visitors have developed expectations and habits for navigating websites. These are called, “learned conventions.” Visitors to business to business sites have a general expectation for how a website should be organized. This includes having a global navigation bar at the top of every web page; a sub-navigation bar on the left hand side of every web page; website search box located in the top left or right corner; and your company logo positioned in the top left corner.

Anyone can put up a website, but take the time to understand your customer’s needs. Employ purpose driven design and give yourself an opportunity to engage customers. You will increase the number of visitors converting to buyers and propel your metalcasting business to new heights.