Get More Conversions
Aaron Montgomery Ward mailed the first catalog in 1872, and catalogers have been working to perfect the art of selling from the printed page ever since. By now, savvy catalogers understand the factors needed for effective print design, including cover imagery, page count, product density, copy, typography, color, paper, trim, etc.
The Web, in contrast, is in its infancy. The graphical Internet dates back only to 1991. Leading online firms (e.g., Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay, Google) are no more than 10 years old.
It isn’t surprising, then, that many catalogers have more experience creating strong print pages than Web pages. This article offers four suggestions for improving your online presentation for human visitors. (We’ll address optimizing your site for Web spiders and bots in a later column.)
FOCUS: What’s the Primary Purpose of the Page?
The most common problem with catalogers’ Web pages is a lack of focus — that is, pages designed to do too much. An informal analysis of several leading e-commerce Web sites revealed that a typical product detail page averages more than 100 links. Think about that: Visitors face 100 choices on where to click next. Seth Godin discusses this in “The Big Red Fez: How to Make Any Web Site Better” (a book I highly recommend). When everything is marked important, nothing is seen as important.
Here’s a recipe to increase your Web site’s focus: Consider every page as a direct-response ad with a single primary objective. Typical objectives include compelling visitors to go deeper into your site, request a catalog, add to a cart and complete an order.
Different pages can have different objectives, of course. And one objective may correspond with multiple links (e.g., a home page would have several “go deeper” links). But each page must have only one primary objective.
The hard part is deciding which objective is most important for each page. Different constituencies within your company will lobby hard for their objectives. “The home page must stress catalog requests,” some will argue. “The product category pages must pitch service subscriptions,” others will say. “Make sure product detail pages promote cross-sells,” others note.