The First Conversions: What Script Writers Can Teach Online Marketers
Product pages get a lot of love. Testing budgets go there, analysts’ reviews focus there and even AdWords campaigns deep link there (sometimes). And why not? You'd be hard-pressed to find a page that ties to return on investment as tightly as the page that directly sells the product. Tiny conversion improvements there add up.
If you compare a website to a movie, the product page is the third act. It's where the tension reaches heights and the audience gets the conclusion. Because a lot hangs on it, movie studios spend a disproportionate amount of time punching up the script for the third act.
Billy Wilder is known for tearing into this kind of mentality. "If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act," he notes.
The same can be true of online marketing.
The Problem is in the First Act
Just because visitors leave a product page doesn't mean the problem is WITH the product page. Maybe the product page is persuasive about the sale, but the visitor wants to compare specifications. The product may have a clear call to action, but the page isn't helping return visitors find support information. The product page can be very persuasive, but if it's persuasive about the wrong things, it's not going to stop visitors from looking elsewhere.
The real problem is this: most of the time, the sale isn't your first conversion.
Conversions are tied to where the visitor is in their decision-making process. A good way to think about it is the AIDA model: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. If visitors are looking for quality educational material about your industry, success isn't the sale … yet. Success is a low bounce rate and high return rate on early-stage pages, ones designed to cater to the "attention" phase.
Tim Ash is the author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization, and CEO of SiteTuners. A computer scientist and cognitive scientist by education (his PhD studies were in Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence), Tim has developed an expertise in user-centered design, persuasion and understanding online behavior, and landing page testing. In the mid-1990s he became one of the early pioneers in the discipline of website conversion rate optimization. Over the past 15 years, Tim has helped a number of major US and international brands to develop successful web-based initiatives. Companies like Google, Expedia, Kodak, eHarmony, Facebook, American Express, Canon, Nestle, Symantec, Intuit, AutoDesk and many others have benefitted from Tim's deep understanding and innovative perspective.
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