04 Dec 2012

Answering the “Why”: The Secret to Natural Site Conversions for Usability and SEO – Part V

Back in the year 2002 I learned a lesson about persuasive design before it was called that. I made a new web site that missed a vital part. Why choose my services?

The man who scolded me from the other side of the planet was a prominent marketer whom I’d been introduced to online by another famous marketer. At the time I felt like he was the professor and I was the student who just failed an exam. And like a good professor, he taught me, bit by bit, what “unique selling proposition” meant. A decade has passed and web site designs still miss explaining why their visitors should choose them, trust them or why they are better than their competition.


Why is a Powerful Call to Action Trigger

This is Part Five in our series on natural conversions optimization techniques for search engines and people. Is your marketing content compelling? If you describe all the top reasons why visitors should use your products or services, where is this located and is it in text?

Today’s design fads present usability problems for ecommerce and services web sites because they lead off the entire top of the page with a gigantic set of rotating images with no text. The header contains a logo, global navigation that may or may not be in text format, a promotional image and customer service links in the upper right. None of that information addresses, in plain text, why visitors should stay on the page. For that information, they must scroll down the page and face all the other obstacles often thrown in their path.

Button with a "sales" label

Why is your company the best?

Some images in industries like fashion, food and hotels can communicate what sets them apart or makes them special. Even they need text for search engines and meeting accessibility guidelines. Web designers like to throw in gobs of JavaScript and CSS directions, images and forms, but none of these communicate why anyone should stay on the page.

Not only are search engines trying to understand the value you offer their searchers, anyone using assistive technology relies on the structure of your content so that it is read back to them in an understandable way. Sadly, many web sites ignore potential sales because of how they code their pages. With search engines getting smarter judging a site’s reputation based on usage, it makes sense to do everything you can to make every type of guest feel as though you want them there.


How to Add the Why Element

The “Why” heuristic in usability is your conversions work horse . Here are some suggestions for enhancing your web page content organically to showcase why your company is the best choice.

  1. Marketing content often consists of words like “Great”, “Best”, “Expert”, etc. Why is your company the best? Where did your expertise come from? Devote some space to tell your story in text format and link to pages that backup your claims.
  2. Another fad is providing space to list the company logos of clients and customers. This is a big “so what”. Provide their reasons for choosing you by adding a text introduction. Example, “The following companies chose our project management software because it is easy to use.”
  3. Add a text only tagline near your logo that states a top benefit along with your company or product name. Example, “Handmade Only [insert product], Lifetime Treasure”.
  4. Before the enormous rotating images that take up the entire top half of your homepage, provide a sentence or two in text describing why visitors should choose your company.
  5. Preferably above the page fold, place a sentence introduction to your company and list several bullet point benefits underneath. Be sure they are unique benefits and not what your competitors offer.
  6. Take advantage of the moment you have the attention of your guests by providing a strong call to action to a specific task. This is when “Why” text really helps with conversions. When you have just introduced a service or product, absolutely do not invite them to “learn more”. Instead, provide a reason to go to the page you wish to direct them to. What happens there? Will that page benefit them in some way? Why should they stop reading and go there now?
  7. It’s easy to sound egotistical when adding content written to persuade your visitors to take action. Avoid going overboard with “we”, “I”, “Us”, “our” words. The proper way to present your message is to address your visitors as “you” and “your”. In addition, address them by acknowledging who they are and why what you do or offer is helpful to them specifically. Example: “Top interior designers recommend using [insert product or solution] because [insert value.”]
  8. Why should you, your company, or your specific brand of products be trusted? Answering questions on trust provides more opportunities for fortifying content for better conversions.
  9. User generated content such as recommendations and reviews provided near product images and descriptions are additional ways to add text. Testimonials are another.
  10. Another over used and confusing design element are social networking icons. They appear in places where they don’t provide a practical purpose or their appearance is somewhere illogical on pages where an important task is located. Remove the mystery and provide reasons why visitors should “like” your company Facebook page, or “follow” your Twitter account.

Remember that a search engine may present the first text it finds in search results, while your guests need motivation to stay on the page. Why do you want your guests to engage with you?