By conducting a site audit as if you were an outside user, you can identify the dead ends in your website, fix them, and improve your conversion rates.
Digital dead ends are conversion killers. They act as obstacles, making it more difficult for your customers to end up where they (and you) would like them to be - clicking the button. Whether you're measuring by number of downloads, email newsletter sign-ups, or units sold, eradicating the dead ends in your brand's digital universe is a major key in optimizing conversion rates.
Matt Walsh, founder and experience director for Green Stone, defines a dead end as "any touch point that doesn't intelligently encourage a consumer's journey down the funnel through personalization and/or immediate engagement opportunities."
Audit Your Marketing Universe
Finding and fixing the dead ends is pretty straightforward, but it is a time-consuming process. First, you'll have to get an idea of the landscape you have control over. Start by putting together a list of every place you publish content to - your website, blog, and all social media accounts.
Then, pick a channel and start clicking as if you were an outsider - a customer or someone unfamiliar with your brand. When you move from a Facebook link to your website, what is that first landing page on your site like? Is it clear what service or product you offer, either from the content, a title heading, or sidebar explanation? When a visitor is done reading or viewing the content on the page, are there clear calls to action helping them to decide where to move next?
Find and Fix
If not, this is where your work begins. Consider other pages or channels within your controlled brand universe (website, blog, social media pages) that would make sense to link to from that page. Would linking to related blog posts help move your customer further down the buying path? Maybe the next logical step after seeing the content on this page would be to check out prices, or perhaps watch a video, share a link on Twitter, or download a free e-book.
Whatever that next logical step is, be sure that you've included easy ways for your visitors to continue clicking through and engaging with your brand.
Start on the homepage and go from there. With a copy of your site's full sitemap by your side, begin clicking around and complete a site audit. Go through every page on your site - does it naturally weave back into the system offering additional content, or do you leave your customers hanging? Are there instances where off-site links lead visitors away from your content universe?
Marketing Automation Improves Integration
For brands with a larger digital footprint, marketing automation solutions like HubSpot start to make more sense. They employ inbound marketing strategies to help connect the dots between blogging, email, PR, and social so that you're able to offer a truly integrated marketing experience that better nurtures your leads and improves conversion rates.
Tie It All Together
Think about the last time you made a purchase online. If you didn't go to that site with the specific intention to spend money, but ended up doing so anyway, how did that whole process go down?
You may have clicked a link or ad from another site and ended up on the site where you made the purchase. Maybe they advertised free shipping on orders of more than $50 and displayed a sidebar section that showed off testimonials from happy customers. Maybe you read a blog post or two, clicked on a call to action that reminded you of the free shipping, and ultimately completed a purchase.
If you weren't intending to make that purchase before landing on the site, chances are the brand's efforts to keep you in their marketing universe once you landed there were a major contributing factor to you making the purchase.
When you take the time to walk through the customer experience, click-by-click, you're better able to identify the dead ends and clear a path for your customers. Make it easy for site visitors to explore your brand or the product they've expressed interest in. Pave the way by including logical next steps in every place that makes sense - thank-you pages, product pages, blog posts, social media bios, interior page widgets, and so on. Your conversion rates will thank you.
Image via Shutterstock.
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Aubrey is the director of marketing programs at Salted Stone, a digital marketing agency in Southern California. She specializes in brand strategy and inbound marketing, working with emerging tech companies and B2B providers to identify their voice and create revenue-driving content plans.
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This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.
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12:00pm ET/9:00am PT