The Internet’s history has not been kind to ecommerce and lead generation websites.
Since the beginning, websites have grown up under the direction of brand marketing departments and were seen as only a marketing tool. Because of this history websites became a vehicle for branding (yelling at customers) instead of online sales (listening to and serving customers).
This marketing first mindset is still dominant on the web today and is preventing consumers from using brand websites as sales and service touch points to fulfill their needs and accomplish their goals: to research and purchase a product or service.
Brands should recognize this shift and adapt their mindset and strategies, or they might as well take the decade old tactic of selling off individual pixels of their website — they would stand to make a better return on their investment.
Marketing teams have owned the responsibility of brand websites because of the evolution from hard, printed marketing materials to digital, online marketing materials. It was a natural evolution, but one with consequences for brands as this has limited their online sales potential.
If brand websites, especially those collecting leads and facilitating transactions, had grown up under the sales team, they would do a better job of providing what the customer is actually using their site for.
We can’t change the past, but we can take some simple steps to improve results across sales channels, increase conversion rates, and produce higher performing ecommerce assets by thinking like a VP of Sales instead of a VP of Marketing.
Start the transition to thinking like a salesperson by looking into these areas of your ecommerce or lead generation website:
Because websites have mainly acted as marketing tools, most brand site content is not properly positioned for shoppers and search engines to understand the unique selling message in a helpful manner. To move to a sales mindset, consider reviewing your search engine results pages and assess the content relevance to the consumer, not the brand.
Through the eyes of a salesperson, engagement is best defined as when the site immediately captures the attention of the customer. Customers find what they are looking for quickly, rather than what the brand marketing team wants the customer to see right now based on their internal editorial calendar. Review your content strategy around product promotions (especially as a homepage feature), site navigation and product detail wayfinding, and social proof areas like customer reviews to see sales gains.
More often than not, the homepage is a marketing message holding area. To move from a marketing mindset to a sales mindset look at your homepage and assess its effectiveness for capturing all conversion opportunities. Where are the holes, the blatant marketing, the links that lead to more marketing content instead of products?
Optimize the purchase path from the homepage based on this assessment.
If the look, feel, and tone of the homepage is at complete odds with the rest of the site, you know the marketing editorial calendar has taken over the homepage.
Navigation and Customer Paths
We’ve often found that the navigation hierarchy of most websites is not based on customer’s desired paths to purchase. Instead, because of the historical marketing mindset, they’re most often based on how the old printed catalog was organized. To transition the website to a sales tool test the main navigation menu, menu-path relevance, link prioritization, and CTA effectiveness against what customers actually do on your site.
Site search is often the most overlooked area for optimizing a sales focused website. Check Google Analytics for the top searched terms and try them out to ensure the results are relevant. If the right results aren’t coming back, you’re missing out on a buyer who typically converts 4x higher than the rest. You’ll get a customer for life because your competitors are most likely ignoring this.
If the site is missing key opportunities to build shopper loyalty, your average order value (AOV) is going to suffer.
We’re not talking about brand loyalty through the proper, emotional marketing message. Instead a salesperson knows that brand loyalty is a benefit of facilitating an easy transaction.
You’ll get a customer for life because your competitors are most likely ignoring this. Loyalty is accomplished by updating your site’s accessibility, refining your content for helpfulness and relevance, and providing messaging that guides the consumer through the purchase path.
Moving from the marketing mindset into the sales mindset means gathering data from consumers on your site and using that data to make informed decisions. We can promise you that in every case we’ve encountered, better/more brand messaging was not the solution. Understand your consumers’ needs and then serving them increases online sales every time.