Using AIDA to improve website conversion rates

People often cry "My website gets plenty of visitors, but they aren't doing anything!" By 'anything' they mean they aren't filling out that form, requesting a quote, buying something, subscribing to a blog or whatever other action is required.

This can be very frustrating, as after all that's why you spent all that time, effort and money to get the website looking like the thing of beauty that it (hopefully) is.

The process of turning a visitor (prospect or lead) into a sale (sign up, enquiry or purchase) is what is know as conversion. Your website could (actually, no – make that should) have multiple conversion goals to support different stages in the buying cycle.

And if it's not happening on your website, the question is "Why?" and that's what this post is all about. But first things first.....

Are you getting the right kind of traffic?

Just having "visitors" to your website does not mean they're people who want what you've got.

If you get 100 visitors a week but a third of them are outside the country and another third outside your geographic location then the number of genuine, quality leads is considerably reduced. Have a look at your visitors geographic location. You may need to refocus where you are advertising your services if they are coming from the wrong place.

Also consider the keywords that people use to get to your site – do they match your offer and the language you use in your content? Although it is frustrating to see 'not provided' in Google Analytics keyword data, Google's Webmaster tools will also give you information that will give you at least a starting idea of what keywords people are using to land on your site.

It goes without saying that you need your advertising and promotion to use the right language and content to appeal to the right audience. Look at the keywords your visitors are using, whether your content is consistent with this AND matches what you actually have to offer.

Of course, you'll only know traffic source data this if you have proper reporting in place!

But let's assume that at least some of your visitors are genuinely in your target audience.  Let's also assume that your website has been put together well and doesn't have any obvious technical errors, it loads fast, has quality images and an appealing layout.

Introducing AIDA

AIDA is an acronym that has been around for over a century and describes a series of events that occur when a consumer moves from awareness of a brand or product, to purchasing. 

Thinking about the process people go through when buying is a useful way to look at your website and see where it could be improved.

A = Get their Attention

I think if someone is on your website, then you've already got their attention somehow. This step is largely controlled by off site promotional work, and is the reason you put some effort into search engine optimisation (SEO).

But if you get their attention for the wrong reason, it doesn't matter what you do on your website it won't work (back to point 1 above).

Use keyword phrases and offers in your promotional material that match your audiences intent. That are genuine. There is no point being on the front page of Google and attracting traffic for "women's shoes" if in fact you are offering handbags. Not only will they not buy, you'll damage your brand. Give them what they came for!
For your website to support your SEO efforts, you'll need content. A blog is an excellent way of making sure you have a place to put regular, fresh and unique information.

Once on your website, where you place your content is an important part of the attention phase, because you want to make sure you keep it once you have it. Priority content should be where it will be noticed, and free from distracting, less important visual bling.

Traditionally this has been at the top and toward the left of the page in the shape of an F, although testing with your particular audience and offer across different devices might show a different pattern.

I = Get them interested

Ok, so you've got their attention – now what?

This is where the quality of your website design and content really play their part. Poor quality content and images will have them clicking the back button within seconds.

In these first few seconds of their visit, you need to convey "Hey, I know what you need, and we can give it to you". Not in a slimy snake-oiled salesman way, but as a friendly and professional helping hand.

You won't do this by trying to win them with your super-ninja sales skills like someone on a first date trying to get a marriage committment.  You also won't do it with the same old sales material that you've been using in your brochures - no one likes someone who talks about themselves all the time.

It does mean demonstrating that you understand their needs, problems and challenges and can be trusted to help. Use well crafted sales content, video, case studies, tools, value-add content like e-books and your blog to build up this picture. Talk about what is bothering them. Show them that you understand their pain.

Trust is earned this way. Also put sufficient information about your company and your credentials so your visitors know they are dealing with people, not a faceless sales machine.

Add 'social proof' to show them you are a good choice - this is through testimonials, case studies and social interactions.

Your website engagement statistics will tell you if you are doing well in the interest stakes.

D = Build desire

Once you've created interest by showing understanding and building trust you have to get them to want what you are offering. You have to build desire for what you have to sell. This means conveying the benefits.  These have to be benefits that are meaningful to them.

  • Provide information that speaks to your audiences needs and describes what they will get if they deal with you.
  • Be informative like a friendly, helpful sales person.
  • Show how you can solve their problem, rather than how they can help you achieve your objective.

This is where you can start talking about what you do or who you are that is unique. Quality service or other generic phrases won't work here – your competition will all be saying the same thing.
Testimonials and reviews are a great way to demonstrate that other people have had a good experience and got the benefit of using your services. This reduces people's concern about risk.

You may also like to include devices such as immediacy ("buy today and get 10% off" or "offer ends Tuesday") and scarcity ("stocks limited"/"first 100 gets a free toaster") etc to encourage someone who is wavering, to take the final step.

A = Get them to take action by making it real easy

Only when they have the desire for your offer will a visitor take some action. It might be a small action – like signing up for your newsletter or downloading an e-book.  If they aren't quite ready to make a committment right then and there, they might be willing to give you permission to stay in touch until they are ready.

Whatever action they are going to take, you have to make it easy for them to do it. If you want them to sign up for your seminar, put the sign up form or Call To Action (CTA) on each relevant page. If they fill in a form, don't ask for more information than you need.

If you know of common objections that come up, address them directly.

Don't make them work for it - put contact buttons or contact information in obvious places, and make them stand out.

Advocacy – what they do after you've blown them away

Recently some people have started to put an extra A on the end to capture what having rabid fans can do to your brand (Apple is a good example of this).

Once you have won someone as a customer, it doesn't stop there. Give phenomenal service, a quality product or outstanding value for money and people will act like a wider sales force for your company. Social media is a great way to stay in touch and encourage this behaviour.

I once ordered some custom T-Shirts online from a company that advertised next day shipping. Five weeks after the order was submitted and promises of 'they're coming' – I was still waiting. I'll never do business with them again and I certainly won't rave about them anywhere.

In Summary

If your website isn't generating the kind of return you'd like it to be, then consider the four AIDA steps.

Breaking down the conversion process into these steps can help you see more clearly what elements of the structure, design and content is working at each phase, and where the biggest problems are so you can start tackling them one at a time.

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Client words...

As a first time potential website owner who wanted some professional design input we embarked on the usual routine of web-trawling for suitable website design consultants. After interviewing the ‘top end and highest priced’ designers and the subsequently elicited ‘how much?’ responses, we found Essentee, who provide a fixed-fee service.

From the first contact we found Sandra to be attentive, focused, understanding and responsive to our unique needs.  She took away our brief and produced an initial proposal which was exactly right: simple, focused, appropriate. 

Throughout the subsequent development and tweaking, Sandra and Tony provided just the right amount of corrective suggestions such as to direct us to a solution that resulted in what, to us, is a first class website that speaks the words we wanted to say in the way we wanted it said. No dramas, no patronising, just patient understanding and coaxing.

If you are a website virgin, look no further: Sandra and Tony will ease your passage and you will emerge the other end with a smile and a beautiful new-born website!

Dave at Reveal Building Consultants Ltd