Direct Selling: Hot or Not?
“Sex appeal”—it sounds so “red lights and velvet.” I think about fashionable women’s magazines and the “advice” they provide for putting forth the better you. Stealing a page from Cosmo, I’ll talk about your online sex appeal and how to make your Web site “hot.”
1. Take an Honest Look in the Mirror
Before you do anything, you need to take an honest appraisal of your current Web site and online activities. Analytics are your friend. In fact, they’re like that one friend who always tells you the truth.
Start with navigation paths, particularly paths to greatest conversion, greatest abandonment and greatest revenue per page view. And keep up the self-evaluation by answering other tough questions:
- What’s our ROI by keyword? Pay-per-click ad version?
- What products and categories are producing the greatest conversions? How are we using that information to create smarter homepages, category pages and e-mail campaigns?
- How does our navigation “fit” with our customers’ ideal “experience”?
- Are we maximizing conversion with our site architecture, checkout process, e-mail collection efforts
- Have we really integrated our brand online, or are we just another site?
Let customers (through their actual transactions and visit behaviors) tell you what you need to know about your appeal online. They’ll let you know straight away if you’re the one everybody has to dance with or if you’re the one that’s always noticing how everyone else is having a great time.
2. Looks Aren’t Everything, but They’re Something
A great outfit and perfect makeup get you noticed, grab immediate attention and make the first impression. Think of your homepage as your outfit: It’s the most viewed page on your site, and it’s how many of your customers are introduced to your brand.
Your graphics and text, and the mixture of each, are your on-site makeup. Graphics should be used appropriately and in balance with adequate amounts of search engine optimization-friendly selling text. Bullets are good, as are alternative view photos. And don’t forget that you need to look good even when the makeup comes off. In other words, ALT tags for images, buttons, etc., are important for SEO, but also for rendering, particularly e-mail rendering, when browsers don’t allow images.
3. Stand in Good Light
Sex appeal is about looking your best in the right place. Great hair and makeup along with the perfect outfit deserve to be shown off in the right places. This means your search terms need to be honed to a fine edge to get the greatest impact. If you’re upscale, should you really be acquiring customers on “discount” terms? Probably not.
Running the numbers on new customer acquisition, conversion, contribution, ROI and retention at the keyword level is critical. You wouldn’t base the success of your catalog prospecting on the cumulative response of every list combined. Why would you determine that “PPC works” because an entire series of words does. Standing in good light means showing up where you want and need to show up for the right terms—those that produce the greatest conversion, sales per conversion and sales per click.
You’ve heard a thousand times that it’s the accessories that say so much about you. But how is your site accessorized?
5. Get Your Friends to Say Good Things About You
There’s nothing like a few good friends planted in the crowd to get your desirability up, right? Work in the social network arena to get the word out. Bloggers can drive a ton of traffic to your site and have more pull than you can imagine with consumers. Plus, a key ingredient in the popular search engine algorithms is external links, which, of course, blog references often are.
6. Don’t Forget Your Wingman
Friends are important, but having that one special ally—your wingman—is critical. The good news for you is that your customers very often want to be your wingman. Given an opportunity, customers often will review products and give opinions about your brand and your merchandise. You should be incorporating these testimonials and product reviews into the site to increase your credibility, strengthen your brand and improve conversion rates.
7. Just Be Yourself
Know who you are, and be true to yourself. There’s nothing sexier than people who know exactly who they are and are comfortable in that skin. Your brand is your skin. Being true to the brand and enforcing your positioning at every level of your site is essential to upping your online sex appeal. Just as important, know who you aren’t, and don’t try to be that. Visitors and customers can tell when you’re out of your comfort zone, and they respond by walking away.
8. Don’t Be Hard to Get
You don’t want your online persona to be saddled with a difficult checkout process. If your site data tells you your most popular exit page is in the middle of your checkout process, that’s a problem. Abandoned cart programs are meant to address folks who leave (for whatever reason) before completing the transaction, but that doesn’t mean you should be taking as a given that customers are just going to leave before they buy. Your checkout should be efficient, as quick as possible and allow guests to buy without creating accounts.
So, there you have it. Just like you and I can take steps to improve our sex appeal, so can you with your Web site. Trim it down, dress it up, give it some personality and watch it work!
Steve Trollinger is executive vice president of J. Schmid & Associates, Mission, Kan. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.