Traditionally, websites have been designed to sell the customer on your business and to help make a significant enough impression to persuade them to buy your product or services. Direct-response websites are set up to motivate — no, demand — that visitors take action. They’re designed to generate and foster a relationship with the customer, but more important, initiate leads. Does your website do that now?
If you’re starting from scratch or want to revamp your existing site, there are a number of things you should keep in mind.
Step 1: Keywords
First, you must have well-researched, strategically placed keywords. These are SEO keywords that are used most frequently in online searches. The more of these you have embedded in your site, the more likely your site will come up in someone’s search, and thus, the better your chances of them visiting your direct-response website.
Lists of keywords are available for free online. Find the ones that best match your brand, product, or service, and plug them into your site. The more people who come back to your site, the higher Google will move your SEO ranking. Frequent, repeated site visits indicate you’re an authority with good content, and that increases your score in the Google algorithm. Better scores move you to page one, and since about half of search traffic goes through Google, and the majority of resulting purchases take place from businesses on page one, that is exactly where you want your business to be! Yes, this process takes time, knowledge, money and energy, which most business owners are not willing to exert. But again, can your business afford for you not to?
Step 2: Simple design
Often, people build a website that contains lots and lots of information — too much. This style of website might attract a wide range of visitors (due to high keywords) but achieve minimal or no conversion. The key here is to design your website so that visitors click “buy,” not click away.
Your direct-response website needs to have a simple design that is easy to navigate, and it needs to have at least ten things for potential customers to do, only one of which is purchasing your product or service. For instance, have a special offer to attract new customers (e.g., free introductory service, free sample, new customer discount/coupons, buy one get one free, etc.).
Do you have a special report or other lead-generation magnet on your site? If not, consider building a lead-generation magnet as an opt-in function on your website to entice visitors to request the freebie in exchange for their contact information. A lead magnet can be a video link, audio link, free report, free subscription, free coupon, discount coupon, free sample, free tip sheet, free book.
Step 3: Mobile visitors
As you consider your design, place heavy emphasis on how your DR website is designed and how it looks on mobile devices. Mobile devices surpassed desktops for media time and online searches in 2014, and usage time continues to rise. If you’re not able to reach your audience through mobile media search or display, or your DR website doesn’t offer a superb, smartphone-friendly experience, you will lose out to other businesses that do.
Step 4: Follow-up system
Another critical aspect of most websites is having a “relentless, ongoing email follow-up system till they buy, die, or unsubscribe.” If you don’t have time to set it up yourself, find someone who will — it’s money well spent. Keeping in touch with your customers, clients, or patients builds better relationships and leads to more referrals. Since you don’t always know where your customer is in their decision-making process, you’ve got to maintain regular communication with them so when they cross that threshold, boom! There you are. You’ve been building that relationship with them by offering reliable, relevant content.
Step 5: Reviews
Part of the sales/navigation process for your website should include testimonials, also known as “Five-Star Reviews.” What others say about you is infinitely more powerful than what you say about yourself. That’s why referrals are the easiest people to sell. Someone they know and trust recommended you.
A good review needs to have certain direct response principles included in the review:
- A headline taken from the comments in the review that clearly shows the benefit they received from using your products or services so that others who are experiencing the same problem can relate to that review.
- What their problem was and how it affected them on an emotional level. Remember, people make decisions based on emotion and then justify with logic.
- The reason the prospect chose you vs. your competition.
- Their full name and occupation. If I’m a fireman, and I see a fireman wrote a testimonial, I’m more likely to have an affinity with that occupation, the review is now more believable, and there’s a greater chance I’ll do business with that company.
- Reviews should be in italics with “quotation marks” at the beginning and end of the review. By doing this, you differentiate the copy from the rest of the website copy so the website visitor physically sees the difference on the website page.
- There should be at least one review on the main page of your website with links to a page that has more reviews on it. If you have reviews on other sites, there should be a link, with the logo, to those sites.
Online marketing trends are ever changing, but you can be certain that the direct-response marketing system will remain evergreen. Implementing the direct-response principles into your website will systematically move your site from a brochure to a money-making machine, converting visitors to leads and leads to customers for life.
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John is the managing director of MIT Agency which is a premium digital agency focused on providing pre-eminent technology services to ambitious businesses across geographies and industries. MIT Agency’s core expertise includes the planning, development, management & marketing of businesses and digital products with world-class user experience, artificial intelligence and scalable architecture.