When it comes to SEO, getting traffic to your website is only one part of the equation. At the end of the day, getting visitors is absolutely pointless if you can't get them to perform some sort of action, e.g. sign up to a newsletter, fill out a “get a quote form” or (the ultimate goal) of buying your product/hire your services.
Websites that enjoy the best conversion have one thing in common. They all target customers differently depending on what stages they are at in the buying cycle. Ben Hunt, a recognised expert in the field of Traffic Conversion, came up with the term “Awareness Ladder” to explain the concept and defined it as “A simple model that can help you pitch every page on your web site at its target audience with precision.”
Here are the standard stages of awareness:
Step 0: Not Aware of the Need
At this stage, the prospect is not aware they have a problem, so they’re not necessarily looking for a solution. How to target them? Go where they are on the web, tell them they have a problem and educate them on why it’s a big deal.
Example: middle-aged men and women who may have a serious health issue (like Type 2 Diabetes) but don’t realise it. You could target these people by putting banner ads on websites that are frequented by this demographic. The banner ads could include copy to this effect:
“Did you know itchy skin can be a sign of diabetes? Click here for a complete list of diabetes symptoms”
Step 1: Aware of a need (but not aware solutions exist)
These are people who search on generic “problem” keywords, like “head lice” or “computer virus”. Web pages set up to target these keywords should describe the problem and why it needs to be solved, then link to other pages that discuss solutions. Which leads to the next step:
Step 2: Aware of some solutions (but not your specific one)
At this phase of the prospect’s awareness, they may be in the “buying” phase. They might have refined their search beyond basic keywords like “computer virus” and are searching on slightly more targeted terms like “best computer virus software”, or “online tool to get rid of computer virus”. Web pages targeting these terms should discuss the range of solutions available, and could be set up like “review” pages.
Step 3: Aware of the specific solution (but not of its benefits)
At this stage, the prospect is searching by using product or service-specific terms (for example: “AVG anti-virus”). They’ve probably already made the emotional decision to buy, and are now just looking for information to validate their choice. This is where well presented product-review pages convert very well. If you are able to attract and convince people who are at this stage of the buying cycle, you have the potential to rake it in.
Bu,t it’s imperative that web pages which target people at Stage 3 lay out very clearly the BENEFITS (not only the features) of the product the page is promoting.
Step 4: Aware of benefits (but not convinced)
At this stage, the prospective customer is on the verge of purchase but hasn't quite made up their mind – so how do you go about pushing them off the fence?
The most effective way to do this is by building a vision in their mind of how much easier and enjoyable their life will be once they reap the benefits of the product you’re promoting.
Step 5: Convinced and ready to buy
At this point, the prospect has credit card in hand, and all you need do is ensure your shopping cart functions effectively and there are no obstacles in the way of conversion, such as a confusing or lengthy checkout process. This is easier said than done, so make sure your “add to cart” and checkout processes are smooth and trouble free.