Part II: You Have Web Site Traffic, Now What?

Thousands of users visit your Web site daily and leave millions of impressions. However, despite the volume of online traffic, few companies truly know anything about these visitors. To get the most out of your online investment and capitalize on the efforts of your search engine marketing dollars, it is important to answer the following questions regarding your visitors:

Who are they?

Do they know where they are?

Do they know where to go from here?

Do you know why they are there?

Do you know what they want?

How are you encouraging them to stay and how do you measure how successful each impression is?

By providing answers to these important questions, a marketer will be able to develop an overall understanding of its online visitors and be able to better target them in an effort to produce a stronger return on investment (ROI) of online initiatives. In this two-part series, we explore six steps to ensure success from your SEM efforts. Last month, we focused on the initial phase of the traffic generated by search engine marketing and analyzed three steps to help identify who the users are, how best to lure users throughout your site,and how to demonstrate your company through an easily-navigated site. This month we focus on the final three steps.



Step 4 - Educate the User

Whether you are an online retailer, news source, small local business, or Fortune 500 company, people are visiting Web sites to learn something. Content must provide them with information and an environment in which to learn. The challenge is to engage the user and make your visitors feel comfortable and trust you.

A few easy ways to build trust and credibility include:

Brand reinforcement, extending the importance of your company's reputation
Consistent navigation, so users are comfortable with how easy it is to find information
Consistent and professional visual presentation
Add seals of approval (e.g. symbols or text that reinforce credibility, safety, testimonials)
Publish your management team so users feel they can connect with real people

Step 5 - Convert the User

From shopper to subscriber to weekly visitor, converting the user is a goal on any Web site, but how do you convert the visitor into a prospect or customer?

The simplest method is to capture a small amount of information by giving the user an easy way to contact you. Whether through e-mail, a short form, live chat, or a phone number, users will be more willing to trade information about themselves based on the amount of information you provide. If you want more than a name and e-mail address, you will need toprovide more information such as white papers, support, and product updates, evaluation copies or demonstrations. With these offers, users are more likely to providedetailed information.

If you are still unable to convert the users, offer more in trade, such as trinkets, coupons, samples, and other promotional items, so the users will feel like they are getting something tangible for their personal information.

Step 6 - Evaluate the User

The final step in the process is evaluating the users to understand how they utilized your Web site. The evaluation process can include a direct mail campaign, e-mail campaign, or other traditional marketing initiatives. Regardless of the method you employ, your outreach to these potential customers must respect their rights, while still providing the information they were seeking when they originally visited your site.

By constantly evaluating your visitors, you will not only be able to develop a site that handles the volume of visitors that your search engine marketing campaign creates, but you will more frequently be able toconvert those visitors into paying customers.

In the complex search engine game, the importance of handling site traffic is just as - if not more - important than generating the traffic itself. By utilizing these tactics, you will achieve a distinct advantage over your competitors, most of whom are simply investing their resources into driving traffic, rather than turning those visitors into dollars.

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