Define goals, demographics and keywords for conversion: Eisenberg at SES

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NEW YORK - Getting consumers to a site is easy, but turning visitors into buyers takes follow through to the point of sale, according to experts on a panel yesterday at the Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo.

In the session, "Converting Visitors into Buyers," Bryan Eisenberg, co-founder and chief persuasion officer of Future Now Inc., discussed a strategy for conversion through search. Mr. Eisenberg said defining conversion goals and customer demographics combined with testing creative, keywords and calls to action is a good place to start converting.

"Be careful about the words you use - it will have an impact on your conversion rate," he told delegates. "The call to action is also key. We did a campaign for Dell, which increased revenue by $1 million by testing the call to action."

Mr. Eisenberg highlighted the science of supermarket aisles, carefully controlled based on consumer behavior, as a good reference when creating online shopping. Despite the inability to smell the virtual, he stressed the importance of scent in a metaphoric sense. He gave an example of Lincoln cars using search words on multiple landing pages to increase the smell of what the consumer was looking for throughout the transaction.

"If trigger words are on a landing page 72 percent of the time, the customer converted," Mr. Eisenberg said. "If people search a query, and click through to your landing page, then the words should be visible throughout the buying process for conversion optimization."

Michael Sack, director of search engine marketing technology and development at Idearc Media Corp., also sees the offline world as a good place to reference when creating strategy for online.

Mr. Sack compared the layout of a grocery store to the design of landing pages. Milk is placed in the back of the grocery store since almost all shoppers purchase milk, and this gets them to come through the store to see other products. The same applies for a Web site.

Also, Mr. Sack said product display is important and good visuals should be used. Sometimes these visuals may lead to direct sales, but sometimes it's a matter of retention. This should be part of the conversion strategy.

"Set conversion benchmarks, which is not always buying," he said. "Sometimes it's getting them to look at product which could mean a cash sale at a retail store or a lead at your BTB site."

Shopping carts are the last step and one that seals the deal, and marketers should focus on doing just that.

"You have to make it easy for the consumer to check out," Mr. Sack said. "There is a phenomenal drop-off rate in carts because of hard-to-use features."

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