Use your website to close the deal with consumers

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Aaron Shapiro
Aaron Shapiro

Perhaps the biggest mistake direct marketers make is creating great campaigns that drive traffic to terrible websites. A brand may overspend on customer acquisition when really it is facing a conversion issue. If a website is too confusing for people to use; if it doesn't make consumers confident they understand the product; if it's too hard for people to select the right item; or if the purchase funnel is simply perplexing, they won't buy from you. You have no idea how many times I've heard people in focus groups try to use an e-commerce site and say, "Why is this so hard? I just want to give them my money!"

When thinking about direct marketing websites, you want consumers to do one thing: Click on the buy button. An effective website needs to make it easy for people to understand what they can buy, why they should buy it, how to buy it, and make it easy to click the button. No matter your product or brand, if you're looking for sales, all roads should lead to a purchase. And once they hit the buy button, it must be dead-simple to check-out. 

One way this comes to life is carefully strategizing product and pricing information. Yes, every site needs to provide enough information so people know what they're buying and they feel comfortable doing so. 

However, if your site is overpopulated with pages of company and product information, a consumer can fall down the rabbit hole and never come back up. Everything should be designed with one question in mind: Does the user need to know this to make a purchase? If the answer is no, it doesn't belong. A good site explains why people should buy and then gets out of the way so they can.

This is also relevant in product selection. If you sell a lot of different products or items that require a lot of customization, you must work rigorously to present the options in a way that empowers consumers to find what they want quickly, and then, of course, buy. It's a balance between showcasing need-to-know information and avoiding too many pull-down menus, complex spreadsheets and too many distracting upselling and cross-selling options for the user to navigate.

All marketers face a choice: Invest to increase the efficacy of a campaign through great test-and-learn methodologies, or spend the same amount to increase website conversions the same degree. A boost in campaign efficacy affects only that one campaign. The growth in conversions? That's an improvement in every campaign you will ever run. 

In short, that's the secret: Use your website to maximize sales by making it incredibly easy to buy. In doing so, a digital direct marketing business can flourish.

Aaron Shapiro is CEO at HUGE and the author of Users Not Customers, a book about what it takes for companies to succeed in the digital economy.

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