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A summer interview with… Stephen Pavlovich: “Persuade the visitor”

14 July 2010 BY

There are many great search-experts out there. We decided we wanted to give some extra attention to some of them. Therefore we will be interviewing some of these experts. During the entire summer you will be served with short interviews with influential people in the industry. You will be seeing interviews with the likes of Joost de Valk, Marcus Tandler, Chris Sherman, Mike Grehan and Danny Sullivan, and off course our bloggers! Be aware that some interviews will be published in the newsletter!

Today: a conversion expert, he who knows what we all want, conversion: Stephen Pavlovich

1- Can you introduce yourself in one paragraph?

My company Conversion Factory helps people make more money from their website. We’ve helped clients add well over £10m to their annual revenue, both in the UK and internationally. We specialise in gaming, finance, travel and ecommerce.

2- What are you doing this summer?

I’m focusing on client work this summer, before getting back on the conference circuit in the autumn.

3- What is the most hottest subject in conversion at the moment, what should everyone be looking into?

Behavioural targeting is becoming increasingly popular, especially as Facebook looks to use it to increase conversion.

But for most websites, behavioural targeting would be overkill. The biggest opportunities are understanding and persuading the majority of your website’s visitors. There are plenty of big wins available, without needing to invest the time and resources in behavioural targeting.

4- What do you think is the “state of conversion” at the moment, is the industry doing good?

Conversion rate optimisation is getting increasingly popular, which is great. That said, the bigger it gets, the more some misconceptions get spread.

Here are two of my favourites:

  • Conversion is more than skin deep – There’s a lot more to conversion rate optimisation than what’s on the page: you need to consider your visitors’ objections, motivations, goals and expectations.

    Websites like abtests.com are great at giving people ideas for tests – but don’t assume that because it worked for someone else, it’ll work for you too. There’s a lot more affecting the conversion rate than what’s on the page.

  • Don’t compare conversion rates – It’s understandable that people will want to compare conversion rates: between this month and last month, between them and their competition, or even as a standard metric (eg “I’ve got a 4% conversion rate – is that good?”).

    The thing is – so much is dependent on the qualification of the traffic, which means comparing conversion rates isn’t too helpful.

    There are two times when it’s ok to compare conversion rates. The first is when you’re split-testing traffic and have statistically significant results. The second is if you’re an affiliate and are alternating traffic between two possible merchants.

5- What is your favorite website, apart from your own?

Like SEO, some of the most interesting sites in conversion rate optimisation are in what some people perceive to be “shady” industries – areas of weightloss, gaming and finance. Sites in these niches can get huge volumes of traffic – and revenue – but that also means there’s a large amount of competition. That means that these sites need a very sophisticated conversion strategy to gain marketshare.

6- Can “social marketing / media” and search survive apart from each other?

[Not sure I can answer this one!]

7- What’s your conversion tip for the summer?

I often talk about “bridging the gap” – it’s a key concept in conversion rate optimisation.

Not all traffic is ready to convert on your website immediately. While some visitors might convert in their first session, others will take a lot longer. They might need to discuss the purchase with a partner or friend (eg for a holiday or a new kitchen), they might be interrupted or short on time, or they just might not be convinced that your product or service is right for them.

Successful websites are ones that bridge the gap: they ensure that the visitor has a reason to come back when they’re ready to convert. There are two main ways to do this:

  • Persuade the visitor – Focus on persuading the visitor that your company and your product/service is right for them – and make this memorable. That way, when they’re ready to convert, they’ll be more likely to come back to you. Ensure that you’ve got a solid tagline (no marketing waffle here), clear and defined USPs, and guarantees to overcome their objections. For more detail on this, take a look at my article on SEOmoz.
  • Get their contact details – Don’t rely on the visitor remembering you: look for ways that you can get their email address so you can stay in contact. The key here is to focus on what the visitor wants, not what you want. So don’t ask them to sign up to a mailing list – instead, offer them an incentive that’s directly related to their purchase. If they customised their order, prompt them to save it. If it’s a complex purchase, offer them a buyer’s guide in their inbox to help them with it.

Stephen Pavlovich runs Conversion Factory, an agency specialising in effective conversion rate optimisation.

AUTHORED BY:
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Bas van den Beld is a speaker, trainer and online marketing strategist. Bas is the founder of Stateofdigital.com. -- You can hire Bas to speak, train or consult.
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