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Soft Sell with Content

Apr 2, 2008
Content sites are a great way to increase conversion and sales. Over the last year I have watched traffic on a dozen sites climb higher and higher as content is added.

Generally, browsers don't go straight for the online store and pull out their credit card. Sometimes they do, which is great, but usually browsers want to see a little bit more of whom you are and what you are doing before they trust you enough to buy from you.

Looking at my own browsing habits, clearly and dispassionately, confirms this. Sometimes I want something very specific, like a book or a CD, so I go to Amazon, or if I am looking for an antique or something like that I go to Ebay. Otherwise I am searching for how-to information, like how to prune my apple tree, or how do I use a heat pump auxiliary to my furnace.

When I find a site that tells me how to prune my apple tree, and they are selling pruning shears or other garden equipment, I will have a look, and maybe buy something. But the reason I went there in the first place was for the free information, not to buy something. If the sales pitch is too aggressive, I leave.

Most people are OK with advertising because we all know that is what keeps everything running and pays the bills

With this in mind, you can design (or re-design) the flow of your site to give people what they want. Usually, but not always there are 3 types of people, each with their own needs which must be catered to. Time spent identifying the groups of people that come to your site is time very well spent! Try to figure out what the different types of people that visit your site want, and then make sure they can get it quickly and easily, without interfering with the other groups getting what they want.

For example, don't let the people who want free stuff get annoyed by the online store. People who want free stuff will buy from you, but they require a low key approach.

1. Give it to me right now. A few people will come to your site wanting exactly what you have and will buy it right away. This will be a minority, but a very important minority. Make sure these people can get what they want right away with a minimum of fuss.

2. Where is the free info? This will probably be the largest category. Just like in the example above, they want free information to help them solve a problem. They can be tempted to purchase something, but give the free information first, then provide unobtrusive links to purchase options.

3. I'll get it later. This group of people are interested, like what you have to say, but don't want to buy right now. Offer free reports by email and one-click bookmark buttons so they can get back to you easily.

If you site is designed so that each different group of visitors, with their differing needs are catered to, then you will maximize your sales and conversion.
About the Author
Brian Stocker is a writer, editor and online marketing specialist. Visit his website for more information about writing web content.
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