Most Web site owners (and their Web developers) don't think about this at all. They just build a site, plonk their products and services on it, and hope for the best.
Even those who do think about it usually get it wrong. They start from the home page, then try to lead the site visitor on a path to each product or service. That's OK - but there's an even better way: Start from the end and work backwards.
Pick a product, any product (or service), then follow this four-step process to craft a path through your Web site.
1. What do you want?
Assuming the person is ready to take action, what action do you want them to take?
Or, to put it another way: What is the last thing you want them to do before they leave your Web site?
Maybe you want them to actually buy it with a credit card, or book a date on a calendar, or register for an event, or pick up the phone and call you, or ...
It's up to you, and it will vary for each product or service. But be very clear about this in your mind.
Make sure expectations are reasonable and realistic. For example, if I'm selling a $35 book, it's reasonable to ask them to whip out their credit card. But if I'm selling a $6,000 mentoring program, it's not.
Another example: Depending on your market, some conference organisers and bureaus will be happy to send you an e-mail to check your availability for an event; others will want to pick up the phone and check; and others will want to place a "hold" immediately on your on-line calendar. Be sure you know which option to offer!
2. Why will they buy?
Before they take the action, you need to convince them it's worth doing. That's where your sales letter comes in.
Writing good sales letters is a topic for another day (in fact, I'm running a webinar about it on Thursday - see below), but the key point here is that you should write some form of sales letter for each product and service you offer.
If you don't like the term "sales letter", think of it as a brochure or flyer.
3. What can you give?
Before you start selling to them, what free, high-quality content can you offer that's related to their problem or goal? This could be an article, a survey, a video, an audio clip, or a slide presentation. At the end of that content piece, you link to the sales letter.
You don't need to do this if you know your Web site visitors are coming to the site ready to buy. For example, people go to Amazon.com because they want to buy books, not to find free information to help solve a problem. So Amazon.com can get away with only providing sales letters. You probably can't.
4. How will they see it?
So far, you've got some high-quality content, which leads to a sales letter, which then invites the site visitor to take action. But how will they find this sequence on your Web site?
This is where you have to decide how important this product and service is to your business. If it's very important, you will feature it on the home page (with a link to the content piece). If it's less important, it might only be accessible through your menus.
You've now crafted a clear path for your site visitors.
If we take these steps in reverse, you'll see a clear path that promotes that product or service:
- They see something interesting on your home page or menu, and they click it.
- They read, listen or watch some high-quality content that helps them with their problem, and it links to something else.
- They click that and read the sales letter, which invites them to take some action.
- They take the action you want them to take!
Now do this for every product and service on your Web site, and you'll be surprised how many people say your Web site is easy to use!