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Making the path to enquiry straightforward (1)

Last week I looked at the routes which prospects might take in making an enquiry, and speculated on their relative importance. But although it would be terrific if we could put actual numbers on each path, perhaps more important is simply ensuring that we make each one as straightforward as possible.

As a reminder, here are our four paths again:
The information chain

The leftmost path represents the Google “product searchers”. Your first task here are to ensure that Google shows the right page in its results, by setting all the relevant indicators. If you’re ranking well for “blue widgets” in Google, but it’s not showing the page which you’d really like people to see first (maybe it’s showing the home page), then you need to ensure there’s a good, clear link to your preferred page on the one which is showing.

The second task is to ease the transition from reading about the product to making an enquiry. I’ve written about this many times, but most web sites have shortcomings in this respect. If somebody wants to call you, making them find an obscure “contact us” page and then forcing them through a series of maps to find details of their local office in tiny type is not going to give an impression of a helpful supplier. And of course if they want to email you, let them have your email address, or at least a form which doesn’t resemble completing a tax return.

The other set of enquirers who come through Google are represented in the second column of arrows. These are the people who are alerted to your offer by an advert, PR, or personal contact, but who choose to type your company name into Google as the next step. As I mentioned last week, this might be the largest single group for many companies. So how do we encourage them to get to the enquiry stage?

The important thing here is to realise that by typing your company name into Google, they’re going to end up on your website’s home page. Now, on a given day, you might well be able to predict what large numbers of these visitors are after. Perhaps you’ve put a blue widget brochure offer in a magazine, or done a direct mailshot about a particular product. If you’re truly going to maximise the number of enquiries coming through this route, you need to link to a relevant page clearly and specifically on your home page. Expecting people to click around the site trying to find the product or offer is a recipe for disaster. Message panels on your home page which can direct prospects to the right place are an essential part of any proactive website.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the two paths above which don’t come through Google.

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