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All Roads Lead To Rome

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For any business, there is only ONE reason to have a website.

That reason is to make money - and even more critical... make profits.

If your company has a website, and you cannot tangibly determine whether it is contributing to PROFITS, or COSTING you money, then you need to do one of two things:

1: Shut it down if it's consuming more money than it makes... (why keep throwing good money after bad?)
2: Fix things, so it contributes to profits - and you're able to audit that contribution.

For online shops and eCommerce ventures, there's only ONE exit point you want visitors to depart through - and that's via the checkout page. On the way there, you'll want them to add as much stuff to their carts first.

Of course - if the above was so easy - we'd all be millionaires, and all we need do is sit back and watch the cash roll in.

It is a MASSIVE challenge to get people to exit your site via the checkout page, and despite every online shop stating this to be their sole objective, it is surprising how many eCommerce sites do their level best to distract visitors from this path, and guide them to irrelevant content. Web-shops pepper their pages with out-bound links... "Go see our Facebook Profile"... "See us on LinkedIn"... "Look at our pictures on Pinterest"...

Research shows that there is an 80% chance that people who LEAVE your wesbite via an external link, are very unlikely to return... and yet webshop owners position these outbound links in the most prominent areas of their webshops. It's like having a highstreet shop, and standing the door saying to people: "Oh you don't want to come into MY shop... Look there, across the road. Go there - it's FAR more interesting!"

To me, this is plain stupid. And yet MOST webshops I visit (particularly smaller operators) seem intent on re-directing their visitors AWAY FROM the checkout process, prefering that keen shoppers rather go indulge in superfluous, vacuous waffle, instead of staying in the shop, filling up their carts, checking out and transfering THEIR money into YOUR bank.

If you run a webshop, and it's peppered with these sorts of outbound links - edit your site NOW and get rid of them. (See below for a workable alternative to deletion).

Back in 2005 I coined the term "Wider Web Presence" and described the principle of funnelling people to the holy grail (the checkout page) as being "All Roads Lead To Rome". If you're running a webshop (big or small) then your "Wider Web Presence" has to adhere to this core objective. Social Media pages, blogs, vlogs, forums, chat-rooms, and indeed any presence your company leverages on the WWW should be carefully configured to guide visitors to your webshop, and ultimately to the checkout page.

All Roads Must Lead To Rome (the "Rome" being the place on your website where they key in their card details/paypal/applepay....). It is a ONE-WAY journey. The possibility, or even the temptation, for them to click OUT of this pathway, should NOT be present!

Over the years, some of these outbound links have become important from a "SEO" point of view. Google, for example, likes it when you point visitors to other members of the Google family (for example, Youtube, Google Reviews, etc), and will add a few points to your page-rank scoresheet.

So... there is some rationale to having links to all your external profiles, as their presence benefits SEO. The key is knowing where to put these links. They should ALWAYS be "below the fold" (go research that if you don't know what it means) and preferably right at the bottom of the "footer" section of your website. They must be as inconspicuous as possible and in NO WAY be more prominent than all the internal links to stuff that makes MONEY for you.

Remember... your webshop is the place where money changes hands... visitors are NOT there to be entertained. They want to find the product(s) they are after as quickly as possible, and then pay and leave. When you help them do this, they are likely to come back often...

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