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Jim Marks has spent his career locked in dark rooms poring through millions of clicks of analytics, studying the habits and expectations of the Internet Consumer. As President of Virtual Results, Jim works with the top agents and brokers in the U.S. to create real business by combining world-class web design, aggressive inbound traffic marketing, data syndication and sphere management.

Internet marketing, when distilled to its simplest goal, is just not that difficult. Well, maybe the execution is difficult, but the theory of internet marketing is as simple as one, two… Okay – one, two. You need to:

  1. Drive traffic
  2. Convert traffic

Now, I know I am just asking for a comment stream filled with people espousing other goals like branding, and reputation architecture, but really if your website only provides you with lots of high quality workable leads would you consider it a success? Me too.

With that lofty goal in mind, I thought I would write a couple of articles that offer a way for self-directed DIY web owners to think about conversion. I would like to provide a lens through which you can view your site to determine if indeed you are doing everything you can to create the best conversion possible. Are you?
Let’s get our high level groove on. Here are four things that your site must be good at in order for you to reach our goal of creating lots of high quality leads.

Create Affinity
Affinity is a feeling of kinship, a natural attraction. It’s falling in ‘like’. As searchers pore through site after site with their fingers perched on the trigger (of the back or bounce button) it is your responsibility to create a haven for them, a safe place. They need to feel that your site is a site that they understand and want to get to know better. By the way, as much as this sounds like a first date, it’s worse. Unlike a first date, you have just 1.7 seconds on average to create affinity.

Meet my Expectations
This is one of the most misunderstood pillars of web marketing. Internet searchers are different from print viewers. Internet marketers have expectations. Print marketers do not. Picture yourself on a Sunday morning at the breakfast table, leafing through your favourite magazine or newspaper, and you come across an ad for window coverings. The ad may catch your attention or it may not. You may read it or you may not. You may like it or you may not. But mostly you are indifferent to it because you were not looking for it, had no expectations for it and invested little or no time to make a decision on whether or not it was valuable to you. Now, get up and go to your computer. Launch your favourite browser and search for ‘window coverings’. What are you looking for? This is the difference. Instantly, within the process of deciding what search term to use and clicking ‘search’, you have developed an expectation of exactly what it is you need to find. You already have an image or idea in your mind’s eye of what type of site, search and message you’re looking for. And if you land on a site that doesn’t meet this expectation? Bounce. What are the keywords that your searchers are using? What are their expectations and are you meeting them?

Earn my Trust
Why should I invest my time exploring your site, your services and your content? I know that you think that your content is valuable to me. But who are you? Your content is only valuable to me if you are a trusted source. If I don’t know who you are, then I don’t know the validity of your content. Prove to me that I can trust you! Show me testimonials (preferably video) from others who have done business with you and trust you. Show me the source of your opinion. Convince me that you know what you are talking about and show me why I should consider you my trusted advisor. Time on page will skyrocket!

Convert me
Okay, you have created affinity, met my immediate expectations and yes, I think I trust you. Now what? What am I supposed to do here? Your site should not be a ‘serve yourself’ smorgasbord of options. Guide me with simple, understandable calls to action. What would you like me to do? Tell me. Give me options to click that I understand. Not ‘search the MLS’. I don’t know what that means! But ‘Find a Home in…’ and when I click, give me exactly what I was expecting. Ask yourself, ‘What do I expect to see on the other side of that click?’ and deliver it. What do you want me to do? Search? Comment? Self-identify? Just ask! Give me a value proposition, if you are going to ask me to register. Give me a reason to register and explain it succinctly. Remember, you have earned my trust. Respect that.
I consider these four points the basic pillars of web marketing. Revisit your website and ask yourself: am I creating instant affinity? Am I meeting expectation? Am I building trust? Am I leading my visitors to my goal?

These are the building blocks for a successful website. But this is just the start! Next time: the “How to” on conversion. Stay tuned!

Jim Marks is President of Virtual Results, and works with the top agents and brokers in the U.S. to create real business by combining world-class web design, aggressive inbound traffic marketing, data syndication and sphere management. Jim will be will be coming to Australia in May 2013, to speak exclusively at The Ideas Exchange 2013. For more information about an event in your State visit www.therealestateproject.com.au. For more information about Jim visit www.virtualresults.net.

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