WEBSITE ESSENTIALS


Understanding your visitors is key to making them stay and venture further onto your affiliate website.


A visitor coming to any website will ask four basic questions to determine whether he or she wants to engage with you. Respond effectively to all four questions and you have a new user... a conversion. Fail at any of them and your competition gets one instead.

Question 1: Have I come to the right place?

If a visitor to your site is looking for Blackjack strategies, he/she will want to know, “Is this a site that is about card games at all?’’ You have something like 0.2 seconds to answer that question.

With photos, with headlines and text that is easy to scan. Many people I meet who are setting up or redesigning their sites go out of their way to create a ‘unique experience' and find their USPs so they can convince people to love and stay at their site. Here’s a thought: before new visitors try to figure out what makes you so unique, they will try to figure out if you are just like the rest. They will look for common images and text that communicate, “Yes this site is about gaming, how can we help you?”

Reviewed-casinos.com is one of the bigger affiliate sites out there and the first heading on the site simply says: “ONLINE CASINOS REVIEWED & RANKED SINCE 1998!” There’s no way you can misinterpret that.

Question 2: Do they have what I need?

The second question will not be just about whether your site is about card gaming, but specifically, “Do you have those Blackjack strategies which I came for?” Now it’s your job to answer that question through a highly visible search function, by clear entrances to your main content categories and in other ways. The goal is to let the visitor find exactly what they came looking for... or they’ll go away.

Here’s a thought: are you aware of the fact that many younger Internet users have what is called a ‘search-dominant’ behaviour? The first thing they will do on any site is to search. They treat any site like Google. So focusing on search and creating great search results is key to keeping those visitors. But hey, there’s no way you can do that! You have all these great lists of ‘top 10 casinos’, ‘top jackpots’ or whatever it might be. Now, consider this company which has a huge list of products and services covering everything from your personal mobile phone to global enterprise solutions, and what they show on their first page is a search box with the words, “What can we help you find today?” I’m talking about Intel’s new home page. How can that inspire you?

Question 3: Can I trust them?

Question number three lingers with the visitor throughout the whole visit. They’ll want to know whether they can trust this site and feel comfortable about giving away things like their email address. Study after study has shown that lack of confidence is one of the most common reasons for a visitor to click away.

And you know what? Reviewed-casinos. com covers this too in its site heading: “ONLINE CASINOS REVIEWED & RANKED SINCE 1998!" It doesn’t say that it’s the greatest or the best, but by saying “since 1998”, the site just lets you draw that conclusion for yourself.

When you use trust-enhancing techniques like ‘badging’, ‘social proof and ‘privacy reassurances’, you must be careful. Many who do it sloppily slam some stuff in the header or footer and then think, “Yeah, I’m done”.

Users need to be reassured both when and where they are making their crucial steps. For example, if you want to promote your newsletter don’t just tell your users of some privacy policy in a distant comer of your website. Use the text “We will NEVER share your email address with anyone”, and put it really, really close to the submit button, because that’s the point where they need to be reassured.

Question 4: How do I exit?

By now, the visitor knows they are in the right place, found what they came for, and find you reasonably trustworthy. Now, they just need to ‘get their stuff done’, and they want that to happen at lightning speed. That’s where BOB (Big Orange Button) comes in. OK, big bright buttons are not the only way to lead the visitor to the close, but the point is that you need to find simple and clear mechanisms to let visitors easily and quickly complete the job they came to do.

In general, I find many gaming sites ‘deaf and shouting’ - they don't listen to what I want and they keep shouting the same monotonous call-to-action; “Get your Bonus - Click here”.

To new visitors who are exploring, this might be too much too soon. They will become blind to the message and by the time they are ready to convert they don’t see it any more.

You should keep your calls-to-action clear and highly visible, BUT, you should try to vary the copy and format to match various personas and stages in the visitor journey. ‘Get’ is great for a person that is spontaneous or competitive but for someone who is just looking around at this moment, words like ‘explore’, ‘find’ or ‘compare’ will be more appealing. The trick is to use many varieties and use your web analytics to figure out what works.

Scent: what happens before the site?

How visitors perceive your site is very much influenced by the expectations they had when they arrived at it. Think of your visitor like a blood hound who just got started on a fresh scent trail. Now the blood hound is on your site and it’s your job to make sure that it doesn’t lose track. It can be done with images, text and various small cues that constantly show that our dog is on the right path, all the way to completion. If our canine friend at any point feels that it’s lost the scent, then it heads back towards the starting point, (Google?) and sets off on a new scent trail (to your competitor).
So if your search listing talks about ‘free casino games’, make sure there are games and that they are free. One of the worst ‘scent breaks’ out there is when there’s a button that says ‘Play’, you click it, and end up on a deposit page. That’s a very, very good reason to abandon.

As an affiliate, one of the best ways of improving your business is to chase the operators’ affiliate managers to optimise the landing pages you send your visitors to. If these pages are designed to ‘keep the scent’ by including ratings, your logo and other elements that indicate a ‘safe handover’, the better your conversion rate will be.

Great conversion rate = the meeting of goals

Good conversion is fundamentally about meeting the expectations of the visitor. But you also have a goal of the visit - a purchase, sign-up, a download or whatever it may be. Great conversion happens when your visitor’s objectives coincide with your own. Sweet music starts playing... the conversion is a fact. It’s your job to make sure this happens.
 
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