Optimizing Conversions: It’s All About the “Why”

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I was watching an old Ted Talks favorite the other day. Simon Sinek was explaining how the most successful individuals, companies, and organizations operate from a “’why’ first” perspective, rather than a “’what’ first” perspective.

In other words, their mission statement isn’t simply a paragraph on the About Page designed to make their company look good. These entities are driven by a set of core values and goals, which dictate every decision they make and every action they take.

So I got to thinking, “What would this look like in the world of online marketing?”

You Don’t Date Them For Their Personality

A friend of mine and veritable SEO guru has crafted a content optimization proposal for his clients with a somewhat trendy theory. His thesis revolves around a site’s personality. He believes the more personable a website is, the higher your conversion percentage will be. If they like you, they’ll want to buy from you.

I disagree.

Don’t get me wrong: personality and likability are contributing factors to savvy marketing, even essential pieces of running a successful social media campaign, but ultimately, your customers won’t date you for your personality.

The initial attraction is always appearance. How does your site look? How readable is your copy? Do you have a fancy list of business accomplishments and fervent testimonials decorating your walls? When Bob pulls up your site on his iPhone, is it responsive? When Jim lands on your home page, is it visually compelling enough to take that next step? If your site is ugly, you might have the very best, most affordable service on the market, but the average customer is too shallow to see past ugly, and your conversion percentage will testify to this.

This is why many deserving small businesses never tap into any level of significant web sales. If your company has thrived on local networking, but you just haven’t been able to establish a steady flow of web-generated business, your site might need a makeover.

Resonating With The “Why”

Now, let’s get real. Anyone who ever married based solely on appearance most likely had a really bad time. Appearance is just the qualifier. It puts you in the running for consideration. The next step is … what? Personality? Personality can be helpful; it certainly allows you to engage with your audience better than strict professionalism would. But your customers aren’t going to simply hand over their hard earned dollars to a likable personality. The connection has to go deeper.

Just like any genuinely successful relationship, a successful business relationship is built at the core level. You have to speak to the “why” of who they are. Describing your lengthy list of programming accomplishments becomes nothing more than white noise when compared with a hundred other programmers touting similar experience.

You have to understand why they’re on your website, not simply what they’re there for.

Bob isn’t looking for a streaming video service. He’s looking for a way to connect with his media-crazy kids in the evenings. Jim isn’t looking for a web designer. He’s looking to finally take that first step towards owning a web store.

If your marketing approach screams, “We sell the best streaming video service available!” you probably won’t connect with Bob. If all you can say is, “Look at the beautiful websites I’ve designed!” your success will ride on having the best sites and the lowest prices of any other service Jim has browsed. On the other hand, if your company is all about “bringing families together with convenient video access and state-of-the-art service features,” Bob is going to think, “These guys get it; they understand what I need.” If your vision as a designer speaks of “using creative web design to catapult small businesses,” Jim is already on the phone asking you for a quote.

When you promote a vision or a system of values rather than a product, anyone who can relate to that vision – anyone who resonates with those values – will become more than just a customer. As Simon explains in the video, this is why Apple fans will wait in line for hours to buy the new iPhone, when they could easily walk in and buy it with no wait the following week. Apple has driven home its identity as forward-thinking innovators, and all those fancying themselves to be forward-thinkers and innovators have found a place of resonance with the company. These people resonate so strongly with being early adopters, they will pay a premium price time and time again for products they essentially already have.

Bringing It Home

I think we all understand that you have to qualify first. If you want to be found through Google, you have to get on the first few pages at minimum. If you want to be found through social media, you have to build campaign momentum. If you want shared traffic, you have to guest blog or reciprocate links with the right affiliates. And once your website is found by all the lovely people, it has to be attractive enough for them hang around.

All this necessary effort will be entirely wasted, however, if you can’t resonate with your customers. If you can’t speak to the “why,” your service will be evaluated solely on price. If, however, you can successfully cast a vision, any like-minded individual perusing your site will catch onto that vision, and before long, you will have established your business as a niche leader to a dedicated following of believers.

It’s like the old salesman used to say, “Find the need; meet the need.” Find the “why,” and you’ve already won.

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  • MHR

    Interesting Read! Thanks.

  • Jacob McMillen

    Thanks for the feedback!