E-Commerce Website Design, Direct Response, and Infomercials

20 February 2009

If you’re looking for an e-commerce web design, you undoubtedly want to sell stuff online. The most effective way to sell online is by using direct response websites. Why direct response for your website design? In traditional web design, the point is to sell the customer to the advertisers, or to sell the customers on your website (and to make enough of an impression that they buy your products or otherwise subsidize the site.) This can be more satisfying aesthetically, yes — but in order for a traditionally designed website to be successful, it needs to offer a wide variety of content from which users can freely choose.

In simple terms, you need to offer your potential customer 20 things to do on your website — only one of which is buying your product. Ideally, that gives you a 5% chance to turn a visitor to your website into a sale. The basic idea behind direct response marketing is to give your potential customer just one thing to do on your website — buy the product. Ideally, this gives you a 100% conversion rate. Assuming that each type of website gets the same amount of traffic — and assuming that your goal here is to sell products rather than to entertain casual web surfers — direct response websites simply make more sense as an online marketing tool.

Staunch television fans might find the comparison between direct response marketing and infomercials troubling — after all, very few people turn on the television in order to watch an infomercial, and the ability to eliminate commercials and other televised advertising from “shows” is one of the central features used to market the successful TiVo product and other DVRs. But if you intend to run a successful online business, it’s important to remember to think in these terms: you’re no longer a consumer of products; you’re a producer. In television terms, you’re no longer watching shows for entertainment, or even producing entertaining shows — you’re producing commercials for a product, and the success of your business depends on how successfully you can convert viewers into customers. And infomercials, for all the disadvantages they have in terms of entertainment, are infinitely more effective than “shows” when it comes to producing customers. (Yet by no means does your own “infomercial” have to be devoid of art, entertainment, or other such content — a topic which we’ll get into in upcoming blog articles.)

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