Should Product Always Appear at the Top of the Page?
Here’s why the answer to the question, “should my product always be at the top of the page?”, is not always yes. Warning: may contain surprises!
Ask any self respecting Conversion Rate Optimization expert (CRO) and they’ll probably tell you that the perfect formula for maximum site conversion in so many industries, including the travel sector, is to display the list of products or holidays high up at the top of the page. It makes perfect sense, because that’s the name of the game, isn’t it? Get potential customers to your site, show them you’ve got exactly what they want and convince them with your stellar offering so they’ll make that all important click to buy. Voila; traffic converted to sales, job done. Right? Well, yes and no.
Yes, because in many cases that approach works incredibly well; but also no, because in many other cases, it really doesn’t.
This Thing Ain’t Broke, So Why Try and Fix It?
The first thing to accept (and this may take a bit of a shift in thinking, particularly if you’ve been used to doing things the same way for a long time) is that there are infinite ways to skin that poor little proverbial kitty – the important thing is to find the right way, for you.
Because, of course, we’re all in the business of selling our products and when it comes to an online sales platform, that means converting traffic to actions (sales, enquiries, newsletter signups,etc). What I am saying is that you might have to take a different path to get to that ultimate goal, simply because your customers might not respond to that kind of one-size-fits-all approach that so many sites fall into.
For some, the default practice used by most travel company websites is entirely appropriate. However, this article will first consider scenarios where the traditional page layout reduces site conversion and then will offer some effective alternatives.
Perfectly Placed Product: Aka, Giving the People What They Want!
To understand why the default arrangement of listing your product first and foremost on your website isn’t always the right decision, we first need to have a look at the sort of business that perfectly suits a traditional site conversion layout.
When people land on a Bartle Holidays resort page they’re presented with the classic (and successful) site conversion strategy for this kind of site. (N.B. It’s not just travel sites that use this format, by the way.) Note how on their primary pages they use the format of a short introduction, or ‘blurb’, then a strong statement to reinforce their messaging or branding, then some salesmanship and, very, very close to the top of the page (as high as possible without actually bashing the visitor over the head), boom – there are the products in lovely tempting living colour.
There’s a reason this standard formula is the ‘norm’: because it works extremely well for this kind of brand that offers familiar holidays, destinations or experiences that people understand immediately. In Bartle Holidays case they’ve probably typed in ‘beach holiday in Spain’ or ‘villa in Menorca’ or something like that, and that search criteria has delivered them up exactly what they need and expect – thanks, of course to their fabulous SEO company (that’s us at LeadGeneratorsDigital).
The people who land on these “typical” sales Landing Pages know exactly what they’re looking for, and what they’re going to get. And, most importantly, they’re prepared to be sold to on the page because it’s all very familiar and cosy: beach holidays, villas, hotels.
However, while this formula is perfect for Bartle Holidays and many similar brands, it would have been far from perfect for the next example.
To Look Outside the Box, Look Inside the Box
How do we help the client determine what type of approach will result in optimal conversions?
Before we do anything at all we speak to the client’s best salespeople. Bear in mind this isn’t always the CEO or upper management (although of course it may be), I’m talking about the people on the ground – in the office or, more often, at the end of the phone. We ask them to give us their best sales pitch: what they say when a potential client rings.
When we sat down with the best salespeople from European Waterways, we asked them exactly this, and here’s what we found. The majority of their clients knew exactly what they were looking for when they called them – a luxury barge holiday. For them, the priority was not being explained to what that was or even to list the holidays on offer but, rather, to focus much more on the pedigree of the brand, their core USPs, the experiences on offer and the luxury aspects of their products. According to their best salespeople, destinations and product were only mentioned much later in the sales journey
So, we knew that, as a virtual salesperson, their landing page needed to prioritise those aspects, and in that order.
We call this approach to creating landing page design and content that generates powerful and effective sales copy for our clients, Salesmanship First.
As you can see, instead of putting the product right up the top of the page we’ve flipped that by changing up the order of importance based on what the company’s best salespeople told us worked:
- Firstly, the company’s core USPs and establishing their credentials – luxury barges, 40 years of experience.
- A very tempting video
- All the different experiences that are offered on their itineraries
- Then the destinations
- And only THEN, after all that, did we place the product.
At the risk of giving you a sore head I’m going to repeat the key point here: we based our site conversion strategy on what the company’s best salespeople told us worked.
So did it work? Yes, it worked a treat. As a result we were able to increase the conversion rate (to sales or enquiries) by 80%.
Life is an Adventure and so is a Conversion Strategy
Another successful example of our Salesmanship First approach at work is for our client Wildfoot Travel. Like so many other websites, they also followed the standard formula that the travel industry thinks you need:
- A header
- Their deals
- Their product
- Discovery text
- And so on…
By talking to their top sales people, it became very clear very quickly that the above approach was not the best way to go when it came to selling these types of adventure holidays.
The challenge that their salespeople identified and faced on a daily basis was that, while customers loved the idea of such far flung, exotic, adventure destinations, most knew nothing of the destination, the holidays, the options and the excursions on offer. Simply showing them a vast range of holidays was actually counterproductive as it was somewhat intimidating, confusing and, in a lot of cases, a little paralysing to try to choose from such a long list of options. And this actually reduced conversion rates.
Their sales people told us something fascinating. They actually found it easier (and experienced better conversion rates over the phone) if customers had not first seen (and been intimidated by) the huge range of adventures on offer on the website. They told us that the best converting customers were those who simply wanted an adventure of a lifetime in a certain destination (such as Antarctica) and who needed help choosing the right one as they simply didn’t have the confidence or knowledge to do it themselves.
And there it was: our new sales strategy for the site. We completely redesigned the destination pages to establish them as a team of passionate experts who will be there to help you choose your adventure. By changing the angle, we took away the intimidation of all that choice and replaced it with the assurance that Wildfoot Travel were the ones to help.
So the core essence of our salesmanship wasn’t the traditional ‘book now’ (because we knew from the client that wasn’t happening), it was ‘call us to help you choose, because we’re the experts.’
Here’s how the page looks now.
See what we did there?
- Created a story using the drama of an exotic destination
- Strong statement ‘life is an adventure’
- Introduced our team of experts
- Established the concept of ‘our passion, your dreams’
- Established what makes us different
- Testimonials from clients – what they say about our team
- Then, once we’ve established the team of experts…
- Let us inspire you with our handcrafted adventures
- Call to action – call us!
- Only THEN did we display some product samples, and only a few (so as not to bamboozle)
Wildfoot still offers those hundreds and hundreds of different itineraries to exotic locations like the Antarctic, but now a visitor feels confident that the team of experts is best-placed to guide them with their choice and they’re inspired to pick up the phone.
For us, the answer to the question “does product belong at the top of the page” is always based on how the client’s top salespeople sell. We allow ourselves to be inspired by what they say, what they do, how they sell. And then we build our sales copy and graphic concepts around what works for them.
For those of you who know me, you will know that I always liken online marketing to “offline marketing done upside down, while standing on your head”. So, when it comes to power boosting sale pages on websites, it should come as no surprise that here too, I do things upside down and I do it for one reason only: It works! And it increases revenue for our clients.
Need help with your conversion rates?
If you would like more information or more help with converting the traffic to your site into sales or enquiries, feel free to get in touch with me on email@example.com. I look forward to helping you get the most out of your website.