August 10, 2004, 12:00 AM

HatWorld.com learns how to fish the bigger pond

Incorporating persuasion into the buying process early lets e-retailers reach past visitors who arrive ready to buy into the larger pool of those who aren’t, but might be convinced to. That’s the goal of HatWorld.com and Persuasion Architecture.

“If you’re going to pay the money to drive traffic to your site, why wouldn’t you try to convert it at a higher rate,” HatWorld.com’s e-commerce director Karen Weber tells Internet Retailer. It’s that attitude that’s sparking a trend – search engine marketing companies historically focused on driving traffic to their clients` sites are now getting involved in enhancing conversions after visitors get there.

Since early this year, Weber and HatWorld have been working with search marketing company iProspect.com Inc. on Web Conversion Enhancement, a service it’s offered on top of regular search marketing services for about a year. The service offering is wrapped around a methodology iProspect licenses from technology developer Future Now’s subsidiary, Persuasion Architecture.

The goal of Persuasion Architecture – which is the name of the methodology’s underlying concept as well as the subsidiary’s corporate name -- is to create different paths that propel different types of web site visitors towards conversion. To accomplish that, iProspect gets involved through its Web Conversion Enhancement offering in research-based page redesign including graphics, language, content and page architecture itself, depending on the design and architecture its client site already has in place.

The process is geared to customer segments based on personas, tied to Myers-Briggs profile types, that iProspect develops through extensive interviews with the e-retailer and its customers. The resulting “persuasive path” through the site is actually several paths, each designed with navigation, language, and other page elements to support the different needs of different visitor groups.

Incorporating persuasion earlier in the buying process allows e-commerce sites to reach beyond visitors who arrive at the site ready to buy into the larger pool of visitors who are not yet ready to buy, but could be persuaded to – with the right communication, in the right sequence. The upshot? A higher conversion rate that exceeds the lift which might be expected by just improving the checkout process or the shopping cart at the back end, argues iProspect CEO Fredrick Marckini.

HatWorld.com is incorporating persuasion architecture into the new site it plans to roll out this fall. The implementation involves months of customer and company research that even Future Now CEO Jeff Eisenberg calls “the sort of tedious work that no one ever wants to do before they start a web site.” But Weber is confident the effort will pay off -- her goal is to double conversions within four to five months of launch.

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