How Branding Will Replace SEO

After yesterday’s firestorm, I feel the need to clarify a few things and then explain what I mean by branding.

1) Was I linkbaiting? No. Telling the truth as I see it even when it is unpopular is not necessarily linkbaiting. I do have a small gift for provocative titles though.

2) Do I really believe what I said? Yes, every word. Some people seem to find it stunning that I would actually believe what I wrote. Trust me when I say I do believe it.

3) Do I know what I am talking about? You can be the judge of that. I have been pretty successful selling online for ten years though.

4) Can a small company actually brand themselves? Yes, and if you keep reading, I will tell you how.

The Main Factor Necessary to Convert Visitors to Customers

InternetRetailer.com reports that the highest conversion rates among major online retailers during March were the following:

Office Depot – 20.9%
QVC – 19%
VistaPrint – 18.3%
Roamans – 18.1%
Lands’ End – 16.2%
eBay – 15.7%
1-800-Flowers.com – 15.5%
eBags.com – 15.3%
L.L. Bean – 14.6%
Pottery Barn Kids – 14.2%

These conversion rates are through the roof when compared with industry averages. In fact, they are not even believable unless you understand what the most important driver of conversion is.

Several years ago, a company I owned brokered online advertising. When working through the numbers with clients, it became obvious that some of them were completely in the dark about conversion. One client that comes to mind stockpiled an inventory equal to the number of impressions she was buying from us. In other words, she assumed a 100% clickthrough rate and 100% conversion! I don’t know how many times I have heard clients tell me that everyone buys that comes to their site. (After all, why wouldn’t they?)