What Is A Path To Purchase? 3 Ways To Increase Online Sales

A path in the woods

A ‘Path to Purchase‘ defines the route online consumers use to become a paying customer on your website.

Discussing a single ‘path to purchase’ is simplifying the matter somewhat. As this article from Thinking with Google attests, there are numerous paths a person can take to become your customer.

Variables affecting these paths include the device someone is using, which search engine they choose, previous searches they have made, and even the words they type. A customer’s path also depends on their levels of motivation and knowledge about what they want to buy.

Here we’ll talk about three ways in which you can make sure your website caters excellently to a range of paths to purchase, making you a viable purchasing option for a variety of potential customers.

1. Make Your Website’s Paths Clear and Accessible

Castle entrance blocked by rubble

Few will choose the path to purchase riddled with boulders and vines over the smooth, easy walkway. Similarly, you can’t expect a customer to stay on a path to purchase when your website is confusing and full of obstacles. Here’s how to make your site clear and accessible:

Focus on User Experience

Your website needs to be functional and user-friendly, on multiple devices, before you can expect to welcome potential customers with open arms. Here are a few key ways to start improving the user interface (UI) of your pages:

  • Make pages spacious and simple. Think white space, text separated into concise paragraphs and bullet points, and strategic use of images. Clutter is a big distraction!
  • Keep it consistent. Being consistent across pages with design choices — such as fonts, logo position, and image size — leads to a smoother, more professional user experience.
  • Test your loading speeds. Having pages load quickly is so important to customers that in one study 18% reported abandoning their basket due to slow loading speeds. Thankfully, Google has a free page speed checker so you can check this.
  • Check for 404s. Stopping a potential customer in their tracks can be the death knell for a path to purchase. A 404 error page does just this; these errors occur when a page has migrated or no longer exists. You can fix your 404s with Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider tool, or on Google Webmaster Tools.

For more on how to make your website’s user interface (UI) lead to a better user experience (UX), check out this guide from thenextweb.

2. Don’t Make Customers Work To Find The Right Path

Dog showjumping

Most users come to a search engine or website with a purpose in mind. This purpose could be making a purchase, researching options, or just finding basic information. It’s important to identify these purposes and address the ones you can clearly and thoughtfully. Instead of aggressively encouraging a consumer to make a purchase, it’s better for a company to help customers fulfil their needs. There are various ways to do this:

On Search Engines: Meta-Content

At the search engine stage, your website’s meta-content (including page titles and meta descriptions) will help your customers get on the right path. It’s important to make sure search results will genuinely take customers where they want to go. This means meta-content needs to be informative, accurate and helpful.

  • Page Titles need to be highly informative. Briefly describe the page, using relevant keywords. Try to include indicators of where the page appears on your site; is it your homepage, a post on your blog, a special deals page? Also, include your brand name if there’s room.
  • Meta-descriptions give you more room to explain why your page can help potential consumers on their journey. Show how the page can address their needs—whether that’s telling them more about a product, offering in-depth comparisons, or taking them straight to a purchase page. Use action verbs, such as ‘research’, ‘compare’, or ‘buy’, to show potential customers what they can do on the page.

On Your Website: Linking

A helpful signpost can be sweet relief to the traveller. Similarly, you can help visitors find their way around by providing links throughout your site. Helpful links can make the path to purchase smooth and intuitive, instead of making a customer slog back to the navigation bar every time they want to find a certain page.

Whenever possible, make it clear where a link will lead. You don’t want a customer to feel surprised when they click through. For instance, a customer reading a blog post comparing laptops may expect a link with the text ‘comparing tablets‘ to lead to a similar blog post, not a sales page. Consider page context and a customer’s needs when linking; otherwise, you may frustrate your users instead of helping them.

For more information on page titles, meta-descriptions, and links, check out our Content and SEO Website Launch Guide.

3. Connect Established Paths To Yours

Interlinked train tracksThis is a form of meeting customers halfway, to further abuse the path metaphor. If you can anticipate the paths customers are likely to take when looking for products and services you offer, you can be there for them before they take the first step!

Search Engines: Elevate Your Paths Through PPC Advertising

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is one of the easiest, quickest ways to connect users with the correct paths to purchase on search engines. By bidding on keywords and paying for clicks, search engines will prominently display your advertised pages to potential customers.

You can use PPC keyword software for market research, as well as paid advertising. For instance, say you’re running a DIY materials business for UK customers interested in finding good quality, great value materials for their DIY projects. Keywords you research and bid on may include ‘DIY supplies’, ‘DIY products’, ‘DIY materials’, ‘house project materials’, and ‘house DIY’.

We run PPC campaigns to find you the best keywords for your business and pages. If you want to find out more, you can always ask us about our tailored PPC strategies.

Your Website: Create New Paths to Purchase

Reaching an understanding of the journeys users embark upon online may well inspire you to create new and different types of content on your site. From a blog post addressing a question you found on Answer The Public, to a new landing page for users searching for a product subtype, tailoring your content to a user’s needs is a powerful way to encourage online sales.

There is a wealth of information online that can help you identify a new path to purchase in your content, and informational or functional gaps your content can address. For example, you can use keyword tools, such as Moz Keyword Explorer, to find key search terms related to your business and products.

This has been our guide to making the most of potential paths to purchase online. Interested in any of the digital marketing processes mentioned here? Get in touch with us; we can help you with web development, SEO, advertising and more!