When I was fresh out of college, I was reading everything I could get my hands on about website development and usability.  I had this crazy idea that I was going to build websites so I dove head first into the vast world of coding.  About six months later, I knew all the cool acronyms like HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, AJAX, and JQuery, and I also knew I wasn’t cut out for code.

I don’t regret going down that road because it led me to one of the best books on website usability, Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug.  If you’re in the process of building, redesigning, or optimizing your website, then go grab yourself a copy.  (By the way, everyone falls into one of those three categories… if you’re not building or redesigning, then you better be continuously optimizing your website to increase your leads and sales.)

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The title of the book says it all.  Don’t make your website visitors think or else you risk losing them.  While the book is focused on website usability, the “don’t make me think” rule can and should be applied to your entire online marketing strategy.


Don’t Make Me Think About Your Advertising

First, let’s address advertising.  You’ve probably read or heard me say that congruence is the secret to Google AdWords advertising success.  It’s true.  Congruence from the keyword to the ad copy to the landing page, all the way through to the sale is absolutely critical.

Why? Because if you have a congruent message, your prospect never stops to think or question she’s making the right decision.  This brings me to my next point.


Don’t Make Me Think About Your Offer

Take a look at your website and see if you have a compelling offer to contact you.  Or better yet, ask someone who is not so familiar with your business like a friend or spouse.  Can he or she tell you what you’re offering and why you’re the obvious choice?  In most cases the answer is no.  Unfortunately, I rarely see a great offer when I review websites.

It should be obvious at this point what the problem is.  If you don’t have an irresistible offer, then what’s going to happen?

You guessed it… your prospect is going to THINK!  She’s going to wonder if you’re really the best option for her situation.  If there’s any doubt, then Google is only a click away to go find some other offers.


Don’t Make Me Think About What To Do Next

My last point applies to email marketing, advertising, SEO, social media, and every other marketing tactic you’re using.  I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of a sales funnel.  There are leads at the top of the funnel that eventually convert to customers at the bottom of the funnel.  But have you ever broken down your funnel into every little baby step your lead has to take before the sale is finally made?  If you do then you’ll see it’s a long path.

For example, with SEO, your prospect searches in Google and then has to make the decision to click on your listing versus all the other businesses in the results.  If she does click on your website, then she has to read your webpage, determine you’re worth contacting, and either call, complete a webform, or go visit your store.  This is an extremely basic path and in most cases, there are going to be many more steps.

At each step, does your prospect have to think about what to do next?  Is it clear on your webpage exactly what to do? In other words, do you have a crystal clear call to action every baby step through your sales funnel?  If not, then you’re losing sales because you’re forcing prospects to THINK!

I know it’s ridiculous, but your goal with your marketing is to eliminate the need for your prospect to think.  If you use that as your guiding rule, then everything else will naturally fall into place.