Don Draper’s Guide to Online Conversions

You’ve seen Don Draper on Mad Men. Now see him tackle getting your store more conversions with this quick guide on conversion basics.


Hello, my name is Don Draper.

If you ask me, most businesses don’t think about converting traffic into sales. They think driving traffic to their website is enough.  I’m here to tell you, my friends, it’s not.

Sit back, relax and let this Madison Avenue insider share a few pieces of advice regarding converting that traffic into revenue.


Traffic sources are like old fashions – one is never enough  

Don’t tell Harry in the television department, but online marketing offers a myriad of benefits over traditional advertising mediums like print, billboards and broadcasting. Online marketing is cost-efficient, gives you greater reach, allows for precise targeting and provides intensely accurate analytics and ROI tracking. If you have an online store, engaging in online marketing is a no-brainer.

There are several online marketing disciplines to consider. Some provide immediate results, such as pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and shopping feeds. Others, like search engine optimization (SEO), take time and consistency to yield dividends. All mediums require maintenance and should be tracked, analyzed and adjusted to maximize returns. In most cases, a well-crafted online marketing strategy will employ several tactics in order to capture the most relevant traffic possible.

Think about it – major brands don’t run one billboard on a solitary street corner for a few weeks and call it a day, expecting sales to pour in. They utilize a diverse marketing strategy that’s on-going and targeted to a particular audience. You should as well.

But that’s just half the battle. The sad truth is traffic doesn’t always equate to sales, and since we’re in the business of making money, we need to think about conversions, not just letting people walk around on our nice floors.

Here are some key pointers to keep in mind:

  • Don’t rely on a single form of marketing to drive sales, but rather diversify your strategy in order to reach different areas of the market
  • Take the time to educate yourself on the different advertising strategies, including PPC, SEO, remarketing and affiliate marketing
  • Always analyze traffic trends with conversions in mind


Turn on the charm and close the deal

Let’s say you see an advertisement for Gimble’s Department Store – “Wow,” you say, “That looks like a luxurious shopping experience! Those are some classy suits and you’re treated like royalty when you shop there.”

The marketing campaign appeals to you and convinces you visit the store. When you arrive at Gimble’s, however, the experience is a far cry from what was promised. Maybe Gimble’s is more like a rummage sale than a luxury experience. It’s disorganized, unprofessional and annoyingly difficult to find what you’re looking for. They don’t have a new suit in your size, and the salespeople are real schmucks.

The result? You’re taking your business to Saks. You want what the experience you were promised and don’t have time for Gimbles’ shenanigans.

Gimble’s advertising was effective – it drove traffic into the store and genuinely excited a potential customer – but they failed to close the deal. Don’t be like Gimble’s. Deliver the shopping experience your shoppers want. The type of shopping experience that not only converts, but keeps them coming back for more.

What’s the secret, you ask? Here are a few guidelines to making sure your advertising budget turns into sales, whether you’re selling Madison Avenue fashions, main street hardware or Microsoft Office software:

  • Understand that marketing creates an expectation
  • Deliver the experience your visitors expect
  • Ensure your marketing message is truly reflective of your business


Answer the question, “Who are you selling to?”

Don’t say everyone. You know that’s not a reasonable answer.

The first – and perhaps most critical step – is defining your target market. Take the time and energy required to completely understand who they are.  Demographics are great… but demographics backed with psychographics are better. Who are they, what do they want and who do they aspire to be? What are their hopes and dreams?  What are their values? What problems are they trying to solve? What sorts of places do they frequent and why? (And most importantly, what type of bourbon do they like?)

You’re going to want to tailor your message and advertising placement to fit your target market, so it is important to know your customers inside out. You want to sell record players to teenagers? Advertising in the Wall Street Journal isn’t going to work.  And when you finally run that ad in Rolling Stone for your fancy record player, you better speak their language if you want your customers to pay attention.

In short, you want to understand where your customers are, speak in their voice and deliver a promotional message that’s compelling to their values and needs.

Here’s how:

  • Your business should NOT target everybody with a computer
  • Clearly define your target market(s) with attention to both demographics and psychographics
  • Ensure that your marketing messaging is crafted in the target market’s “language” and appeals to their desires and/or sensibilities
  • Place advertising in appropriate locations (i.e. where your potential customers visit)


Draw up a game plan

Every purchasing decision is driven by a need or want. Your goal is to convince your visitors that you serve those needs better than the competition.

Understand where your opponents are positioned in the market. Take note of what they’re doing, what they’re selling and how they’re selling it. What is their brand personality? Are they using PPC? Are they dominating natural search (SEO)? Once you understand how your competition defines itself, you’re better equipped to identify opportunities and differentiate yourself.

To get started, do the following:

  • Research the competition and clearly define their positioning in the market place
  • Identify underserved areas of the market that you can fill
  • Clearly define who you are and your market positioning


First impressions are everything

I look good. And I make a very good first impression. Coincidence?

Of course not.

Think about your favorite store. Why does it appeal to you? Do you see a reflection of yourself in their branding? Do you think I would buy a suit at a store branded to appeal to beatniks or hipsters?

No I wouldn’t. I would never identify with that.

The internet is like Times Square – thousands of consumers per minute with thousands of merchants competing for their attention. If you’re lucky enough to earn their visit, can you hold their attention? That’s where design comes in. It’s your first impression. It’s an opportunity to connect with your target market on a visceral level.

Good design communicates professionalism and establishes trust. Great design does this and more. It speaks to the audience, creating an emotional connection and establishes a unique brand identity. Designers use a variety of tactics to create something that speaks to consumers. Things like typography, color palette, site layout and logo can come together to create an unbreakable association. Not a creative?  Not a problem. There are several professionals and experts who can finesse your templates and web design.

Keep these ideas in mind while I pour you a drink:

  • Design is critical to your store’s success and one of your best tools for establishing a brand identity
  • Great design not only looks professional, but it also emotionally connect with the customer
  • Employ a professional if design is not your skillset


Pleasure over pain

Beyond branding, the actual shopping experience is also crucial. Consumers are easily frustrated. The slightest obstacle can lead them directly off your site. Make it easy for them to give you their money.  Make sure they can find what they want and purchase it with ease.  Ensure your site has an intuitive navigation and website flow. Categorization should make sense and make it easy to find what they’re looking for. Install a search box to help them when they get stuck.

Think about the best online shopping experience you’ve ever had – what did that store do right? Was it easy to find your way around the store? Did they provide outstanding customer service? Was checkout a breeze? Did you feel confident that the site was legitimate? Or did sharing your credit card create anxiety?  Was it communicated that returns were simple and hassle free?

These are all things your website should address:

  • Remove any and all barriers to purchase
  • Ensure your site architecture is logical and easy to navigate
  • Include a search box and “Sort By” features
  • Offer many shipping options
  • Clearly communicate a hassle-free return policy
  • Install an SSL and communicate security in your messaging when appropriate


Social proof in a digital age

The earliest form of advertising was word of mouth, and today it’s amplified by the reach of the internet. Social proof can be straight-forward like customer reviews and ratings, or they can be more nuanced, such as the number of Likes a store’s Facebook page has.

Humans exhibit a herd mentality, and you can leverage that “me too” energy by making it easy for consumers to tell their friends about great deals and experiences. Make sure your store allows shoppers to review your products. Send them an email a few weeks after the purchase to solicit a review – maybe incentivize the review with a coupon. Put social sharing widgets on product pages so people can brag about their purchase or simply “Like” your product – essentially sharing that product with their social network. Actively maintain Facebook, Twitter and other relevant social network accounts. Share information and deals that will build brand loyalty. Encourage customers to reach out to you directly and talk about their experiences. Being active on social networks means you can quickly address customer concerns, which communicates to potential customers that you’re an attentive merchant with superior customer service.

Here’s my approach to leveraging social:

  • Activate the review feature on your storefront and implement a strategy to solicit reviews from customers
  • Include social sharing icons wherever possible
  • Clearly link to your social media accounts in your store template
  • Give customers an incentive to get connected with you through social media
  • Actively maintain your social media with valuable posts (not shameless self-promotion)


Campaigns, they’re a’ changin

We’ve come a long way since the 1960s. Ad firms are now powered by techies with laptops instead of secretaries with typewriters. Ad campaigns need to be more agile than ever before. And you can’t smoke on airplanes anymore. Things change.

Advertising and business are incredibly dynamic, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan. Instead, you need to make a decision, measure results and adapt as your business grows. An effective marketing strategy contains several components that are constantly being adjusted to provide maximum traffic to your business. If you haven’t already, install analytics on the site and your blog.  Segment your traffic by type (i.e. PPC, organic, referral and direct). The data will tell you what is working and what needs attention.

Get started with the following:

  • Install analytics on your store and blog
  • Monitor traffic by segment (organic, paid, direct, referral, etc.) in order to identify trends, strengths, and weaknesses in order to craft a strong marketing strategy
  • Use analytics data to actively optimize campaigns in order to increase ROI



You can’t always get what you want…

At the end of the day, conversions are about giving your prospective customers what they want and eliminating barriers to purchase. Do that and they’ll keep coming back for more.

An effective marketer never stops working towards turning traffic into sales. There’s a lot more to conversions than what I could cover here and best practices may vary depending on your industry. If you’re struggling with conversions on your site, perhaps it’s time to talk to a conversion consulting specialist.

Happy selling!
-Don Draper (AKA Barry Dyke)


Have questions about conversion?  Comment below!

Need more visitors to convert? Volusion offers a wide variety of marketing services to amplify your traffic including Conversion Consulting, PPC Management, Shopping Feed Services, ecommerce SEO Services and Social Media Management. Our in-house team of experts specializes exclusively in ecommerce marketing and the Volusion platform.  Take advantage of our industry know-how and jumpstart your online success today!

3 Responses to “Don Draper’s Guide to Online Conversions”

  1. 3 Effortless Ways to Come Up With a Topic For Your Business Blog | Nerds Do It Better

    […] Don Draper’s guide to online conversions –  This blog post features Don Draper from the show Mad Men. […]

  2. Robert Gilbreath

    Great Post!

    • Gracelyn Tan

      Hi, Robert. Thanks! I’ll be sure to pass your sentiments along to Barry. :)


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