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Ready, VSET, Go: Turning Visitors Into Buyers
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By Linda Rigano

It’s no secret that industrial buyers are looking to the Internet as a key purchasing tool, turning away from traditional offline information they have relied on in the past. According to a joint study conducted recently by ThomasNet and Google, specific company websites are one of the primary places industrial buyers go to when looking for products and services online.

As a result, suppliers are increasingly seeing the critical role an effective website can play in driving sales. According to the joint study, 97 percent of buyers who researched or compared products online took one or more actions either online or offline. However, there still remains a glaring disconnect between what buyers hope to find when they visit a potential supplier’s website and what suppliers actually provide. If you are among the roughly eight in ten industrial suppliers who plan to revamp their website this year, what steps can you take to convert website visitors into customers?

Online Buyer Expectations
If an industrial supplier website is going to be effective, it is important to provide visitors with the information they are looking for. This means providing detailed information such as product descriptions and specs, product pricing, product applications, details on tech support and CAD drawings. Secondly, buyers want to be able to search and compare products and services quickly and easily. In short, online buyers want to be able to take action, whether that means making a recommendation or sending a purchase order or an RFQ.

The VSET Test
In order to gauge the effectiveness of a supplier website, it can be helpful to take a step back and approach a website the way a potential customer would. Using a process called VSET (Verify, Search, Evaluate, Take Action), it is possible to conduct an objective website review, asking the following questions:

Verify: Can a potential buyer immediately verify that the site has the right information he or she wants?

Search: Can the buyer quickly search the site for the exact products, services and specifications they need?

Evaluate: Can the buyer easily evaluate the information on the website to help them make an informed decision?

Take Action: Can the buyer take action during his or her visit (i.e. make a call, send an e-mail or an RFQ, order, etc.)?

Online buyers are visiting supplier websites looking for specific tools and information to help them make a purchase. Most industrial buyers, while aware of the importance of a company website, are not providing the right type of details that these visitors need to take action.

Conversion is key. By providing the right information and using the VSET test, suppliers can gain a potential customer’s point of view and increase the overall effectiveness of a company website to make more visitors into customers.

Linda Rigano is the Director of Strategic Alliances for ThomasNet.
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