If you have been involved in sales at all you have probably heard of the AIDA model or mnemonic. If not then it is short for Attention -> Interest -> Decision -> Action. It is a description of a generic approach that underpins all sales: first you grab the prospect’s Attention, then give some additional information that might spark their Interest, then they make a Decision (either independently, or better still, under guidance) which leads them into taking the Action, which hopefully is the purchase.the AIDA model or funnelThe purchase could in fact be just an enquiry which sparks another more detailed AIDA process towards a purchase action. The important thing is the process, or journey the prospective buyer takes.

In internet sales terms, the ideal is that the web site handles the AIDA model, or process, in full and, in the case of e-commerce sites they have to. However, the success of the site in terms of how the prospective customer is handled is often better expressed in percentage terms rather than absolute numbers.

Numbers do matter of course and the start point of any site assessment has to be the absolute numbers of visitors coming to the web site. Beyond that we have to look at percentages such as what percentage of visitors look at more than one page, and what proportion sign up for more information. Ultimately we are looking for what percentage move towards our end result, whether that be enquiries, absolute sales or any other end result we might want to target.

You may be able to see from this, that the result of a successful promotional activity may be to increase the percentage return on a given number of visitors rather than the absolute number of visitors themselves. If you are planning an increase in numbers, it often makes sense to start with an increase in the percentage return first – then you gain a much bigger pay back when the overall visitor numbers are increased.

The concept of making the assessment is therefore reasonably straightforward, however the task of increasing those success percentages is not always so easy. Often the small percentage gains can be the hardest. As with most things, if the web site is working well, then each step of improving its performance gets progressively harder.

The Traffic Manager programme supplies a framework that puts structure on to the development process and makes it easier to experiment, assess success and obtain the more difficult percentage points that characterise the truly successful web sites.