In “How to make your website make you more money Pt 1” post we looked at some 101 ways you can get your website to start making you money. We looked at things like:
- Making people trust your site
- Making it easier for potential customer to find what they want.
In this post we’re going to look at:
- Promoting products and services effectively
- Displaying products and services effectively
- Creating a strong sales pitch
- Simplifying the steps for purchase
- Pricing your goods and services competitively
Create Effective Promotions on Your Site
Effectively promoting your products on the site isn’t about whacking ads everywhere. People are used to ads yelling at them so they do their best to ignore them. If there are particular products or services you want to promote above others here are some tips for making them stand out:
- Devote no more than 25-50% of the space ‘above the fold’ on your homepage to promoting the products or services you really want to sell. If you’ve only got one product or service stick to that rule. You need to allocate space above the fold on your homepage to convincing them to trust you and making it easy for them to find other information on your site, don’t get over excited by promoting stuff or your site will look like the classifieds section of a newspaper.
- Make sure promotions don’t look like banner ads – ads get in people’s way and they hate them. They don’t like clicking them. Promotions should be there to help them, read Jakob Nielson’s research on the topic.
- Offer a free trial or demonstration wherever possible.
- If something is on special, show the price difference.
- Use ‘Best Seller’ or ‘Most Popular’ lists (check out how Amazon.com does it).
- Utilise ‘People who bought this also bought’ promotions when people are viewing products or services (make it up if you have to!)
- Start a newsletter, but don’t force people to sign up for it. Make your product so good they want to know when or how to get more. Read Seth Godin on permission marketing for more information.
- Offer discounts for repeat business.
- Offer a gift reminder service so people can get an email at the same time next year prompting them to make another purchase (but again, don’t force it on them).
Display Your Products or Services Effectively
Lay your site out the right way and people will rejoice that they found you; hit them over the head with a lengthy sales pitch, or treat them badly and they’ll never come back. The following guidelines are useful for formatting content so that people get the information they want and are then prompted to make a purchase or enquiry.
- Make it obvious how the person can obtain your product or service (or just make an enquiry).
- Put a ‘call to action’ at the top of the page next to the product (and at the end of the description if it’s long). This should be a button to buy now, add to cart, or a link to an enquiry form or some other way for the person to take that next step.
- Put the most important information ‘above the fold’ (so they don’t have to scroll down).
- Use ‘features’ boxes to illustrate strongest selling points.
- Break up long copy with neatly formatted headlines that get attention but make sure they follow the same style conventions as the rest of the page layout. You don’t have to make something bold and red for it to stand out (although it probably will stand out, it will look desperate and tacky). Employ a designer to create a set of heading styles for you that draw attention but also complement the overall design in a professional way.
- Break up long copy with images placed on alternate sides of the page as you scroll down. This will catch people’s eyes if they’re scanning down the page and draw them to that section.
- Use an image gallery where they can view thumbnails and larger versions. Make sure the image gallery is visible above the fold.
- Make the photography as professional as possible (but don’t steal copyrighted images)
- Show availability. Consider showing how many items are left if inventory is low (scarcity creates demand).
- Show price and tell them how much they’ll save by choosing you over someone else, or the recommended retail price.
- Show product reviews and allow people to make their own comments. People will appreciate honesty, but make sure you moderate comments to prevent spam and defamation lawsuits.
Displaying Products Well
Why You Should Avoid Long Sections of Text
Credible research has shown that people generally only have time to read about 20% of an average web page[iii]. Read this great article on how little people read by Dr Jakob Nielsen if you’d like an insight. If you want people to read more, give them less.
If you need more than a couple of screen lengths to sell your product’s features, chances are, your sales pitch is fatally flawed. Have you ever had a call from a telemarketer or door-to-door salesperson that just wouldn’t shut up? Did that make you a) want to buy something, or b) punch them in the face?
There’s a very good reason why advertising textbooks are very fond of quoting Cicero’s famous line: “If I’d had more time, I would have written a shorter letter”. If you need further convincing, read the words of some of the world’s great philosophers and writers on the issue of brevity.
Write copy that Convinces People to Buy
An Amazon Forest of textbooks has been written on how to sell stuff to people, but some basic principles of selling online are:
- Show how your products or services meet their need(s)
- Explain the benefits
- Explain why people should choose you over your competition
- Appeal to their hearts, minds and instincts
- Talk at their level
- Create a sense of urgency
If you want the best results, employ a copywriter to get the spiel correct and check out websites like http://www.justsell.com/ for tips and advice.
Make it Easy for Users to Make a Purchase (or Enquiry)
If you’ve got the user to the checkout or the enquiry page you’re almost home and hosed. Don’t stuff it up now.
- Make it easy for the user to ‘checkout’ from any page.
- Make it easy for the user to view their cart from any page.
- Don’t force them to sign up for anything, make an account or choose a password until they’ve given you their money. Get their money first, then worry about the other stuff.
- Make sure the payment process is secure.
- Don’t force them to sign up to your newsletter. People respond
- Don’t force them to give you more details than you need – they don’t want to tell you their birthday, their mobile phone number, their residential address or the colour of their underwear.
- Offer PayPal, heaps of people have it and it’s easy, although if it’s your only payment method you can look unprofessional (ie. it looks like you can’t afford proper bank fees or a proper payment gateway).
In the end, most people just want the best deal. Make sure you’ve done your research and you know that your costs are priced to meet the market. You can do everything else in this article better than everyone, but if you’re way over-priced, there’s no point. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many site owners don’t look around to see what others are charging. If you do provide a service that costs more make sure you explain why.
The following examples illustrate some of the principles from this article. Visit them and learn.
Ten Websites that Sell Products Well
- Mod Cloth (http://www.modcloth.com/) – great product pages
- The Body Shop (http://www.thebodyshop.com.au)
- The Diet Plate (http://www.thedietplate.com.au/) – strong “call-to-action”
- Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com)
- 37 Signals (http://www.37signals.com/)
- Interspire (http://www.interspire.com/)
- Flowers.com.au (http://www.flowers.com.au)
- CafePress (http://www.cafepress.com)
- Zappos (http://www.zappos.com)
- Catch of the Day (http://www.catchoftheday.com.au/)
Eight Websites that Sell Services Well
- RACQ (http://www.racq.com.au/)
- James Home Services (http://www.jameshomeservices.com.au/)
- Jenny Craig (http://www.jennycraig.com.au/home/)
- Realestate.com.au (http://www.realestate.com.au)
- City Rail (http://www.cityrail.info/) – important features are “front & center”
- Mobile Me (http://www.me.com) – All important information above the fold
- Tweet Deck (http://www.tweetdeck.com/) – Keeping decisions simple
- Australian Shares (http://www.australian-shares.com/)