Well done! Your online marketing strategy has worked and someone has decided to check out your website. They’ve heard about what you do and they think it sounds interesting. It’s great news and you should pat yourself on the back because 99% of websites don’t get this far[i]. The bad news is that 99% of those 99% don’t end up taking that next step and actually selling something.
These 2 blog posts are designed to help you identify and overcome some common failings in website design and sales strategy that prevent sites from making money from the products and services they promote.
There are seven main reasons why sales websites don’t do their job properly:
- People don’t trust the site enough
- It’s too hard for customers or potential clients to find what they want
- The products or services aren’t promoted effectively within the site
- The products or services aren’t displayed effectively
- The sales pitch isn’t strong enough
- The purchasing or enquiry process is too complicated
- The products or services aren’t competitively priced
The information below will help you overcome these problems and make sure your website sells.
How to Convince People to Trust You
Unlike setting up a shop in your local mall, starting a website or online store requires very little long-term commitment. It’s also a global medium, so people can run sites from parts of the world that have limited, or non-existent trading regulations. Online stores can come and go in the blink of an eye and there are plenty of dodgy websites out there selling plenty of dodgy products. If you want people to buy something from you, or make an enquiry about your services, you have to convince them that you’re a reputable organization who, at best, will provide outstanding service, or at the very least, not rip them off.
There are five main things you can work on to help win people’s trust:
- Your company history and experience
- Your reputation
- Your website’s appearance
- Your customer support
- Your data security procedures and privacy polices
Show you have a Company History, Experience and Qualifications
You need to show people that you have a track record and a reputation. Tell people how long you’ve been in business and what experience you have. Use around 25% of the space on the homepage (or more if it’s important) to do this (unless your company is so big and well-known that everyone knows). If you’re a new company, use testimonials or endorsements instead. If you haven’t got any, get some fast!
Stand by your Reputation, Happy Customers and Endorsements
The best possible endorsement for your business is the one they heard from a trusted friend before they even got to your website. This is one of the basic tenets of online marketing. The second best thing you can do is show them what other happy clients or customers have said. ‘Testimonials’ work well and the more credible they are the better. Anonymous testimonials are a waste of time, as are words of praise from ‘John, Sydney’. You need real, credible people to back you up. If you’re a large company testimonials can look tacky so have a series of client logos, or showcases instead. The bigger the clients, the better, and don’t lie. People should be able to access this information from your homepage without having to scroll.
If you are recommended or endorsed by, or a member, or a sponsor of a professional organisation or industry body make sure you mention it and include logos where possible. If others trust their brand with you, people will be more likely to trust you with their business.
Make a Good Impression with Your Website’s Appearance
First impressions count. If your website doesn’t look professionally designed people will think it’s run by amateurs. If your site looks better than your competition you’re naturally going to make a better first impression than them. If you’re on a tight budget, at least make sure your website is of the same visual standard as everything else out there or no-one will take you seriously. Use a templated design if you absolutely have to, but understand it won’t be tailored to meet your exact needs or target market and understand your website may end up looking like everyone else’s.
Provide Excellent Customer Support and Show Contact Details
People want to know what happens if they have a question, or if something goes wrong. If you show that you are there for them they’ll appreciate it. Give them a freecall number to phone you on (and display it at the top right of every page), provide an email address that people answer, not just an anonymous form (there are ways to obscure it so you don’t get spam), have an online chat feature they can use. At the very least, they want to know that if worst comes to worst, there is a physical door they can come and knock on to demand answers. If you don’t prominently show your street address (or if your street address is in Nigeria) people will be suspicious.
Make sure you also let people know what your returns and refund policy is. Make this information obvious and easily accessible.
Make sure Your Security and Privacy Policies are Robust
Make sure you have links in your website’s footer that point people to your policies and cite them whenever you’re asking for information. They won’t give you their personal details if it’s not clear what you’ll do with them.
Make it Easy for People to find what they Want
The easier you make it for people to find what they want, they more likely you are to make a sale. The two ways to do this are with navigation and search functions.
Each page should be as few clicks as possible from the homepage. If you have a large number of products or services use drop-down menus to show sub-categories. If you have lots of categories use ‘breadcrumbs’ at the top of each page below the main navigation so if people end up deep into your site they can see where they are in relation to the sites hierarchy.
Make sure your logo links to your homepage and make sure you have a ‘Home’ link in your menu, because that’s how most people will try and bail out if they get lost.
Don’t open pages (internal or external) in new windows because people need to be able to use their back button if they get confused. The back button is their life-line and it’s the second-most used navigation feature (after following hypertext links). Users know that they can go anywhere on the Web and always be saved by a click or two on Back to return them to familiar territory.[ii]
Have a site search, and make sure it works. It’s no good if the results people get are obscure or irrelevant. Make sure your search can make suggestions in case people don’t know how to spell something correctly. (Google’s Custom Search function is brilliant for this).
Make sure you stick the search box in the top right hand corner where people expect to see it.
In “How to make your website make you more money – Pt2” we will be looking at the remaining points mentioned at the start of this post.
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/)
Ten 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/)