One of the most important pieces of information for any marketer to know about their website is the customer conversion rate. This is the number of visitors that take the action you want them to. For most sites this means making a purchase, but it could mean joining your mailing list, signing up for your forum or telling a friend about your site.
Commercial websites typically have a conversion rate between 1% and 3%. That means that for every 100 visitors to the site, between 1 and 3 of them become paying customers.
You can see the benefit of increasing that percentage!
The first step to improving your conversion rate is to determine what it currently is. If you don’t already have tracking software that tells you exactly how many visitors you’re getting and how many sales you’re making, you’ll need to put one in place right away. Ask your hosting company about what they provide or check out Clickalyzer.
Once you know these numbers you can calculate your conversion rate by dividing the total sales by the amount of traffic and multiplying by 100.
For example if you get a total of 1,000 visitors per month and you make 10 sales you divide 10 by 1,000 and then multiple by 100 to get a conversion rate of 1%. That means that your site is currently converting at one percent – or 1 in every 100 people who visit your site takes the action you want them to.
Now that you’ve calculated your conversion rate, let’s look at 101 ways to improve it!
- Build a Site that Sells
- Write a Compelling Sales Letter
- Make Sure Prospects Are “Warm” When They Arrive At Your Site
- Build Trust With Potential Customers
- Give Them A Reason To Buy NOW
- Reduce The Risk Of Doing Business With You
- Make Your Offers Irresistible
- Make It Easy To Buy From You
- Don’t Take No For An Answer
- Use Psychology To Your Advantage
- Always Be Improving.
Build A Site That Sells
- The first step to creating a site that sells is deciding what role it will play in your overall business strategy. Whether it’s to generate sales, generate leads, provide customer support or build your brand, create your site around this task. This may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many sites just don’t get it! Remember, you can’t be all things to all people, and neither can your site.
- Build your site around prospects taking ONE action. Too many sites give visitors so many options that they get lost in the process of choosing and end up doing nothing. Decide what the most important task of your site is and then build your pages to support this. Be sure to remove all navigation that isn’t necessary to get them to take the ONE action you want them to take.
- Make your site look professional. If you can’t afford to hire a professional website designer, at least invest some money in a professionally designed template. Remember, customers will judge you based on their first impression of your site, so make sure it’s professional and in line with what they would expect to see from a company in your industry. For professional, afford templates check out Deonix Design.
- Choose the colors for your site carefully. They set the tone and can communicate powerful messages to prospective customers. As a result recent studies show that color can have a major impact on conversion rates. Read more in the Clickz article “The Color of Money”
- Make it easy for customers to find answers to the questions that are stopping them from buying. The most common questions are about prices, availability, shipping policies and guarantees. A good strategy is to both weave the answers to these questions on the appropriate pages of your site, as well as include them all on one FAQ page. Don’t make potential customers hunt for this important information!
- Make your site navigation simple and straightforward. Studies show that when a customer cannot find what they’re looking for in less than 2 minutes, they leave and usually never come back. Make sure you don’t lose their attention by providing a consistent navigation system on every page. Also, remember that a link to your home page from every other page on the site is essential. That way, if the search engines bring a potential customer to a page other than your home page, they’ll be able to easily find their way around.
- Remember the “three click” rule. At any point a visitor must be able to get to any part of your website with no more than 3 clicks of their mouse. Ideally the most important pages will be even fewer clicks away.
- Make sure all pages load as fast as possible. One of the easiest ways to do this is to reduce the size of your graphics – or eliminate them all together if they’re not necessary. A good rule of thumb is to ensure individual images are less than 25KB and each page (with graphics included) is under 50KB. Are your images too big? Make them smaller without compromising quality using a compression tool such as PaintShop or the free online tool GIFBot.
- Give people a reason to come back on a regular basis. This may include a regularly updated blog, news headlines, a forum, regularly published articles, on going contests, or any other element that will make your potential customers visit again and again. The more often they visit your site, the more likely they’ll be to eventually make a purchase.
- Make your site useful to your visitors. The one thing that all people online have in common is that they are looking for information – after all it is the “Information Superhighway”. So give your visitors what they want and in the process educate them about your industry, your business and your specific offer. If your potential customers become educated about what you do and how it benefits them, they will remember you over your competition when they’re ready to buy.
- Add a search feature if you have a lot of information. The easier you can make it for visitors to find information that is of interest to them, the longer they will stay on your site. Obviously you don’t need a search feature if your site only has a few pages, but if you offer a lot of information you should definitely consider adding a site search feature. You can get a powerful one free from Atomz.
- Open any external links in a new browser window. This includes all links to external sites such as recommended resources and sites owned by people who gave you testimonials. Otherwise you run the risk of sending your visitors to another site and never having them return. To open a page in a new window adapt this HTML code to include your link information:
<a href=”http://www.yoursite.com” target=”_blank”>Your Link Text Here</a>
- Be consistent with your marketing message. Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of Guerilla Marketing says that once you get bored of your marketing materials, that’s the point at which they start working. Consistency is equally as important on your web site. People don’t like change. If you change your site every time visitors come they’ll be confused and less likely to make a decision to buy.
- Make your site interactive. People remember only 10% of what they read. People remember only 20% of what they hear. But people remember 50% of what they both read and hear! It has been found that audio increases the website viewers attention span by 45%. Get creative in how you use interactivity on your site. It can be an audio sales message from you, audio testimonials and even something more interactive like a site demo done in Flash. Use your imagination! To add audio to your website checkout the full service solution Audio Generator or the less expensive option Sonic Memo.
- Use popups properly. No matter how you personally feel about them, test after test has proven that popups work. The key is making a powerful offer that your prospects can’t refuse. To avoid having your popups blocked use a “hover ad” or “popover” which can’t be detected by popup blockers. A free online service for generating popups is the JK Popup Window Generator. For popovers check out the free Pop-In Builder.
- Be careful including “coupon” or “discount code” boxes on your order page.
Prospects getting ready to place an order will assume they can get a discount if they find out how to get one of your coupons or discount codes. Once they leave your site thinking they’ll “search later for how to get a discount” you’ve most likely lost them for good. If you offer discounts to certain customers create a separate order form for them.
- Use audio on your website to sell. If your site’s purpose is to sell a product or service, EVERYTHING on your site should be used for selling – including audio. Instead of an audio introduction from you like many sites have added recently.
Create a powerful 30 second commercial that tells people what you offer, the major benefits of purchasing from you and/or why you’re better than your competitors. You don’t have to use a hard sell approach. Keep it conversational and show your enthusiasm – but make sure they’re given information that takes them one step closer to buying!
- Don’t forget “if it am not broke, don’t fix it.” In other words, if you track your site and it’s generating a decent conversion rate, don’t do a huge overhaul. Instead focus on testing individual site components to steadily increase your conversion rate.
Write A Compelling Sales Letter
- Write your own sales letter and have it edited by an expert. No one knows your customers better than you, so why hire a stranger to write a persuasive letter to these people that you know so well? Unless you can afford $5,000+ for one of the top Internet copywriters, you’re better to take the time to write the sales letter yourself. Once completed you can have it professionally edited for less than $500. This approach will not only save you money, it will also produce a more genuine and effective sales letter because it’s your words and not someone else’s.
- Understand “marketing syntax” and use it. Marketing syntax refers to the order in which you should present information in a marketing message to get the attention of the most number of readers. Start by stating the problem, issue, challenge or predicament to show you understand what your potential customers are going through. Next tell them what it COULD be like in a future scenario if this problem were solved. Then tell them what you do that gets them from having the problem to enjoying the future scenario. Lastly, tell them what action to take to learn how to solve the problem.
- Write your sales letter to one person. Someone who is considering giving you their money thinks of themselves as the most important person in your world. And they are! Treat them as such by writing your sales letter as though you’re speaking to that individual reader. If you find this difficult, start by writing your sales message as a letter to your mom. When you’re done remove the “Dear Mom” and you should have a letter that is both personal and persuasive. Studies show a greater conversion rate with this style of letter because prospects feel engaged in the copy and read more of it. The more they read, the more likely they’ll be to buy.
- Use the AIDA method. AIDA is an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action and is a formula copywriters use for creating sales letters that sell. Use them in order when creating your next sales letter:
Attention: Grab the reader’s attention with a headline and subheadline that they can’t ignore.
Interest: Hold their interest any way you can to keep them reading.
Desire: Evoke a desire for what you’re selling by painting a picture.
Action: Don’t leave anything to chance – tell them exactly what action you want them to take.
- A great sales letter will “continue the conversation your prospect is already having in his/her head”. Despite what you may have heard, it’s extremely difficult to convince a prospect to buy if they’re not already considering it. The easier (and more profitable) approach is to offer them something directly related to what they’re already thinking about. In other words, “continue the conversation they’re already having in their head”. Of course this cannot be achieved simply with a sales letter, you also have to find targeted traffic. The combination of good prospects and a customer focused sales letter will explode your sales!
- Spell out the specific benefits of buying. Always remember, prospective customers are only interested in one thing – “what’s in it for me”. Tell them EXACTLY what they will gain by buying what you’re selling and you’ll greatly increase your conversion rate. Remember, people don’t buy a product – they buy a solution. For example, they don’t buy a drill with a “two position gear box, quick connect bit change system” – they buy a hole!
- Balance the emotional pull with the specifics. Studies show that people make the decision to buy on an emotional level, and then search for facts to support that decision. A well written site will pull visitors in with an emotional plea and close the sale by providing specifics. Striking a balance between the two is essential to a sales letter that converts.
- Include an offer (or a link to read more about your offer) “above the fold.”
Above the fold means the area of the screen that is visible before you scroll down. By including an offer or link in this part of the site you will be more likely to get the attention of your visitors and have them take the action you want.
- Make sure your headlines tell the complete story. A lot of people skim websites to decide if there is any reason for them to read the sales letter. To capture their attention make sure your headlines are bold, easy to read and that they tell a condensed version of the story your sales letter tells. If by the end they’ve read enough from your headlines to be interested, they’ll go back and read the entire letter.
- Use more customer focused words than company focused ones. Test your copy with the We We Monitor. Enter your URL and the name of your company and it tells you how many company-focused words are used on the page versus how many customer focused words.
- Tell your customers exactly WHY they should do things. Simply saying “ click here to read our articles” doesn’t give them a compelling enough reason so most people won’t bother. Instead say “click here to learn 10 new ways to…” The better the reason you give, the more likely people will be to do what you suggest. You’ll be amazed at the result!
- Create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Most websites fail to communicate to potential customers exactly what makes them unique. Take the time to identify how you’re better than your competitors and why customers should buy from you
– then tell your prospects! A great approach for creating a USP that gets attention is to focus on the biggest benefit to your customers. One of the most well known USPs of all time is “Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed”. These 10 words created an empire out of Domino’s pizza and made its creator one of the 1,000 richest people in the world. A well written USP can have the same result for almost any business!
- Know who your customers are and what they want. The better you know who you’re writing your sales letter for, the more compelling it will be. Before you begin consider the demographic (statistical information about groups of people) and psychographic (information about their likes and dislikes) makeup of your target audience. To get you thinking here are some of the biggest questions you should be able to answer about your potential customers:
Where do they live? How old are they?
How much money do they make? What do they do for fun?
What do they spend money on? Where do they spend time online? What clubs / sites are they members of?
- Include a “call to action” on every page. A call to action is the term used to describe the instructions you give readers of your sales letter. Examples are “Buy Now”, “Subscribe to Our Newsletter” and “Join Today”. Many sites that have low conversion rates are simply lacking these explicit instructions that tell visitors what to do next. To make your call to action even more effective include a reason for taking the action. Instead of “Buy Now” try “Buy Now and Save $20”. The key to a powerful call to action is to use lots of action words (verbs).
- Create a headline that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to learn more. You’ve probably heard it said a hundred times already, but it’s so important it’s worth repeating… The headline is the most important part of your sales letter. No matter how good the rest of your letter is, if you don’t pull the reader in with the headline they’ll never even see all of your perfectly written copy. The best headlines are ones that focus on the biggest benefit to your customer. Once you have a few that you like test them all. It’s not uncommon for one headline to have a conversion rate that is 3 or 4 times better than another! So
Take the time to test different headlines to find the one that works best for your site.
- Use education based marketing. When constructing your sales message make sure it is education based instead of selling based. The difference between these is that education based marketing gives the customer information and advice so that they can see on their own that your product or service is perfect for them. This usually involves providing articles, special reports, free eBooks, case studies and other information. The opposite of this is selling based marketing which is a hard sell and usually very focused on the company and how wonderful they are. People hate being sold to and consequently they have a natural distrust for sales people. As a result selling based marketing makes people immediately tune you out so you have lost any opportunity of making the sale.
- Use the words your customers are using. Suppose you are searching for a new Sony plasma screen television. You do some research and find a page that looks promising. However at the top of the page all you see is “televisions”. You would probably feel a little overwhelmed by the thought of having to search through all of the televisions to find the one you’re looking for. But if you saw “plasma screen televisions” you would probably feel more optimistic that this site had what you are looking for. And if you saw “Sony plasma screen television” you would stop your search and place an order!
- If you don’t know what words your customers are using to describe your products/services, it’s time to do some research. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Visit forums where your target market frequent and see what words they use when discussing you, your competitors, your product/service categories and your industry.
- Check out your competitors’ sites to see what words they use.
- See what people are searching for in the search engines with the Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool or WordTracker.
- If you have a site search function be sure to monitor what words are being searched for most often.
- Conduct a short survey and ask your current customers what words they use.
- Use what online marketer Joe Vitale calls “magic words”. The best ones are: announcing, astonishing, discover, exciting, exclusive, fantastic, fascinating, first, free, guaranteed, incredible, initial, improved, love, limited offer, powerful, phenomenal, revealing, revolutionary, special, successful, super, time-sensitive, unique, urgent, wonderful, you, breakthrough, introducing, new, and how-to.
- Include a powerful P.S. at the end of your sales letter. Long an important element of direct mail sales letters, the P.S. is still alive and well online. Studies show that people often scroll immediately to the bottom of a sales letter to see who wrote it. Since your P.S. comes right after your signature, it’s a great place to
Put important information that you don’t want prospective customers to miss. Use it to repeat your biggest benefit or USP statement, reiterate your guarantee or restate your powerful offer.
Make Sure Prospects Are “Warm” When They Arrive At Your Site
- Make sure the traffic visiting your site is targeted and looking to buy. The key here is “looking to buy”. There are a lot of services that claim to deliver targeted traffic but they use “interruption marketing”. In other words, people are viewing other sites and when they leave that site your site is displayed as a popup. The result is that your site is nothing but an intrusion and since they’re not currently looking for what you offer you’re wasting time and money showing them your ad. Sure it’s exciting to see high visitor numbers but FFAs, safelists, popunders and guaranteed visitor services won’t bring sales. Instead focus your time, energy and money on getting good quality traffic.
- Learn how to use Pay Per Click (PPC) search engines properly for unlimited targeted traffic. The best source of targeted traffic is PPC search engines because you control what your ad says and who sees it. And best of all, you only pay when someone clicks so if you write your ad properly you’ll experience a high conversion rate. In addition to providing targeted traffic, PPCs are also a great way to test different headlines to see which ones get the best response, test new product ideas for viability and quickly build a mailing list. To learn more visit Google Adwords, Overture and PayPerClickSearchEngines.com.
- Use a two-step approach in your advertising. Simply making your offer and trying to sell someone directly from an ad is extremely difficult. Instead use the two-step sales approach which involves getting potential customers to make a small commitment – such as visiting your website or requesting your e-course – before you try and sell them. They’ll be more likely to take the small step (especially if it’s free), which will open the door for you to build a relationship with them and eventually make the sale.
- Make sure the landing pages for your ads are relevant. Far too often marketers create excellent ads that inspire people to take action – but when they click through to the website they land on the Home Page. There’s no correlation between the ad they were just reading and the information they’re now looking at. The result is usually that people leave – rather than hunting around the site. Don’t make this mistake. Take the time to create landing pages for every ad you run that continues the conversation you were having with your prospects in the ad.
- Encourage your existing customers to refer people to your site. By far the best form of advertising is word of mouth. If customers refer others to your site they arrive in a positive frame of mind because someone who’s opinion they value has said good things about you. These “warm” customers always have a higher conversion rate than people who heard about you through an ad or other form of promotion. Be sure to thank customers for any referrals by giving them something for free, offering them a discount or mailing (yes mailing!) them a card. Making them feel special and appreciated will ensure they refer others in the future.
- One way to encourage people to tell their friends about your site is to offer them a full rebate on their purchase price if three people they refer buy. The customer will be motivated to find three friends – and you’ll turn one sale into three!
- Give your affiliates and Joint Venture partners great tools to pre-sell customers. This can include articles, pre-written sales letters, free ebooks, free demo versions, and any other materials that will both educate prospects and inspire them to visit the site to learn more. The key is to encourage affiliates and partners to get potential customers excited before sending them to the site. On the flip side, make sure your affiliates aren’t hurting your site’s image by being unprofessional in their communications with prospects.
Build Trust With Potential Customers
- Become a welcomed guest marketer to your potential customers. A welcomed guest marketer is someone that customers WANT to receive communications from. Perhaps you have some marketers whose communications you look forward to. If you want to dramatically increase your conversion rate you need to approach every website visitor as another prospect that you can become a welcomed guest marketer to. Every communication with them – from your ezine to answering their emails – must be for the purposes of building this relationship. If your message is well targeted, informative and delivered in a way that gets their attention, you will eventually achieve welcomed guest marketer status. Keep in mind that trying to sell them too early will only damage your relationship.
- Be upfront about all costs. This includes shipping and handling charges and taxes if applicable. Doing so will avoid any surprises at checkout time which make customers feel like you’re trying to “pull one over on them”.
- Tell people WHY they should trust you. Although they don’t want to hear your entire life story, it’s important that potential customers understand why you’re qualified to talk to them on this topic. List relevant points from your background, your current business situation, your earnings, your education, and anything else that will showcase your knowledge and make you seem trustworthy to potential customers. Another approach to build trust is to tell your personal story as a way of showing customers that you can relate to them.
- Use testimonials from satisfied customers. One relevant, well-written testimonial can sell a customer better than an entire sales letter. The psychological reason behind this is “group mentality” – people are more likely to agree with a group than have a different opinion. Encourage your customers to send their feedback for use on your site. Just be sure to get permission in writing before you reprint anyone’s words.
- Get endorsements from authorities in your industry. Almost every industry has a group of people that are well known by all prospective clients. If not by name then at least by occupation. For example if you sell herbal supplements it’s a good idea to have a doctor give an endorsement. Potential customers probably won’t know the specific doctor but they will see that person as an authority that they should listen to.
- Use only testimonials and endorsements that highlight the main points of your sales letter. Just because someone sent you a testimonial or endorsement doesn’t mean you have to use it. Ideally you’ll have enough that you can pick and choose based on how well it supports your sales copy. A powerful approach is to include testimonials and endorsements throughout your copy to back up a point you just made. For example if you say in your sales letter that you offer excellent customer service, include a testimonial right after that paragraph from a customer who is raving about your amazing customer service.
- Make testimonials and endorsements credible. The best way to do this is to include lots of information on the person who submitted it. Some information to consider using is their full name, city and state, URL, photo, signature or an audio testimonial/endorsement. If the person is willing to take phone calls from potential customers then also include their phone number.
- Write case studies to show how your product or service worked for a customer. If you sell to other businesses this is a particularly effective technique, but it’s also great for products sold directly to customers that solve a specific problem. The key to great case studies is to make them as detailed as possible so potential customers are left with the feeling that they know the entire story and would be able to see the same results for themselves.
- Make your contact information easy to find. There are many consumer protection agencies that tell online shoppers never to deal with businesses that don’t list their complete contact information. Since your potential customers are most likely getting this advice it’s a good idea to include a footer on every page that lists your full address, telephone number and general inquiry email address. If possible provide a toll-free number. You can get one for less than $10 per month from companies such as Kall8. This reassures potential customers that you are a legitimate business and that they have several ways to contact you if there is a problem.
- Respond to every inquiry quickly and professionally. Often a customer who is sitting on the fence just needs a little reassurance that there is a real person behind the site that will help them if they need it. Showing them your dedication to outstanding customer service is usually all that is needed to close the sale. If you’re finding it difficult to answer inquiries within 24 hours, hire a Virtual Assistant to handle it for you. For listings of Virtual Assistants visit AssistU.
- Explicitly state what kind of security your shopping cart uses. You may be surprised how many customers are still nervous about giving their credit card information online. Reassure them that your site is safe by explicitly stating what type of security your shopping cart uses (if you’re not sure ask your payment processor or hosting company). Another good idea is to change the writing on your order button to say “Order Now Through Our Secure Server”. Or at least include underneath the order button a statement such as “All Orders Processed On Our Secure Server”.
- Sign up with third party reliability and privacy associations and display their seals on your site. This is an excellent way to show potential customers that you’re a legitimate business that cares about its customers. You also have the potential of getting some advertising by being included in the member’s directories that these organizations maintain. The three most well known ones are the Better Business Bureau, iCop and TrustE.
- For electronic products use an ecover or box graphic to make the product seem more tangible. For subscription sites you can even have membership card graphics created. Keep in mind though that poor quality graphics can have the opposite effect so spend a little money to have one professionally created, or at least purchase good quality software if you’ll be making your own. Check out DynamiteCovers.com for professional designs or Ecover Generator to create your own.
- Include your bio and photograph on your site to reassure visitors they’re dealing with a real person. One of the downsides of selling on the Internet is that customers don’t feel a connection with a real person. Provide a bio and picture so they can get to know you – people always prefer to do business with friends!
Give Them A Reason To Buy NOW:
- Use the power of scarcity. Studies show that people hate to miss out on something and will often make a purchase that they otherwise wouldn’t to avoid doing so. Use this to your advantage by only selling a certain number of a product, or including a special bonus with a specified number of orders. Keep your integrity though and mean what you say. Don’t offer a special bonus to the first 100 people who buy and then give away 500 of them.
- Offer a monthly payment plan for expensive items. If your products and services are priced above $100 consider allowing customers to break their payment down into several instalments. For example, on a $147 item allow for three monthly payments of only $49. This will be attractive for customers who are unwilling or unable to part with large sums of money all at once.
- Hold a sale. People don’t like missing out on a good deal so encourage them to buy with a time-limited sale. For example you could offer “50% off this week only”, “buy one get one free for the next 100 customers” or “buy this month and get an extra bonus”. As with scarcity though you have to stop the sale at the specified time or you risk losing credibility.
- Only let customers become affiliates or purchase resell rights. If it’s a hot product people will purchase just so that they can be one of the people allowed to promote it.
Reduce The Risk Of Doing Business With You:
- Offer a “Better Than Risk Free Guarantee”. Offering a powerful guarantee that shifts the risk from your customers to you is a great way to encourage people who are “sitting on the fence” to buy. What makes a guarantee “better than risk free” is if you not only guarantee to refund all of their money if they’re not completely satisfied, but you’ll also give them something just for taking the time to look at your product. This can be as simple as letting them keep the bonuses or as complex as giving them more than the purchase price back. Of course giving them back more then what they paid is risky, but making a bold guarantee always pays off if your product is one that people rarely return.
- Let them try before they buy. Give visitors access to free samples, limited time trials or even no risk “pay me when you are satisfied” periods. Obviously this doesn’t work for every product but it can dramatically improve conversion rates if you’re offering something that customers really have to use to understand. An example is the automation companies (such as 1AutomationWiz.com) that offer free 30 day trials. They know that once customers understand all of the features the system includes and realize how much time it can save them, they’ll most likely subscribe.
- Offer FREE seminars – online or offline. Telling people all about what you do and showing a demonstration of how your product or service works can be an excellent way to overcome objections to buying. This gives potential customers an opportunity to learn more about what you offer and ask specific questions about how your product or service can help them. Online you can conduct a meeting using Talking Communities technology or hold a free teleseminar on the phone for up to 30 people through Free Conference. Offline book a room and advertise a seminar or volunteer to speak at functions held by organizations where your potential customers are members. For example if you’re targeting small business owners the local Chamber of Commerce is an excellent choice.
- Sell an inexpensive product to build trust. The first time a person buys from someone new there is anxiety about the quality of the product or service they’ll receive. The quickest way to get your customers to trust you is to sell them an inexpensive product of extremely high quality and let them see for themselves that you are knowledgeable and reputable. Once they see the quality of what you offer they’ll be much more willing to consider purchasing your more expensive products and services.
- Allow your visitors to decide how much they want to pay for your product or service. Although this technique can be risky, if you have a product that isn’t selling quickly it can kick start sales and allow you to start building a customer list. Another idea is to offer a trial for a nominal amount (such as $1) and then have customers choose how much they’re willing to pay once they’ve seen exactly what they’re getting.
Make Your Offers Irresistible
- Give your customers options, but don’t confuse them. “A confused mind always says ‘no’”. Remember this when you’re putting together your offers. If you give people 20 ebook options they’ll be too confused to decide. Instead create sites dedicated to one or two products at a time and promote each one individually. Or, focus on promoting only one or two eBooks and use the others as backend, upsell and cross-sell products.
- Help customers make a decision. If you do include multiple products on the same site, help visitors make a decision to buy by indicating which one is the most popular. Do this by putting a “Most Popular” or “Most Downloaded” graphic beside the product description. Or, use logical product groupings so they can easily choose the category that they’re interested in and not be sidetracked by options that are irrelevant to them.
- If you’re selling the same products and services as others, find a way to stand out from the crowd. For example if you’re selling an ebook as an affiliate, make sure people order from you by being different than the other affiliates selling the same ebook. Do this by creating your own sales materials, writing an honest review (including mentioning the negatives), bundling in a related product or service or even providing an extra bonus to really make your offer unique.
- Keep all of your product offers relevant. No matter how tempted you may be to promote an unrelated product or service because it pays a high commission, DON’T! There is an old saying that you should keep in mind at all times, “stick to your knitting”. In other words, stick with what you’ve been doing. Otherwise you’ll confuse your customers about what they can count on you for.
- Help customers justify their decision to buy. Remember, people make the decision to buy on an emotional level, and then look for reasons to back up their decision. The top 10 reasons people use to justify a purchase are that it:
a. Improves their quality of life
- Gives them pleasure
- Beautifies their home
- Educates them
- Relaxes them
- Entertains them
- It was a planned purchased
- Gives them emotional satisfaction
- Replaces an item
- Relieves their stress
Make sure you’re mentioning several of these in your sales materials for maximum effectiveness.
- Remember what you’re selling (and it’s probably not what you think!) Most business owners when asked “what do you sell?” are quick to name their products and services. What the smartest marketers know however is that they’re actually selling an emotional response. People buy things because of how they make them FEEL (happy, safe, successful). Understanding the emotional connection that your customers have to your products and services is critical in being able to create an irresistible offer.
Make It Easy To Buy From You
- Don’t make PayPal the only payment option. A lot of people dislike using PayPal or live in a country where PayPal is unavailable. Don’t lose customers because they can’t pay you.
- Give visitors multiple payment options. Studies show that sites offering many payment options have significantly higher conversion rates. If you’re currently only accepting the major credit cards consider also accepting PayPal, online checks and telephone orders. Also make sure you’re accepting ALL of the major credit cards, not just VISA and MasterCard.
- Only ask for the information you need. Asking customers for too much information too soon can scare them off. Although you would obviously love to know everything about them after their first visit, they’re not as eager to provide you with those details. Instead give them a compelling reason to give you any personal information, and then only ask for what you absolutely need. The key is to build a relationship with them so that over time you can learn more. Even if all you get on their first visit is their first name and email address you’re doing well!
- Cut the fat out of your ordering process. Every time you make a customer click to move to another page during the checkout process, you risk losing them. Spending time on creating an order process that is easy to follow is a good investment of your time. Ideally customers will never be more than 3 clicks away from a completed order (yes, the 3 click rule applies to ordering as well!)
Don’t Take No For An Answer
- Get their contact information so you can follow up with them again. A potential customer has to hear your message an average of 9 times before they purchase something. If you consider that only 1 in 3 messages actually gets read, you have to contact people an average of 27 times before they’ll be ready to buy! Therefore having a strong follow up system in place is key. If possible automate this with an autoresponder series using a service such as GetResponse. This will allow you to set the messages and forget them!
- Follow up with prospects using offline methods. Capture mailing addresses and phone numbers of visitors so that you can contact them offline. Many of the most successful online marketers do well with postcard campaigns. You can also send handwritten cards or even phone prospects. Not many people are doing this so the response is great!
- Use an exit popup to make a final pitch to your customers. A lot of websites are having success using an exit popup that makes a limited time offer to receive a discount. Often the chance to get a deal is so compelling that people will go ahead and order even if they were planning on leaving without making a purchase.
Another way to use exit popups is to offer a special report or other information product that will encourage people to join your mailing list before leaving your site.
Use Psychology To Your Advantage
- Know what stage potential customers are at in the buying cycle. There are several frameworks used to describe how people make the decision to purchase. The one that makes the most sense online is the five step process that includes: Attention, Interest, Conviction, Desire and Close.
Attention: They recognize that the product/service exists
Interest: They want to learn more
Conviction: Their doubts and objections are resolved
Desire: They experience the emotional response of wanting to purchase
Close: They purchase
It’s important that you know what step your target customer is at. This will determine what information you need to provide in order to move them to the next step. It will also allow you to target customers who are at the stage you require in order for your sales system to take them through to a decision to buy.
- Choose bonuses that are unique and add genuine value to your offer. Simply throwing in 20 ebooks that are available free all over the Internet doesn’t make your offer stand out and actually hurts your credibility. Instead create something that is only available to your customers such as a special report, a workbook, a compilation of interviews you’ve conducted, software or a script, a recording of a teleseminar, a service provided by you, free shipping (if it’s a physical product), free installation (if it’s software) or access to a member’s only section or forum. You can also form a joint venture with another site owner and each of you offer something of value to the other’s customer. This is advertising and a bonus offer all in one!
- Get people to give you a series of small “yeses” – these will lead to a final “yes” when it comes to buying your product. This is known as the Law of Consistency. People like to be consistent. If they say “yes” to something they like to follow through and continue saying yes to other similar things. For example have them start by saying “yes” to wanting a special report. Then have them say “yes” to join a free teleseminar. Then “yes” to buy a small ebook. Eventually you’ll have them saying “yes” to larger purchases such as a complete information package or consulting. All of these small conversions are important and should also be tested and tracked as part of your sales system.
- Don’t assume that people only buy based on price. Many website owners have been amazed to learn that pricing a product at $19.97 brought in fewer sales than the same product priced at $39.97. People equate value with price so in many cases having a higher price INCREASES conversion rates. Test, test, test!
- Use the power of “because”. If you tell potential customers why you’re doing something they’ll be more likely to respond how you want them to. For example, “Buy today for half price because we have several items with damaged packaging…” Studies show it’s the presence of the word “because” that gets people to act, so make sure to include it!
- Aggravate the problems your potential customers are having. Potential customers don’t usually avoid buying something because they can’t afford it. More likely, they avoid buying because they would rather spend their money on something else. As a marketer, your job is to make your products and services a priority for your potential customers. What problem do they have that you can solve? Help them to see how they will feel when what you’re selling eliminates that problem for them. Make it irresistible and they’ll want to spend money their money with you.
- Present the price in a way that it looks like a deal prospects can’t refuse. One way to make a price look less is to break it down into its lowest time increment. For example, “All of this is yours for only $0.90 cents per day” (for a product or service priced at $27 a month). You can also compare your price to something else that people know about. For example, “You can be a member of our site for the price of a lunch out every month”. Or, tell people what they’ll have to spend if they DON’T buy from you. For example, “Buy today and avoid spending $1,500 this year for…”
- Include the number 7. Studies show that people respond to the number seven. Maybe it’s because it’s a lucky number in Western culture. Use this to your advantage by including “7” in your price, writing articles about “7 Tips to…” or creating a 7-part e-course. If you sell predominantly to non-western countries be sure to learn more about what numbers are significant to them.
- The more specific the information that you give, the more potential customers will believe what you say. For example, instead of saying your solution improves conversion rates by 80% be more specific and say 82.1%. People are naturally sceptical of generalities so don’t be afraid to give them the specifics.
- Offer packages. People love packages. A great example is the Meal Deals McDonald’s sells that include a sandwich, fries and a drink. Rather than having customers buy each item separately (and most likely not buying all of them) customers are encouraged to buy all three and get a discount. In the end McDonald’s makes more money. Use the same idea in your business by creating packages that include several of your items, or a product and service combination. Be creative!
Always Be Improving
- Make it a goal to create a “sales system” that works. Your ultimate goal should be to create a system that you know (with complete certainty) will make a sale to a certain percentage of people you put into it. This system should be mapped out from start to finish – that is, from the time a prospect first arrives at your site until they are a lifelong customer. Get started creating your system by planning out the steps you’d like customers take (or if you already have customers ask them what steps they took). Once your website, marketing materials and advertising plan are set up to work with your system, track every step and make improvements as necessary to make it as efficient and profitable as possible.
- Test EVERYTHING and test CONTINOUSLY. You might be amazed at the huge impact the smallest change can have. The key is to only change ONE thing at a time and very closely track your conversion rate. If you make two changes on a page and your conversion rate goes up, how will you know what change was the reason? Start by testing the things that have been proven to have the biggest impact on conversion rates: sales letter headline, first paragraph of sales letter, site’s color scheme, wording of guarantee, product images, bonuses offered and price. For more read the article “What Most People Miss When It Comes To Optimization For Conversion”.
- Use a website statistics package that provides detailed information on how visitors use your site. Clickalyzer shows you how far down each page visitors scroll, how long they take spend on each page, what path they take through the site and what page they exit from. This gives you a detailed picture of areas on your site that are working well – and areas that need to be improved.
- Ask for website reviews every time you make major changes to your site.
There are several forums where you can ask the members for website reviews. It’s a great way to have obvious mistakes pointed out by other webmasters who have had the similar problems in the past.
- Use Split Run Testing. Also called A/B Testing, Split Run Testing was developed by the direct mail industry to test which ads convert best. How it works is you create two different versions of an ad or sales letter (they can be completely different or just have one thing different such as the headline). You then send one ad to half of your prospects and the other ad to the other half. Track the results and see which one converted better. Then take the winning ad and split test it with a different variation. Continue doing this and you should see your conversion rate gradually improving. Of course sometimes you will test an ad that actually drops your conversion rate – but that’s part of the process.
- Ask your visitors why they’re not buying. The best way to do this is with a short survey that pops up as they’re exiting the site (from any page other than your order thank you page of course!). Ask them outright why they’re not placing an order today. The results you collect will be invaluable! For a great free script check out ExitSurveyGenerator
- Make it a habit to ask customers how they found your site. Although you should be tracking all of your site traffic it’s also a good idea to add a field to your order form asking people how they found your site. You may be surprised by the answers! This is another way to get a detailed picture of the best places to get targeted traffic from.