If you are a startup or small business owner struggling to sell your products and services online you may, overtime, come to the surprising conclusion that not all website designs are created equal.
Whereas initially you may have wanted a website that was graphically elegant, easy to navigate, and chock full of information, six months later you will want a website that closes sales. Every other esoteric and philosophical concern will be outweighed by your need to have your site do what websites should do best which is turn leads into customers.
Creating a website that closes sales isn’t difficult, but the steps you have to take can be pretty draconian and sometimes they can be a bit labor intensive. The following six solutions will fix what’s broken about your website if you choose to undertake them. If you aren’t willing to undertake them chances are the problems your business faces go beyond ecommerce and site design into the very structure of your enterprise.
Fix #1: Make sure you can sell your product or service face to face. If you can’t sell what you offer to customers when talking to them one on one you won’t be able to sell it to them online either. You need to know what questions you have to ask to ensure a given lead is the kind of customer your product is perfect for and you need to know what to say to close people who are within your target market. There’s no getting around this step.
Fix #2: Make sure people who visit your site can find what they want to buy within a couple of clicks or a single search. If you look at the Amazon website, which has millions of products to sell, you’ll note that people can find the products they want to see in under five clicks. Your site needs to be that easy to use or people will wander off to find a site that can service them better.
Fix #3: Make sure your site is able to take money in the form people want to provide it in. Most people are willing to use PayPal in placing orders on websites and failure to use PayPal will often reduce your sales. If you set up a business account on PayPal you’ll be able to take credit card payments as well as PayPal payments and that will usually increase the number of orders you get significantly. If your target market customarily buy things using purchase order numbers, pay on delivery agreements or through credit your company extends to them, make sure these payment options are available on your site.
Fix #4: Cut down on clutter. If you look at the sites that liberate money from you most efficiently I suspect you’ll discover they are the sites where everything is as easy as 1-2-3. What’s being offered is easy to understand, it’s clear what benefit you’ll receive, and the button you need to click to provide payment is clearly identified. Is your site that easy to understand? Search engine marketing and search engine optimization efforts often run diametrically opposed to the clarity required to close sales on your site. You may need to make the first page of your site a sales page and relegate all the editorial content to a single link located in the bottom half of the page.
Fix #5: Ensure your failure to close sales doesn’t stem from a lack of leads. If you are selling elephant blankets and they only people who come to your site are ballerinas you aren’t going to see any sales. All traffic is not created equal. Setup Google Analytics on your website so you can start seeing where your customers come from and what they click on when they visit your site. If you are getting the wrong kind of web traffic you need to redesign your site so the keywords your potential customers search for appear in your domain name, in all URLs and in the first 100 or so words on each page. You also need to make sure new traffic is being driven to your page daily. You can do this with Google, Facebook and LinkedIn ads, with Twitter retweets, with weekly press releases, or through mass media efforts like radio, newspaper and television interviews. Having a great website that can close sales doesn’t mean your customers don’t need help finding you. Put yourself where they look.
Fix #6: Make sure you have a way to get your site visitors to give you’re their email address or at least follow you on Twitter or “Like” you on Facebook. Re-contacting leads through new information or special offers delivered via email is the best way to increase sales simply because most people do read their email daily. Twitter and Facebook work better for connecting with a few potential customers, but not very many. Also, when you send an email, you can control what people see on the page to a great degree using an HTML mail template like those available in Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. You have almost no control of what your customers see when you connect to them through Twitter or Facebook.
These six fixes will increase sales for the vast majority of sites that are selling something people want to buy. All products and services are not created equal. If you are selling something not many people want or something that’s priced incorrectly the problem is not with your website. Usually you will detect these problems with your offering when you try to sell your product face to face which is why that is the first fix you should undertake.
Your website isn’t a work of art but a working machine and it takes time, effort and insight to make it close sales. The time you invest in bringing your current site into profitability will pay off not just it the revenue it generates but in the revenue you get from all the other profitable sites you’ll be able to create in years to come.