May 28, 2013

Eleven ways to increase online sales

In just 11 steps, you can boost results for any online sales initiative. Anything. It’s really not an art; web selling is a science, and the test results are conclusive. Follow these rules to greater success:increase-online-business-resized-600

1. Buyer personas.  If you aren’t optimizing everything for the needs, wants and requirements of your buyers, start over. Once you know who you are talking to, their situations, wants, needs and the answers to their problems, selling to them is easy.

2. Relevancy and motivation. It’s impossible to sell what people don’t want. Driving the right people to your site is the foundation of effective marketing, along with crafting the right offer at the right price.

3. Design for sales. The quality and craftsmanship of your site/store tells more than the words you write. Ugly and clumsy are not attributes, they are sales blockers. And visual hierarchy that encourages easy reading and even easier understanding — that’s salesmanship.

4. Value propositions.  If you don’t have  a unique value proposition, you don’t have what it takes to compete. And if your value proposition isn’t woven into every entry point on your site, you are losing sales.

5. Triage customers. Customers fall into three groups: those who have an unrecognized need, researchers, and those who have come to a decision. You can’t do much for the first group except to educate them, at your expense. Researchers, on the other hand, love to compare before deciding. If you are not the cheapest, this group needs to know your advantages (see item four). The last group is the one that’s ready to buy, so get out of the way and let them sign up or fill their carts.

6. Reduce friction.  There’s plenty of science to prove that friction can only be reduced, and it’s as much a part of sales transactions as it is for Soapbox Derby axles. For sales, it’s the doubts, hesitations and second thoughts. For online sales, here are guaranteed friction factors:

  • Long and complicated forms
  • Hidden contact information
  • Anonymity, no physical address or phone
  • Ugly web design
  • Claims without sufficient evidence of proof
  • Insufficient information
  • FUDs: fears, uncertainties, doubts

7. Obfuscation.  Or lack of clarity. Be sure the customer is able to understand the concept without jargon or big wordy words.

8. Noise and distraction. There’s a proven rule for creating good billboards:  it’s ready when there’s nothing left to remove.  Too many choices with too much information leads to choosing nothing. Too hard. Reduce clutter the closer you get to closing, including crosslinks, sidebars and navigation.

9. Engagement. When 100 people come to your site, how many buy? Increase sales by increasing engagement. The more expensive or complicated your offer, the more time it takes to make a decision. So get their email first, then work to add value, prove your expertise, get them to like you — before you ask for the sale.

10. Urgency. Hurry, because this list is about to end.  Creating urgency, when it makes sense, makes sales.  Limited quantities (only three left) limited time (before midnight tonight) or limited context (Mother’s Day is coming soon) all work.

11. Usability. If your site doesn’t provide a seamless, pleasant and valuable experience, start over. Everything should seem as though it’s made to meet the needs of the viewer, the potential customer. Poorly designed websites create sales failures.

Adapted from How to Build Websites That Sell, The Scientific Approach to Websites, by Peep Laja.

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