Have you ever stepped back, looked at your website, scratched your head and wondered, "I think my site looks good, so why is it not generating sales?" You are not alone in your thoughts, and oftentimes the answer to that question lies right under your nose.
In this article, I present five of the items I see most frequently abused, yet so easily corrected, by many ecommerce store owners. Take a look at your own site to determine if any of these rules are being broken. If so, it may be time to correct them.
1) Do not talk about yourself. Talk about your visitor.
Too often I see sites with "fluffy" copy, stating things like, "We are the best widget maker in the business today." Or, "We provide a large variety of widgets to meet all kinds of applications." Remember this next time you are preparing copy for your website. When you talk, talk from the customer's perspective, not the seller's. Do not tell your visitors how great you are.
Instead, tell them how your products can help them fulfill their own need. This is what they want to hear, and it is what will cause them to buy. After all, would you buy a whatchamacallit from me if I told you it was the best whatchamacallit in the world? I doubt it, because you do not know what that it does and how that will benefit you.
If I told you the whatchamacallit was a tool which was guaranteed and proven to put at least $1,000.00 in your pocket within the first 24 hours, and you would only have to pay $9.94 to get it, well I bet you would jump on the chance, right? It is all about the wording and the angle of approach.
The lesson: The site is about your visitors ... not you.
2) Do not get in the way of your visitors, especially when you are selling something. Mark your visitor's path to the end goal, clearly and consistently.
Putting together a well thought out site structure with consistent navigation is one of the biggest keys to visitor satisfaction. Keep "deep linking" to a minimum, and make sure that it takes no more than 3 clicks for a user to get at the information they seek. Use breadcrumb trials when possible to assist the visitor in navigating the site.
The lesson: Do not make your visitors think. Keep it simple.
3) Do not become too attached to your site. Realize that all good sites grow, adapt and change in relation to their market.
Many website owners love the design of their site so much that they overlook what their visitors think. They invest a lot of time and money into a design, without ever thinking what their customers actually want.
First realize that if you are to satisfy your visitors, you must listen to them and test. Testing is one key to success. You may start with one design in mind (hopefully it has been founded on the notion of what your visitors will like), but once launched, test as many sections of the site as possible, using a tool like Google's Website Optimizer.
You will oftentimes find that what works for your visitors and increases your sales is not what you initially thought. That winning combination is the power behind increased conversion. But you have to be willing to change and adapt to the results. The success of your website depends on it.
The lesson: It is OK to change. Do not design a site based on what you think is nice. Let your research lead you and design it based on what your ideal customer tells you works for them, whether you like it or not.
4) Do not assume a site looks good to all users if it looks good on your machine. Test it on as many browser platforms as possible to ensure a widely accepted layout.
This should be a given. However, I still come across many sites that do not appear correctly under different browsers and versions. This is a sure way to alienate potential customers and is no way to grow your sales.
If you do not have the capability to test what your site looks like under multiple browsers and settings, you can use a service like BrowserCam to help do that for you. No matter the road you take, make sure you test for cross-browser compatibility.
The lesson: Test how your site looks under as many browsers and platforms as possible to ensure you are not excluding potential customers from buying what you are selling.
5) Do not make it difficult for visitors to contact you. Give them several ways to do just that.
If you have ever been shopping and had a question during the process, you will know what I mean here. Providing contact information is not just a credibility issue; it is much more than that.
It is downright frustrating for potential customers that may have a question to not be able to get a hold of someone to ask it. In a brick and mortar store, they may walk around looking for someone to ask. On the Internet they simply leave. It is just too easy.
If you want to increase sales, provide multiple methods for customers to contact you, and display those methods in plain site. Things like customer service phone numbers, live chats, email, etc. Give them the flexibility to choose which suits their needs at that moment. These all go a long way to satisfying the visitor and turning them into a lifetime customer.
If you operate a business that either does not have a business phone line, or is operated out of a house (and you do not want to give your personal home phone as a customer service number), you can use a service like Grand Central by Google to get a phone number masked to ring at any number of phone lines you want. And yes, because it is offered by Google, you guessed right, it is free!
The lesson: Do not hide from your customers. If you want to generate more sales, make yourself available to them. Remember, if you hide from them, they will hide from you.
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