There are two reasons people go online: to have a problem solved and/or to be entertained. Everything you or your customers do online is based on one of those two things. The following are several universal truths that will help you find success online. You’ll notice that these rules are not specific to the Web, as they are rules that are commonplace in marketing and sales.
Easy always wins. Google knows this and now you do as well. Take a moment and picture your Web site or your blog or your product or service. Now, think of Google’s. Which one is easier? Granted, you’re probably not a search engine. Instead, you’re probably a small business owner with a variety of products and services or an entrepreneur with a business idea. However, the comparison can be made because regardless of what it is you do, easy will always win.
So, continue thinking about your business. Is what you’re selling easy to buy? Meaning, when someone comes to buy from you or simply get a phone number or download a white paper, is it easy to do or are you making it too hard?
Picture Google again in your head. It’s fairly easy to use, right? All you have to do is enter what you’re looking to find, hit search, and you find it. Easy. Google understands that customers use their service for one reason: to solve a problem. Google not only delivers, but also leaves out all the frills other search portals like AOL or Yahoo! try to offer.
Now is the time to determine the main reasons people visit your Web site because, despite what you may think, it is likely that your customers only have those things in mind when they visit your site.
What exactly are your customers looking for? You need to find out right away! Check your analytics (I recommend Google Analytics since it’s free) to discover which pages of your Web site have the most views, as well as the most exited pages. You may learn that 90 percent of your visitors are focusing on the free white paper download page and ignoring the other pages you thought were important That’s great news! Now you know what your customers want and can make it easier for them to get it. You may also discover that a large percentage of your visitors always leave your Web site on one specific page, indicating that perhaps they aren’t finding what they’re looking for, thereby becoming frustrated and eventually surfing away.
Simple wins. Choices are great on a menu, but too many choices on your Web site or landing page or even with your products and services can lead to indecisiveness due to confusion, and when you’re in the business of trying to make a sale, confusion is the enemy. What’s the opposite of confusion? Simplicity. What’s the best way to make things easy? Simplify.
Oftentimes, we’re focused on giving our customers too many options. When you go to the barber, he doesn’t provide you with a menu of haircuts. You sit down, tell him what kind of haircut you’d like and he pulls out his tools and cuts your hair. This typically occurs without fuss, which is in fact the reason that most men still prefer to go to a barber. Now, if you were to sit in that same barber’s chair and instead he gave you a 20-question survey about what type of hairstyle you’d prefer before he started cutting, you’d not only be annoyed, but would most likely never visit him again.
The following features tend to hurt and/or overcomplicate a Web site:
- Difficult navigation;
- A poor unique value proposition (UVP);
- Too many product and/or service choices and failing to be clear about which one is the right choice for the customer;
- An extensive amount of drawn-out copy;
- Requiring a customer to register before he or she can buy from you.
People love discounts. There’s a reason why so many retailers offer coupons and discounts—they work. Even before the dawn of the Internet, and the proliferation of choices that came with it, shoppers tended to make purchasing decisions more often when they felt they were getting a deal. Now it is easier for shoppers to find those deals from you or from your competitors.
As such, you should offer deals if you want more of their business. Everything you sell should contain some type of discount or at least the perception of a deal. If you’re selling a subscription to your monthly newsletter for $12 per month, why not offer a discounted yearly subscription fee at 30 percent off ? Be sure to show the exact value the customer is receiving. (Example: Order for the year and receive 30 percent off the normal subscription fee. That’s a savings of $30!) This technique has frequently been used by magazines because it works.
Coupons are another helpful way to gain additional customers. Many business owners feel they can’t use coupons, as these offers cheapen them in the eyes of their customers. This can be true in some cases; however, if done correctly, coupons can work like a charm. The trick is to offer coupons in a classy way, unlike an ad in the Sunday paper. A coupon can be something you can casually place inside an e-mail newsletter that offers a discount for all new orders in the next 30 days. A coupon could also be a direct mail postcard the customer can use to receive a special price online.
Make it simple for people to buy from you. If you’ve done your job right and you’ve got a customer standing in front of you with cash in hand, then you must make sure you are able to take that cash and put it in your pocket. However, many business owners make it too difficult for customers to buy from them. Service companies make this error quite frequently. They build pages and pages of content about what they can do for their customers, yet when the customer is ready to buy, they are asked to “call for a quote” or “contact us to get started.”
Why are you making it so hard for an individual to give you his or her money? Asking someone to call for a quote is like saying, “We need to find out how much money you have first, then we’ll give you a price.” At least, that’s what the customer is thinking. Every business, regardless of what is offered, should have some type of packages or set pricing in place. If you don’t have established pricing, you’re leaving a large percentage of money on the table that customers may have been ready to hand over to you.
Graphic designers frequently make this mistake, so I will use them as an example. They say, “We can quote you as soon as you tell us what you want.” Instead, why not offer a few packages that a customer can evaluate and purchase without having to interact with you first? It’s easier than it looks. Here’s an example.
Package A: New Business
Logo/Branding Package – $499
This package is perfect for the new business or brand desiring a professional logo that will make them stand out! You receive five different logo concepts to choose from, as well as up to three revisions. The final logo is delivered in digital format as a vector image allowing you to use it on business cards, Web sites, brochures and anywhere you need it. If you order by September 2010, you get 20 percent off! Click the “order now” button below to get started.
If offered a choice like the one listed above or the option to “call me for a quote,” which one are you more likely to choose? The point is that there will be a large percentage of your customers who won’t need or want to contact you for more information. They will simply see the package they want and click to buy it.