Top 7 Mistakes Sales-Oriented Websites Make
By Michel Fortin, Ph.D.
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- They target the wrong audience.
Often, this is the number one cause of online business failure. Traffic has been long touted to be the key to online success, but that's not true. If your site is not pulling sales, inquiries, or results, then why would it need more traffic? The key is to turn curious visitors into serious customers. Target your market so that, when you generate re-qualified traffic (and if your site is centered on a major theme, benefit, or outcome), then your hit ratio (not your hits) will increase dramatically.
In other words, be FOCUSED!
- They take a long time to load.
Many potential sales are lost due to a slow-loading, unbrowsable Web site. Your site should download fast. Research by an on-hold phone message marketing company found that people start hanging up when put on hold for more than 30 seconds. The Internet is no different. If they have to wait for more than 30 seconds for your page to load, visitors will leave. In short, if they have to wait, they won't.
So, be SIMPLE!
- They do not compel others to act.
The number one reason why people buy is the offer. While many sites are well-designed and provide great content, some do not offer a compelling enough reason for people to buy (or, in the very least, come forward). Visitors are often left clueless when looking for the answer to that burning question: "Why?" In other words, why should they buy? Why should they buy that particular product (or from that particular site)? And more important, why should they buy NOW? Not answering that question -- "why?" -- will deter clients and impede sales. What makes your product so unique, different, and special? What's your competitive edge? What's in it for your customers (what are the benefits) that they can't get anywhere else?
Therefore, be UNIQUE!
- They lack scarcity.
Jim Rohn once said that, "Without a sense of urgency, desire loses it value." People fear making bad decisions and, with scams being more rampant on the Internet, they do so even more when shopping online. Consequently, they have a tendency to procrastinate and do so even when they're interested. While some sites offer great products and services, they do not communicate a sense of urgency that compels visitors to act. Use takeaway selling in order to stop people from procrastinating. In other words, shape your offer (not your product or service) so that it is time-sensitive or quantity-bound.
Essentially, be SCARCE!
- They lack guarantees and testimonials.
Speaking of the fear of making bad decisions, today's consumers are increasingly leery when contemplating offers on the Internet. While many professionally-looking Web sites have an ethical sales approach and offer proven products or services, the lack of a guarantee will still, particularly on the Internet, cause most visitors to perceive offers as questionable in the very least least.
Guarantees and testimonials help to reduce the skepticism around the purchase of your product or service. Since consumers are cautious of making a purchase online, guarantees and testimonials give almost instant credibility with potential customers. So, help remove the risk from the buyer's mind and you will thus increase sales (and, paradoxically, reduce returns).
In short, be REASSURING!
- They provide poor copy.
In the cold world of cyberspace, the lack of human interaction takes away the emotional element in the sale as well as the ability to overcome objections. Therefore, a site must communicate that emotion that so empowers people to buy. For instance, many sites lack benefits and emotional content that answer a person's most important question, "What's in it for me?" -- the answer to which should cause a person to think, "Wow! This is something I can't pass up! Where do I sign up?"
Many sites are too focused on its company, its products, its features, and its advantages over its competitors. Seldom do they appeal to the visitor specifically by providing them with solid benefits. One of the greatest tools used by top copywriters is the use of bullets. Bullets are captivating, short and sweet, intriguing, pleasing to the eye, and clustered for greater impact. Most important, they deliver straight-to-the-point benefits and usually follow the words "you get" or "reasons why," such as "With this product, you get..." Tell the visitor what they are getting out of responding to your offer.
In other words, be BENEFIT-ORIENTED!
- Finally, they lack a clear call-to-action.
Answer this skill-testing question: "What exactly do you want your visitors to do?" Simple, isn't it? But it doesn't seem that way with the many sites I've visited. The KISS principle (keep it simple and straightforward) is immensely important on the 'Net. An effective Web site starts with a clear objective that will lead to a specific action or outcome. If your site is not meant to, say, sell a product, gain a customer, or obtain an inquiry for more information, then what exactly must it do? Work around the answer as specifically as possible.
The mind hates confusion. If you try to get your visitors to do too many things, especially on the front page, they will do nothing. In essence, keep your message focused and do not try to communicate too much -- you will overwhelm the reader. Use one major theme and no more than two to three basic messages. And most important, provide clear instructions on where and how to order.
In essence, be DIRECT!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michel Fortin, Ph.D., the Success Doctor at http://success-doctor.com, is a consultant dedicated to helping businesses turn into powerful magnets. He is the author of numerous books, including "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning" (get a FREE copy at http://success-doctor.com) and member of the "International Webmasters Association" (http://iwanet.org).
Article Submitted On: March 04, 1999