It’s tempting to believe that a great product will sell itself. All you have to do is tell the world about it and watch the dollars flood in. So the first thing your online business needs is a good marketing campaign, right?
Marketing is very, very important – but it’s not the first thing you should focus on. Assuming you have a product or service that can meet a real consumer need, you should start at the end of the process.
You should start with conversion – which is the process that turns a web visitor into a customer.
We see sites that break this rule all the time, and the results aren’t pretty. They may have an attractive product, a marketing campaign that is delivering leads and a website that looks the business. The only problem is sales – or the lack of them.
One company we know had an appealing product line. The business owner had sourced a cool range of beach cabana canopies to keep Kiwis comfortable in the summer sunshine, instead of clinging to flyaway beach umbrellas or sweltering inside sauna-like pup tents.
He saw the opportunity to create a lucrative little online business, and being an entrepreneurial kind of guy, he created a website with an e-commerce store. Then he invested in Facebook ads and waited for the cabana sales to take off.
After a month or so he realised he was making an average of just two sales per week. At this rate, the website was barely covering costs.
The first rule of sales: Make it easy for people to buy your product.
Naturally the business owner was perplexed. He had a high-quality product that was reasonably priced, but it wasn’t selling. So he came to us with the idea that his Facebook campaign needed to be fixed. Perhaps with better ads or smarter targeting he could get more traffic to his site. Maybe he needed to spend more on marketing.
We looked at the analytics and realised the ads weren’t the problem. While they could have been better, they were driving adequate volumes of traffic to his website.
The problem was that people were leaving the site without buying. In other words, his site wasn’t converting traffic into sales.
When we looked at the website we could see why. Here’s the topline:
- What’s in it for me? The site lacked customer focus and the content was focused on technical factors such as wind resistance. People make buying decisions based on how they think the product will improve their lives but they weren’t being given any cues here.
- I’m lost! Anyone who clicked on one of the campaign’s Facebook ads was taken to the website’s home page, which didn’t continue the sales process. There was no sense that they’d arrived in the right place. Many of them bounced right away.
- What do you want me to do? Instead of being prompted to start shopping, customers were left puzzled. What’s the next step? How do I buy your product?
These problems all stemmed from a root cause. Instead of website visitors being treated as potential customers, they were expected to puzzle out the buying process for themselves. A cool brand image and clever advertising can’t fix that.
Simple steps to turn a website into a sales machine.
Instead of throwing more money at marketing, we spent a few hours improving the ability of the website to convert interest into sales.
First, we took the business owner through our analysis and mapped out a solution. We worked together on improving the core sales pitch and then helped him fix the issues that were getting in the way of conversion.
By re-focusing content on the customer we were able to suggest changes in the writing style. This same customer-focused perspective also drove revisions in the page layout.
Above all, we recommended the inclusion of direct (but nicely worded) calls to action. Simple prompts such as ‘Choose your favourite design’ told the customer what to do next.
There were also some design fixes. Even simple things, such changing as the colour of buttons, have been shown to improve conversion. Did you know that if you want someone to click on a ‘Buy Now’ button you should make the button red? It just works.
The result: Sales up 600% in one week.
The first week after refreshing the website saw 12 sales completed online. This was up from an average of two per week beforehand.
Remember, nothing else had been changed in the sales funnel. The branding and product range was the same. The same Facebook ads were running, and visitors were arriving in the same numbers. But now they were completing the sales journey, and buying the product.
With sales now running at a much higher level the business owner was able to fulfil his dream of running the business as a fulltime gig. From a part-time hobby he had created a sustainable business.
Imagine what your business would look like with a 100%, 200% or even 600% increase in turnover, but no added cost of sales. A close look at your website’s performance could be the catalyst for this sort of turnaround.
Start by looking at how well it converts traffic into sales.
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