Kevin Costner lied to us.
‘Build it and they will come’
It may have worked for disgraced baseball playing ghosts in the Iowa corn fields, but that doesn’t mean it will work for your website.
The internet has long promised to be a Mecca for entrepreneurial types to make their fortune, but it’s never been a simple matter of laying out your website (or baseball diamond) and waiting for the customers (or ghosts) to appear.
It takes a lot of work and some smart, joined up thinking.
So wasting no time, how can you increase the revenue generated from your website?
Tip 1: There is no online and offline
Stop thinking of these as two separate entities. They are just channels. If you run them independently, as silos, then you’ll miss many opportunities to increase your revenue. You may need to hire people with different skill sets, but they should to be working together to achieve your business and revenue goals.
For example, if you run an event such as a music festival, are you acquiring customers’ contact details when they register for tickets, so you can send email alerts for future gigs?
Tip 2: Instil Confidence
Appearances are important. A poorly designed website will act as a deterrent not a facilitator to sales. You don’t necessarily need to hire an expensive design agency, just a skilful one that understands your brief and is able to apply learnings from their experience building transactional sites.
And security is crucial. You must be able to clearly demonstrate your site is secure or your potential customers will be gone, off to your competitors before you know it.
Tip 3: Show the product
Youtube just announced that 24 hours of video footage is uploaded to their site every minute. Why? Because people respond to imagery. We love to watch. A picture paints a thousand words is a saying for a reason.
Don’t just tell your customer about your product, show it to them. Use photos or video, whichever lends itself to your product. If you’re selling books, a cover photo will suffice (better still, show them inside the book), but it you’re marketing a cruise or a motor show, use video to convey the experience. The words are important, but the imagery can bring it to life.
Tip 4: Social proof
The wisdom of crowds, as social proof is known, is when individuals look to others’ behaviour when faced with making a decision. The principle follows that if I see all my peers buying an iPad then maybe it’s the right thing for me too.
Examples you can use on your site are customer testimonials, ratings & reviews, number of subscribers, recommendations, number of products sold, press clippings, etc.
Your site can be set up to collect these as part of a process or as a feature, but don’t forget to take advantage of your real world interactions with your customers. If you have sales people, give them a Flip video camera and get them to interview their clients.
Tip 5: Test, test and test some more
If you have a shop, you probably move your displays around to see what works best for getting customers to fill their baskets. The same applies online. Here it is called A/B testing and multi-variate testing.
I’m a big fan of testing. Making small changes to your web pages can return huge dividends in sales. A common problem with most websites is that once built, they are left alone. The developer or web designer’s preferred approach is deemed the right one – i.e. the best way to convert a visitor into a paying customer.
Conversion rate optimisation challenges that limiting approach and finds the true path to financial enlightenment…the one trod by the customer.
I recommend reading my post ‘How to increase landing page conversions by 100%’ for a detailed explanation and case study.
Tip 6: Reduce waste – retarget
To maximise your advertising you need to ensure more of your visitors convert to sales. Conversion testing will help that from a process perspective, but you need something else to bring back the browsing visitor who is researching before purchase.
A new form of display (banner) advertising is available based on behavioural targeting. It works by dropping a cookie on a visitor’s computer when they view a product (but don’t purchase) enabling you to present them with relevant display adverts on other sites they visit.
This is super targeted advertising. For instance, if you visited a job site, looked at a job but did not apply, the banner will show you the job you looked at, plus similar jobs. Every visitor will see different content in the banner, depending on the jobs they viewed. The reason why this type of advertising is so successful at driving conversions is because it serves relevant ads to the consumer whilst they’re ‘in-market’, in a buying frame of mind.
Tip 7: Capture email permissions
Finally, we come to email. If you don’t yet have a customer email database, get one. You can go through all of the above steps and successfully convert a visitor to a sale. However, if you implement a successful email marketing system and database, you can make multiple sales.
You have to get it right though, as breaking the rules can be costly to your business. You don’t want to go to all this effort just to get hauled in front of the Information Commissioner for spamming or having your emails blocked by the ISPs.
Read up on the legislation. Then read it again and make sure you’ve set up your system correctly. Remember it’s all about the permission. Don’t assume you can email individuals just because you have their address. Seek permission first.
Don’t stop with email addresses and permissions though. Try to collect more information on your customers – unobtrusively – so you can segment your audience.
For instance, what did they buy? When? Where do they live? Do they repeat purchase? What else did they look at? Etc. Use this data for future mailings, offering products and services of relevance. This way you can increase the yield per customer, whilst minimising the number of unsubscribe requests.