When we build our sites, we expect them to do a certain job. For most of us, that job is selling. Whether it's selling us, our businesses, or our product, if a site that's meant to be a sales tool isn't selling it's just taking up space online.
When it comes to turning a site around, I have a little bit of firsthand experience with that. Our own website went from a so-so page to a selling machine by making some slight modifications, and enhancing the user experience through content. I discussed the elements of creating a good website in my piece called "How to Build the Perfect Website." Now, let's see what it takes to turn that perfect website into an exceptional selling machine.
Attractors: Every website needs to give people a reason to visit and offer links that encourage those visits. Attractors are things both on your website and off, they attract people to you and give them a reason to visit. SEO people call them on-page factors and off-page factors, but I'm not talking SEO for this piece. What I'm referencing are things that will not just bring people to your site, but bring buyers to your site and there's the difference. Attractors can be anything that brings a customer there. If you do speaking or webinars, you are likely referring people back to your site. Books and other products can also be attractors if they are absolutely what your end-user needs. Other attractors are blog posts, articles, checklists, places you've been quoted in media, newsletters (that you generate and/or are referenced in), white papers, d asocial media. It's also really important to know what your attractors will be before you build your website because these are elements you'll want to build into your site.
Words on your website: The copy you have on your website is critically important and often overlooked. Business owners will write their own copy with little idea about how to create compelling verbiage or how to weave calls to action onto the page. If you feel like you're hitting all of the points in this article but still aren't selling off of your site, it could be your website copy. I've evaluated hundreds of sites and in almost 90 percent of the cases the reason a site isn't converting a visitor to a customer is because of the copy.
Understanding social media: If the Internet is a highway, social media are the billboards driving attention to your website. Often times I hear folks talking about social media as though they were stores, and while people can optimize the sites to make sales, using social media for exposure is a much better course of action. Giving users a compelling reason to visit your site is what you want to use your social media platforms for
Different types of calls to action: For a website to be an effective sales tool, you'll need a strong call to action, but not just one. You should have several different types of these action statements to help pull visitors in. Here some of the most popular:
- Contact us
- Learn more
- Call now!
- Take our Survey
- Sign up today
- Join our mailing list
- Request a Consultation
- Click here
- Apply now
- Ask the expert
The sliding scale: My recommendation, regardless of what you are selling, is to offer varied product pricing. This includes offering things for free. Why? Because I believe that unless you are selling a very high dollar item and can't risk bastardizing it with lower-end product or freebies, you should offer a scale of product that fits a variety of budgets. In simple terms, you'll sell more that way. Also, the benefit of free is that it can whet their appetite and get them to buy, and remember, if you're offering something for free always get their email address in exchange.
Video: Studies show that having one enthusiastic consumer talking about a product, message, or person, can outweigh any other promotion you might do. For this reason video is very important for your website, store, and testimonials page. Carry a flip camera with you (and most of us have these on our phones) and record people using/reading your product, or get them to record something after they've used/read it. You can also do it for them, here's an easy way. Invite them to Google Hangouts and record it using their YouTube connection (see here). It's very easy to do and a simple way to grab more video for your website!
Don't sell: People don't want to be sold, they want to be engaged, enlightened, and entertained. Create compelling content, compelling copy and you'll get the sale; but if you ask for the sale without creating engagement, you'll get nothing.
Creating great content: While content is king, compelling, engaging content is the master. But creating content isn't always easy. You have to come up with ideas, you have to keep inventing new topics. So, what's the best way to do that? Here are some ideas:
Read other industry newsletters: This will help you to key into topics that are relevant to your industry that you may not have considered.
Read books: Reading industry books is another great idea. Sometimes reading a new spin on an existing topic is all it will take to spark an idea.
Get Google Alerts: Using Google Alerts is a great way to see what others are saying about your industry. By using relevant keywords you'll be notified each time your topic is mentioned. This will help you stay alert to trends and other news items you can share with your readers.
Webinars: I love learning and attending webinars is one of my favorite things. Not only do you learn about things related to your topic that you may not have known, but I have rarely attended a webinar that didn't spark an idea or two for content.
Q&A: Often the best way to create new content is by listening to your audience during the Q&A. Whenever I do a talk I try to jot down each question as it's asked so I can later go back and perhaps create a blog post about it or use the idea to develop an eBook.
Reminders: Studies show that consumers rarely buy off of websites the first time, especially sites they don't know. This statement excludes sites like Amazon and other high-traffic e-commerce platforms. What I'm talking about here is your site and mine. More often than not we don't get the sale the first time but if you want to get the sale the second or third time, you'll have to get permission to market to your consumer again and again. That's where a newsletter comes in. I highly recommend everyone share valuable content through a newsletter, gaining your customers' loyalty and confidence. We've had our newsletter for nine years and I can't tell you how many clients we've booked who have been faithful newsletter subscribers. If done effectively it does work. I'll link to an article below on creating effective newsletters which will take you through things like the ethical bribe, how often to deliver a newsletter, etc.
You'll notice that I did not talk about your store. For an article on turning your website into a sales machine that seems a little odd, no? Candidly, while it's important to have a good store experience, secure checkout, etc. the store is the least important part of creating a selling machine. Why? Because if none of the above elements are present, your store will never get used. Good luck!