I spend a lot of time emailing with online business owners. Since that’s my specialty, I find a lot of people asking me questions about my success. What amazes me is that many of those people are asking the wrong questions!
The questions I’m talking about come from site owners who want to know how to make themselves look good online. These site owners want to write copy that is all about *their* company. They want to have a flash home page because *they* like it. They want to use *their* favorite colors in the design.
The problem is, it isn’t *their* site! Let me explain…
Think about it a minute. Why do you believe most department stores now willingly offer refunds? Years ago they didn’t. In fact, it was a well-known fact that, if you bought it, you owned it for life. Yet, in just the last 15 years or so, that way of thinking has been completely reversed. The reason? Customer demand.
Retailers recognized a customer need, and they filled it. They understood that customers were the ones who made the purchases and, therefore, the ones who kept their retail stores in business. The smart thing to do? Reverse the refund policy and keep customers happy.
Was it the store’s idea to offer refunds? No. If it were up to the stores, no money would ever be returned. After all, it’s *their* store, isn’t it? They can do what they want. Yeah, right! Not if they want to stay in business.
The same principle applies to your website. Sure, *you* may want to use certain colors on your site, but what would your customer prefer? Your favorite thing in the online world may be flash intros, but your customers might despise them. You may not like the idea of offering a guarantee, but what about your customers? Whose site is it, anyway? Yours? No, not really.
Before you get too entangled in making your site everything you want it to be, consider your customers’ wants and needs.
ACTION STEP 1
Make Your Copy Customer Focused – Go back to your site and read your copy. Does it say anything similar to this? “Welcome to my website. My company does this, that, and the other thing. I am the best company of my type on the Internet. My site has been online since 1999. Buy from me.” If so, you have some work to do.
Focus on your customers. What are their needs/wants? Rather than copy that says, “Me, me, we, us, I, I, I,” you want copy that acknowledges visitors, makes a connection with them, defines their needs, and offers solutions to their problems.
ACTION STEP 2
Turn Your Site Into An Invitation, Not An Eviction – Do you have a flash home page? If you check your stats, I’ll bet you’ll find more people who skip the flash intro of your site than people who actually view it.
Flash is extremely popular with Web designers, but it is extremely unnerving to site visitors. Don’t force flash on your customers.
ACTION STEP 3
Check Your Navigation – Can your visitors find their way around your site easily? How would you know? The best way to find out for sure is to ask a few people who have never seen your site before to surf on over and take a look around. Ask them to spend 10 or 15 minutes browsing. Then ask them to tell you about their experiences.
Paying due attention to your customers and their needs is one of the best things you can do to improve your online business. Put yourself in your customers’ place. When you turn your site into a welcoming environment specifically designed for your visitors, they can’t help but want to return again and again.]]>
Your website looks great: solid words, easy navigation, graphics just so, and maybe even a bit of flash with some multimedia.
But customers are not buying.
You wonder if it’s the writing. How can that be? You remembered the two key mantras for website content – “write for the search engines” and “write for the medium.” You used appropriate keywords to help search engines find you and traffic is up. Surely, customers enjoy reading your content because you laid it out with the internet in mind using short sentences, brief paragraphs, and bullets to list your key points. Customers might be reading, but they still are not buying.
Chances are your site copy has been optimized for technology not people.
Even on the internet, selling is still about connecting to people. So how do you press the flesh across broadband? Start where brick and mortar relationships do – trust. Why not become the trusted provider in your marketspace? You can use words to raise your credibility in at least 25 different ways.
Here are two of them:
1) write the way customers speak and
2) replace your pitch with a theme.
People instinctively trust strangers who speak like them. If you find this article useful, how would you tell someone? Are you really going to say, “I read an unusually amazing article that fundamentally increased my sagging sales”? Not likely. Weak copywriters, not people, use too many modifiers. “Amazing,” “fundamentally,” and “sagging” weaken trust. How’s your site for modifiers?
Give it the finger test.
You might not want fingerprints on your screen, so I suggest printing a copy of your homepage content. Now, put your baby finger on the first modifier you can find. Put your ring finger on the next adjective or adverb. Repeat until you run out of modifiers or fingers. If your page is a handful, you’ve got too many modifiers and your copy is hype heavy, not trustworthy. In addition to giving readers copy that matches how they speak, it helps to give them time to get to know you.
Customers need time before they trust.
They will get used to your site in tiny steps, so hold off selling; buy some time. Have a theme for your site, introducing your offer only after your customer feels comfortable. Themes are a subtle form of repetition because they continually reinforce a single concept. Repeated exposure to an idea usually makes it familiar and safe. Remember the first time you used instant messaging or the family car – not so scary now.
Let’s say your site is selling dental floss.
Instead of listing the benefits of DentaThread, you could tie the presentation together under the central idea “Some people have nothing to smile about.” The opening section could point out how the discomfort of gingivitis wipes the grin off a person’s face. Another segment would show how ugly cavities make someone too self- conscious to smile. Yet another piece would reveal how the high cost of root canal causes an individual to frown. In this way, three versions of one idea help the site grow on the visitor: one idea, three versions. Does your homepage have a theme? How many chances does your site give visitors to get comfortable with you?
In this article, I tried to use the language of my readers and hang it on a central idea, trust. Did it work? Did it help? If yes, I guess I proved my point. If no, I have 23 more ideas to go.
Paul Matthews is The Rezon8or specializing in high resonance copy that sells… all click, no slick. For a FREE site copy analysis and a chance to win a FREE homepage makeover go to www.therezon8or.com
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I know how to get a blank stare from just about any e-commerce web site owner. All I have to do is ask them about their web site marketing plan!
When I ask them about their web site marketing plan, I get that look. First the eyebrows go up. Then the eyes glaze over for a minute. And then the stammering begins.
“Uh, well, you know – I have my URL on my business card.”
“I, ah, I’m going to start an e-mail newsletter.”
Some of them may even mention something about “search engines.”
But practically no one has a plan! And you know how the old saying goes: “Failure to plan is a plan to fail.”
Most small business owners I talk to are frustrated. They think their web site is a big waste of money. An “online business card.” A “marketing expense” that doesn’t return any of its investment.
And no wonder:
You’ve spent thousands on a pretty web design. You shell out dough each and every month for web site hosting. You may even be paying a webmaster to update the web site regularly. And month after month, year after year, the sales barely trickle in.
Marketing your web site is frustrating. It’s confusing! So we end up doing what all of us do when we’re frustrated and confused: deal with it “later.” And later never comes.
Know what? It’s not your fault! No one ever taught you how to market on the Internet, this new medium. (They sure didn’t cover that in my marketing class when I was in school.) And there’s all that hype on the Internet – so called web marketing gurus who’ve made millions online. But guess what? The only thing they’ve ever sold is reports and e-books on – what else – “how to market on the Internet.” They’ve never packed and shipped a box or ran down the street after the UPS guy.
But what if there was a formula you could follow, a step-by-step guide to creating an online sales machine?
After 10 years of marketing and selling on the web, I’ve boiled it down to a winning eight-step formula. This formula works for any web business, for any product from amber gemstone jewelry to zebra-print home accessories. In a nutshell, the eight no-fail steps of this formula are:
When you work each of these steps, your e-commerce marketing can’t fail.
Jamila White, “The E-Commerce DivaTM“, helps small business owners develop their web marketing strategy to attract new customers and sell more products during her six-week “Supersize Your Web Sales”TM Tele-Bootcamp. Learn more at www.ecommercediva.com/supersize
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