Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How to convert visitors into sales

Even if you have obtained high search engine rankings for your web site under your important keywords, and even if you have hundreds of visitors per day, web surfers still might not purchase something on your web site.

Why do visitors sometimes don't convert into sales? We'll give you several reasons that can prevent surfers from buying on your web site.

Reason 1: Your web pages don't load fast enough

Web surfers hate to wait for slow loading web pages. If your web pages don't load fast enough, many web surfers will go away without taking a look at them.

No matter how great your product is: if your web site is not fast enough, web surfers won't see it. Fast loading web pages are crucial if you want to sell something on the Internet.

There are several things you can do to speed up your site. Of course, you should make sure that your web host provides fast and reliable servers. In addition to hosting your web site on a fast server, you can do the following to improve the loading time of your web pages:

  1. Reduce the number of graphics
    A large number of graphics on your web pages can considerably slow down your page. For each graphic on your web page, the web browser has to make another connection to your server. If you cannot reduce the number of graphics on your web page, then try to combine several graphics to a single bigger one. Use the same graphics on your other web pages so that web browsers can load the graphics from the browser cache.
  2. Specify the dimensions of your graphics
    Always make sure to include the height and width dimensions of your graphics in your HTML code. This means that every IMG tag should have the WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes specified. If web browsers doesn't have to figure out the dimensions of your graphics, they can already display placeholders and start displaying the text of your web page before loading the graphics from the server.
  3. Make the top of your page interesting
    If a web page takes a long time to load, make sure that the top of the page contains something interesting because visitors will see that part first.
  4. Divide your tables
    Web pages that use a single large layout table take a long time to render in web browsers. Break up huge tables into several smaller ones.
  5. Specify the dimensions of your tables
    If you specify the WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes for your tables, then web browsers don't have to load the complete table code to calculate the dimensions of the table.
  6. Double check cell widths
    Take a moment to check the individual widths of each table cell. If the total is more than the specified table width, then web browsers will have problems displaying your table.

It's important to know the download times of your web pages. In general, your home page should load in 20 seconds on a dial-up connection and the top of your page should be displayed within 5-8 seconds.

Fast loading web pages are the most basic factor of a successful web site. If your web pages are displayed and rendered as quickly as possible, people will have more time to read the actual content of your web pages and eventually they'll buy something on your page.

Now that people can see your web page content, it's important to keep them on your site.

Reason 2: Is your web site trustworthy?

It's very important that your web site visitors have trust and confidence in your company. Your customers must trust you. They won't buy from you if they don't.

On the World Wide Web, you cannot speak face to face with your customer so you have to establish credibility in other ways.

  1. Make sure that your web pages have a professional design
    Your web pages have to look perfect. If necessary, hire a professional web designer. Don't use blinking text, funny animations or flashy banners on your page. Make sure that all links on your web site are intact.
    Don't use automatically created web pages. Some software programs allow you to automatically create pages that are "optimized" for a special keyword. These doorway pages don't work anymore on search engines (its simply spamming).
    In addition, human web surfers are turned away by that kind of pages. While doorway pages might look attractive to software programs, web surfers usually hate them. Automatically created doorway pages usually look ugly to human web surfers. Often, they consist of nothing more than a list of buzz-words. You won't get good results with this method because human web surfers will quickly close such a web page.
  2. Tell your web site visitors who you are
    Make sure that customers know that a real person is sitting behind this Web page. Include your full contact information on your web site and make it easy to find.
    If your visitors don't know from whom they will purchase and how to contact you, they won't buy anything. Show your privacy policy.
  3. Offer free trials and show your refund policy
    The most common things to establish trustworthiness is to offer a free trial and a money back guarantee. If your customers know what they'll get, they'll be more likely to purchase.
  4. Use testimonials.
    Its far better if other people say nice things about you than you saying nice things about yourself. Testimonials from satisfied customers will show how your business can do a better job than your competitor when it comes to customer satisfaction.

    Reason 3: Is your web site content convincing?

    It's important that your web pages are interesting to your visitors. Every visitor wants to get a prompt answer to the question "what's in it for me?". In the first paragraph of your web page, you should tell your visitors the following:

    • what you do
    • why people should stay on your site
    • what's in for your visitors

    If you don't answer these questions quickly enough, people will go away.

    People aren't necessarily interested in your product or in your company. You must convince your web site visitors with good sales copy.

    Before starting to write sales copy, make sure that you know your product and that you're passionate about it. You have to fully believe in your product. If you don't, you shouldn't sell it. You cannot write convincing sales copy if you don't stand behind your product. You must be sure that you're doing your customers a favor by offering them your product.

    1. What's in for your customers?
      Your customers want benefits. What can your product do for them? What can it do for them now? The benefits of your product should be the first words on your site. Make them bold and make them big. If your visitors don't know what's in it for them after the first few seconds, they'll leave your site.
      People don't read everything on your page. They scan it for interesting information. Grab their attention with benefits.
    2. Don't mix up features and benefits
      You must differentiate between features and benefits. Features are the attributes of your product, benefits are what your product promises. For example, if you sell a solar-powered clock, then the feature is "uses new 38/12 solar cells". The benefit to the buyer is "you save money because you don't have to buy batteries anymore".
      Don't bore your potential customers with technical details. Tell them what your product will do for them. How they will feel when they tried your product. Maybe your product or service will make them more money, maybe it will save them time. Tell them and don't be shy.
    3. Killer headlines will grab your visitors attention
      Nobody will read your entire page. Make it easier for your customers by dividing your page into paragraphs where each paragraph has a headline. Your headlines should make clear what to expect in the next sentences and they should grab your visitors' attention.
      Use words like "free, proven, benefit, first, discover, complete, exclusive" and avoid words like "should, could" and "but". Make sure that you use "you" more than "I" or "we". Remember: Your customers don't really care about you and your business. They only want to know what's in for them.
    4. End your sales copy by telling the reader what to do
      At the end of your copy text, you must tell your visitors what to do next, for example "Click here to order now for immediate delivery".

    Use these tips to write as persuasively as you can, but remember not to deceive your customers in any way. You'd risk poor word of mouth, legal action, no repeat business and refund requests.

    When people have finally decided to purchase your product, you must make sure that your order page doesn't drive them away.

    Reason 4: Is your order page easy to use?

    Statistics show that more than 60 percent of online shoppers abort the ordering process. If your order page isn't easy to use, all other web site promotion efforts will be in vain.

    Here are the most important points for a successful order page:

    Link from the home page and from all product and service pages to the order page.

    Give the links on your order page names that your customers can easily recognize: "Order", "Buy", "Store", "Checkout", etc.

    Don't hide the price for your products or services. People won't buy if they don't know what they have to pay.

    Tell your visitors about shipping costs and state taxes.

    Tell your visitors the final price before they have to enter the credit card number.

    Tell your visitors who you are and tell them your complete company address.


    Offer an unconditional money-back guarantee if at all possible.


    Tell your visitors upfront about your refund policy.

    Make sure that your order pages are secure. Use at least 40 bit encryption so that your customers can safely enter their contact and purchase information.

    Make sure that your order pages are easy to understand. Test them with your friends or relatives that don't connect to the Internet very often.

    Regularly test your order pages to make sure that they work.

    Make sure that you'll get notified if your server gets down.

    Make sure that your order page displays a meaningful message if the customer forgets to enter the street name or any other required field.

    Make sure that your order pages work with international customers. German customers don't know what to enter in the "State" field and usually leave it empty. Some countries don't even have postal numbers. Your order pages should work for these customers.

    If your order pages are easy to use and secure, they won't hinder or deter customers from completing their purchase.

    It's very important that your order pages are a secure place to shop for your customers. Use as much encryption as you can and join the additional security services that are offered by some credit card companies.

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