Buying, as any salesman can tell you, is an emotional decision made in an eyeblink, and then later backed up with reasoning built on the spot to defend that instant ‘blink’ decision. That makes selling face-to-face an art, built on being able to read a person and modify your pitch to appeal emotionally and then overcome any contrary reasoning.
Selling online, however, is a lot more rigid. Online sales are measured in conversions because it’s an odds game — you have to build your site to be appealing to the widest relevant market segment, and overcome the most common objections that segment will have to giving you their money. That means that you have to be able to predict the segment that will visit and predict their objections. To do that, it’s pretty useful to know what questions visitors are (usually subconsciously) asking themselves about your site.
Here they are, in the rough order that they occur:
- Do I understand what this site is for? The worst thing that can happen is that your visitor lands on your site and has no idea what it’s trying to accomplish. A design that confuses a visitor or asks them to put work into deciphering it will keep your surfers from getting any further down this list, because they’ll bail on you before they bother.
- Is this site relevant to my needs? If not, you can add a +1 to your bounce rate. This is where SEO is key; you have to optimize for keywords that people are using to search for your Optimize for the wrong searches, and even if you’re first place for your search terms, you won’t be able to sell anything because your visitors aren’t looking for your product.
- Is this site going to give me something that will satisfy my needs? The next level: if your site comes off as informational, or your product comes off as an unsatisfactory solution, you just lost a customer.
- Can I trust the claims this site is making? If you over-sell, come off as smarmy, or your site looks like it was made by a stay-at-home dad trying to pay his bills hawking some shlock online, you’ll lose their trust, and lose them.
- Is this site the best of my options for solving my problem? Most of your visitors have looked at at least one other relevant page before they got to yours — if your competition has answered the previous questions more effectively than yours, they’ll go back…or move forward.
- Are this site’s recommendations clear and believable? This might seem like a repeat of the ‘trust the claims’ point, but there’s a significant difference. Claims are about a product. Recommendations are about action. If your call-to-action is unclear or doesn’t ring true to your customers, it’s game over.
- Is this specific product the one I need? Again, this might seem like a rehash of the ‘best of my options’ from above, but keep the details in focus: the site has to come across as the best option, but so does the product. A failure of the site OR a failure of the product will end up in a failure of the sale.
- Do I have any unaddressed objections to making this purchase? This is pretty much the classic face-to-face salesman’s job — overcoming the objections. But because you’re doing it via text and not active Q-and-A, you have to be much more thorough and address basically every possible objection up front. That’s not easy, and it’s the place where (in my humble opinion) most sales sites fail.
- Was the whole experience of using this site better than it was worse? OK, so this point isn’t about making the sale — it’s about making resales. If you want someone to come back and buy your stuff a second time, you have to leave them with a positive answer to this question. And you have to re-market to them so that they remember that they enjoyed their last visit, but that should be assumed anyway.
There you have it. Nine questions that, if you can provide the correct answers, will leave your customers ready to throw their money at you, both now and potentially again in the future. Build your site to answer them, and you’re on your way to success.