|5 Things More Important to Internet Buyers Than WHAT You're
Selling - II
Article II of a two-part series For Article I
Dr. Lynella Grant
Web commerce is all about courtship, not salesmanship. In
life, a suitor can't go from first date to the engagement
ring in one afternoon. Courtship is an intricate dance,
where each party contributes to the relationship at a
measured tempo. Trust grows through gradual exchanges and
Yet, the typical sales-oriented Web site urges the visitor
to jump to commitment right away. Pushing for them to "BUY
NOW!" is not only premature, but a misapplication of the
fact that visitors are in a hurry. Developing a relationship
can't be rushed or skipped--not if you intend to lead them
to the alter (sale). Buyers want and need to proceed at
their own pace.
Each request you make of a visitor "call, read, subscribe or
buy" requires a higher level of commitment. So back off the
hard sell, and instead weave the steps into a sensuous dance
that respects them and invites a lasting relationship. It's
possible, if you follow these five points that buyers care
1. How well they're treated
The mood of the site should be welcoming, geared to assist
the customer finding what they're looking for. Trust grows
as you minimize their sense of risk. And make no mistake,
the buyer's risks are greater online. Recognize them and
reduce them as much as possible. They've been conned,
burned, or faced non-delivery of purchases--not to mention
abuse of their credit cards or privacy information.
The Internet works because people feel anonymous. People are
understandably leery about revealing personal information.
So every aspect of the site needs to say, "you're safe here"
along with, "look at all the interesting things we have to
show you." One fast move and that skittish deer will bolt.
Web commerce has several inherent disadvantages--shipping
charges, delays until products arrive, lack of hands-on
assessment, etc. When buyers encounter other disadvantages
as well, whether it's unacceptable policies, or added costs,
they treat them as a deal breaker--even if it's just a
little bit more.
2. How efficiently the buying process went
Assuming your site sells a tangible product, the buyer has
to be able to assess its looks, materials, uses, and value
without being able to touch it. This can be accomplished
much better with some products than others by use of
photographs and descriptive copy. But a buyer still takes a
chance as to color, size, quality, and suitability. Sales
sites need to know their customers' concerns so well that
they anticipate what they need to know.
Design the site for ease of scanning and logical
organization that presents information so it will guide and
3. How much aggravation they had to endure
Here's where poor navigation or slow download times cost you
sales. (Navigation problems are a main reason why site
visitors leave.) They won't stay at a site where they can't
easily find the answers they want. And if they have to wait
too long for pages to load, forget it. Internet users are
extremely time sensitive. The high percentage of abandoned
shopping carts (as much as a quarter) proves that the
payment process can defeat all efforts to motivate the
buyer. These are "almost" sales, where sloppiness got in the
Getting through some payment procedures confounds even
experienced surfers. How many payment options do you
provide--anywhere from Paypal to fax your order? Credit
cards are convenient, but not always the purchaser's
preferred choice. How intrusive are the questions (yes, we
know about fraud avoidance)? When the goal is building trust
(in both directions), how many "we don't trust you" signals
does your site send?
4. How many mind games were played on them
The primary products sold on most web sites are hype and
high pressure. Unfortunately, that's not what buyers are
looking to buy, and why conversion rates online are so
abysmally low. The quality of typical sales copy is
aggressive, designed more to trick than inform. It seems
like the sales letters were drafted from the same manual.
Aggressive tactics are so widespread that effective,
customer-friendly copy can actually stand out. So get rid of
the "gotchas." Customers dread them, and then relax once
they don't find them. Mind games don't end after the sale's
complete. Be alert for delivery, security, and privacy
lapses that could creep up after the sale.
5. How well the business has its act together overall
Behind the computer screen are untold elements--efficient
links, quick loading, glitch-free credit card processing,
the respect for the visitor's time, etc., that reveal the
company's priorities. Unless all the parts work with a
consistent goal and degree of care the buyer experiences
whiplash. Sour notes (small potatoes signals) are trivial in
themselves, but break the momentum toward purchasing.
They're easily eliminated--once you know to look for them.
To learn how, read the helpful articles at my site,
Give yourself extra points for post-sale follow up. Here's
where Internet sellers can shine because of autoresponders
and customer-oriented e-mail. Don't just use such tools for
making the sale. Use them to build relationships and added
value after you get their money.
Dance Your Way to Profits
Courtship is necessary to develop a lasting relationship.
The pace of the dance should reflect the give-and-take
necessary to build trust. Don't sell the buyer, court him
with a well-paced dance.
This is Part II of a two-part series.
Part I can be read at:
(c) 2004, Lynella Grant
About the author:
-- Dr. Lynella Grant is an expert in visual communication,
how printed materials send signals that reinforce or negate
the verbal message. Decode and repair your unintended
impressions. Author, "The Business Card Book" and "Yellow
Page Smarts." http://www.yellowpagesage.com(719) 395-9450
Off the Page Press P.O. Box 4880 Buena Vista, CO 81211
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