Secrets of Web Sites That Sell
by Thomas Young
Here is a proposition. Create
a Web site that sells, and you will make money. Sounds simple, right? It is
much easier said than done, however. Sales, or sales leads, happen because Web
site visitors trust your site and get value, among other things. Here are 10
secrets of Web sites that sell by building trust and adding value. These things
are secrets only because so few companies take advantage of them.
The site is not afraid to sell.
Many people think selling is not for them, or it does not come naturally. When
people are afraid to sell, it shows on the Web sites they manage. The fear can
vanish when they understand that selling is not taking value from someone; in
fact, the opposite is true. Effective selling is not manipulation. It is
helping people get what they want and what makes them happy. Once you
understand this concept, you can communicate it at your site.
The focus is on what the visitor wants. Most Web sites focus on what they want the visitor to know about the
site owner’s business. This happens because it is easy. It takes much more work
to understand than it does to be understood. Instead of using your site to tell
people what you want them to know, take the time to understand the visitors.
That’s the way to help them get what they want.
Content answers questions. I’m not
talking about FAQ sections. I’m talking about content that is relevant to
visitors’ needs. The most commonly visited sections of a Web site are the
product and service areas. This is where your best content should be. People
buy on the Web because they get answers to their questions about products and
services. Getting answers helps them trust the Web site and the company.
The site explains value. Content
must explain value clearly on both an emotional and a rational level. Potential
buyers will evaluate the emotional aspects of buying as they consider the facts
presented to them, and they will assess the price and time involved in making a
The design serves the visitors’ needs. In a perfect world, visitors would find Web sites that give them
exactly what they want. That is not practical, so designers should try to build
sites that best meet the needs of their customer. Obviously, this depends on
understanding the customer. Web sites that do not conduct surveys or do
usability testing are not selling at their potential and are leaving sales on
the table. Actual Web site visitors should have feedback into the design and
development of a site.
Content uses the visitor’s language.
Many businesses and companies use business vocabulary on their sites instead of
words and phrases that will resonate with visitors. For example, a homebuilder
may say, “See our available inventory” instead of “See our available homes.”
Inventory makes sense to the homebuilder, yet no one has ever invited me to
their “inventory” for a party or dinner.
The site has no barriers to sales.
Many Web sites make it hard to close sales. Common sales barriers include
navigation schemes that make sense to the site developer but not to the
visitor, cryptic links, hard-to-find content, and too much design. Web sites
that sell have fewer barriers then those that do not sell.
visit builds trust. A Web site
that is easy to use and meets the needs of visitors communicates the idea that
its owner has taken the time to understand them. This builds trust. The sales
process does not move forward without trust. A site can build trust or erode
trust for your company. Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors and see if
you are building trust on your site. If many Web sites were salespeople, they
would be fired because they are not building trust and confidence.
The site is honest. It is common
for companies to withhold information on a Web site for various reasons,
including the fear of revealing material competitors will find useful. But
successful companies that market online know it is better to sell and make
money than to worry about what your competitors might be learning. If visitors
realize information is missing, their trust in your business will lessen.
The Web site listens to visitors.
What? How can a Web site listen? Visitors know when a Web site is listening
because it feels intuitive and gives them what they want. Obviously, the Web
site is not going to grow ears, but the site developers and managers should be
listeners. They should keep focusing on listening to visitors, just as the best
salespeople listen to their customers. It is important to track Web site stats
and to let visitors provide feedback in a variety of ways—through online
or telephone surveys, email, forms, and other market research tools.
OK, these 10 tips are not secrets
any longer. When you find ways to implement them, your Web site should sell
Thomas Young, the CEO of
Intuitive Websites, is an Internet marketing consultant and speaker. To learn
more, visit intuitivewebsites.com. To contact him directly, call 719/481-4040
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.