23208956_blogI attended the Persuasive Online Copywriting Seminar at Future Now’s offices in Brooklyn, NY. They are a great bunch of folks who work from the customer’s point of view to adjust the messaging and sales process on a website to increase the site’s conversion rate.

I learned a great deal during my two days with the Future Now team and will be integrating this knowledge into Big Oak’s site optimization process. One of the many light-bulb moments I had during the seminar came when I was presented with this idea:

Many online businesses fail to consider their customer’s buying process and instead force their customers to adapt to the company’s selling process.

Talk about a powerful and true criticism. The sales process or the item being sold doesn’t have to be complicated for a company to follow this flawed mentality. A simple purchase online can be an arduous task if the seller has put roadblocks in the way of the buyer ultimately making the purchase.

How many times have you hunted around on a website looking for shipping policies or specific product information? When this happens, more often that not, the company is including the information they think is important, in a way that makes sense to them, without asking what the customer needs or where they would intuitively look for it. When I was shopping for my LCD HDTV, I was very concerned about each model’s height and width because I have an entertainment cabinet that the TV was going to have to fit in. A few inches here or there for the set’s speakers or stand made a huge difference in the models I would even consider. Finding this information wasn’t always easy or where I expected to find it.

So what is a company to do? The solution is to alter your company’s selling process so that it allows your customers to easily step through their buying process. Sounds impossible, I know, and it is going to take some effort and customer insight to change your company-centric thinking. But the reward of higher conversion is well worth the effort.

Map Your Sales Process

Perhaps you need a buyer to put an item in your shopping cart, fill out some payment and shipping information and the sale is done. Or you need to pre-qualify a lead before you provide additional information. Or maybe your website only serves to intrigue buyers enough to have them call so you can set up an appointment. Whatever your process, map out what you need buyers to do.

Now consider:

  • Are there better ways of organizing this process so that it is more intuitive to your buyers?
  • Do buyers understand why you are asking them for information about themselves?
  • Are you asking them to make too much of a commitment before you’ve established some trust?

Put Yourself in Your Customer’s Shoes.

It’s all about having perspective. Can you objectively look at your company, your website, and your offering and see how they look from the outside? More than likely, you are going to need some help getting a clear view of this.

Favorable options for gaining customer perspective include: setting up a focus group, deploying surveys or reading research conducted by other organizations. But this is not always possible. Seek an outside resource that can provide thoughtful input; whether you choose a marketing firm, business consultant or trusted colleague. The goal here is to get beyond how you talk to your buyers and get an understanding of how they talk about your offering and the types of information they need to make a purchase.

Discover Their Buying Process

It goes without saying that different customers have different needs. The folks at Future Now are huge advocates of creating personas representing different segments of your target market to get to the heart of each buyer’s needs and motivations. Let’s say you sell children’s toys through an online store. Your personas could include:

  • The doting grandparent who wants to send gifts to their grandchildren but who buys irregularly
  • The price-conscious mom who is not only buying toys for her children but for her children to take as gifts to birthday parties and other events
  • The education-oriented dad who is looking for toys and games that will help his children excel in school

These buyers are going to have different goals when they come to your website. And how you help them achieve those goals as they navigate through the buying process will determine whether or not they ultimately make a purchase. The grandparent might want to see what gifts are most popular or age-appropriate. The mom is definitely going to be shopping by price and will want to know the cost of shipping and if there are any discounts. The dad will want more information on what the toy does and its educational benefits. So for all three, you are going to have to meet their needs in order to get them to purchase.

Customer information can be tough to get. You may have to somewhat rely on assumptions you have made based on past customer behavior, and do research to confirm or deny the validity of those assumptions. You may also want to think about potential customers for future marketing efforts. By changing your sales process and understanding their buying process, you may be able to attract new types of customers.

A key to unlocking higher conversion rates on your website requires satisfying the steps a customer must move through in order to make a confident purchase. I have only touched the surface of this iceberg but I hope I have sparked some ideas.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to drive more traffic to your website. Working with a Internet marketing company such as Big Oak puts a strategy in place to deliver web users to your site who are searching for the products and services you offer. Give us a call at 804-741-6776 to find out how Big Oak can get your site ranked in the search engines.

SEO Marketing Strategist Alyssa Duvall is our chief website optimizer handling keyword research and website copywriting, as well as sales and marketing for Big Oak SEO. Her unparalleled brainstorming skill culminates in thorough keyword research and compelling copy, and her ability to think beyond the box is fundamental to our cutting-edge marketing strategy.