One of the first things online entrepreneurs have to recognize about the Internet is that it's a very impersonal medium. When you're selling something to someone in direct conversation, you have the opportunity to create rapport and inspire trust in them. You can answer any questions they have, and you can guarantee their satisfaction.
However, on the Internet, all the customer has to go by is your image and your written word -- in other words, how professional your appearance is and how well you address their concerns. Both are equally important. You've got to provide the customer with a site that looks nice and has all the information that they want.
Designing a professional website is beyond the scope of this article, so I won't address it here. However, let's take care of the "information" part. Here's the information you need to have on your site to really start generating sales:
Clearly stated benefits
Somewhere on the site you need to tell the customer why the product they're going to buy is better than the competition's and why they should buy it from you specifically. (In other words, with what benefits do you provide them?) This information should be given to the visitor as soon as possible. (The home page is the best place, if possible.)
Evidence of superiority
You need to *show them* (not just tell them) that your product (and your company) is superior to the competition's. You can do this through a free trial of your product, a tour of the product, etc. You also absolutely must use another method: testimonials.
Testimonials are one of the most powerful marketing tools in existence, and by adding them to your site you can increase sales dramatically. (A note about testimonials: you should never, ever make them up, and you should always include the full name of the sender and their e-mail or website address when possible.)
Answers to their questions
Customers that are interested in your product are typically going to have some questions both about the product itself and about your company. You can provide answers to most of those questions immediately by creating a Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.) page on your site. It should be noted that the F.A.Q. page is also a great place to reinforce benefits of your product by wording your questions and answers in a favorable way.
Assurance they'll be satisfied with the product
Because the Internet is so fast-paced and anything that's on it could easily by a lie, potential customers are terribly wary of being over-hyped about a product and being let down when they finally buy it.
That being the case, if you can offer the customer a guarantee that they'll be satisfied or they'll get their money back, then you can close more sales because you've assured them of their satisfaction. Additionally, a free trial if possible is a good idea here.
Appearance of a good foundation and reputation
The customer has absolutely no idea who you are and how you'll treat them. So, at all times make it clear how they can contact you and that you'd love to hear from them. You can do so by creating two pages on your site: an "About Us" page and a "Contact Us" page.
I'd also like to note that depending on what type of product you're selling, it may be appropriate to give as much information you can on the product. (Technical details, documents, layouts, lists of features, etc.) A good rule of thumb is that the more information, the better.
However, keep in mind that the last thing you'll want to do is drown your visitor in information. The key here is catering to your target audience. So, use your good judgement to determine what needs to be on the site, but if in doubt, put the information on the site.
(Also, it should be noted that it's relatively easy to determine if the addition was a good one - through some simple testing, determine if your site's effectiveness increased, and if it did, you made the right decision.)
Add the five key pieces above to your site and you'll see an increase in response rate and the overall effectiveness of your site. I guarantee it!
Copyright © 2000 Micah D. Cranman