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Compel Customers to Propel Sales

by Michel Fortin

What Two Successful Web Marketers Had to Say
Surfers are shopping online more and more and the greatest determinant in what will help them increase their willingness to buy is the ease, confidence, and speed with which they'll be able to shop. Therefore, merely "being" online is no longer adequate -- a business must also sell to, transact with, and deliver its product to its customers persuasively and promptly.

The Internet is buzzing with impulsive shoppers. To paraphrase Robert Ringer, author of "Million Dollar Habits," people today have the "Three Gets Syndrome." When they shop, they want to "Get in, get it, and get out!" That importunity is certainly evident on the web.

Web copywriter Nick Usborne of http://forkinthehead.com understands this concept well. "Customer experience compression" is a term he originally coined when describing the fact that, online, the buying process has considerably shortened -- and that web marketers must take into account far more than the usual offline selling experience.

For example, Nick explains that, when you receive a piece of offline direct mail in your mailbox, there's an incredible amount of work for you to do. You open the envelope, read the offer, and decide you want to buy the featured product. Next, you have to find a pen, complete the coupon or form, stuff it in an envelope, address it, lick it, close it, buy a stamp, lick that as well, pull on your coat, get in the car (or walk), and find the nearest mailbox.

Online, however, you simply click "Buy Now" and that's it. According to Nick, the issue is fairly simple to recognize. When you're doing business at the speed of electricity, you compress the entire customer experience. And anything that expands it, impedes it, or slows it down not only loses sales but also defeats the purpose of being online in the first place.

Examples are poor targeting, slow loading time, the lack of ordering information, anemic sales copy, and a long or complicated ordering process. The latter in particular is especially important. Customers may well come to your site because they are looking for a convenient and speedy purchase. Usborne points out that they want to buy quickly without having to pick up the phone, or get in the car and drive to the mall. Simply, they want convenience.

According to Joe Gregory of http://WebAim.co.uk, 97.7% of all web sites that his company evaluated are not being marketed correctly. In fact, the most common error they have found is related directly to the marketing aspects of a web site. From poorly targeted content to sites unable to finish the sale, "If any one marketing element is wrong your web site will fail," explains Gregory. In other words, not only should you sell the sizzle and not the steak, online you must also provide the menu, the waiter, and the silverware. (Don't forget the ambiance!)

But the most revealing statistic is the fact that 94.1% of all web sites Joe evaluated suffered from poor content. Most of these sites he says, which were aimed at creating more business or selling a product, provided content that was far from being good marketing copy. In short, they were not compelling enough and simply did not persuade people to buy.

Arguably, copywriting is a skill that develops with time and experience. And most people erroneously assume that the Net is a medium -- it's not. It's a process. And as far as e-commerce goes, the Internet is also a direct response/sales process that can and should lead visitors to specific outcomes. But all too often, this simple process is simple to ignore.

Moreover, if a site isn't targeting potential customers, surfers will not only fail to read it but also fail to buy. According to Gregory, advertising copy in particular is governed by a few rules, such as selling the benefits and not the features. And 72.6% of sites he evaluated failed to mention at the very least the benefits of their product or service to the customer.

But his survey goes further in showing that a whopping 82.2% lacked a clear objective. For example, sites that encouraged people to call made it hard to find the telephone number, and companies that wanted to sell a product had no online ordering capabilities (or even failed to mention the price). Interestingly however, he also found that 46.6% of these failing sites were aimed at a general audience or used jargon that only experts would understand.

Poor targeting, in other words, is the third most common mistake web marketers make. The lack of visitor interaction was in fact a major stumbling block in most of the cases Gregory encountered -- people visiting these sites had no way of interacting with the companies or people behind them. As Joe bluntly explains, "If a shop is closed, you'll go somewhere else."

Finally, speed is an important issue. While they are well on their way, the computer as well as the Internet are still in their infancy. Earlier CPUs, less capable web browsers, and slower modems are still the norm. Therefore, if a site includes Java script, frames, plug-ins, and dazzling memory-intensive graphics in an effort to impress, it will work against you.

Many potential sales are lost due to a slow-loading, unbrowsable web site. A web site should not only download fast but also process orders expeditiously. Research by an on-hold phone message marketing company found that people start hanging up when put on hold for more than 30 seconds -- the Internet is no different. If they have to wait for more than 30 seconds for your page to load, for instance, visitors will leave. In short, if they have to wait, they won't.

About the Author
Michel Fortin is a consultant dedicated to helping businesses turn into powerful magnets. Visit http://SuccessDoctor.com to receive a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning." He is also the editor of the "Internet Marketing Chronicles" ezine delivered weekly to 90,000 subscribers -- subscribe free at http://SuccessDoctor.com/IMC/.


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