There can be many aims of a web site … to share information, to sell, to generate leads, to promote via ads, to create a community of like-minded people and many other purposes. Before you spend too much time – or money – on your web site you need to be clear on its specific aim and on the business model you’re using for that site.
Although some of the following information is relevant to other types of web sites, it’s written especially for web sites that are set up for the purpose of selling ‘something’, whether that something is a product, a service or anything else. And more specifically, for increasing online sales.
So now that we’re clear on that, have you ever wondered why some web sites seem to be more effective than others at selling and creating sales? There are a number of different reasons why this might be the case, many of which you might not even realize. To help you make your web site the best it can be when it comes to selling, let’s take a look at seven tried and tested tips for web sites that sell.
#1 – Don’t use Flash elements:
Flash elements may look really neat and be capable of some very cool effects, but for most web site visitors these elements are nothing more than a huge pain in the neck. They can take a long time to load, they distract from the main purposes of your web site, and they are generally a negative rather than a positive for the overall effectiveness of your web site.
With the exception of some practical uses in very, very small doses, no matter how tempted you may be to use flash elements … just say no!
#2 – Write in a conversational tone:
The last thing your web site visitors want is to read content that sounds too formal, stilted or even unfriendly. A much better approach is to write in a conversational tone; in other words, write in a way that sounds as if you’re simply carrying on a friendly conversation with the reader.
In fact, when writing your web copy it may help to imagine you’re speaking with one of your customers or prospective customers and write what you would say to them.
#3 – Write for your target audience:
The most conversational content in the world will not make your web site better at selling if it is not written in a way that’s designed for your target audience. For instance, if your target audience is young people, write in the style that they tend to speak or write in; or, if your target audience is people with a particular hobby then write in a way they will find interesting.
#4 – Don’t make it tempting to click away from sales pages:
A great selling web site gets visitors to the site but also gets them to the pages where they can actually make a purchase. The last thing you need is to successfully attract people to those sales pages but then have something there that tempts them to click away from actually making a purchase. So keep your sales pages focused on selling and leave the rest of the stuff that’s likely to distract them for other, more relevant pages.
#5 – Don’t make images too large to load quickly:
When the image files on your web site are extremely large they can take ages to load when visitors come to the site or click on one of the pages. The longer a reader has to wait for a page to load the more impatient they will become and the more likely they will be to abandon your web site and go somewhere else.
Therefore, make sure all of the image files are small enough to load quickly for visitors.
Remember also … even though you may have access to high-speed internet, not everyone does. Some of your readers may still be using dial-up connections.
#6 – Emphasize value:
Your web site is there in part to help sell products and/or services provided by your small business, but if you want the site to be effective at selling you must emphasize more than just those products and services. You’ll increase sales (and decrease the likelihood of visitors going to your competitors) if you emphasize the value of what you’re selling more so than just the specific product and/or service.
Remember to show your potential customers the BENEFITS of your product or service rather than the FEATURES. How will your product/service make your customer’s life better? And what is the value of that benefit?
#7 – Answer questions proactively:
This is not about including a Frequently Asked Questions page – although you could certainly add one of those too – but rather about anticipating the kinds of questions visitors will have about your site and/or your products and weaving the answers to those questions into the web site content. Put yourself in their shoes; what kinds of questions would you have and what kind of information would you be looking for?
Now include that information within the content so visitors will find it quickly, easily and conveniently.