You have an online business…So now what?

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You’ve taken the time to get online either as a pure ecommerce site or the extension of a brick and mortar company. The site looks great, everything is working. You may have even invested in email campaigns, pay-per-click ads and some offline advertising. But what happens once prospects get to your site?

Of all the business skills you can master, persuasive marketing is the one that will return more on your investment than almost any other expense.

Take a look at marketing from the customer’s perspective. Most people buy things, not because they need them, but because they want them. The secret to selling, however, is a sales pitch so strong the desire to buy feels more like a need than a want.

So, how do you create strong sales messages to drive your customers to your online shopping cart?

To attract even lukewarm prospects, you have to make a big promise and make it vivid. Help your prospects see the benefits of buying your product or service and help them visualize how it will make their lives better, easier, more fun or whatever you’re offering them. Turn the features into irresistible benefits.

Next, support your promise with proof. This is where many marketers start to lose their prospects because once drawn in, there isn’t enough to keep the prospect engaged in the sale. Why should someone buy from you? What facts, evidence or testimonials do you have to support a purchase decision?

Are you using basic persuasion principles on your website? Does your home page start to set up a sale right away by assuring prospects they’ve come to the right place? Does your home page help draw them further into the site? Does every product have its own sales page detailing the benefits, the promise and a risk-free guarantee? Does every message on your site move prospects closer to a sale?

When I arrive on a client’s site, I make an immediate assessment of what a prospect will experience. Will they understand what’s even being sold or what they’re supposed to do once they get there? One site I consulted on was for a new lodging company that had a unique selling proposition. The owners were sold a beautiful website by a highly credentialed ad agency. The site was the epitome of a classy branding campaign. As soon as I got on the site, however, I noticed a major flaw. No where on the home page did the content, navigation or graphics indicate it was a lodging company.

This was a new company with a different approach to nightly lodging. How much effort do you think prospects, even qualified ones, will put into figuring out why they should care? Zero. They will put no effort into figuring out the new concept when what they’re looking for is reasonably priced lodging for a week’s vacation. I’d rather build a simple site that leaves no doubt in the prospects’ minds than a gorgeous site that is confusing.

The most important skill you can focus on right now to improve your electronic marketing efforts is writing more powerful website content incorporating the basics of persuasion. Go through your site with the eyes of your prospects. Ask yourself, “Why would someone care about this statement or this message?’ “Have we really positioned ourselves in the most desirable way so the prospect simply feels the need to buy?” “Do we talk features instead of benefits?” “Are the benefits strong enough to entice someone to buy?”

If your content isn’t powerfully persuasive, then keep at it until you really understand your prospects and can deliver messages so appealing your prospects feel they must buy what you’re offering.

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