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How do You Effectively Convert Website Visitors to Customers?

Aug 6, 2008
This is a question many website owners ask me when we first start working together. I'll give you an answer from a good friend of mine, that is a specialist at list building and landing pages. He always uses the analogy that trying to sell to your customer before getting to know them is a lot like proposing marriage before you've even gone on a date.

It may sound silly, but many people aproach their online business the same way. They go straight for the hard sale without ever asking their potential customers' permission to get to know them a little better.

Your website cannot be designed with the goal of "selling" visitors on your services or products the first time they visit.

Your site should be designed with the goal of starting a relationship with these potential clients and customers the first time they visit your site.

I'll bet you shop the same way as a consumer. Do you often make non-routine, "spur of the moment" purchases the first time you see them? Most people don't.

We usually take the time to check them out, do product comparisons, and research different brands.

And if we do make those impulsive purchases, without taking the time to compare or even just think about the purchase, these are often the purchases we regret later. Do you really want your company associated with buyers' regret?

So, if you know this is typical human behavior but you aren't doing something to start a relationship with these visitors the first time they check out your website, you're setting yourself up to miss out on a lot of potential business.

What if someone comes to your site, really is interested in buying what you sell, but decides to research just a little more? Do you have something in place to make you stand out, and help them return to your site when they're ready to buy? Can you really rely on their memory? The search engines? Bookmarks? No.

What if they get a better offer or a slightly lower price on the next site they visit? Luckily, the good news is that they aren't likely to buy from your competitors on their first visit, either. So if you can create a way to develop a relationship with them, you will be one step ahead of your competition.

Need ideas on ways to develop a relationship with your site visits?

Giveaways - invite your visitors to sign up to receive a free gift from you. But make sure you're offering something of value to them!
Free trial - if it's practical, give your customers the opportunity to demo your product or service for a short time.
Teleseminars/Webinars - offer them access to your knowledge and expertise. Not only are you giving them something for free, but you set yourself up as the expert in their eyes.
Run fun contests or promotions - most creative video (or photo, comment, etc.) on how they need your product wins it! They'll come back to your site often to see if they've won. If they aren't the winner, they'll at least be familiar with you and the products or services you offer.

The point here is that you need to make sure your site must connect with the type of customer you attract. You have to offer something that is of value to them. Your copy needs to be written for them. The design must appeal to their sensibilities.

If you're not confident in your writing skills, or not sure the college kid you hired to do your web design really knows how to appeal to your customers, hire a professional. They'll do it right, and this is not the place to skimp. Having design and copy that appeals to your customer will pay for itself over and over again. Because at the end of the day, if your customers don't feel like you understand their needs, they'll move on to the next guy that does.
About the Author
Barry Wayne is an online business consultant and project manager with 13 years experience in web development and Internet marketing.
Please visit his blog, 1Cat.biz, for more tips on how to build a successful online busness.
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