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Do You Make Your Web Site Visitors Jump Through Hoops?

Aug 17, 2007
Picture this: Your prospect has just learned about one of your products or services, and is now ready to buy from you. How you handle the next critical step can make or break the sale.

Always keep in mind that most consumers are understandably wary. They won't hesitate to abandon an intended purchase if they encounter doubts or inconvenient snags in the process.

I invite you to do a bit of honest self-examination when considering the following tips, since problems in this area may be costing you dearly in lost sales, right this very minute.

Acting to improve on what you discover could very well help boost your sales immediately.

1) How Easy Is It for Your Customers to Access Information Needed to Buy From You?

a) For example, does the design of your web site make it hard to navigate, or is the information needed to complete a transaction within easy access to your customers, with minimal mouse clicks?

Poor navigation is but one of many, many different snags that hinder web site sales. Problem is, most site owners, designers, and webmasters don't realize how much more a site could sell, if it were only more user-friendly.

b) While you may wisely reduce the amount of repetitive customer service issues by answering questions through a F.A.Q., (an acronym for Frequently Asked Questions) etc., some prospects may yet have additional questions not covered in it.

Do your prospects have a way to contact you to have such questions answered, and do you have an efficient system in place for answering them, promptly and efficiently?

Is the form of contact convenient to your prospects?

2) What Forms of Payment Do You Offer Your Customers?

a) Do you require your customers to send payment to you by check, cash or money order only via regular postal mail? If you're selling online and not accepting credit cards, you're likely losing many sales.

b) What types of credit cards do you accept? Virtually any type of business can increase sales by accepting payment by Visa and MasterCard.

But even businesses already accepting Visa and MasterCard may still be losing sales by not also accepting Discover and American Express (especially in the U.S.), as well as PayPal.

True, Visa and MasterCard encompass the vast majority of all credit card transactions. But there are many consumers who instead prefer to use Discover or American Express.

Do you want their business? If so, your existing merchant account provider is most likely equipped to easily get you set up to accept them.

3) How Easy Do You Make It for Customers to Submit Payment?

a) Suppose that you do accept credit cards. Even though the risk of online credit card fraud has been greatly exaggerated, and isn't necessarily more risky than offline transactions, many consumers are concerned about submitting their credit card data online.

With this in mind, in addition to being equipped to accept online credit card orders through a secure server, do you provide alternate ordering options for those who hesitate (or refuse) to order online by credit card?

What about options to order with check, money order, or credit card, by phone, fax, or postal mail?

b) Is your online order system simple to understand and use, even for the most inexperienced users, or are they inconvenient and confusing? How do you know?

"Shopping cart abandonment" is a term used to describe when a would-be online customer abandons, or bails out of, an online order form or shopping cart, before completing an intended purchase.

Beware that this commonly overlooked problem robs Internet merchants of billions of dollars in lost sales each year, and that the selection and design of your online order system has a major impact on your profits - for good or bad!

c) Do you work hard to eliminate guesswork for customers, provide complete order details, and guide them simply and gently through the ordering process?

Remember: Any extra hoop you require prospects and customers to jump through is an extra obstacle in the way of a sale; another potential reason to change their minds about buying from you.

If there's one thing I've learned, it's that there's always room for improvement - in every business in existence. So don't feel bad when you find them in your own business. I guarantee you they exist; you just may not be aware of them yet.

Unfortunately, there's not enough room in this article to cover all the obstacles possibly hindering your online sales, of which there are at least hundreds!

But the basic lesson behind the above tips is this: Make it as easy as possible for customers to do business with you. The easier you make it, the more likely they will.
About the Author
Marty Foley's site at ConvertMoreTraffic.com helps web sites generate more traffic and turn more of it into buyers, leads, and higher profit! Check out Marty's free e-courses for boosting online profits: http://ProfitInfo.com/e-courses
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