Firstly let’s get the facts out of the way. Not everyone is being affected by the looming axe of the credit crunch; just ask High street fashion chain Peacocks who recently announced record profits. The recession-friendly store revealed that its online sales had increased by 108% over the last year. No, that wasn’t a typo, not 10.8% but 108%, all thanks to special offers and understanding what their customers really wanted.
At a time when the media would have us believe that consumers are pulling back, the truth is they’re still extremely busy online. The question is; can you convince them to engage with your online business and perform the actions that make a difference to your bottom line?
So here are, definitively, the 3 best online strategies to help maximise your internet proposition and navigate you through the doom and gloom of the credit crunch.
1. Give them what they want – Not what YOU want
How many times have you done a Google search, only to wade through unrelated, irrelevant search results? Remember, we use the internet as a way to find and do things quickly, and if we can’t we’re hitting that back button. So think; what happens when you search for your company’s products or services? Are you presented with your homepage and left to muddle through the pages to find what you’re looking for? Tut tut…
Scenario; You have to buy a loaf of bread from your friendly neighbourhood supermarket. You walk through the sliding doors and are presented with 20 aisles and bombarded with products. If you’ve never been there before it might take you a while to find that precious loaf right? Now, imagine you could walk through those magical doors and have the bread aisle presented to you with the wholemeal granary loaf you had in mind? Get the picture? This is the opportunity you have with your website if you’ve matched the keywords you know will make all the difference to you, to the relevant pages which will make all the difference to your visitor. A simple adjustment like this can increase your conversion rates by 100’s of %
2. Build Relationships – Sell, but indirectly
The internet is a pretty faceless medium and consumers, online or offline need educating, coaxing, convincing and inspired with confidence. On the other side of the coin, we, the business community are just as faceless with sometimes with little to differentiate us from our competition. In light of this, it’s no wonder internet purchases are made by “satisfycing” (sufficing+satisfying), taking a punt and hoping for best rather than understanding the true value a business can bring.
Now this is where you come in. It’s not always about the direct sale (sell sell sell!), especially if you’re in a competitive market. Start offering free trials, consultations, white papers, in-depth case studies, free tutorials, special offers, tele-seminars and webinars. These help you to indirectly sell to your prospects in an informative way whilst positioning yourself as an expert or authority in your field. Let’s face it no-one likes a hard sell, but we love anything ‘free’ which has a perceived value and we love to be informed.
3. Customer Service – The Personal Touch
It’s not unheard of nowadays to fill in a ‘contact us’ form and get a response a few days later. No good enough really is it? Online purchasers in the thousands give up on their order because you’ve asked them one too many questions. So let’s get personal!
Give your customers the option to speak to you directly, or to pick up the phone when they have a problem with their order or query. Sometimes we just need the comfort knowing that a human being has a watchful eye over our precious pennies or concerns. A lot of companies bury they’re contact details away in the hope they can ‘automate’ their website operations. Unfortunately people are not automated and we enjoy the ability to communicate and oftentimes need reassurance each step of the way. For example, you cannot sell a high end product or service without:
1. Informing and educating your prospect sufficiently.
2. Providing a guiding hand over those who are jumping over the last few hurdles in your sales process.
In summary, the internet was built on computers and technology, zeros and ones. However, we the end user, are still pretty much flesh and blood and have no plans to change the way we react to commerce be it online or offline. So give people what they want, don’t fight it, build a relationship that will see them coming back or referring business your way and remind them that behind their 19” PC screen a real person values their enquiry.