Slow Sales? Here's Why...

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How to Get Search Engine Ranking

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Slick Apps

Has the web gone local?

Sales Slow? Here's why...

Who Helps the Experts?

Are these three trends hurting your online business?

Junk email, filters headlines and more...

Will Your Business Yield Fruit?

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         January 24, 2003                         Today's circulation: 162,002

"Slow Sales? Here's Why?"

Every day I hear from business owners who are less than satisfied with their sales online. And after a ten minute trip to their website I can usually put my finger on exactly why.

No, I'm not some wizard or web sales genius. I have no crystal ball. But I've been around the block a few times (since 1996 to be exact) and I've sold more than a million dollars worth of products and services right here from my home computer.

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Yet what's sometimes strange to me is that I often find my experience and track record rarely coming into play on those ten minute visits. The reason for slow sales at most websites usually comes down to good old fashioned common sense. Well, at least it's common sense to me, as well as the "reluctant-to-buy" visitors to the problem site. But it's far from common sense to the owner of the site.

So today I'd like to share my common sense "formula" with you. The formula really equates to "simple reasons" I've uncovered, that explain why a website experiences poor sales. And you can plug this formula into ANY website, yours or a clients site, and figure out why it's failing to meet expectations.

OK, here we go. Show me a site with slow sales and I guarantee that at least one of the following situations exists...


1. The website APPEARANCE is sub-par.

Sure, some sites get away with a less than perfect appearance. But that's because they make up for this shortcoming with strong sales literature and extremely targeted traffic. But the fact is, MOST sites that have slower than expected sales can stop right here with this first reason. Too many sites simply lack that professional look that gives visitors the feeling they are at a website they 'may' be able to trust. ( I write 'may' because that's all a website has to do with a first impression -- impress.)

When an uncomfortable feeling sets in immediately, because of poor design, it is a quick click of the back button and they're off to another site. It's really sad too, because there are thousands of great website templates available on the web. These webmasters could buy a template for less than seventy-five bucks, and instantly cure their ills. (Note: I used a sixty dollar template to design this page you are reading right now.) Unfortunately, too many webmasters fall in love with their own design work, no matter how little experience they had going in.


2. The sales PROCESS is confusing.

Of the small percentage of websites that get past that first hurdle above, a large number of them miss the boat here. In fact, if a website does not explain exactly how it can help a visitor within the first ten seconds or so, it will lose many of its hard-earned visitors. So why risk it? Make it clear to your potential clients that you have the solution they are looking for. It's the only way you'll get them to stay.


3. The sales LITERATURE is sub-par.

OK, I just hit on a great site with a clear message. This site may be the one I've been looking for. But before I reach for my credit card, I want the details. I want to know all the benefits I'll get by spending my valuable time at the site and maybe buying what they are offering.

But the sales literature I encounter looks like a rough draft! No, I'm not just talking about grammatical errors and typos (though I'm still shocked when I see repeated instances of these at a site), I'm referring to a weak pitch. Sales literature that does not excite, motivate, and instill confidence is destined to fail. It also must be clear, concise and captivating. And a heavy dose of credibility, expertise and security goes a long way too.

Sound like a tall order? You bet it is. That's why sub-par sales literature is a vicious saboteur of online sales. So unless you have some experience writing proven sales letters, hire an expert or take an online course. It's money well spent.

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4. The purchase itself is difficult or unsettling.

Do you offer only PayPal purchases? Then believe it or not, many potential clients may abandon their purchase. Nothing against PayPal, but many customers prefer NOT to deal with extra hassles such as signing up for a service, in order to make a purchase. So offering ONLY PayPal could be a mistake.

And believe it or not, "shopping carts" can be detrimental to your sales too. Unless you're selling lots of products you may want to stay away from a full-blown shopping cart, unless it is VERY easy to use. Instead, a streamlined ordering process such as a single secure order form will work best. And that's based on my own experiences. Believe it or not, many newbies have lots of trouble with anything BUT a simple order form and they will abandon the ordering process when encountering difficulty. That's why you MUST make it easy for them!

It's also a good idea to put their mind at easy by clearly explaining that your ordering process is safe and secure, and that you value their privacy and will not share their data with any other persons or companies.


5. Product or service offer does not reach perceived value.


If a site passes all the tests above and STILL has problems making sales, THEN I start looking at the product or service itself. Is it filling a niche? Is it priced right? (Testing different price points is ALWAYS recommended, especially on the web.) Not every product or service is an easy sell on the web. But if there is a need and a niche, you should be able to fill it with all the right ingredients above.


Finally, if a website gets by all five previous points and STILL fails to make sales, the reason usually comes down to "poor traffic"...


6. Poor traffic means either a website's traffic is too LITTLE, or too UNTARGETED.

I could write for hours on this subject. For instance, I've had webmasters tell me their traffic is extremely targeted yet NO sales. Then after a bit of prodding they'll admit that they made that statement because the site where they purchased their last 10,000 guaranteed visitors told them they would all be from related sites. What they failed to realize was that most "guaranteed visitor" deals, such as "10,000 visitors for a hundred bucks" means that the visitors are forced in via a popup ad. Forced traffic is NOT targeted traffic.

Targeted traffic means having a visitor voluntarily clicking to your site. It is traffic that comes to your site actively looking (whether searching the web or clicking an email link or via any other REAL click method) for a solution or answer. When that happens, you have pre-qualified them and you may have a sale on your hands. (If you make it through all the previous requirements we spoke of above.)

Again, I could go on and on about targeted traffic and how to grow it. But I won't. I'll just say this... The key is to always evaluate your traffic. Know the exact results of every advertising dollar you spend. That is the only way you can continually tweak your marketing so that it includes an ever-growing percentage of EFFECTIVE strategies.

And if you would like to get a jump on which online marketing strategies work well and which do NOT, grab my latest book, "Make A Living Online!" It comes with two years access to my private site and unlimited consultations. You'll find it at page 5 of my make-a-living-online.com site.

See ya in February... Jim Daniels
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