Many businesses turned to online selling when the lockdown prevented face-to-face sales. Yet for all the stylish design and technical wizardry available, buying online remains as risky as buying a second-hand motor from a dodgy geezer down the pub.
It’s very likely that the web sites you have not bought from considerably outnumber the web sites you have bought from. Are you missing out on sales because your web site does not give people the basic details they need to establish a trusted buyer-supplier relationship with you?
Can I trust you?
A good question to ask about your web site is: would you trust it if you were a customer? Does it tell people who you are and what you do? Does it assure them that you are an established or trustworthy professional? Does it convince them that your business – above all others – is the one they should buy from?
These are questions best addressed before you start any web site design or coding. In the course of completing projects for clients, editing Business Action magazine and purchasing items for myself, I remain frustrated by the large number of businesses withholding basic information from buyers on their web sites. It’s almost as if they are willing themselves to lose sales.
If your web site does any of the things below, take action now to give yourself a better chance of clinching more sales.
Who are you?
The ‘About us’ page is one of the most important on any web site, yet so many sites don’t have one or retain the default text provided as a placeholder.
Why is it important? Because you need to convince buyers ready to spend money with you that you’re genuine. Why would a good business hide itself and not want to reveal the people running it?
Letting people see you reassures buyers that you take pride in what you do and that they can rely on you. A bland statement, such as ‘we are an established team of experts in our field’, tells customers nothing about who you are.
What could you say?
- Give your name(s)
- Add photos of you (and your team) – avoid stock photos of anonymous beautiful people at any cost!
- Describe yourself and your experience. Don’t claim false modesty – isn’t your business aim to sell?
- Tell the story of your business, why you started it and why you love helping your customers
- State your qualifications, accreditations and expertise
Show that you (and your team) are great to work with and do your utmost to satisfy your customers’ requirements. What more could a customer want?
Do this by letting your voice speak through your web site text. Perhaps your industry has a stuffy image, but your business is friendly and approachable? Perhaps people are a little frightened and desperately want to find a business with a ‘human’ face? Your ‘written’ voice can assure buyers that you are both approachable and professional.
Where are you?
You could be anywhere in the world. Using a .uk domain doesn’t guarantee that you are a UK business.
Many .uk web sites are based overseas and customers might not feel confident handing their credit card details to a vendor thousands of miles away who won’t respond if something goes wrong. Tell your customers where you are.
Selling locally – If your target market is local, give your location so buyers know you are local to them. I have seen businesses describe themselves as local without any reference to location. Don’t waste people’s time by attracting enquiries from hundreds of miles away that you cannot fulfill. If you don’t want (or need) to publish your full address, just name your town or village or the area you serve.
Selling nationally or globally – If your target market is wider, revealing your location establishes trust. Make it clear that you serve national or international customers and can supply to them or travel to them to deliver your service. This shows you are confident and flexible: someone they can do business with.
Is there anyone there?
It doesn’t seem to matter whether businesses are big or small, it can be a nightmare trying to find out how to contact some of them. Some try to be helpful by anticipating buyers’ questions and providing answers on their web site to stop you having to call them, but invariably these answer every question except the one you have. You end up going round in circles on their web site and wonder why you should buy from them if they can’t be bothered to communicate with you.
Other businesses don’t even give a phone number or an email address, just a contact form. With no idea when or if they will respond, it puts you off contacting them when there’s a good chance you can find another business that cares enough to respond to you fast.
As a journalist, I rarely persist with these businesses, so how much free publicity are they missing out on? At the very least, publish a phone number and email address. You can also add your social media accounts if you use them for messaging.
All these actions make it easier for customers to buy from you by establishing trust. When there are more online criminals trying to rob you than have ever operated door-to-door, trust is vital. And online crime is only going to increase, so trust will become even more important.
If you sell a good product or service, have built a good reputation and look after your customers well, make sure you tell buyers about this. You are your own best advert and waste this resource by not using it.
It costs nothing, but could increase your earnings.