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Website not selling? Twelve questions you should ask yourself

By David Bell
Posted Saturday, November 6, 2004

So your website is getting visitors, but not enough are buying. A common online problem, unfortunately. Here are twelve common faults found with websites that don't sell. If you answer no to any of them, you need to take action.

1)Does your text focus on emphasizing the benefits and the results the customer will get from purchasing and using it?
Sales copy needs to be focused on the benefits to the end user, not on the features of the product. List the features, and then translate them into benefits the customer will get. Move away from "our Widget does this, this and this.." to "You will soon be doing this .."

2)Does your website convey enough strong benefits?
Brainstorm to come up with a list of benefits. Rank them in order of importance. Then mention them in order throughout the text, best first. Summarizing them with bullet points too also works great.

3)Does you text stimulate the emotions?
People buy with the heart not the head - so try and stimulate emotions - use words to paint a picture of life after they've bought your product " Imagine the freedom of no more back pain..." or "...money worries could soon be a thing of the past, and you could soon be taking those exotic vacations...".

4))Does the headline grab and draw you in?
You've got to try to stop them dead in their tracks with the headline. Use the best benefit of your product, and create interest so they read on. Make it hard hitting, but not unbelievable.

5)Do you have a call to action?
People put off decisions, even if they're 90% sold on your product, they may still decide to "sleep on it". Don't let them have time to forget - give them an incentive to purchase now - discounts, bonuses etc.

6)Does your website load and function ok?
Slow load times may cause people to get impatient and go elsewhere, even though it registers a visit. Do all links work, and more importantly, have you tested your order page by running dummy orders?

7)Do you have any testimonials from satisfied customers?
Testimonials are everywhere online, and people expect them as a matter of course. Ask those who have purchased what they thought -email them a simple customer satisfaction survey, offer a freebie for replying and use the best comments. If your product is free,try a testimonial swap with a seller of a complementary (but not directly competing) product -offer to review his product if he reviews yours.

8)Do you take a credit cards?
I shouldn't really have to ask this now should I? It's a plain fact that you are going to lose a huge amount of customers if you don't accept them.

9)Are you absolutely sure there's a market for it?
Does anyone else sell anything similar -if so, there should be a market for it. If it's a highly unique product, did you do a survey or market research to see if anyone wanted to buy it? If not, canvass opinion from forums and newsgroups.

10)Is your website easy on the eye?
Strong colors can make text difficult to read -it doesn't matter how good your offer is, if someone gets a headache looking at the screen there going to give up.

11)Do you offer a guarantee?
Most people are wary of getting "scammed" online, so remove those doubts - offer a guarantee. Make it as unconditional as you can.

12)Can you compete with your competitors?
Do you have any big competitors who are just cornering the market and "blowing you away"? Are customers just visiting your site to "comparison shop" and returning to your competitor to buy. If this is a possibility, try to devise a unique selling point (USP) which differentiates your product from others - perhaps you can compete on quality, benefits, or price. Emphasise the differences and advantages of your product. Research your market and familiarize yourself with what else is on offer. Then carve out a niche for your product.

Once you can honestly answer "yes" to all the above questions, it's just a matter of constant fine-tuning until you get a decent level of sales. You're never going to sell to everyone who visits your site, but you can do lots to increase the odds in your favor. I hope this helps in your future marketing decisions.

About the author
David Bell is Manager, Online Marketing, at (http://www.wspromotion.com/) , a leading Search Engine Optimization services firm and Advertising Agency.