Is your website full of UFO’s?

I am surprised at how many UFO’s I see every day: Unidentified or Forgotten Objections. They are everywhere! And they are hurting sales.

I re-write a lot of product descriptions and “about pages.” I do marketing language “translations.” I take weak or understated sentences and let my creative mind go wild until they blossom into enticing and compelling “marketing” copy. As a result, I look at a lot of websites from many different business sectors, but especially the artist community and other one-person operations.

Why do you want people to go to your site? Presumably, you want people to consider purchasing something, if not today, maybe someday, right? (“Someday” means you have a clear way, or many ways, for people to sign up for your emails of course!)

They may have found the site through an ad, a referral from a friend, a google search or (and this is the best way!) a targeted email campaign. However, you might look at your statistics and see that you are getting visitors but no sales. What’s up with that? What are you missing? What are they not seeing (or what are they seeing!) that is turning them off or keeping them from purchasing?

Top 10 things that are keeping you from making sales.

I see a multitude of issues that create concerns or stop sales from happening. Biggest problem? Surprisingly obvious issues are simply not identified. In some cases, the information in the FAQ’s or in the product description lacks the essentials. If you suffer from one (even one can kill a sale’s momentum!) or more of the following, you need to correct that right away!

  1. Unprofessional photographs that don’t show your items in good light.
  2. Not enough photographs showing different perspectives – artists should consider showing their work in a home setting – “in situ” matters!
  3. Your mug shot. People buy from people. If you have a dog or cat, have them pose with you!
  4. Size – measurements might need to include weight, too.
  5. Return policy – something simple and reassuring.
  6. Shipping costs (at least some kind of estimate) and where you do and don’t ship to. If you only ship to the 48 contiguous states, make that clear. We in Hawaii hate to spend time picking out the perfect widget only to discover we can’t get it shipped to us.
  7. Testimonials or Reviews – they should be real names.
  8. An about page that gives context to the nature of the business; it’s history or it’s mission or both. Who are you and why should YOU get my money instead of your competition? Make me care about you.
  9. Use YOUR voice – first person account – especially if you are the sole proprietor. Do not have your bio or about page be written in a third party voice. If someone else is writing about you, or you are featured on another site, then third person will make sense.
  10. You don’t have a proper shopping cart with full security and encryption – the “https” (it’s the s that makes the difference) along with the trademark “lock icon” are essential. Expecting someone to just call and give you their credit card over the phone is 20th century thinking. You can have a totally free online shopping cart.

Do you have more than two of the above listed items working against you? You must fix your site. You could be losing a sale while you are reading this. Don’t leave out essential information needed to build the value, create desire, and foster trust. Those three elements are needed to get a total stranger to hand over their credit card information.

You must have a shopping cart.

Do you have a “email me for more information” button where there should be a “buy now” button? Why? If you missed it, here’s the link again for information about a totally free shopping cart.

If you are a one-person operation – no “operators are standing by” business – and you don’t have a shopping cart, consider these questions:

When was the last time you contacted a total stranger to make a purchase on their website because that is your only option to purchase? This is a stranger, not someone you have ever met before. Are you going to give them your credit card information so they can write it down?

When was the last time someone contacted you to purchase from you after visiting your website for the first time? I am not talking about repeat customers, here.  This is about the random visitors to your site who have never done business with you, never received an email from you, or met you before. Are they calling you?

So put another way, how many times so far this year has someone contacted you to buy something on your website? I will even widen the odds by adding in people who have bought from you before in your offline world at a retail store or art fair. Are they calling or emailing you from your website?

Be very honest – the year is almost over, so this is a good time to add it all up. If you are not making sales and don’t have a shopping cart, what can it hurt to invest some time (no money) and get at least your most popular items up for sale in a proper and secure online shopping environment?

You customers are just like you. We all want to shop online, find the thing we want, feel we have the facts we need, feel safe and smart, and press the buy now button. Then we mark our calendar for the arrival.

If we really, really, really fall in love with something and there is no shopping cart, we might call or email to make the purchase, but that is really, really, really rare. (Yes – really times three. Take that, grammar checker!)

However, it is NOT normal today. We can buy just about anything from Amazon with a quick one-click checkout on their phones. We are all trained now to hit the buy now button. We are in a hurry. And heaven forbid if we do actually call or email you and you don’t answer INSTANTLY. Right? We have moved onto the next shiny object.

Last thoughts:  You need your own website and you need your own shopping cart. Having an Etsy site might be working for some people. I would argue that it’s not very many people. But having complete control is a better long-term strategy. Not having your products for sale on a site that actively promotes hundreds of other vendors on YOUR page, is not being in control of you marketing.

There is a second UFO!

It’s just as damaging, but it is the opposite on too little information. I will bring that to life in my next posting. STAY TUNED!

Meanwhile, please add to this discussion in the comments below. What you you seen recently that made you “walk away” from an online purchase? Email me privately if you have concerns about your own site.  If you contact me using that link, I will give you some Free Advice. Just send along your website address and I will peek at it and give you some quick feedback.

And if you haven’t done so, please join my email list so you won’t miss the next in the UFO series!

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