You lost me there (part one, website issues that lose you business)

Last week, I gave a presentation to the Florida Direct Marketing Association titled “50 direct marketing tips, tricks and tactics to make you a superstar.” I’m going to share those tips with you over the course of the next few weeks.

Part of that presentation dealt with improving Web marketing. Right up front, I’m asking you to contribute to this article by posting your comments below. If I miss something, please add it, OK, lets make this a collaborative effort.

As a side note, I’ve spent a lot of time lately looking at multichannel and other marketers’ Web sites, and have seen tremendous opportunities for companies to capture not just orders, but prospects as well.

Many e-commerce Web sites are good at taking orders, but not so good at capturing prospects.

Thus the goal of this series, which I’m calling “You Lost Me There,” is to help you get more of the people who visit your Web site to raise their hands and request to continue the dialogue with you. You want these people in your database, as they’ve expressed some level of interest in your products.

That said, here are three tips to optimize online sales:

  1. Why is your phone number not prominently displayed on your homepage and ALL pages of your site? Make it big. Make it stand out. And put it on pages in multiple places! Your prospects and customers don’t want to have to WORK to find you.
  2. If you say you don’t want the phone number to be easy to find because you don’t have the phone staff to handle the calls, think again. Even pure-play Internet companies need to coddle their prospects and customers in this day and age; otherwise they’ll shop elsewhere. Contract with a call center, even if it’s just to take messages and pass them on. There are call centers that even allow you to pay as you go by buying blocks of time. Essentially, adding a call center doesn’t have to be as costly as you think.
  3. For crying out loud, respond to customer e-mails. Same customer service issue, different methodology. If you want to drive people to interact with you via e-mail, make your e-mail contact info stand out. And respond in a reasonable amount of time. In the second week of my direct marketing class at Miami International University, I have my students conduct an experiment: Send an e-mail to a company and see how long it takes for it to respond. Guess what — fully one quarter of the e-mails don’t get responded to. Here’s a rule of thumb for you: Return every e-mail in less than four hours. Not only the same day — four hours.

Every call and e-mail is an opportunity. Start a dialogue, and get customers ordering.

Bottom line: Consumers don’t have the time to spend on your site figuring out how to contact you with their simple questions. They don’t want to search your FAQs or dig around for contact info. They want answers immediately; otherwise, they don’t care how good your products are, because they won’t order. Don’t lose business over this.

Check back next week for part two of this series, when I’ll give you some more tips on how to increase ROI with your Web site. In the meantime, post your comments below.

11 thoughts on “You lost me there (part one, website issues that lose you business)

  1. Steve Rowe says:

    Businesses that wish to have an on-line presence, and that should be read all businesses, now need to go two steps further than this. They should set up a google account and set up google reader to report on their company name, website, product and anything else that is relevant to their business. They should also do this with twitter. They should monitor these at least once per day and respond to any issues that they may encounter there, particularly anything negative. Even if you can not rectify a situation, usually, by at least responding to the person complaining and trying to rectify the situation you can earn back their trust and stop negative publicity quickly.

    This may seem like something other than related to the article here, but it all boils down to one thing. Customer Service. More people are more likely to walk away from you store or your site and complain to their friends than are likely to complain in person or on your site. The last thing a business needs these days is to have a bad reputation and not even know why.

  2. Jim Gilbert says:

    Excellent points Steve. You beat me to the punch in this series, but in other articles I discuss online reputation management and customer service in greater detail.


  3. Laura says:

    You make some great points, Jim.
    I do also agree with Steve however, in that there is much more to web marketing beyond just what’s on your own website.

    In order to effectively interact with your customers, you need to be able to talk with them. While having a great website is critical, if you can’t drive customers to your site, it doesn’t make a difference. In order to engage in these conversations, you need to be where your customers are talking. Blogs and social media sites are the easiest way to both engage with your customers on their own turf, as well as redirect more traffic back to your own website.

  4. jeffyaniga says:

    As always, compelling and provocative topic. Looking forward to reading the rest of “You Lost Me There”. Your posts always have me thinking about “the basics” and how the fundamentals have been left out of so many aspects of marketing today. For example:

    – Orders or prospects? It seems that some marketing outreach hasn’t clearly defined which they are looking for or both.

    – A clear call to action. The best marketers keep it very simple. Mr or Mrs Customer, if we have created interest, this is what we would like you to do. Call, write, buy.

    – The best companies answer, respond or provide once the customer calls, writes or buys.

    Great stuff. Thanks again for the thought provoking work.

  5. Cunneen says:

    How many of us wish we had our very own Obi-Wan Kenobi? Giving your audience your best makes them feel like youve got their backs. That feeling can be hard to come by. If you really care about your people, they know it.

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