Sell More Online by Ditching the ‘Red-Flags’ on Your Website

by Colette Mason on October 29, 2009

Man with an angry faceYou need to earn the trust of your prospects before you can turn them into customers

One of the great things about America is its belief that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, the web believes in just the opposite. Reports of rampant fraud, identity theft, phishing, spam mail and all sorts of scams have rendered many websites guilty in the minds of the users even if they have no previous experience of being duped by your site.

Consequently, users are wary of giving out information about themselves, especially their credit card data and telephone numbers. As a result, numerous sales are lost. I call this “buying resistance”. The web marketer has the difficult task of overcoming this resistance so that internet marketing can thrive in an atmosphere of trust and confidence.

Another un-American notion is that in order to succeed, one has to be the best. This springs from trying to imitate the champions in sports, business and other fields who espouse the idea of excellence. And while it is for a good cause, it doesn’t apply to websites. Regarding websites, the “best” isn’t necessarily the most successful.

In internet marketing, what matters is prevailing over buying resistance and compelling the user to convert and make a purchase. A website that does not have credibility killing red-flags has better chances of making a sale than those that do. A red-flag is something that raises the user’s suspicions and gives him reason to doubt the site’s credibility or the worthiness of the products and services.

Here are the most common red-flags you should avoid on your website. Having them does not mean you are not credible, but to the user, you may appear to be that way.

1. No Contact Information

Contact information includes your email address, phone numbers and physical address. Failing to divulge your contact information implies some degree of deceitfulness. So does having a PO Box as an address or email but no phone number. If you want your users to convert into customers, you must earn their trust by being reachable at all times. Have a look at the contact page on www.harrods.com. Harrods prides itself on being known as a premium store with exemplary customer service. Emulate their approach.

2. A Website that Looks and Feels Amateurish

For some reason, a business that is borne out of a hobby does not get as many customers as one that means real business. So if your website looks and feels homespun, it will give the impression that you are running your business from your garage. (If this is the case, you don’t have to shout it out as it will only hurt your conversion rate).

Multicoloured backgrounds, running dogs and whimsical logos make your site look playful and frivolous – certainly not good for business! Get a systematic and professional-looking website to exude credibility and quality. Small business owners can make use of www.templatemonster.com for attractive business template designs that cost less than $100. It is better to spend a little more for customized designs rather than using those free but common templates that are given out with web design software.

You can create a good quality free website by using WordPress. Google for free wordpress templates and be prepared to be amazed at the number of great choices out there.

3. Adding Personal Stuff Not Related to Your Business

Some people may think otherwise but this is my personal pet peeve: posting family snapshots or pictures of you and your dog. However much you love your family and your pets, a corporate website is not the place to show them off. It’s like telling all your visitors that you are a small company and you are not to be taken seriously. You can upload these photos to services like www.flickr.com. It’s not 1996 anymore, there are better places for your snaps.

It’s a great idea to have professional, friendly pictures of your staff on your site, particularly if you are appealing to local customers who will visit your premises, that’s fine. It shows the human side to your business. But leave it at that – no pictures of birthday parties please? :)

Another problem is combining distracting links to pages about your hobby, a charity you believe in and so on.

Keep that information entirely seperate. I can guarantee it is stopping you making sales. Why not start up a free blog on www.wordpress.com or www.blogger.com for this information instead?

4. Non-secure Connection

This is basic for transactions done through the internet. Business websites that do not guarantee security are always highly suspicious; do not commit the grievous sin of having a non-secure connection. To put your visitors at ease and make them comfortable enough to buy, show them that you have a secure connection by displaying the padlock-type graphic given by your security certificate issuer.

5. Shopping Cart Shock

If your website registers a high number of shopping cart abandonments, there may be obstacles to the purchasing process.

You may be asking for too much information which is not relevant to the transaction or the buying procedure may be done in the wrong sequence. These may seem insignificant to you, the site owner, but the customer may feel uncomfortable and just cut short the transaction and leave your site.

Also, if your check-out process is so obviously different from the main website, this could turn away customers. Make the check-out process look consistent with the website by full customization. Spending money for this service will pay off in increased conversion rates and revenues.

Knowing what red-flags are and why not having them on your website can improve your sales, increase conversion rates and make your business a success on the internet.

If you have some tips you’d like to share, why not post a comment. I’d really like to hear from you.

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