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Persuasion and clutter are the enemies of conversion

Persuasion and clutter are the enemies of conversion

Facts.  Cold hard facts.  Delivering on waffle free promises is what drives successful online marketing.  No persuasion or manipulation.  No marketing speak.  Not even any exaggeration.  Your customers are on your website because they are smart and want to be smarter.  Treat them as you like to be treated.

Online, clarity trumps persuasion every time.

Tiddlywinks marketing is a waste of time when your customers are online to play Ultimate Fight Club.  This ruthless, cynical, ripped–off–once–too–often tribe of bargain hunters have questions they want answered and objections they need overcome before they’ll even think of doing business with you.

All they ask for is clarity.  Concise, unexaggerated, clear facts.

Don’t even think of welcoming them to your website (they don’t care), telling them about your corporate history (it’s not your mother visiting your site, to see what a success you’ve made of yourself), patronising them with well known statements about your industry (we all know how hard it can be to get widgets at a good price, that’s why we at WidgetCo can…), exaggerating the truth (do you honestly think they won’t search for customer testimonials or third party reviews) or speaking vaguely to them, they’ll destroy the sales opportunity before you say another word.

They’re not interested.  Get that?  N O T   I N T E R E S T E D  ! ! !

Check out the top guidelines for overcoming objections within an e–commerce website.  Make the number of steps in checkout process obvious.  Add a progress indicator.  Provide links back to all products.  Add pictures to the baskets.  Be up front about P&P costs.  Show stock availability and delivery times.  Make the next step obvious.  Build for the new customer.  Make it easy to edit the cart.  Display helpful error messages.  Provide meaningful company information.  Enable the user to call you, at your cost.  Focus on the new customer.  Add third party testimonials.  Deal with pricing issues head on.  Offer lots of payment options.  Provide point of objection reassurance.  Trace mistakes.  Save the user’s cart for the next visit.  Survey, talk and listen.

What do all those instructions have in common?  They’re boring and self–evident.

Before you immediately dismiss them therefore as stating the obvious, ponder why so many websites ignore these principles, focussing instead on the less noble disciplines of waffle and marketing promises.

The June 2010 Web Analytic Clinic carried out by the good people of Marketing Experiments suggests that your web pages must within three seconds (yes, three seconds) answer the questions “where am I”, “what can I do / buy / get here” and “why should I participate / buy?”  Within this context you need to be very careful how you spend your customer’s attention span.  Don’t squander it.

If you catch yourself doing one of the following three things you’re doomed.  Trying to answer the “why” before the “what”, presenting a solution before the problem is clear or using presumed authority (boasting) instead of credibility (testimonials and objective commentary).

Your website should mimic the clarity of a newspaper headline, not the subtlety of a murder mystery novel.  Tell them it was Rev Green, in the study, with a crowbar on the first page.

By Gareth Dunlop

Gareth formed Fathom in 2011 and has been in the business of design performance for over two decades.

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