Websites That Sell

For websites to ‘work’ they need to comply with some basic rules: the rules of human psychology and basic marketing. This seems simple enough but a lot of ‘webbie’ people live in the ‘virtual’ world and unfortunately, to make websites ‘work’, they need to step into the real world of generating profit. If you have a web design agency then there is a good chance your site could be doing much better.

At RWP for a website to ‘work’, we mean the website must sell – whether that is selling an idea, a conviction, a brand, a product or a service. Designers are not marketing experts; they don’t know how to sell.

The basic rules of marketing which are founded on human psychology do not change. Technology changes but the principles don’t. The web, email, Twitter and Facebook are all just a form of technology to communicate, inform, persuade or educate someone that originally you had to stand in front of. Different ways of communicating that are easier, cheaper or quicker are bound to appeal – but what most people fail to appreciate is that any new method of communication must still follow the basic rules.

What to do about it?

Let’s go back in time . . . When RWP first started building websites in 2000, new media companies sprung up selling the internet as the answer to everything : all you had to do was build a site and sit back and wait for the profit to appear. Obviously this did not work and, unbelievable as it may seem, millions of people lost millions of pounds by investing in internet businesses that had no idea how to make a profit. It is a sad fact that, even today, most websites are never visited by anyone – ever.

Now let’s look at something that has been around for millennia: the road side food stall or the slightly more modern shop. Let’s look at what really matters.

  1. What are the three most important aspects to consider when you start your road side stall? Location, location, location – or as we say these days ‘traffic’. Have you built your website with traffic in mind? Sure you could be on some minor B road but you would have to put signs up everywhere and shout all day long – you would lose your voice and your business. ‘Build it and they will come’ is not marketing. ‘Find out what they are searching for and delight the client’ – that is marketing. 
  2. Give the people what they want. Have you have asked your customers what they really want from your website? Because that is surely who the site is aimed at. Thinking of the road side stall – if you found the right road and people walked passed all day long but you didn’t sell any produce, surely you would soon change your stock? This is why ‘content is king’. If your offering is good enough it is possible to spend less on location. 
  3. Lure customers in with offers, give free advice or anything that will involve people giving you their name and email address in exchange for something of value. At my road side stall I would be shouting “3 for a £1, 3 for a £1” or giving away free samples or tastings: anything to get an interaction or a relationship started. Online or in person, very few people will buy straight away.  
  4. Make browsers (shoppers) welcome. ‘Retail is in the detail’ they say so you need to make sure everything on your website works; works not just for designers or techies, but for your mum or grandmother. A recent report by ‘Creative Good’ found that 68% of attempts to buy something on the internet failed. From my road side stall, I don’t want to take my cart home full of produce.  
  5. Signpost things clearly. You will find an amazing number of sites where nobody tells you what to do, where to click, where to go, what will happen next and what the benefits actually are. It is imperative to label the produce and display it beautifully. 
  6. Sell. How many sites have an ‘about us’ but not an ‘about you’? Many sites don’t contain any benefits. And very few sell after the product has been selected. A basic direct marketing principle: add more. “Would you like some vegetables with your fruit, sir?” 
  7. Keep in touch. Communicate more. The more you tell, the more you sell. Everyone who visits your website must have had an initial interest. An ongoing conversation will usually mop up the thousands of pounds left on the table. That’s why we remember your name and offer the free samples.

All very basic, straightforward and obvious points – but how many of these features are incorporated into your current site? It could be time for a RWP rebuild, to find out more please…

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