If it weren’t copyrighted we might title this article “Chicken Soup for the Online Marketer’s Soul.” I know it’s a bit cheesy. But this is practical, nourishing stuff, from an online money-making perspective. The article is all about giving you some rapid-fire bits of wisdom that will increase the performance of your website right away.
1. Always use a powerful, benefit-oriented headline. Every page on your site including your home page, individual landing pages, and even blog posts need a headline. Contrary to popular belief the name of your company is not a headline. Your headline should communicate, in a very powerful and believable terms, a strong benefit that you can deliver that will be of interest to your prospects.
2. Don’t talk too much about yourself. Nobody like the “self-absorbed” person and no one will pay attention to a “self-absorbed” website. Each page should be about the client, his problems, desires, and needs and how your product or service meets those needs. You should only talk about your company in terms of how it relates to your customer.
3. Don’t get too technical. Watch out for too much jargon. It’s usually better to err on the side of simple explanations. Don’t assume too much. Confused prospects don’t buy.
4. Write your copy like you are talking to one prospect – not a big group. Some ad writers make the mistake of writing their web copy like they are addressing a large crowd. “some of you out there today may be thinking…..” No. It should be “You may be thinking that the economy is headed for the toilet. Let me show you how you can still prosper.” Write your web copy as though you were having a nice sit-down conversation with your ideal prospect.
5. Always give your prospect a “next step” offer. Every page should have an objective. The objective should be convincing your prospect to take the next step in the buying process. That next step may be making a purchase, it may be a face-to-face appointment, it may be signing up for a trial offer, or taking part in a special sale or event. Always be pulling visitors deeper into your sales process.
6. Sell the most compelling benefit. Most products and services have a host of benefits attached to them. You should zero in on the most powerful and most compelling one. Spend most of your time here. Mention some of the other benefits of the cherries on top, but spend the majority of your time and effort on the most desirable benefits.
7. Don’t focus on features. Features tell, benefits sell. A feature is what a product or service is or has. The benefit is what it will do for your prospect. If you stop at features you’ll be stopping short of tipping the scales in favor of the prospect making the purchase. Yes, always mention features (especially if you are selling a physical product), but take it one step further – drive home the benefit.
8. Think like your prospect. What keeps your prospect awake at night? What are their secret wants and desires? What do they want most when buying whatever it is you sell? What will it take to convince your prospect? You have to first think like your prospect before you can effectively persuade them.
9. Speak your customer’s language. Every group has its own language. Every industry, every religious group, every club or organization has its own language. When you learn to speak the “language” of your prospect, you become one of them and they will relate to you more, and buy from you more.
10. Use short words versus long words. USA Today’s website is written at a 6th grade reading level. Don’t make your landing page or home page read like a term paper – make the words short and easy to read. Don’t use two words when one will do the job and don’t use a long word when a short word will do the job.
11. Use short telegraphic sentences. Keep sentences short. Punchy. Your sentences should be telegraphic. They should each ring with clarity. Your reader should be able to fly through your landing page without getting hung up trying to decipher what you are trying to say. One or two “bumps” in the road on your site and your visitor will be gone.
12. Focus on what your customer wants – not what you want. Remember prospects spend 95% of their time (or more) thinking about themselves; their interests, their needs, and their wants. Join them in talking about what they are interested in and you will win them over quickly. Customers don’t care what you want unless it will help them get what they want.
13. Have a passion for your product and for your customer. Nothing sells like passion. That’s why the brand new sales guy loaded with enthusiasm can sometimes outsell the veteran even though the veteran has more knowledge and experience. Become passionate about your product and what it does for people (even if your product is a seemingly unsexy). If you aren’t excited about your product, your customer won’t be either.
14. Show, don’t tell. Remember don’t just tell your prospect about your product or service. Paint a picture in their mind of how their life will be better after using the product. Give examples, use analogies, make your pages vivid and alive. Allow you prospect to get a 3D picture of what they will experience after doing business with you. Videos, images, and case studies do a great job of “showing” your products benefits.
15. Prove every claim that you make. If you say you are the best – back it up. If you say you offer superior service give an example. If you make a claim and then fail to offer some proof to affirm it, then people will discount what you are saying. What do I mean by proof? Well I’m not talking about a stack of evidence like they use in courtrooms, but you do need enough evidence for a customer to say, “OK, these guys probably really are good.” What could you use for proof? Awards, expert endorsements, charts and graphs, facts and figures, testimonials, analogies, product demonstrations and more.
16. Use Testimonials (or Product Reviews). Regardless of the industry you are in or the product you sell, you will undoubtedly benefit from the correct usage of testimonials. Your testimonials should serve to re-enforce and validate the claims you make in your sales copy. Here’s a caveat though; bland testimonials are worthless. You want your testimonials to actually say something of substance. The old, “XYZ staff is polite,” just doesn’t carry much weight. You want something like, “I always go to XYZ. I’ve tried dozens of other options and they are hands-down the best I’ve ever tried, anywhere and at any price.” Make the best use of testimonials in your sales copy and in your videos on your site. Good testimonials are marketing gold.
17. Know your customer. Knowing your competition is important but knowing your customer is infinitely more important. You must have an intimate knowledge of your customers (especially in relationship to whatever it is you sell). You can get a serious leg-up on the competition just be relating to and communicating better to your customers and prospects.
18. Make your aim selling, not impressing. Your goal for every page on your site should be to move a prospect to buy or to take the next step in the buying process. I remember suggesting a very strong marketing idea to a client of mine a few years ago and he responded, “I don’t know what my colleagues will think.” The answer should be “who cares!” As long as what you are doing is legal, ethical, and moral, then what the prospect thinks is all that matter. Leave the impressing of your golf buddies, or colleagues to someone else. You focus on impressing your banker with all the cash you are making.
19. Show some personality. Use personality in your ads. It’s been proven that people relate better to other people than they do with organizations and institutions. That’s why the Lee Iacocca Chrysler ads long ago were so effective, and that’s why the Gary Vaynerchuk and his Wine Library TV make such an impact. People don’t want to do business with a lifeless corporation – they want to do business with other people.
20. Drive home your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). After someone is exposed to your ads and marketing pieces even just a handful of times, they should be able to summarize what makes you unique (your USP). If you often hear people who have been exposed to your marketing ask the question, “what do you do again?” you know you’re USP isn’t being presented clearly enough.
21. Be specific. Specifics are believable and powerful. Generalities are weak and are usually dismissed without much thought. If I tell you I can save you money – you may or may not believe me or get excited. If I tell you that I can help the average customer save over $500 every year – then I might get your attention. Certainly there are other things to keep in mind as you add conversion power to your website. But, if you keep these things in mind you should see a healthy increase in response and conversion from your site.