Here’s a lesson from the e-commerce world that applies to a lot of small businesses with websites.
According to a Marketing Sherpa article published 12/23/09, “Any time a visitor leaves your ecommerce site to research a product, your odds of converting them decline.”
Pretty obvious, right? Let’s say you’re looking for a particular sleeping bag. You find one at the right price, but then you need to be sure it’s really the right kind of bag. So you go off to research what sleeping bags are best in particular conditions, and along the way you either a) get distracted and leave the computer, never to return or b) find a different sleeping bag from a different retailer based on an advertisement or link on one of the pages you find while researching.
So let’s translate this to the non-ecommerce world.
(Because, actually, every small business website is an e-commerce website. You may not have a shopping cart set up, but the purpose of your website is to get people to make a transaction with you.)
What information do people need to complete a transaction with you? Are you providing it?
Maybe you run a boat chartering service. Obviously some of your prospects will be comparing your service to the services provided by your competitors. You can’t stop this. And you probably don’t want to spend valuable space on your site describing your competitors’ offerings.
But there will definitely be unanswered questions in your prospects’ minds. And they might look elsewhere to find them.
Say I’m planning a vacation on Orcas Island for late July. I’ve found the site of a charter company that will take my family out for a dinner cruise. The site has plenty of information about what the cruise itself is like. I’m sold on it.
But just as I reach for the phone, I start wondering…
What’s the weather usually like in late July? How cold will it be on the water? What are the chances that it will rain?
If the site answers my questions, great. But if it doesn’t, I’ll look elsewhere.
If I type “july weather on orcas island” into Google, the top result is actually a website that tries to convince me that I will lose precious vacation days if I try to go to Orcas Island, suggesting instead that I stay in Anacortes and choose from several activities it presents: sea kayaking, fishing charters, etc.
There’s a real chance you can lose a prospect if they have to look elsewhere for information.
How do you fix this?
Two ways. One is to sit down and think HARD about what might be going through your prospects’ minds as they decide whether or not to pick up the phone and book a cruise with you (or whatever it is in your business). Then address these concerns on your site.
The second is to give people a very clear way to ask you a question, right on your website. At the least this should be an email address you check regularly. Better if it’s some kind of form that doesn’t make people leave your site to ask the question. You could even invite people to text their question to your cell phone.
Then add any significant questions to your site’s FAQ or to the section where you address people’s concerns.
Try it and let me know how it goes. Have a question about this idea? Put it in the comments. Or send me a text message at 360-298-2869…