Selling online is tough. When you’re not in a direct, real-time conversation with the person you’re selling to, you can’t really pick up on the subtle signals that would normally steer your approach.
What you need in an ideal world is something to pick up brainwaves at a distance. Until then, the best you can do is take some time to consider what your customers might be thinking, what they might want to hear from you and what they wish you knew about them.
Here are 5 simple things to remember if you want your online customers to feel like you understand them:
1. Keep checkout and enquiry simple
There is a balance to be found here. Obviously you want to up-sell and cross-sell and you want to collect data that not only makes your marketing easier but benefits the customer through the personalised messages you can send them thereafter. Equally, you don’t want to bore the pants off them or throw so many obstacles in the way of entering card details that they either give up or swear never to return.
The buying decision for the average online customer is an arduous journey; and more so than ever before. The increased choice and convenient access to thousands of relevant product reviews only serve to add more confusion to the process. Once a customer has made a decision to buy your product or service, don’t get in their way.
2. Actions speak louder than words
It’s funny—website owners spend hours and hours tweaking sales copy and web content so that it says just the right thing in just the right way, but then forget to actually act on all the promises they make.
Be realistic, be transparent and always try to put your money where your mouth is. Your website visitors don’t want to hear about how much you see them as a ‘valued customer’; they just want to feel valued. Make that happen by going beyond empty words; for example by offering exclusive promotions and customising experiences with names and other personal information.
3. Safety ain’t a joke
Want to know why most eCommerce shopping carts get abandoned? Two reasons; mistrust and insecurity.
At least that’s what most research you’ll find online boils down to. In general, it’s things like a shoddy checkout page—or even worse hidden costs that get added half-way through the process—that cause people to run a mile. While the precise emotional driver may vary, ultimately it is the feeling that the company or brand behind the website is not trustworthy that triggers the fight or flight response… either because the sales tactics have been underhanded or because, on a more practical level, the website itself doesn’t seem secure enough for card details to be entered.
4. Your best salespeople are your customers
Like it or not, you’re up against a lot of competition online. Even if you sell a solution to a problem that nobody else can solve, you can bet your bottom dollar there’ll be a ton of people competing for your target audience’s attention; if only to share anecdotes and ‘old wives tales’.
Rather than ploughing time and resource into an up-hill SEO battle against giant websites with user-generated content, try to convince those users who create content on those sites to get on your side. Like a true guru you shouldn’t fight the system, but rather use it to your advantage.
Setting customer expectations at the outset, even if that means taking ownership of your short-comings, is the best way to ensure customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers then go on to populate other websites with positive reviews and glowing recommendations. Such is the cycle of modern digital marketing.
You can learn more about this process in depth in our article on the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).
5. Shut up and listen
Your customers want to tell you what they want. More accurately, they are desperately trying to tell you what they want. All you have to do is listen.
It sounds obvious and I’m sure you’re doing it over the phone and anywhere else that you’re in dialogue with individuals; but it is often overlooked online… the computer screen you spend all day staring at doesn’t generally make for engaging conversation!
The opportunity online relies on the volume of people using web tools. Where better to collect market research than where the majority of your market share a common channel (your website)? Even better is the ability to overhear (i.e. snoop) what people are saying about you on social media. By collecting this evidence you can find out what your customers really want.
In that sense, perhaps reading the customer’s mind isn’t such an impossible feat after all.