Business online success
Business success doesn’t change online
Since the development of the internet considerably more businesses are conducting business online and like all new developments in life it can be many years before the realities of benefits and liabilities are realised.
Both my partner and I have been entrepreneurs now for fifteen years and we had some fabulously lucrative ventures and some serious learning curves which have been financially cripelling. We have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of entrepreneurs involved in startup and running a business which has given us some very valuable insights.
The most shocking breakthrough was looking at some of our own websites and suddenly realising it was not even clear what we were doing for visitors… it was a miracle some of our sites were selling any products at all! We were busy making sure the payment processes were secure but the overall message still totally vague.
The tools change but people don’t!
Although a business is operating online the fundamental buying motivations and needs of customers are still the same. What has changed though is that people have less time and they can jump from one webpage to another with the click of a button. A fundamental change in perspective can trouble-shoot your online business and reveal a few moves that can address the site’s inadequacies and activate a flow of new sales long into the future. See the solution in what you have already.
Take the test, stop throwing away time and money
If you have a business online then the most successful perspective I encourage you to adopt is to start seeing your business as a high street shop.
- Open up a browser of your website and imagine yourself as a prospective customer.
- As I have demonstrated in the picture below. Observe only what you can see onscreen without scrolling or clicking anywhere. Now, whilst sitting looking at the online page imagine this picture embedded into a bricked building on the high street.
- Keeping your eye on the webpage and imagining it is a shop you are standing in front of, ask yourself these questions:
Can I immediately see what this shop is selling?
Conveying the message of your product is very important, you have seconds to establish this. Here are some examples:-
- Look great, feel great with intelligent nutrition
- Access your genius through meditation
- Recover your joy through healing
Is the shop attractive and inviting?
Would you go in or is it boring and distracting? This is a very important point to focus on, the reason being that when you are walking along the high street you have the benefit of a third and fourth dimensional aspect of a shop in that you can:
1. Look through the window and see what they are also selling apart from what’s in the front window;
2. You can get a feel inside of the atmosphere by seeing how many people are in there, the attitude of the shop assistant, the quality of the shop etc.
With an online shop/webpage you are basing your purchasing decision on that space you first click on and the window of focus is usually a maximum of 10 seconds. With regard to shops on the high street people will stay longer because the physical effort they imagine in going somewhere else motivates them to ponder a little longer but not when it is so easy to just click the mouse and go somewhere else.
Can I see how to buy easily?
Have you actually tested your buying process to see how easy and obvious it is? Have you sat beside someone and watched them surf around for something they are looking for… and watched them go through the payment process? This is one of the most effective things you can do. You must not help them… however as you see them struggle, hesitate or hear them talking to themselves, simply ask “What are you thinking about right now?” Make a note of what they say. You need to know what is holding them up or what is not clear. That time they are using to think or figure out where to go must be cut out!
Can I see the business owner?
In other words is the contact page in an obvious place on the menu bar of the bottom of the page and do I have a name? If your shop is a book store, is it selling books or selling everything else. (Remember how attractive a book store looks on the high street; it is usually oozing books in the window and not adverts for other shop owners products or full of DVDs, movies etc.).
Have you identified and climbed into the hearts and minds of your prospective customer to know their needs, values and attitudes?
- If your market is predominantly men do you have a ‘search’ button. The search button is effectively a ‘Shop Assistant’ and men generally want to go straight to the product as fast as possible, pay and get out.
- If your market is predominantly women do you observe whether your site/promotional material is colourful, vibrant and allows them to ‘shop around’ looking at/reading things. Women have more patience and will still walk miles back to the first shop they went in if it has what they want. If your shop satisfies their needs they will come back to you.
- You want to help Joe Average become a millionnaire. You already know that:
- He will probably have low self-esteem; it is fair to say that putting up videos of a perfect image of you in an Armani suit and sparkling white teeth won’t make a connection with him. You must also instantly let him know that you know how to cry, be scared, be overweight, out of control, in debt etc., otherwise he will not see himself in the situation you are selling.
- The front page must provide a connection with him in a way that Joe can see himself benefiting from your product/service.
- He will have to make changes in his life and so you do not need to take care of every detail for him. If you have a simple request for his name and email and he doesn’t want to go there then he is saying that he is not serious so no need to try to make it easier for him (great intention but you cannot compensate for the part the customer has to play). Keep in mind whether you are helping the customer – don’t try to sell him anything just because you can make a sale. John may then remember your product as something he wasted money on and then will not promote if he someone else sound interested.
- Start by defining your product and the process clearly
- Make sure you do the exercise above with your website(s) and see where you can make simple adjustments to address any points I raised earlier.
- Don’t give control to webbuilders or designers in that they will only be as effective as your brief. Furthermore, many webdesigners/builders can be employees and don’t know the true value of your invested money. When undertaking web services make sure those assisting you dig into who you are, your values, your mission, your market, your intended goals etc. If they are not provoking you with questions it means they are not thinking about what is most effective for you!
So many business owners whom I have have helped with mockups have no idea what they want at the onset but are happy to tell you what they don’t want once you spend days building something. Everyone’s time is wasted.
- Before investing in business online or undertaking more projects stop and think. It is time to slow down, get clear and shut out the distraction and insane amount of information from your world. Simply climb into the shoes of the customer and see your webpage from their perspective. Test your site with people around you who you know to be prospective customers but don’t ask people’s opinion because they will always have one and it will probably contradict yours every time!
- You are the genius in your business, you can get all kinds of help (in fact you are wise to source out any skills you are not good at) but if you are not clear about what precisely you want to achieve and are not in control of making sure what you invest in can produce the results you hoped for you will be disappointed, disillusioned and exhausted.
As much of business is now conducted online we have generally lost touch with the essential ingredients of the buying and selling process; in focusing on statistics we have lost sight of the core human aspect of a shopper.
As many new business owners have started up online the conversion from visitors to customers has stayed relatively unsuccessful causing them to look at all manner of solutions that actually could be solved by looking at the site as a human and not basing all the decisions on hearsay, statistics and what other people are doing. This is not to discredit the wealth of wonderful business helpers out there but to make sure as a business owner you are thinking about what you are doing more carefully BEFORE you make moves so you choose the most effective solutions when you invest.
Always keep in mind that a business is a mirror of the thoughts and feelings of the owner so take a look at your mission, values, passions and real goals before making any moves.
Everything on the outside is a mirror of what is happening on the inside but often we don’t know what is happening. The same with a business. A customer will only hand you money when you are focusing on their needs, make sure you step into their shoes and forget what you know about your business!