Your website is like a bucket. The water that comes in to fill your bucket is your traffic. It may come from search, social, email and/or offline marketing. You want your website to retain visitors like a sturdy bucket retains water, and turn these into sales. However, 50% of websites out there are leaking buckets, according to research that shows half of all websites lose out on sales because of poor design. Have you been trying to fill your bucket with more water and never stopped to look at plugging the holes?
“$56.8 billion will be spent this year on generating website traffic, but only 2-3% of visitors will actually convert” – ZenithOptimedia
A proven formula
Did you know that Amazon, the biggest e-commerce player in the world, runs over 100 multivariate experiments on its website every month? By tweaking content, design, and layout elements consistently, Amazon works tirelessly to reach the perfect web page recipe that generates the maximum number of sales possible. In one experiment, the simple change of a banner layout created millions of dollars in additional revenue.
Over the next few months, I’ll be breaking down these strategies so you can use them on your own website. Each new strategy guide will be released a month after the last, so you have the time to action the recommendations and see how they work at plugging up the holes where your hard-won visitors leak away.
It’s easy to get lost in the crowd
Based on reports by Jupiter Research, the total number of people using the internet to shop will climb to 1.8 billion this year. Therefore, if you are not online in 2012, you will have lost the opportunity to do business with 25% of the world’s population. Naturally, with the number of users online growing, so will the number of businesses. So even if you’re already online, your customers are being given more and more choices to shop around, explore, compare, and eventually make a purchase from either you or your competitors. So what should you do to make sure your website is their preferred choice?
Standing out of the crowd with a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
A USP is a strong, clear statement which addresses your customer’s pains and/or desires, and explains exactly how your product/service will improve their lives. Therefore, your USP must always answer your customer’s most important question:
“Why should I buy from you?”
A guarantee is one of the most common, simple and effective USPs. For example: “We Guarantee You’ll Love It or Your Money Back”.
Having a guarantee USP will help your customers see your business in a more positive light, as it confers instant credibility and trust. Your customers will start thinking things like: “Wow, this company is so confident they are not afraid to offer a full refund. They must be good in what they do … I think I will buy from these guys!”
Examples of famous USPs
“When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight” – Fedex
“You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.” - Domino’s Pizza
“The ultimate driving machine” – BMW
“The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand” – M&Ms
Elements you could use in your USP
- New – Use this in your USP if your service one of a kind or the first such offering in your industry.
- Performance – If you know that your product outperforms all your competitors in terms of quality, share that information in your USP.
- Getting the job done right – This provides trust incentive to your customer that you will deliver on what you promised. A common example is: “Your food will be delivered within 30 minutes or it’s on us”.
- Price –If you can guarantee the lowest price to your price conscious market, share it. Free shipping is also an effective choice.
“Great Customer Service” is not a USP
Do not list “customer service” in your USP as this is not unique in any way. St George Bank uses customer service as a selling point, but it does not use the actual term “customer service”. One of St George’s banner ads reads:
“Rated the best call centre in the world – yes, the world.”
If you really do have the best customer service around, in what way can you use this to specifically differentiate your business? Communicate that instead.
The magical number 7 (plus or minus 2)
If you’ve ever watched a usability test, you will be astounded at how fast web users forget what they see. Try it yourself:
- Look at homepage of another website you have never seen before for five seconds
- Read this list again
- Close your eyes and recall what you saw in those five seconds
I would guess that you can’t remember very much from that experiment, maybe somewhere between 5 and 9 distinct elements of the web page? “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information” by George A. Miller, is a famous psychology paper that sheds some light on why. According to Miller’s research, the average human will remember up to 7 to elements on the page, plus or minus 2. If you can remember more than 9, congratulations, you are part of a very small percentile that has above average human cognition. However, if you’re like the rest of us, it’s likely you can only recall vague details such as:
- Button locations
- Certain keywords
- Location of content
The likelihood of you being able to recall a sentence word for word exactly is highly improbable (and if you can, you’ve probably forgotten everything else on the page). Therefore, you want your USP to stick in your customer’s memory. But keep in mind, your visitors will probably be too busy focusing on your business offerings from page to page. So your USP may not be something that is embedded permanently in their brains, but displaying it on every page of your website will help to at least keep it at the forefront – at least right until the final “Payment Confirmed” window.
If you display your USP on only certain pages, customers will start to mistrust your offer. They will start asking questions like:
- “Has the deal ended?”
- “Did I do something wrong?”
- “Am I sure I will get this free shipping they promised?”
- “How do I know if this still applies?”
How do I start writing a USP?
Start with the right mindset. It is far easier to write a compelling USP when your focus is not on making money, but on your passion for improving your customer’s lives.
How do you do this? Trust your market to tell you what they need and want in your industry. The most direct way of doing this is to contact a few current and former clients, and politely ask them for feedback. Most people are very open to sharing their thoughts if they believe it will benefit them.
For example, if you own an Emergency Plumbing company, you may learn that your customers have the following fears:
- Plumbers doing a poor job
- Plumbers not arriving at the promised time
- Calling and being left on hold
Once you have a list of these pain points, construct a phrase which directly addresses them. Based on the hypothetical feedback above, you could create the following USPs:
- 100% satisfaction guaranteed or your money back!
- Guaranteed to arrive on time or you pay half price
- If you’re left on hold for more than 60 seconds, we will give you $50
These promises are not hard to keep, as they are all given factors of running a good business. It’s simply a matter of addressing your customers’ most important concerns when they are making a purchasing decision.
If you would like more information on writing your USP, you may find watching this video from Commonwealth Bank to be helpful.
Of course, you can always leave a question for me in the comments and I will be happy to provide more detailed guidelines. I wish you good luck in improving the “leakiness” of your website – and getting more conversions!