In this last post of the series I'll cover trust factors, creating urgency and sealing the deal.
13) Prove it
Social proof is your most powerful persuasion tactic. If you've made claims about your product or service, here's how you back them up. Your readers will naturally consider what you say to be biased, so you'll need outside help to bridge the credibility gap.
Inserting an excerpt, graph, infographic or video from a recognized industry authority can validate some of your statements. But, killer testimonials are hands-down your best tool for encouraging prospective customers to choose you. Most testimonials on the web are dreadful, so this is a place for you to really shine.
Never make up testimonials. Ethical issues aside, your readers are way too smart for that. Signing a testimonial with first names “Jim” or “Mary”, without any link for verification, makes the testimonial message highly suspect. Including these diluted, anonymous endorsements can actually be a negative. Anyone genuinely vouching for you will have little or no objection to having their full name associated with their words.
A quality testimonial will discuss the way your product or service solved a problem, saved time, made them money, improved their life in some other way or elevated their status. It will include a first and last real name, company name (where applicable), website URL and/or social media ID. Very few people will ever take the time to confirm a testimonial's authenticity, but endorsements without the provision for verification are generally considered fabricated.
The best time for obtaining a testimonial is right after you've made a purchaser very happy. Send them an email asking, “How did we do?” Hint: lead their response with loaded questions that pertain to one of the leading objections you encounter, and how you met or exceeded expectations. Here are a few examples. “How did you feel about our price before making your purchase, and do you now feel you've received excellent value?” “Were we fast?” “Did our support team solve your problem and live up to your expectations?”
Third-party testimonials also work well. An example: “Since joining XYZ Fitness my wife has lost the 25 pounds she wanted to drop, but I've also noticed she radiates a confidence I haven't seen in quite a few years. She's a new person. Last week she was promoted to head of her department.” There are times when it's easier to acquire a third-party endorsement, so keep your eyes open for these opportunities.
If your site has a case studies section, you can insert excerpts in your sales copy, with a link to the full page. (Be sure to have links open as a new page, so your reader won't lose their place in your sales letter.)
Sprinkle your copy with social proof as it relates to the copy immediately above, clearly distinguishable from the copy by insetting it in quotes or inside a pale colored box.
In addition to social proof, you'll want your page to include any other trust elements that apply: trade associations, official Better Business Bureau rating, PayPal Verified, TRUSTe, VeriSign Secured, GeoTrust, 100% Money Back Guarantee and other badges. Again, you'll want to link all badges to web pages that verify their authenticity.
14) Why should they take action today?
In part 1 I mentioned the squeeze page offers, where the site will be taken down in only, say “2 days, 12 hours, 7 minutes and 41 seconds,” and counting. They generally market a course or ebook, sold on the business model of the traveling snake oil salesmen of the early west. If customers didn't buy the magic elixir that day, the offer was literally riding out of town the next morning.
This series of articles is written primarily for small businesses, and you are hopefully planning to make not only the one sale, but cultivate repeat business and referrals. As an incentive, “Buy today, before we take the site down and vanish forever,” is too drastic, and it sends entirely the wrong message when building your customer base.
Fortunately, there are several ways to provide an incentive to buy today, without going to the dark side with a fly by night angle.
There are several seasonal opportunities that can be utilized as a legitimate reason to provide a reduced price for a very limited time period. Many of my clients have pointed out that holiday seasons almost run into each other throughout the year, so there could technically always be a discount offer. I disagree with that premise. Often your prospective customers will stop by a site a few times before making a purchase, subscribing to a list or taking some other desired action. Your incentive to “buy now” will lose all credibility if there's always a sale. It also suggests your product or service isn't really worth the “regular” price.
During the periods of the year when there is no seasonal discount offer, various free upgrades provide an attractive incentive for people that see the value of your product or service and would love the inclusions at no additional charge.
To structure the value-added offer correctly, you must build sufficient value in your sales copy for the primary product or service, which is sold at full price. You then also sell them on the value added benefit, preferably with one or two testimonials that support the benefits of these add-ons.
An example of a free upgrade offer might be a printer. If purchased today, the customer receives an extra set of ink cartridges and five packages of paper, shipped one per month. The brilliance of an offer like this is that it gets the customer used to receiving supplies from the same company the printer was purchased from. Another example would be a software purchase that benefits from a subscription add-on. Giving away a six month free subscription as a ‘closer' lets the customer become used to the extra features. When the free subscription expires most will renew with a paid subscription. Now, isn't this better than discounting your margins away?
15) Don't forget to ask them to buy
You've put a lot into writing your copy. This is no time to be shy. It's time to make it super simple to “Buy Now.”
I used to be a sales manager for a direct marketing company. One of the biggest challenges I had was getting our sales team to risk all those warm fuzzy feelings they had just built with the prospect to go in for the close. I had to remind them that if they made the sale, they would see that customer again when the product was delivered, and probably meet their friends through referral. But if they failed to ask for the order, they would be forgotten within a week. That's the reality of marketing. You enjoy the relationships you build only if you “sell” them something.
Unless you're selling a shitty product or service (in which case you seriously need to rethink your offering), you owe it to your prospective customer to ask for that order… repeatedly if necessary.
16) Offer a great user experience (UX)
Many online retailers and service providers are receiving more than 50% of their new customers from mobile devices this year. If your bounce rate is above 5%, one of the reasons customers may be leaving your website is because your site is difficult to view and use on tablets and smart phones.
Web pages may render on a mobile device so website owners believe they are “mobile friendly.” But, if your website requires zooming in and out, or scrolling from side to side, to do anything, it's NOT mobile friendly or responsive. The user experience is horrible and it is almost certainly costing you money. Google best practices now recommends websites be responsive.
17) Rinse and repeat
Track your results. During the holiday season, you should be studying your analytics data daily. Retain all versions of your sales copy and file them with the results. This will enable you to identify what has worked, tweak what did not and restore previous versions as required.
I welcome your comments and any questions you may have. Do you have a story to add, where you've had success with one of the techniques described in this series?
Do you know if your website is responsive? If you would like me to check over your website and provide some recommendations, you might consider a 20 minute free coaching call.