E-Psychology: Increasing Your Sales On-Line

As any successful entrepreneur knows, there's more to generating on-line sales than owning a web site. To produce sales, your web presence must be effective, easy to navigate, and properly marketed ? all of which require a well-rounded understanding of your target client.

But how do we get inside the collective mind of our market? The key is psychology ? in this case, e-psychology ? or the science of understanding how consumers shop on-line. Understanding how consumers make the purchase decisions on-line will allow you to develop web site content that appeals to the maximum number of prospective clients.

World Wide Psychoanalysis

Internet advertising isn't the same as print advertising. Web surfers tend to read less on-line, instead using visuals such as photos, animation, and colorful graphics to gather information. From a development standpoint, this places an emphasis on site navigation and overall layout.

The motivations behind on-line purchase decisions differ from those generated by more familiar mediums. To achieve success, your on-line sales strategy must embrace these differences.

Let's begin by glancing at the web sites of your biggest competitors by sales volume. Chances are, the primary content is designed to accomplish three goals:

* Generate interest, usually by eliciting or identifying a need

* Convey the unique value of their specific product or service, and

* Promote a transaction.

To produce sales on-line, your web site must do more than serve as an information resource about your company. Your site must ask for the business. Each page of the web presence should lead to an action step promoting a sale or contact request.

On- or off-line, asking for the business is the only way to achieve any greater result than educating prospective clients about your industry and product or service.

Writing For The Web

The foundation of any purchase decision is the desire for a product or service, usually based on a pre-existing need or want. Selection of a specific product or service provider begins when a consumer identifies a company that offers a value most compatible with the consumer's perception of value.

Start by writing your web site's content to elicit the general value the product or service provides. Introduce solutions generated by having the product or service, based on the typical ultimate desires of the target market. For example, the benefits of developing a web site for a small business may include increased sales, expanded credibility, and a 24/7 on-line purchase option.

Next, build on this general foundation by introducing the features, benefits and value of your own company. Remember that surfers tend to do less reading on-line, so you'll need to accomplish a great deal in each line of text. Each sentence must:

* Convey the tangible and intangible value of your product or service

* Include key terms and phrases effectively describing your industry and products/services

* Promote prospect-to-client conversion

* "Hook" the surfer, encouraging further reading

Use plenty of bulleted lists to highlight information at a glance, making sure to limit the number of words used in each bullet. Regardless the space available or font size used, each highlight should not exceed one line of text.

Paragraphed text such as sales copy or product descriptions should be kept simplistic, yet appealing to the physical senses. How will your product or service enhance the individual's life? What are the most common benefits of your version that existing clients do not recognize until after purchasing the product or service?

Keep Your Prospects Focused

One of the primary reasons prospective clients do not proceed with a purchase is their own inner dialogue. Typically, consumers will continually try to talk themselves out of a purchase, until absolutely certain it is the best choice for their need. When the positive elements of an opportunity outweigh the negative feedback generated by inner dialogue, a purchase will result.

Therefore, it is important to keep your prospective clients focused on the features, benefits and value of your company through effective site content. If you are serious about developing a business that will control a measurable amount of market share, your products or services will reflect Unique Selling Points (USP) upon which your entire sales strategy will be founded. Integrating your USP into all aspects of your web presence will help to build and maintain a cohesive, positive focus on your products or services.

Closing the On-line Sale

A client isn't a client until after a purchase is completed. Bringing your prospect to the point of purchase isn't enough; a smooth, effective closing process is required to maximize the potential for on-line sales success.

An effective closing process must reassure the prospective client's decision to make a purchase before, during, and after a transaction. This can be achieved by:

* Offering visible customer support options throughout the purchase

* Employing a user-friendly shopping cart and multiple on-line payment methods

* Clearly explaining each step of the purchase process

* Providing immediate transaction confirmation by e-mail, telephone, or your web site

Each step of the sales process is an opportunity to develop trust between your company and a prospective client. Developing long-term relations remains the best way to build a faithful, strong client base that will remain loyal to your business.

The infinite potential for your success is dependant only on the satisfaction of your most recent client.

Jim D. Ray is a seasoned web developer and president of Web Presence, a national web design firm serving the small business market sector. To learn more, or for a free quote for your own web site, visit the Web Presence at http://www.web-presence.net.

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