3 Secrets to a Site that Sells Put these tips in place to turn browsers into buyers.

By Derek Gehl

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

So, you've got your site up. Now what? You need to drive traffic, grow your opt-in list, make sales and work on your SEO. The list seems endless.

Step back for a minute and realize it's not possible to do everything at once. Once you've built your website, the first thing you should do is make your sales process watertight.

There's no point spending a ton of cash on pay-per-click ads to drive targeted traffic to your site if none of those visitors buys anything.

Follow this three-point sales action plan before you spend a bundle on attracting visitors.

1. Get your sales copy in top shape
You've got less than five seconds to persuade people to stay on your website, so your headline has to grab them and compel them to read on. The best headlines tell visitors they've found exactly what they're searching for and make them curious enough to keep reading.

But don't let your readers slip through your fingers once you've grabbed their attention with a hot headline.

Sales copy is what turns visitors into customers. So make sure it guides people through a streamlined process that:

  • Identifies with their problem and builds your credibility
  • Engages them--and explains why you can help
  • Tells them how they'll benefit from your product
  • Overcomes any objections they may have
  • Compels them to take action--and tells them exactly what to do

Good sales copy funnels your readers through a tight sales process and doesn't give them a reason to click away. Take a look at your own and see if all the elements are in place, and if not, give it more of the attention it deserves. (Here's a more detailed article on sales copy.)

2. Collect testimonials
What's more trustworthy than a personal recommendation? A good testimonial can persuade even the most skeptical potential customer to buy from you.

Testimonials prove that your product really works--that it does exactly what you promise. And if you run a small business and haven't built your reputation, testimonials are indispensable.

Here's how to gather quality testimonials and benefit from them immediately:

  • If you don't have any customers yet, give your product away to a group of people in your target market in exchange for their feedback.
  • If you have some positive feedback from customers, contact them and ask permission to use their comments on your site.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for testimonials. Invite customers to give you their vote of confidence with an e-mail link that says, "Click here to tell us what you think!"
  • E-mail your buyers after they've purchased your product to ask them how they're enjoying it.

Try to get testimonials that are full of concrete benefits. How much money did someone save? How much time would they have spent without your product? How much better did they perform than before?

Let your visitors know these are real people. A first name, last name and location will prove it. A photo's great. And don't forget video.

You'll find dozens of opportunities to use testimonials throughout your site: on your homepage, within your sales copy, on a special testimonial page, on relevant product pages or in relevant product listings, so don't hesitate to use them where you can.

3. Make it easy to buy
I'm always amazed how many sites make it difficult for you to buy from them. According to market research from the Gartner Group, more than 50 percent of web sales are lost because visitors can't find what they're looking for. Don't make that mistake.

  • Name your navigation buttons clearly so it's obvious what people will find when they click on them.
  • Keep your navigation simple and consistent throughout your site, so people don't have to click any more than necessary. Ideally, someone should be able to buy from you in two clicks at most.
  • Use "Buy Now" buttons that link to your shopping cart or order page every time a product is shown--especially if you have a catalog site.
    And when people click to your sales page, make things easy for them.
  • Provide a range of payment options. Accepting credit cards is an absolute must, but PayPal, Google Checkout or even a downloadable mail-in form make it possible for anyone to complete a transaction.
  • On your order form, ask only for the information you need. For example, if you sell an e-book, it's unlikely you'll need a home address. The less information people have to give you, the better they like it.
  • Don't underestimate the power of including a phone number people can call if they have any questions.

Sales copy, testimonials, shopping cart. Once you've got these three crucial elements of your sales process shipshape you can confidently drive targeted traffic to your site--and know it'll convert!

Derek Gehl is the CEO of the Internet Marketing Center, an internet marketing firm that has helped thousands of people learn to start and run their own online businesses. IMC hosts a new Search Marketing Lab Forum, where members have their strategy questions answered by search marketing specialists.

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