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Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t market a piece of junk?” There are other… ahem… shall we say, more ‘graphic’ versions of the saying, but that’s the cliché sans the expletives.
While this quote could be disproven (you really can market it… doesn’t mean people will buy, though), it’s a no-brainer that you must have a good product while also making sure it’s well represented. Both are necessary for your advertising and promotional efforts to bear much fruit. There’s only so much an ad agency or SEO/internet marketing firm can do for you if you don’t have trust in place as a foundation.
If your website is already garnering traffic (or its traffic has been increasing) yet sales conversions just aren’t there, what is the problem? Many issues could be to blame, but one major culprit could be the way your products are presented. If you don’t have certain essentials with respect to product presentation, you’re likely to turn away a substantial number of prospective customers.
1. A Good Description
It’s surprising how many webmasters go through all the trouble of putting together a beautiful website, complete with pictures of their products and separate pages for each one, yet they leave out one vital element: a proper product description. Without describing what people are going to actually get if they do buy, you’re making two potentially fatal mistakes.
First, you’re assuming visitors are already familiar with the product, what it does and what it includes (and everyone knows what assuming does). A missing, inaccurate or incomplete product description can ruin a sale. Think about it. Aren’t you more likely to buy a product from a site with clear information, than from a site with nothing but a picture and a “buy now” button? Of course you are; you want to be able to verify what you’re purchasing, right? So do your buyers.
Your second error in this faulty assumption is that you’re taking a risk. People might purchase the wrong product, the wrong size, an item that is incompatible with what they intend to pair it with, etc.
Make sure your descriptions include:
- General explanation of what the product is and what it does
- Benefits (value)of owning and using the product
- Most common applications of the product (in brief)
- Basic inclusions like batteries or accessories
- Requirements or separately-sold accessories that allow it to operate
Value, Benefit or Feature?
Don’t forget “Value vs. Benefit vs. Feature”. There are differences, and you need to understand them – especially in these economic times.
- Feature: what it does or has – A hood on a jacket is a feature
- Benefit: what you get from it – The hood keeps you warm, and can be pulled tight with sunglasses to mask your face if you want to rob a bank
- Value: where it saves you money – The hood is made out of durable material. You may have to buy a new jacket, but you won’t have to replace the hood for years.
If you wish to compete with, or be listed on Amazon.com, you can take a cue from their product descriptions. As well, it’s a good idea to research what other successful online retailers have done, such as IKEA or Staples. Staples even makes purchasing envelopes sound like an adventure (check out that product description).
2. Detailed Specifications
While specs are not quite as important as a general description, in some cases (particularly with electronics), they can still make or break a sale. This is another situation where you can’t assume the potential customer knows everything about the product’s details. If they have to go to another site to find out what it does, what do you think the likelihood is that they’ll come back to your site to purchase?
Specifications must include:
- Dimensions (Size)
- Other possible custom orders (like alternate colors or designs)
- Optional accessories
- For electronics, outlets built in
- Specific, measurable parameters on the product’s technical operations
For example, a clock is just a clock, right? Wrong. You have an off white clock with a metallic sheen that stands 7” tall and 7” wide. The charming box shape is slightly dipped at the sides to allow for a contemporary touch. Snooze, On/Off and Set Time/Alarm buttons are within easy reach at the top, for the days you want to sleep in just a little bit longer. A battery case holds two double AA batteries (not included) to turn your bedside clock into a friendly travel accessory.
When you’re talking sales, it’s all in the details.
3. Attractive and Informative Pictures
Naturally, you need to post a picture of the product and it must look professional. It needs to be taken with a high quality camera with proper lighting and plain background (you never want the background to overwhelm the product). It should be cropped so it shows as closely as possible.
It’s also important to make sure your product pictures are taken from ample angles, if needed, to give a thorough, accurate and honest image of what it truly looks (especially if it’s a product whose primary value to the consumer revolves around aesthetics).
4. Clearly Labeled Pricing and Shipping Charges
This is another “should go without saying” kind of rule – that sadly gets missed by an embarrassing number of webmasters. Put your pricing clearly near the top of your product page (usually next to the picture). It’s also helpful to give people an idea of what the shipping options and accompanying charges would be.
As a side note, having prominently displayed links to your shipping, returns and privacy policies can go a long way in increasing consumer trust for the buys.
5. Consider Offering a Money-Back Guarantee
If you haven’t already done so, consider offering a 30 day money-back guarantee for your products or services. There are two main benefits this creates.
First of all, it adds credibility, which increases your conversion rate at the outset of the sales process. Visitors are more likely to buy something they aren’t 100% sure they want or need if they are given the chance to make the final decision later. They’re also less likely to return the product at all once they have it. Once you discover something works or have it in your hot little hands, you just might lose the motivation to actually return it.
But the real secret here, and the second benefit, is that it gives you very valuable insight you can use moving forward.
A money-back guarantee tells you two crucial things:Which products or services are perceived as “better” in the eyes of your customers
- Which products or services need improvement
NOTE: Surveys and other types of questionnaires have a similar effect in terms of providing valuable insight into product improvement needs.
Money-back guarantees also ensure your customers get the products they actually want and need, which is quite likely to earn you repeat business.
Rating Systems Can Increase Buyer Trust
Providing a rating/review system for customer reviews increases buyer’s trust, although you’d better make sure you’re ready for negative feedback. If you decide to implement a rating system, create a plan for dealing with that negative feedback. Once it’s public, the worst thing you can do is delete it (witness the current Volkswagen social media fail). How will you show off your excellent customer service skills for the world to see?
Bottom Line: Presentation Makes a World of Difference for Revenue
When you apply these to every product page, you have a properly written and formatted website, in terms of presentation. Without it, you’re turning away numerous customers – perhaps the majority of your visitors – before they even get the chance to decide whether or not to seriously consider clicking the “buy now” link.