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5 Tactics to Improve Online Sales

There’s an old saying that nothing happens until someone sells something. It is still true for any business.

Every month at the Sales Rescue Team, we provide free insights and ideas to small business owners about their websites. We’ve done reviews on all types of companies:  product, service, niche or mass market. Over 18 months of doing reviews, we’ve learned that five tactics improve time on site, click through, and conversion to sales.  Here are the 5 tactics:

1. Have a Super Clear Call to Action

This is 80 percent of the game. Really. What are you asking the prospect to do?  What is the one thing you most want them to do?

I know your answer:  TO click on the BUY button!  But getting them there still has to be done tastefully and professionally. You still wrap other content around your main offer, but you make it really obvious what you want them to do and, if at all possible, the benefits they receive should be close by so that clicking through is quickly compelling.

Most companies try to jam all of their content into one screen because they’ve heard that you have only seven seconds to capture attention.  Not seven seconds to confuse, mind you.  Seven seconds to communicate. Let me be clear that the alternative isn’t the Squeeze Page that is sometimes common where they have no other path to take except the Buy button.

Here are two sites that are converting customers that we reviewed and who are still doing a great job in 2010. This first image is for Dot Girl First Period Products [1].


2. Less Copy, More Filling

This rides with #1, of course, but if you can’t boil it down to the equivalent of a 30-second elevator pitch, then you need to rethink your messaging. This isn’t to say that you should have all images, far from it, but you want to keep testing your message and the mix of images versus copy.  Less is often better.

This screenshot is from custom energy bar maker, Element Bars [3], and achieves a clear call to action and less copy.


3. About Us

Prospects like to know with whom they are doing business. If you look at your analytics, as a small and less-known company, you may find that a lot of people click through to your About page.  If it is generic and doesn’t tell who you are and why you do what you do – change it. Use the advice found in “Trust Agents” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Be transparent.

I am not saying that this item drives sales directly, but it has an impact. Look at your analytics.

4. Real Testimonials

I have had arguments over this one with new small business owners, but market experience and data supports it —  lose the “testimonials” like this:


Umm. No one believes those.  If they do, you probably don’t want them as a customer.

What works:  Use LinkedIn and ask your best customers to join you on LinkedIn and to give a recommendation there.  It is verifiable. Believable. Use Facebook and build out a fan page. You are better without testimonials than to put practically anonymous quotes up, even if they are true. They don’t create trust.

5. Online Video

Have you heard that YouTube is the #2 search engine?  Have you also heard that people admit that they don’t read much anymore? Those two go together and should help you decide on entering the online video race.

Video creates a stickiness factor you can’t get with almost any other web tool. People prefer to watch and learn.

One specific item that I’ve seen increases views of video.  Put a caption that says two things:  (a) the video duration; and (b) that it is “safe for work” (or not) because you want to remove doubt that if they click the video their boss won’t hear obscenities or worse.

At a minimum, even if you create a simple screencast demo about your product or service, you will be ahead of the competition that are still building text-heavy websites.

Let us know what else is working to increase sales on your own small business website.  Leave a comment below.