How to Sell More on the Web:
A Thoughtful Approach to Crafting Success
This guide isn’t just about selling more on the web: it’s about achieving your goals, whatever they are.
That might mean selling tickets to your gigs, or getting donations for your charity, or building support for your big idea. Whatever you’re trying to do, the principles and ideas covered will apply to you. Just bend the suggestions until they make sense for you.
Good websites are full of people’s ideas. Anything worthwhile needs a bit of brain-space. As soon as you start thinking about your website your chances of success increase dramatically. Most websites suck and fail because they are designed and built in haste and then left to gather dust. Always view your website as an evolving work in progress.
If you get stuck, and can’t find a way to progress, email firstname.lastname@example.org – if I can spare a few minutes I’ll think about your conundrum.
This guide should answer questions like:
- Why doesn’t anyone visit my website?
- Why do people come to my website, but never buy anything?
- What can I do to create interest around my website?
Who is this for?
This guide is designed to help anyone with a website. If you’re a very experienced website creator/owner/manager then this guide might not offer anything new. But if your website doesn’t do a lot, then you might find a few useful ideas.
Success Doesn’t Have to Lead You to Evil
Selling more things, or recruiting more donors, or persuading people that your scheme is brilliant does not need to involve under-hand tactics. Success does not require evil.
If you’re offering something useful then you should let people know. This guide is all about how you can let people know.
Part 1: Thinking about Your Customers
Before you think about your website, you need to think about the people that you created it for: your customers.
- Who are they?
- What do they want?
- Why do they want your products?
- What can you offer them?
- Where are they?
- How can you get in front of them?
Who Are Your Customers?
If you’re going to sell anything to anybody, you’ll need to establish who wants what you’ve got. Are they:
- Young, old, or in-between
- Male or female
- Organised around a niche
- Highly web-literate or borderline Luddites
- Pinko liberals or conservatives?
Identify your target audience. Think about who they are. Imagine you are them. Step into their shoes and consider their motivations. Ask yourself:
- What do I want?
- What am I trying to achieve?
- What are my concerns?
- What would make me happy?
Why Do Your Customers Want Your Products?
Okay, so you know what you’re offering, what it does and why people use it… or do you? Do you really know why people use your things, or engage your services?
You might think you know exactly what people are doing with your stuff, but you might be surprised to learn that people are misusing your products – or that they really just want your services for a reason other than the ones you intended.
Luckily, it’s easy enough to find out what your customers are up to. Just ask them. And you don’t need to set up a survey and harvest reams of data. Just call a few people and have a chat.
A few examples of products that have found unintended uses:
Thanks to the following for their suggestions:
Meeting Your Clients in the Middle
Your products and services might be valued for reasons other than the ones you know about. If people think about your work in different ways to you, address this in your website’s copy.
Related blog post:
What Can You Offer Your Customers?
Are there other ways you could help your customers? Are there additional products or services that fit with your existing range? What would people like from you? How can you make people’s lives better, easier or more fulfilling?
Don’t just assume that your products and services have to stop where they are now. If there’s something more you can offer – something real, something useful and desirable – then start offering it.
Crafting Your Offer to Match Your Customers
Many businesses decide what they do, then create products and services that they think are required, then offer them for sale. Rarely do businesses ask what is required – what is wanted – and then offer it.
It’s easier to sell the thing that people want, than it is to sell the thing that you need to sell. So if you’re struggling to sell something, consider changing it until it meets people’s needs.
Again, it’s a good idea to spend time talking to your clients. And don’t make it complicated. Just pick up the phone, dial a number, say hi, ask some questions.
Related blog post:
End of Part 1
That’s it for Part 1. Part 2 will look at your products and services (although really we’ve already thought about this, but in relation to how your customers think about your products and services.) Part 2 is the shortest section.
In Part 3, we’ll explore the aspects of your website that might be failing. This will cover SEO, social media and other wonderful things.
The Absence of Marketing
Oh, and did you notice that I haven’t mentioned marketing ? There’s a good reason for that. Many people in marketing are disreputable, unlovable rogues who smarm their way through life with slick grins and thin lies. ‘Marketing’ is a word so loaded with negative connotations that I prefer to discuss ‘marketing’ without using the word.