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Granted, the vast world of online shopping makes impulse purchases easier than ever, but you might be surprised to know that a full 81 percent of consumers still research online before they buy, according to a study by GE Capital Retail Bank. Likewise, 60 percent of consumers start with a search engine before moving to a specific website and most shoppers enjoy the empowerment and flexibility of technology when it comes to both research and purchasing.
What does this mean for your website?
For starters, it’s not enough to have an attractive logo and an online store. While great writing and search engine optimization are important, they, too, are not enough. A successful website today incorporates customer behavior, thoughtful sales strategies and exquisite customer service.
How to make your website well-rounded and well-used.
If you want customers and potential customers to flock to your website to purchase your latest product or cutting-edge service, keep the following in mind:
Pricing is always top of mind when it comes to purchasing behavior.
Seventy-one percent of online shoppers believe they get a better deal online than if they visited a brick-and-mortar store, while 65 percent of Americans compare online and in-store prices before making a purchase and another 86 percent insist on comparing prices from different sellers before hitting the “buy” button, according to a Pew Research Center study.
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This does not mean you have to have the lowest price out there, but if your pricing isn’t competitive, bargain hunters will certainly click elsewhere. Do the proper research to ensure that your pricing is relevant in today’s market.
Pay attention to your online reviews.
If you are not regularly reading your reviews, you are missing out on useful information and potentially bad news. Unfortunately, unhappy customers have a greater incentive to review your company, so if you aren’t encouraging positive reviews from satisfied customers, your Yelp stars might be suffering. Interestingly, nearly 90 percent of customers say they trust online recommendations as much as they do word-of-mouth reviews. The Pew Research Center study also noted that nearly three-quarters of Americans said they needed to read online reviews before making a purchase. While consumers are suspicious of sites with 100% positive reviews, they do like to see a wealth of reviews from a variety of customers.
Take the time to review your reviews – both those on your website and on third-party sites. You should also reach out to websites that specialize in unbiased product and service reviews, such as mommy blogs and neighborhood-focused sites as well as the biggies (great examples are Brain Wiz and Mattress Clarity). Particularly if you are in an industry that is sometimes viewed with suspicion or uncertain, such as supplements, an expert third-party site can help build trust by offering independent reviews. Finally, consider using some of your best reviews as online testimonials.
Anticipate questions and answer them before they surface.
Your customer and your customer service team will thank you. If your website copy doesn’t answer customer questions, they will either turn to a more thorough source or bog down your service staff with questions that could have easily been answered online. Successful websites have a FAQ page and live chat integrated into their site to make it easy to get a fast and reliable response. While you will likely be able to come up with an adequate Q&A list, consulting an outside resource can help enhance the list with questions less obvious to insiders.
Employ the principles of consumer psychology in your website design.
Did you know the colors you use on your site can influence purchasing behavior? While consistency and readability are the chief factors to consider, you can add splashes or orange and red to create an urgency to buy, brown for dependability and reliability, green as a natural element or subtle reminder of money to spend, pink for romance and white for clarity.
Place the most important information at the top and use high-quality images that direct the eye towards key product or service behavior. Many consumers skim rather than read, so graphics can play a powerful role in inciting a purchase.
Consumers place a high priority on perceived value, which is why they are willing to pay so much more for the latest iProduct than what it actually costs. How can you bolster your product’s perceived value among potential customers?
Finally, this goes without saying, but ensure that your site uses responsive design, which simply means that it is available and easy to read on any device: mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. There is nothing more frustrating to consumers than trying to minimize a screen that is not optimized for mobile. Make it easy for consumers to visit your site, make a purchase and leave as happy, satisfied customers.