For over twenty years now, I’ve been working with companies to sell their stuff online. This journey has been interesting with the what and the how that I’ve attempted to sell for my private clients.
From floor and wall safes to boat anchors and other boating supplies, from pond fountains to baseball gear, from high end women’s clothing to exotic jewels from avocado based tea to CBD chocolate, I have run the gamut in terms of online verticals.
For the most, the process of driving traffic is relatively similar, except for CBD chocolate (don’t get me started on that). The level of success a company is selling their products online more times than not will come down to their conversion rates.
When working with companies to drive quality paid traffic many times I also will work with companies by offering suggestions that I have found to improve conversion rates.
Making sure key elements are present such as having an easy to navigate website with special attention paid to important elements such as the shipping and returns policy, a risk reversal guarantee and product and website testimonials can be essential factors for increasing conversion rates.
In addition, I also recommend the continual testing a variety of elements within a website.
I’ve seen where implementing simple changes such as changing the color on the add to cart buttons and within the shopping cart have had an immediate and substantial impact on conversion rates.
And when it comes to your conversion rates, just a small uptick in the number can cause large increases in overall sales.
Image you have 1,000 customers a day, with a 2% conversion rate and an average sale of $75. Calculated out that would be $1,500 daily sales generated from 20 orders.
If we were able to increase conversion from 2% to 2.5%, we would increase daily average sales from $1,500 to $1,875 thus increasing our monthly sales from $45K to $56K. That is an almost 20% increase in overall sales by increasing our conversion by half of one percent!
This calculation and the power of small increases in the conversion rates is the reason that I always have started with conversion rates as the main focus when working to improve a client’s profitability.
However, last week, I read a line in a book that blew my mind and my thinking on conversion rates at least the way to go about how to increase conversion rates.
The book was Start With Why by Simon Sinek, which I highly recommend, and the line was this:
Though products drive sales they alone cannot inspire loyalty.
Throughout the book the premise is for a company to sell their products effectively a company must be able to connect why they are selling their products with its buyers.
When you communicate why you are selling your products you give your potential customers especially those that connect to your why a reason to do businesses with you.
By establishing this connection through communicating why you are selling what you are selling, you can distinguish your products from your competitors.
Most of what is sold online is what is known as a commodity. For those commodities that we sell many times there are multiple other companies selling the same products or at least very similar products.
With no discernable difference between companies, how does a customer decide from which product to buy their product?
Number one is price.
If a similar product is sold in different stores, customers often decide based on selecting the cheaper price.
Number two is trust.
If a customer doesn’t trust that they will get their product in a timely manner or even that they will get the quality of the product promised, the factor of trust could outweigh a cheaper price.
That is why working on conversion factors such as paying special attention to elements on a website such as the shipping and return policy, guarantee policy and website testimonial can help improve conversion rates. They work because they help build trust.
However, there is one factor that is more powerful than trust and more powerful than even price (at least to a certain degree). It is loyalty.
It is why repeat customers are so valuable to a company. A loyal customer will continue to purchase for the most part without price shopping competitors because they trust your company to deliver what they are buying.
However, their trust becomes even more powerful when they believe in why you are selling what you sell.
My Trip To The Grocery Store
A few weeks back, I went grocery shopping Saturday morning as I was out of eggs and I had promised the family to make breakfast.
Typically, I prefer to buy organic eggs. In California. a bunch of ads ran a few years back showing the cramp condition of some ‘egg farms’ and I always get that picture in my mind of those poor chickens when I’m about to purchase.
However, when it comes to buying eggs I’m also price conscious. I will typically buy the cheapest priced organic eggs and if the price of the cheapest organic eggs is crazy high, then I sometimes will go ahead try to sneak a dozen ‘egg farm’ eggs past my wife at home.
On this shopping trip, there was an organic egg brand that was running a special, buy one get one free. Normally $6.99 a dozen, right now they were 2 for $6.99 or $3.50 a dozen (about the same as non-organic eggs).
I purchased those eggs purely based on price because who the heck really cares about the brand name of an egg, right?
When I returned home and started to make breakfast, I opened the eggs carton and discovered that a small 3” x 2” card was included.
Printed on the card was a small newsletter from Vital Times, the organic egg brand that I had purchased.
On the front of the newsletter, it told the story of this month’s featured farm, The Bough Family Farm and the gentleman that runs the farm.
According to the story, the owner although he had grown up on a dairy farm had decided to go into a different path and was a successful engineer.
In his early 30’s he was inspired by a documentary detailing the deteriorating conditions of food production. He was so inspired that he decided to leave his position and start a chicken farm dedicated to free ranged, humanely treated, organic egg laying chickens.
Today, together with his wife, his children and his parents, they run the Bough Family farms.
The back of the newsletter, Vital Times continues connecting by showing the ‘Bird of the Month’, Vibrant Vivian along with their Mission Statement, a chicken cartoon and some fun chicken facts.
On the side of the egg carton, was a link to the Vital Farms website where you could access a 365 view of one of their featured farms and the happy chickens who live there.
Wow, talk about communicating their why!
For me, their why connected on a few levels.
First, I believe in their core belief of humanely raised chickens.
Two, I was inspired by the story of 3 generations of a family working together on the Bough Family Farm happily raising chickens.
Three, I believe in the opportunity that Vital Farms is giving to small farms to compete and get their organic, humanly raised eggs to market where they compete against much larger less purposeful eggs.
You also know what?
The next week when I went to the store, I purchased another dozen Vital Farms eggs, no longer on sale, and I didn’t even look at the price!
Now this may be an extreme example of communicating their why, but eggs are an extreme commodity. Just think how many brands of eggs can you name off the top of your head? I can only think of one, it is Vital Farms.
Can you see the power of clearly communicating your why?
One More Story
I have one more story that I want to share. This story is from the end of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why book.
The story talks about a cross country race with a young man named Ben Comen at a Hanna High School cross country race. Ben was living with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a horrible infliction often caused by complications at birth where there is no cure and the affects last a lifetime. Those with cerebral palsy are significantly affected with a lack of balance and motor skills that include tightening of muscles and joints. In addition, people with cerebral palsy often have an unsteady gait and their knees knock and their feet drag.
However, even with cerebral palsy, Ben was determined to compete running in 5K, high school, cross country races. At the beginning of each race, as the other runners sped off, Ben is left far in the back of the pack struggling to run while occasionally stumbling and falling.
While other runners finish in under 20 minutes or at least close to it, Ben’s finish time is typically around 45 minutes.
He will finish his races bloody and bruised from falling, but continues to press on determined to finish each race. He is not competing against any other runner, instead he competes against himself and his ability to finish the race.
At every race he runs, a funny thing happens though. After they finish, most runners circle back to course to run behind Ben. Throughout the rest of the race, Ben is the only runner that when he falls someone will be there to help him up. When he eventually finishes the race, he also will be the only runner with hundreds of people behind him, cheering for him.
This demonstrates a key point not solely with Ben, but about the good of human nature.
When you compete against others, no one wants to help you. However, when you compete against yourself (like Ben), everyone wants to help you.
Communicating your why becomes even more important when you are selling a commodity.
If a seller can connect with buyers on why they are selling, their level of trust shoots through the roof and price largely becomes irrelevant.
Of course, you still need to be selling quality products to be successful. And although your products don’t have to be the absolute best, they do have to be good and fulfill a purpose.
From my earlier story, I’m not saying that I would have ever gone back and bought more Vital Farms Eggs if the first dozen were all rotten.
However, if the quality is similar to competitors then connecting on the why is a powerful and effective way to inspire loyalty that goes beyond changing the color of your add to cart buttons.
For those of you selling your products online, do you communicate your why to your customers?
And even more importantly, do you yourself and everyone in your organization know your why?
These are important and sometimes soul-searching questions that could take some time to sort through.
However, by communicating why you sell what you sell effectively and connecting with your customer base, you have an opportunity to increase your sales and conversion rates beyond limits.
For more information on the power of why, check out the book Start With Why by Simon Sinek.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.