Thursday, August 8, 2013

Obstacles to conversion

Conversion optimization is not about persuading your visitors to buy.  My father likes to say, "You can't make a content cow move."  If your visitors aren't ready to buy, you shouldn't try to force them to.

Assuming you have highly qualified visitors on your site, who are ready to buy, what are the main obstacles to conversion?

First, just because your visitors are ready to buy, doesn't mean they are going to buy from you.  In today's global economy, the choice of vendor is almost limitless.  The main obstacle you have to overcome is: convince your visitors you are the best option.

To solve this problem, most companies focus on themselves.  They offer a better product, with a faster delivery, at a lower price.  In an effort to stand out, they have chosen the same list of attributes as their competitors.  Margaret Mead said, "Always remember you are unique.  Just like everyone else."  This is exactly how your potential customers see you.

Conversion optimization focuses on the fact that these visitors are already on your website.  Why not help them make the decision to purchase from you?  

In most cases, people don't use direct logic to make a decision.  We use shortcuts so that we don't have to weigh all the "real" variables.

Short of becoming an expert in your line of work, it would be extremely hard for one of your visitors to compare the benefits of your solution with that of your competitors.  For example, try to explain the difference between a top of the line AA battery from Duracell and one from Energizer.  (I'm assuming that very few of you are battery experts. :)

Coming back to the fact that these visitors are already on your website, what are the shortcuts your visitors use to make the decision to purchase?

Trust and confidence.

Trust comes in many forms, but if your visitors don't trust you, they will look for another vendor.  They need to trust that you will give them what they need, when they need it.  They need to trust that you won't change the price at the last minute, or penalize them via an obscure part of your contract.  They need to trust that you won't mistreat their email, phone number, and credit card data.  In an exchange of value, trust is everything.

Confidence is what maintains the momentum of the sale.  Although confidence is related to trust, they are two different things.  One of the biggest mistakes e-commerce sites make is in assuming their visitors are confident in their purchase.  Being confident that you have chosen the right vendor, or even that you selected AA batteries and not AAA batteries.  Confidence is what lets customers finalize their purchase.

If your visitors trust you and you can make them confident in their purchase, your conversions will increase.  A high level of trust and confidence can even overcome a few inconveniences or possible red flags during the conversion process.

How do you build trust and confidence on your site?