SEMA eNews Vol. 15, No. 41, October 11, 2012

4 Ways Your Website Is Driving Away Customers

If you’ve ever experienced buying anything via the Internet, you know that online buying is an anxiety-inducing activity. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many people hesitate to buy online. Unfortunately, your website may also be contributing to the problem by increasing visitors’ uncertainty and doubt—leaving lots of money on the table.

There are four common ways to turn off your visitors:

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This website has such poor production quality that it simply will not be taken seriously.

Unprofessional Website Design

An ugly or unprofessional design is one of the most obvious reasons your website is scaring a lot of potential customers away. “First impressions matter” may be cliché, but it holds true in the online world. In fact, appearances may even be more important on the web, where visitors form an initial impression of your website within 50 milliseconds. Yes, it only takes a snap of a finger for your visitors to decide where your website or landing page falls on the “cheesy” to “professional” continuum. This decision is instantaneous and automatic, so your website better look polished or your visitors will be gone in an eye blink.

Lack of Reassurances

Another way you could be losing customers is when your website fails to reassure visitors that they’re in a safe place. Instinct compels people to be on a fight-or-flight mode when they’re in unfamiliar or risky territory. Questions related to risk inevitably crop up while visitors are navigating your website: “Will I be spammed if I fill out a form?” “Will I be charged too much for minor repairs?” “How do I know you’re not selling me a lemon?” “Are these items authentic?” “Can I return an item if it’s broken?”

Before you can convert your visitors into paying customers, you have to quell that doubtful voice inside their heads by making policies, guarantees and other transactional assurances clear and visible.

Missing Outside Authority

Unless you’re a very popular brand or company, such as General Motors or Honda, don’t kid yourself that people know you and your brand promise. And if you’re not an established brand, chances are slim that you will be able to quickly build one. So what’s an unknown brand to do? The answer: borrow authority from established brands. This can be as simple as putting award seals or industry reviews on your landing page. If you don’t have awards yet but you’re an accredited outlet of a well-known brand, or you’ve been mentioned in the media, demonstrate authority by visibly showing this information on your website.

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This website is missing reassurances, outside authority and social proof. It would be much stronger if these elements were added.

Lack of Social Proof

Last but not the least—does your website present social proof? By social proof, I mean confirmation from others that they have done business with you and they were satisfied with your products or services. Given that your visitors don’t know you and are wary of transacting with you, you should give them evidence that other people have found you worthy of their trust. Why? Because the human brain relies on shortcuts. When we’re faced with uncertainty, we look towards what others are doing (or have done) to validate our own decisions. That is the reason why the words “buy from an eBay powerseller with 500+ positive feedbacks” work so well—if hundreds of other people have bought from this seller, then it must be safe to buy from him.

Remember that the first job of any landing page, including your website, is to keep people from leaving. If you suspect your website isn’t doing its job well, then investigate where it fails in cultivating trust. Only then can you start plugging the leaks further down in your conversion funnel.

Tim Ash is the CEO of conversion rate optimization agency SiteTuners, bestselling author of Landing Page Optimization and chairperson and founder of the Conversion Conference event series. Don’t miss seeing him in person at the SEMA Online Marketing Conference, October 29, at the Las Vegas Hotel.

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