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Customer Journey Part 3: Ways to Convert Prospects into Customers

The Conversion stage is when customers actually make a purchase.

To get to this stage, your customers first became aware of your products, then they compared your product to other products and to the ideal they had in their mind and decided that yours is the one they want. All you have to do is not do anything to block the sale.

It seems simple enough… but this is a sensitive stage for a business. Customers are ready to make a purchase, but they can feel vulnerable because they are spending their hard-earned money, are probably in a hurry, and might change their mind if they run into resistance.

Let’s take a look at some things you can do to help the process go smoothly (or at least, not mess it up).

Ask for the Sale

Any sales rep will tell you that the number one tactic they use is to ask for the sale.

The timing matters… you qualify them to see if they actually fit your target customer, you build trust with them so they are comfortable with you, and you describe the ways your product benefits them in ways that other products don’t.  Then you ask for the sale… and there are a few ways to do that.

  • Remind the customer how much they love the product and why – you’ve listed the benefits and advantages in multiple places already (your email list, your social media, on your show booth), now you take one more line to remind them. It should lead into the next tactic…
  • Have a call to action everywhere – On your email list, it might be “Don’t miss out, click here!” On Facebook, it might be a button labeled “Learn more.” On your website, the description might say “Get yours today!” Make sure every marketing and sales channel tells the customer explicitly what action you want them to take (which should be one that encourages them to move from their current Customer Journey stage to the next one)
  • Up-sell / cross-sell – Since the customer is ready to buy, this is also a great chance to tell them about upgrades and accessories that are available. Every product you make should have a built-in upgrade. Maybe get a nicer finish for $10 more or a larger size for $20 more. You can also tell customers which products go with the product(s) in their cart, like a stand for their sign, matching pants for the shirt, or a belt that matches those shoes. Maybe even give them a small (5%) discount for buying the combination.
  • Create urgency – there are times you can use urgency to close a sale, just make sure it’s real. “Order by December 20 to ensure delivery by Christmas!” is real. “I make these to order but they are only available until Sunday night” is not. Customers can see through that, and they don’t like feeling manipulated.
  • Make it feel exclusive – If you’re writing an email or posting to a private group (like a Facebook Group or a website forum), you can offer exclusive deals, like the ability to order something before everyone else, to get free shipping on orders over a certain amount, or to get a special combination offer that is only available to someone special.

Make Checkout as Easy as Possible

There is an entire profession built around making websites easy to navigate and to make purchases on, but for some reason everyone with a Shopify account thinks they know better than people who studied it for years and do it every day.

eCommerce has one primary goal: move the customer from “viewing the product” to “completing the transaction” with the absolute minimum effort. Remove every click, every keystroke, and every page load possible.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Link directly to items or landing pages – when you have an ad, send the customer directly to the product it’s for. You don’t want them going to your homepage and hunting around to find it. You get special bonus points if it’s a landing page dedicated to selling that item (which works better for more expensive items).
  • Make logins optional… and make sure you offer them – let the customer check out as a “guest” if they want. At the same time, offer logins to save all their shipping and payment information for future use. One of the great things about taking Paypal as a payment method is that the buyer can use their existing account (which buyers love for convenience).
  • Require the smallest amount of information possible – some sellers want to ask for everything from email address to reason for buying to where you found them, and make them all “required” fields. Don’t do it. Study after study shows that every single data field the customer has to fill out reduces the number of customers who make it to the end.
  • Use technology to provide great defaults – little things go a long way. Like if your site can tell the card type from the number (there’s a pattern to them, if you didn’t know… for example every Visa card number starts with a 4)  or ask for the zip code first and then use it to fill out the city and state. Little things like that make people love you.

Remove Obstacles

When customers are just about to make a purchase, it doesn’t take much to derail them and make them change their mind.

The biggest obstacle is usually an annoying checkout process, which I addressed in the previous section.

Some other ways to keep people moving forward are:

  • Use consistent language between the site and your ads – if your ads were phrased very formally but the tone of your site is more conversational, it can throw people off. They might not be able to describe why, but they won’t feel right and will trust you less. The same goes for colors. A blue ad that leads to a green site will make people feel like there’s a disconnect.
  • Do NOT pop up too soon – nothing annoys people more than a pop-up the second they get on a site (except for making them sit through a 10-second video before they watch the one they want). If you are going to do pop-up windows, the best option is “exit intent”, so it only displays when a customer looks like they are leaving the page. A lot of people will see the pop-up, get annoyed, and just close the browser tab.
  • Make shipping costs reasonable – customers have a number in their head that’s acceptable to pay for shipping. For some people it’s free. For others, it’s up to 25% of the price of the item. Others have a fixed number like $20. You need to know your customer here. It’s a good idea to offer shipping options to help with pricing… overnight shipping if they are willing to pay for it down to parcel shipping if they are in no hurry.
  • Make sure your site is mobile friendly – not everyone shops through an app. Sometimes they are browsing on the mobile web. Make sure your site (including any custom add-ons you use on it) render correctly on a phone. It’s a pain, but make sure you check that it works on different sizes too. There are a few website out there that offer this kind of testing. It’s not easy, but if you have any custom work on your site, it’s worth checking (or having you developer do it).
  • Respond quickly to last-minute questions – I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s ok to not answer every message the minute it comes in. You do need to answer them quickly, though. Most customers are only wiling to wait a few hours, with some consideration of what time they ask (like if they ask in the middle of the night and you answer within a few hours of getting in to work).  If you want to take evenings off or not work the weekends, don’t be surprised if you lose sales.
  • Clearly state your guarantee or return policy – you don’t want to clutter your pages with too much information, but you do want your customer to know they are taken care of and how easy it is to make returns if they have a problem (or if your policies are not customer friendly, to tell them upfront so they know to shop somewhere else).

Have a backup plan

If things don’t work out and the customer changes their mind or for whatever reason doesn’t make a purchase, there are other small wins you can go for.

  • Get them to join your newsletter – there should be a form to join your newsletter on every single page of your website. It’s a good thing to make it creative and exciting so it draws attention to it. This is especially effective if they are about to leave and you catch them before they do (the “exit intent” I mention above).
  • Get them to follow you on social media – have the common icons for social media on your site. People know what they mean now and will click them if they are interested. Like the sale, a call to action helps a lot.
  • Send them an abandoned cart email – sometimes a customer does everything except click that “Place Order” button. They add an item to the cart, enter all their information, and then their dog throws up, their kid knocks over a lamp, or the boss walks by their desk. Send them an email the next day to remind them that they have items in the cart. If they still don’t make a purchase after three days, send another email. Whatever you do, don’t offer discounts (that’s rewarding a customer for leaving things in the cart, which isn’t something you want to encourage).

Closing

Once you get customers to the checkout process, you want to make it as smooth and painless as possible. It’s really easy to lose a sale at the last second, so you want to do everything you can to keep the customer moving forward.

To continue learning about the Customer Journey, see the next post in this series on building Loyalty and the overview post to see how they all tie together.

If you want to keep the discussion going and get several tips on running your business every week, join my Facebook Group (and be sure to answer the questions… I only accept new members who answer them).

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