Jane is feeling a bit testy today. Too much to do and not enough time to get it done! However, that should settle down in due time. While organization is not Jane's strong suit, she knows people who are very good at it and is not afraid to ask for help!
Our Fit by 5 today is written with the coming holiday season in mind. We may all complain about the early onset of holiday announcements and such, but throwing our hands up in the air and rolling our eyes will not change that. September is back to school time, it's prep for Halloween time, it's only a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and a couple of months till those gift-giving occasions each of us celebrates in our own unique way. Consequently, it's time to start your sales process. Your website should be reaching out to clients and customers with invitations of free shipping, specialized sales, and questions on what your visitors really, really, really want. To help you avoid some of the pitfalls of making good on the sales possibilities before you... here are Five Web Wrongs that Wreak Havoc on Sales to Jane.
1. Jane wants to buy from you. Really she does. Whether she's a Mom, a member of the strong Hispanic community online, a professional woman of color, or a worldwide shopper, she is online searching for those special gifts and foods that will make her friends and family rave about her this holiday season. When she reaches your website and has to register to gain access to the inner santum of your site... you can bet she's not a happy camper.
Don't ask us to invent a username and password just to look at what you have to offer. This is common on content sites -- think magazines or ezines -- but even there, it's a hassle. Give us some of your content for free. Entice us with well-written copy and graphics that make us drool.
Notice how the Give to Get Marketing site addresses this issue. They offer free information but sell their books on their homepage, making sure to grab the visitors attention with great copy, while at the same time enticing her to purchase more quality information that will aid her in her need to market her business.
2. Don't get too personal, too fast. Jane will let you put a cookie on her machine, she likes being able to return to your site without having to type in that long URL you invented (you know what we mean...like, http://ccp.ucla.edu/pages/internet-report.asp) but, beyond that, until she gets to know you better, you don't really need to know where she lives, how many children she has, or her age! Remember, when you ask too many questions up front -- thinking you are gathering marketing data -- what you may be getting are...lies. Yes, Jane might lie to you if she wants access to portions of your site that require registration and include too many personal questions. It's better to merely ask if you might gather her email address to send her updates and notices of sales, along with your newsletter. Once you have her trust, THEN you can quiz her on her specific likes and dislikes, and slip in some personal questions that will help you determine who is visiting you on a regular basis.
3. We've mentioned this before but because it's so important, here it is one more time: don't hide your shopping cart! We did a quick search to see how well folks were at displaying their shopping carts right up front, and while we are happy to see that most ecommerce sites are wise to this vital issue, there are still some of you who are missing out on sales because Jane's time is limited and she is not going to click all over your site to find the shopping cart. Jane loves the colors and offerings at The Cotton Boutique, but...she spent five minutes trying to find the shopping cart! Had Jane been in the mood to buy, chances are she would not have purchased anything at The Cotton Boutique. She would have moved on to greener pastures...ones without fences in the way of the sale.
4. Next to hiding the shopping cart, having a check-out process that is not user-friendly is the biggest reason women (and men) abandon shopping carts. Over at Usability Effect, Kim Krause covers this issue nicely in an article titled, "Why Ecommerce is not ready for my Daughter or Me." Kim's blog, Usability, Web Site Design, and SEO is one of our favorite reads. Tim Slavin at Reach Customers Online is another fact-filled site and blog that gives Jane the scoop on what's working and what isn't as far as Web site design and functionality. If you would increase your sales this season, Jane encourages you to click over to their blogs and get tons of free, super-valuable information. Note: both Kim and Tim will tell you to test, test, test...that means, try to buy from yourself, ask friends to buy, and get your mother involved. It's the only way to learn the truth about your shopping cart system and how well it does or doesn't work. (here's a bit of value-added advice: FREE SHIPPING!)
5. Lastly, Jane would like all ecommerce merchants to remember that while women as a group are a huge demographic, and that we are all doing some shopping online, you should not approach us as if we're birds of a feather. Oh, sure, we flock together...when was the last time you saw a woman enter a mall alone? Or, if she was alone, remain so for long? If she wasn't meeting someone there, she wasn't shopping...she was merely "picking" something up. However, when we go online to shop we do so more as individuals. We may we ask advice and opinions from family and friends (through instant messaging or emails) but as individuals, your best bet at getting us to click the buy button online is to know what makes our eyes pop, our tongues drool, our heart go pitter-patter. You learn that by studying us.
A quick click over to the Pew Internet and American Life Project site will give you an overall view of the Internet population as a whole, but Jane assumes your market is more specific than that. If you're hot to get in front of baby boomers, Gen Ys, women without children, women with incomes of a certain level, you need to read and study magazines such as Demographics, Cyber Journalist, and NUA. These are just a few of the numerous places to research who we are and how we buy, BEFORE you begin getting personal with us.
Let's recap: to make this year's shopping experience easy on your women shoppers, Jane advises that you:
-- Not make us jump through hoops to buy
-- Not get too personal...we don't want you to know how old we are
>-- Put your shopping cart -- graphic or text link -- on your homepage, in the prime real estate area
-- Invest in an easy to use check-out program, one that doesn't empty our cart when we hit the back button, and one that calculates the taxes for us. Oh...free shipping is a BIG plus! When Jane asks other women why they don't shop online, one of the most frequent answers is the shipping costs. (Yes, we know that driving to and from the store or mall is equal to whatever shipping costs you charge, but until more of us recognize that, free shipping is a great tool to help make more sales.)
-- Learn who we are. Learn what makes us crave your products and services. Appeal to the emotional need we have to buy what you're selling. ALL sales are emotional sales. People buy emotionally (Wow, I really want that ...) and justify logically (do I need it? do I need it today? am I glad I bought it? if I have to return it, can I take it to the store or do I have to stand in line at the post office? THAT is more value-added information: allowing us to return items at the physical store. Where that isn't possible, include the exact return information, including a pre-printed return address label)
Jane expects to hear many success stories this holiday season. She hopes one of them will be yours.
What's not to like about that?