Posted by Phil Sharp
This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.
I want to tell you a true story about a discount store from the 1970s called D.B. Sales.
Now, before you start yelling…
“Join me in the 21st century, Grandpa! We have the Internet, Snuggie blankets and millions of cat videos to watch.”
…give me a chance to explain. I promise to make it worth your while.
D.B. Sales was run by Morris and Tessie Benatar — friendly, hard-working folks who were trying help their small business succeed. The problem is, in the mid-70s, their business wasn’t doing too well. Sales were down, money was tight, and tensions between Morris and Tessie were rising.
Sure, they look nice, but you wouldn’t want to get Tessie angry. She had a mean right hook.â€‹
Like any good businessperson, Morris doggedly tried everything he could think of to increase sales. He changed the window displays, ran promotions, offered free delivery, and placed ads in local newspapers. But, nothing worked.
Then, one day, everything changed.
Morris finally had a promotion that worked. In fact, the promotion worked so well that he ran it year after year for the next 10 years:
You don’t actually have to go out of business to have one of these sales, do you?
Now, why did I tell you this story? Because I think it contains a valuable lesson about how to increase the conversion rate of your website.
Morris spent a lot of his time testing out different ideas until he finally (and luckily) came across something that worked. As online marketers, we do the exact same thing.
We test different button colors, call to actions, headlines, images, and everything else we can think of. Occasionally, on our good days, we come across something that works and we feel good about ourselves.
However, we should learn from Morris. He could’ve saved himself a lot of money, stress, and dirty looks from Tessie, if he would’ve talked to his customers. They could’ve helped him answer one of the most important questions:
Why aren’t people buying from me?
This was an easy question for Morris to ask because customers would walk right into his store. But, as people who manage websites, how do we find out why people aren’t buying from us?
In my mind, this is what a website visitor looks like. It makes life more exciting.
That’s why I want to share with you my patent-pending approach* to finding out what your website visitors are thinking.
*Okay, you got me, it’s not patent pending. Does that make it “patent pretending”?
Five ways to find out why your customers aren’t buying from you
1) Chat transcripts
If you have a chat feature on your website then you can get really helpful feedback RIGHT NOW by simply reading through your chat logs. Whenever we’re going to revise a page at UserTesting.com we always start by searching for all of the chats that happened on that URL.
This is an easy way to learn about your customers’ main questions, concerns and objections.
If you don’t have chat on your site, but are considering adding it, then check out SnapEngage. They’re who we use and we’ve been very happy with them.
Chat logs make it easy to find out what questions your visitors ask on specific pages.
If you have a question for your visitors, or want some feedback, then often times the best thing to do is ask. Use tools like Qualaroo, SurveyMonkey or 4QSurvey and ask open-ended survey questions like: “If you didn’t sign-up, can you tell us why not?”
Sometimes the easiest thing to do is ask.
3) Talk to your sales and customer support people
Your sales and customer support people spend all day communicating with your site’s visitors. This means that 1) they’re amazing people and 2) they understand the objections of your web visitors better than anyone.
So go talk with your sales and support people and ask them how they overcome the common objections. You can then take this learning and apply it to your site.
4) Eat your own dog food
Spend time pretending to be your customer and use your website and product. At UserTesting.com we have one of our team members pretend to be a customer each and every month, write up their suggestions for improvement, and then email them directly to our CEO.
This isn’t quite as good as unbiased feedback from someone in your target market, but you’ll be surprised at the amount of good ideas your team will come up with.
5) “Think aloud” testing
Look, I’m biased, but this is definitely my favorite way to find out why customers aren’t buying. With “think aloud” testing you can watch people in your target market speak their thoughts out loud as they try to accomplish common tasks on your website or mobile device.
When you run this kind of test you can see with your own eyes where your users get stuck or have problems.
You just think you know your users.
Remember, the people visiting your website are actual human beings – they’re not “uniques” or “pageviews”. To understand how to make your website better, you need to learn from Morris Benatar: either pretend to always be going out of business, or talk to your customers.
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