Your guide to a successful online business!

In our latest webinar I’ll be addressing one of the most pressing issues in online business – getting website visitors to actually buy from you. In the video, I’ll explain the principles behind improving user experience and look at the best way to make your site somewhere customers want to buy from. Click play to begin and if you have any questions, please leave them as a comment.

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Hello and welcome to the latest 123-reg webinar. Today, our conversion expert Barney Grossman will be showing you some great ways to improve conversions on your websites.Hello, I’m Barney Grossman and today we’re going to be talking about how we can turn your visitors into customers. It all starts with something called “user experience”. What is user experience? Well, user experience is looking at how people feel when they’re using the website, how easy it is to find, how easy it is to navigate their way across whatever they’ve come to achieve whilst on your website. We’re ultimately going to be taking some unhappy visitors and turning them into happy visitors. Ultimately, when we have this good user experience, this better experience, all that means for your website is they’re having a better time on your website which should have a better impact on your business.It all starts with keeping things simple. Everything we do, everything we consider changing, adding, making look better, even removing – we need to be considering: Is this the easiest way, the simplest way of keeping it simple? That’s what it’s all about – making tasks easy and simple for your visitors to complete.

We’ve all got a brand new product, it may be something like a printer, for instance, like the chap on the left. You get this manual and it has page upon page of all the full instructions of how to install it, how to change the ink, how to do everything you want to. But the truth is that none of us, how many of us really read this manuals. The truth is a bet nobody. Manufacturers know this because now, like the image on the right, they include these quick start guides, this opportunity for you to quickly read through how to get yourself running. That’s what we need to be doing for our websites, we need to be making a website a quick start for our visitors so they can quickly navigate their way around.

How do we start this navigation process, this manual to website? It starts with looking at your business. Your business is going to have some goals, some objectives, hopefully something that you’ve put into a business plan. As part of your business plan, there’s going to be something about your website, and your website is going to have its objectives. For instance, your business plan may be to make £50,000 of revenue a year. Your website may be perhaps half of your sales so your website objective is to make £25,000 of sales.

Now, our website is made up of multiple pages. Each page needs to serve a purpose, it has a goal. This goal needs to feed into the website objective. For instance, we may have a product page, in which case the page goal is to sell a particular product and that in term will be leaned towards our website objective of making £25,000 of revenue a year, which in term feeds into our business objective of the £50,000. So, it starts to feed up.

Now, when we actually have our page goal, our page goal is going to have multiple page objectives and these little measurable aspects that we can have on our page, that we can manipulate, that we can impact on later. We’ll talk about how we can do that shortly.

These little objectives are what ultimately make the page have its value. An example of a page objective might be encouraging the visitor to click the purchase button which in turn helps sell the product which of course feeds up to the website and business objectives.

Another example may be encouraging a visitor to sign up for a free trial, provide you with their email address, even just providing more information on products is helping the page objective which is the page goal and of course all the way back up.

But why is all this important? The reason is because of priority. Priority is one of the most important things to consider when you’re looking at the design of your website. For instance, if I’m making you sign up for my newsletter and I have a nice, big orange banner on my website and I actually have a very small, green “buy” button somewhere hidden on the page, you’re probably more likely to click the “sign up” button. But if the “buy” button is a nice, big green button, it’s got the higher priority, the highest prominence on the page, obviously you’re going to be more inclined to clicking that.

So, how do we control the priority? Well, as you can see here, this is a very interesting example of how not to control priority. You don’t even know where to look, you’re all over the place: there’s colours here, there’s big shout outs here. It’s obviously a famous site that’s actually been famous for its very wacky and out there design. But it’s quite hard for us to work out as a visitor: where am I supposed to be clicking? Do I want to be clicking that blue panel over there, the red panel over here, or perhaps I want to scroll down and have a little bit more. It’s just such an overwhelming site, we’re lost, we don’t know what we should be clicking. So, the priority is quite quickly lost here.

So, what can you do for your own website? How do we know about our own sites whether it’s too complicated, it’s too busy? There’s a thing called “the blur test”. Now, what you can see here is a blurred version of a website. This is going to be a test that you can do on your own website. I’m going to give you a few examples. All you can see here is the website has been blurred out – it’s like were squinting, that’s the whole point of this example. If you squint at your own website so you can’t make out the wording, where would you feel inclined to click?

If you look at this website, it’s a little bit confusing, I’m not quite sure where I’m meant to be clicking. Maybe I’d click on the big orange button, I’m not too sure. But, as I reveal it, you can now see that I’m again not really too sure where I should be clicking because the priority hasn’t been dictated.

Another example – our own site here. Hopefully, with this blurred version you got a rough idea of where you should be clicking. And I’m hoping that you’re thinking it’s the green button, which of course if you said that that’s exactly where we want you to click. The idea is really we want to be leading our visitors down the journey whatever they’ve come for. In this instance, we’re hoping that you’ve come for domain names so we’re hoping you kind of progressed the way that you come to our website.

But what’s the point of all this? Why is this squint test important? The truth is if you squint at your own website and you can’t understand where you want to click, the chances are that your customers are in the same boat as well. So, when they’re visiting your site they’re going to be lost. So, give your site a quick squint test now and see if there’s something that you can quite easily identify as picking out.

Once we’ve cleared up our website from the very quick, easy way of cleaning it out a little bit, what’s the next best thing that we can do to help improve our visitor experience? That is selling the benefits.

Feature and benefit selling is not just something limited to Internet marketing, it’s actually one of the marketing fundamentals. Too often, we know our products better than anybody and often we can get lost in the features that they have, rather than the benefits for our customers. For instance, you may work with the hoovers that you sell and you may know that 16,000rpm is one of the best features that you can have for a hoover. But the truth is for a lot of our customers who don’t often buy our product, they don’t quite understand what’s in it for them. And that’s a great question to ask yourself.

Whenever you’re writing content for your website, whenever you’re saying a feature you think to be a benefit, just say: so what? And it’s that bit that comes after the “so what” that’s the benefit. An example here: minty fresh toothpaste. Minty fresh is a feature of toothpaste, it’s not actually the benefit. The benefit is sexy, kissable breath. If you look at some of the toothpaste advertising, you’ll see this connotation in the side.

Now, we work with our products and it’s really important that you expand the knowledge and provide every bit of information you can but in the eye of the recipient, in the eye of your potential future customer. So speak in a term that they can understand and they can relate.

When we’re speaking about our customers, we need to be speaking in a language that they can understand themselves. Again, because we know our products we often start to use jargon words, words that our customers are not going to be able to relate to and understand.

What’s also interesting when we’re talking about the language we use with our customers is people who do know our products, people who understand what it is we do and how we do it with our products. They’ll often skip the marketing fluff, the bit which perhaps is a bit more jazzed up to kind of entice new customers to look at our particular product range.

If we have a savvy customer, they’re not going to be reading this information because they’re already going to know. A great example is: go look at products you know a lot about. If you go to one of your favourite websites that you look when you’re purchasing these products, I’m sure you’ll skip a lot of the advertising and marketing that’s on there. However, if you’re new to this product, if it’s something that you’ve never purchased before, often this kind of information is the information you read.

So, what we’re saying here is we should be placing the novice information, that information which can kind of nurture your potential customers, along the purchasing journey. It should be towards the top of the page, with technical information or perhaps the less exciting stuff towards the bottom of the page.

There is a good reason for this – because there’s really this three-stage process that we go through when we’re buying a product.

The first step is searching for a solution. For instance, you may Google “I need a website”. You have a problem and you’re trying to find the solution to your problem. After you’ve done the search, you’ve probably through your research have come to workout that you need web hosting. So your next search is going to be for: “I need hosting”.

So, again you’re going to do your search and you’re going to go through websites and you’re going to find a couple of suppliers that you like the look of. What you’re then going to do is going to search for your provider. So once you find out that you’ll hopefully want 123-reg for your hosting, you’re going to search for reviews on 123-reg. And that’s what our customers are always doing: searching for a solution, then a product and then a provider. So we should always be considering this consumer buying cycle whenever we’re designing the content for a website.

So we’ve now got the general look of our website under wraps and we’ve got the content under wraps but what’s the next thing that we can do? Well, it’s keeping things consistent.

Keeping things consistent has a huge impact on our site. It makes everything easier. If we become familiar with our own websites, if we know our way around I’m sure if I ask you to go to some of your own favourite websites and navigate around, you can probably do it on autopilot. That’s what we want to be able to offer to our visitors, we want them to be able to go around the site with very minimal thought process to what they’re doing because it makes them have a bit more of an enjoyable experience if they have to think less. So, if our sites are more consistent, they’re able to find what they’re looking for and navigate through our site a little easier and quicker.

And, ultimately, if our sites are more consistent, our visitors are able to understand the page and proceed to this next actual little cognitive thought. But what is this next action, how do we measure this?

This is the most important measurement within user experience: calls to action. Calls to action are getting our visitors to do what we want them to do, it’s how we measure, it’s how we determine our website’s success at a page level. If you remember jumping back to our page objectives, these are going to be what make up our page objectives. They’re going to be white buttons, they’re going to be “submit email address” buttons, they’re going to be “read more” links, “view product” links, even contact details. These are what our calls to action buttons are going to be.

Now, just to clarify, when we say call to action, a call to action is going to be anything that you can click on or do specifically. It’s normally a button or a link within a page, and it’s certainly something that we can measure as it’s often going to be our KPI. Now, too many of these calls to action on a page dilute it, and diluting it is certainly not something that you want to do because if we have one on a page obviously they’ll more likely going to click the one button than they are to click if there’s three of them.

So, what can we do to kind of control how well they’re seen? Ultimately we’re looking at the call to action prominence. We want to make sure that we’re thinking back to our priority. Going back to earlier, how the priority dictates our main objectives and how we want to be encouraging our visitors to do what we need them to do.

We need to be controlling the prominence by doing one of four things. For starters, the size. The size of the button is probably going to play the biggest role in prominence. Ultimately, bigger is better but if you have a page of just one giant button, that’s not going to be a great user experience because they’re not going to know what we’re doing.

The second we can control is colour. Now, this goes into a little bit of psychology because if I said to you “think of the colour red” and subconsciously you start thinking “stop”, “alert”. That’s why you don’t often see “buy” buttons that are red. Likewise, the colour green connotes with “proceeding”, “go ahead” and “safety”. So, you’ll often find buy buttons are green.

The wording – you can look at how you can use hard sale which would be wording like “buy now”, you can use soft sale which is words like “continue”, or even directional wording which would be something like “pay now”. There’s no right or wrong answers, it’s going to be something that you’re going to have a look at yourself and see how you can find what suits best for your website.

The final prominence control is white spacing. This is how much area around the button, around the call to action button there is, where there’s nothing else in there. If you have all this space around the outside, this white area and in the middle of it’s your nice, big green button with a perfect wording you’re going to get far more people click it than if you have it covered with images and not perhaps standing out. That’s ultimately how you make your call to action a better call to action. But let’s say our visitors click it, they click our call to action, they press the buy button. Now what?

Interruptions. Interruptions are one of the worst things that we can do and often we’re all guilty of doing something that’s going to interrupt our visitor from completing their journey, completing their goal or whatever they’ve come to do on our site. For instance, if they’re trying to purchase, the worst thing you can do is to throw another product in their face. There is of course this logical upselling – if you have a product or other service that you think may be relevant at the right time, then of course include it. But don’t start selling them something or sending them off away on another site. You certainly don’t want to have any links to somewhere else within your site.

A great example if you look at PayPal or the process when you go to pay, they take out a lot of their links. The same for eBay, when you pay with eBay you can only really click on one or two links within the page. That’s because they’re trying to remove all the distractions and focus you on whatever your journey is trying to do, which is to purchase that product.

Let’s say you have no interruptions at all. What are you going to be faced with next? You’re going to be faced with objections. And these aren’t actually people saying “hey, wait a minute, I can’t buy this because of that”. They’re going to be perhaps this reason why they’re on the back foot. A great example can be for a car salesman for instance, where the potential customer may think to themselves “oh, I can’t afford this right now”. As a car salesman, they turn around “well, that’s fine, madam, we have plenty of payment plans to spread over however many months you want”.

Now, how does that relate to us as website owners? The problem we have is that we don’t have car salesmen to interact with our visitors whilst they’re there. We need to overcome their objections in advance. Your website is your salesperson. We need to be pre-empting all this information and overcoming all of these objections that may possibly pop up. This could anything from including all the information that you can possibly think of. Having a frequently asked questions section is a really great example of this overcoming objections because generally the questions you see in most FAQs areas are the same you see in most sites because those are quite often the common objections.

Similar to objections – providing enough information. Visitors may be willing to buy but they may just not be sure of that key bit of information that’s going to seal the deal. This may be: “How long will it take to receive?, “Will it work with this other product?”, “Can I fit it myself or do I need a professional to install it?”. These bits of information might be that little tiny bit that you need to seal the deal.

Putting all the information you can, wherever you can, whether it’s on the page of a specific product, in the delivery information section, in the FAQ section. Wherever it is, put whatever you can because we work with our products, we know our business and we know our services better than anybody but often our potential customers don’t know what we know. So, we need to make sure that we don’t miss anything out.

Of course, there are situations where we just forget something, we’ve overlooked it. The last thing we want to do is allow our competitors to steal a sale from us because we’ve missed something. So what we need to do is we need to make sure we’re easy to contact. Making sure you have all your contact information all over your website is what can really help with this bit.

Even though you may run a part-time business and you can’t answer the phone during the day or perhaps it’s your full-time business and you want to have everyone call you up, it doesn’t make a difference. Just make sure your emails, your phones, whatever is suitable for you, is all over your website, particularly headers and footers. It’s well know that if I say to you – “Where’s the contact details?” – you probably start thinking to look in the header or somewhere in the footer.

At the very least you should have a contact link in the bottom, in the footer, and you should definitely have a Contact page where you maybe have a form, your email address, your phone number, whatever information you’re going to be providing.

Also, as well as providing an opportunity to elaborate on a information that you missed out, you can take some of your online goals offline. So you could be making your sales that you would’ve made perhaps through your website and do them directly through the customer. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Your website isn’t just your focal sale point, it allows you to be the central hub for your business.

Now we’ve got all of the key elements that we can do but what’s the next step that we can take? Well, there’s something called “trust elements”. Trust elements are aspects and images on your website that are going to help your visitors feel like they can trust a little bit better. There’s a couple that you can include in your own.

The first is awards and endorsements. Perhaps you’ve won a local award, it could some sort of certification that you or your business has achieved, and this is something that you’re going to want to put on your website.

The next: supplier and brands. If you work with any particular hardware, software or anyone that is a notable name, show that you work with them. It may not be that important to you but to one person it might be that one bit of information that seals you a deal.

Notable clients. Again, if you have big client lists or even if you have a small client list, just showing that you work with other clients, other people, is a great way to show that you’re a trustworthy business to work with.

Finally, something called common icons. The icons you can see you’ve probably seen across quite a lost of sites. There’s research that suggests that even just seeing these elements on a website subconsciously actually make you trust a website, despite there being nothing saying that you can’t put them on your site anyway.

There’s one more trust element that you can do that’s really going to supercharge your website, and that is including testimonials and reviews. These are a great way to add a lot of trust to your site. As long as you’re making sales, you can ask any of your customers for a review. Most of them will be happy to give a good one, and if they’re not happy to give a good one, they’re going to be providing information that is going to give you constructive criticism.

Putting testimonials and reviews on a website is a really great way just to display that you’re not just this one band that’s going to disappear overnight with their money, but actually you deliver a good service, a good product, whatever it is. Ultimately, we buy other people so being recommended is a great way.

There are various ways that you can display the reviews on your site. You can insert them in yourself as just text, you could perhaps find a service provider who offers an independent reviews system for you. You could even perhaps get video reviews. All of these are different ways of displaying reviews and testimonials on your site that ultimately increase the value and trust of your own website.

There’s one final trust element and this one is an extra bonus as it’s the most recent and upcoming trust element that you can add, and that is social endorsement. Sites like eBay and Booking.com utilise social endorsement on their site as a way to encourage you to purchase based upon what other people are doing. It’s a subtle way of not only saying “we may run out of stock” but it’s also the way of saying if other people are doing it, it’s ok for you to do it too. It’s creating this kind of time-sensitive “hey, I might miss out” mindset as a great way to encourage you to buy.

Social endorsement is a great tool. It’s very hard to find good information that you can divulge but if you can find it, it’s a really great asset to your website’s user experience.

So, that just about wraps up all the tips for today. Hopefully you found it really useful for your business. If you have any questions or comments regarding the UX for your website please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Thanks for listening and see you next time!

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