Sales, sales, sales…the dreaded word that makes executives' heartbeat a little bit faster whenever they hear it. For some, that increased heart rate can be directly attributed to the sheer enthusiasm that comes with achieving sales goals and all the perks and rewards affixed to sales success. However, for other executives—the word “sales” is a perturbing term that gives them nightmares while sleeping and goosebumps when they're awake.
That’s because so much of a company's success solely relies on its ability to sell. Actually, let me rephrase that, all of a company’s success relies on its ability to sell. And in the age of ecommerce, many of a company's sales will come via its website. In fact, according to The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, the estimate of U.S. retail ecommerce sales for the third quarter of 2021 totaled $204.6 billion, which was actually a decrease of 3.2% from the second quarter of 2021.
And with so much of a company’s sales coming by way of its website, there’s still a sufficient amount of revenue that businesses leave on the table due to digital marketing mishaps. No need to agonize, this article isn’t going to be about some magical SEO hack that will solve all of your ecommerce woes. And while SEO is important, it can only help people find your website. But then what?
These three digital marketing tactics are focused on helping you entice the people that visit your website to make a purchase once they arrive. But enough of the introduction, let’s get to the tactics that are going to help put you in the category of executives that smile whenever they think of sales and have dreams about making them—instead of nightmares.
1. Put your main feature first
As a consumer, don’t you just get frustrated whenever you log on to a website to order a product, and instead, end up on another page for a product that you had no interest in purchasing?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware of the milk philosophy of marketing. If you're unfamiliar with it, have you ever asked yourself, “Why is that milk is always located in the back of every grocery store?”
Well, the milk philosophy to marketing is centered around the concept that by placing milk in the coolers in the back of the store—customers are more likely to see and be enticed by other items on their way to grabbing the milk. I must admit that the tactic has worked on me plenty of times when grocery shopping (be honest, how many times have you purchased items that you had no intent on purchasing while grocery shopping? I can’t be the only one).
And while the milk philosophy is highly effective on customers at grocery stores, it’s not nearly as effective for customers shopping online. In fact, according to a survey from 451research, 61% of U.S. consumers that shop online prefer websites that make their products easy to find.
Here's one way you could do that:
Let's say that you own a company that sells snowboards online. If your data shows that the most popular item on your website for visitors is a particular snowboard, then that snowboard should be the first thing that visitors see whenever they log on your website.
Contrary to what other digital marketers may tell you about featuring peripheral items above-the-fold on your website in order to help those products sell more; when it comes to shopping online, consumers prefer ease and speed. In other words, they want what they came for.
There’s other ways to feature your peripheral items—like highlighting them on your website's shopping cart at the time of, or after a consumer makes purchase.
It’s important to remember that in order to increase conversions, you must give the consumer what they came for as soon as possible before they go elsewhere (which would also increase your bounce rate).
If consumers come to your site for milk, make sure that milk is the first thing they see when they arrive on your website. You can sell your other items in the aisles (on particular pages) or at the checkout—like grocery stores do with candy bars (they also got that one right).
2. Simplify selections (UX)
This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many websites don’t simplify the purchasing process on their website. In order to increase conversion rate, it’s imperative that you secure the sale as soon as possible.
That means ensuring that visitors can make a purchase in as few clicks as possible. The more clicks that a consumer has to make to get what they came for, the more likely they’ll look for it elsewhere—which is missed revenue for your company!
Instead of helping your competitors confiscate your current and potential customers – be proactive and make sure that the user’s experience on your website is pleasurable and makes it easy as possible for visitors to navigate with no hurdles. Especially when it comes to making a purchase! Remember, the least amount of clicks to make a purchase—the better.
In their book, R.E.D Marketing, former YUM! Brands CEO Greg Creed and Yum! Brands CMO Ken Muench, state, “Relevance and distinctiveness can make your brand more mentally available and appropriate for their times, but only ease can—with a few tweaks, pull your rivals' customers into your locations overnight.”
Ease-of-purchase on your website will not only increase conversion amongst your current customers – it’ll also lead to some of your competitors' customers churning and becoming your customers. Which would certainly increase your conversion rate exponentially.
3. Be scarce
I don’t have to tell you that as humans, we’re very enigmatic (some more than others). So, oftentimes, things that seem very practical—like purchasing something that we’re interested in; or not purchasing something that we have no interest in, can become a decision that’s unnecessarily strenuous to us mentally.
For example, have you ever been on a date with someone at a restaurant, and the person that you were on the date with had ample time to check out the menu. But when the waiter came to take their order—they still weren't prepared to make a decision on what they wanted to order? (If not, you probably was the one on the date that couldn’t decide what to order. You’re not alone—we’ve all been there)
The reason that choices that should be effortless for us, become arduous, is because we’re innately wired to become more finicky when options are abundant – and more resolute when things are scarce. In his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, author and behavioral scientist Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, says, “A less available item is more desired and valued.”
So, in knowing that as humans—we’re innately wired to desire and value things that are more scarce, help your customers make a decision by utilizing the law of scarcity to work on your behalf. The way to do that is by showing visitors on your website that you only have a limited supply of a certain product or a certain service will only be available for a certain price for a certain amount of time. This would cause tension. And tension invokes action.
Here’s a few ways that you can apply the law of scarcity on your website:
“Only 5 shirts left - purchase now!”
“Upgrade your phone in the next two days and get 50% off”
“We noticed you viewed these items – we only have 3 left in stock”
Some may say that this is manipulation. But if it actually helps a customer make a decision that they’re having trouble making, is it wrong? I’ll leave that answer for the ethics professors. The way I see it, as long as you’re telling the truth, there's no harm in causing tension.
Hate it or love it, utilizing the fear of missing out (FOMO) is a very effective tool to invoke a desired action. As humans, fear of not having something we may want is one of the things that makes us tick. I believe Dr. Cialdini stated it best when he said, “The idea of potential loss plays a huge role in decision making. In fact, people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.”
The proper application of scarcity tactics on your website will increase its conversion rate because people are naturally more inclined to act on the thought of losing something—than they are the possibility of gaining something. As a responsible marketer, it’s your job to ensure that once the consumer does make a purchase, your product or service will be a gain for the consumer, instead of a loss.