Why asking one question can make all the difference to your sales

Piranha Designs - Friday, June 17, 2016


Why asking one question can make all the difference to your sales

We know what you're thinking - you've read a few too many articles like this one before, articles that claim you are one or two magical steps away from unlocking a new world of sales for your business. Well, whether it's "magic" or not, we do believe that asking this one question can make a significant difference to your success... and that question is, "What nearly stopped you buying from us?"

It's a question that can be modified to suit various requirements - you may switch the ending to "from using us" or "from signing up", for example. However, the basic principle is much the same, whether you include it in an email to your customer, on a 'thank you' page of your website or even in a face-to-face or telephone conversation. But why is it such an effective question?

It's a question for your customers, not your non-customers

It might seem counterintuitive to ask such a question of those who actually purchased from you. After all, isn't it your prospective customers who failed to follow through, such as those who visited your website or signed up for a newsletter but didn't go on to make the big purchase, that you really need to quiz?

The problem with that approach is that many of those non-customers will throw up mixed, 'red herring' answers about why they didn't purchase from you. They may complain about price, for example, despite only being very casually interested in your product or service in the first place.

In short, these people aren't necessarily qualified prospects - but those who have gone as far as buying from you definitely are, and those are the people whose numbers you want to boost.

Your customers are the ones who know your entire sales funnel

You already know that your buyers were sufficiently interested in your company to complete the sales process, so they are familiar with every step and as a result, can provide informed and insightful advice on how it can be improved. They aren't the people who were deterred after a few seconds, and who thereby lack an accurate appreciation of every aspect of your sales funnel.

After all, the simple fact that your customer actually became your customer doesn't mean that they won't remember the aspects of their experience that almost prevented them from doing so. If a given customer of yours encountered certain barriers but persisted with their purchase nonetheless, there will almost certainly be other people who gave up but never felt the need to tell you why. Remove those barriers, therefore, and you can expect heightened sales.

It's a simple question, but one with obvious benefits, so make sure that you ask it if you want to gain quick and useful feedback that could help to significantly bolster your sales numbers.

3 ways to achieve more conversions for your ecommerce site

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

One of the most persistent conundrums for online business owners is how they can convert more of their site visits into concrete sales - or other actions that contribute to eventual sales, such as newsletter signups or registrations for a free trial. 

With acquisition costs spiralling ever-higher, the relentless pressure for online merchants to maximise their conversion rates remains - and it's certainly possible, given that the last two years alone have seen an increase in average ecommerce conversion rates from 2.9% to 3.5%. 

Here are just three ways to boost your own site's conversions with relatively little investment or effort. 

1. Assist customers to find what they need

The likelihood is that a given customer visits your online store with a specific type of product in mind, so don't leave them floundering amid your navigation menus - make it easy for them, with a prominent and intuitive search feature. 

Ensure your search bar appears consistently across your site and enable auto-complete so that your customer can be presented with suggestions related to what they may be looking for. 

2. Ensure that your site loads quickly 

Everything about the user experience on your site should be quick - indeed, according to a 2010 study, 25% of online shoppers will abandon a page if they are forced to wait between two and six seconds for it to load. 

Measure your present page load times with free tools like Yahoo! YSlow and Google Page Speed, before adopting such measures as the cleaning up of your inactive CMS pages, the removal of out-of-date products and promotions and the archiving of old orders to optimise page performance. 

3. Simplify the checkout process 

Even once your customer makes the decision to buy, you can't depend on them holding fast to that conviction unless you make the checkout process as quick and easy for them as possible. 

That's why you are advised to try to limit the checkout section to just one page, minimising the number of required fields. Don't impose unnecessary obstructions in front of your prospective customer, such as the need to register before buying - a previous Forrester Research study has suggested that this measure alone drives down conversion rates by almost a quarter. 

While simple steps like those mentioned above can be a great starting point for upping your ecommerce conversions, if you don't continually optimise your site, rates will simply decline again over time. That's why you should always keep a close eye on your site's present conversion statistics, while considering at all times how you can maximise the potential for customer sales at every turn. 

How do B2B and B2C content compare?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, May 19, 2016

Whether your business is of the business-to-business (B2B) nature or instead a business-to-consumer (B2C) one, it's likely that you will have wondered from time to time how the two worlds differ regarding the creation and promotion of content. The craze for inbound marketing in recent times has powered the creation of millions of blog posts, ebooks, social media campaigns and other content forms every day, so what can your own business do to stand out?

Well, to stand out, it's helpful to at least know of the dominant schools of thought that have long prevailed around B2B and B2C - for example, that B2B companies require more rational, benefits-centred and longer content, whereas consumers are more likely to respond to shorter, emotional and more entertaining content. 

It was in the interests of testing such assumptions that we looked at the recent statistics concerning the real differences and similarities between B2B and B2C. The figures certainly showed some insightful trends, such as that B2C content consistently delivers higher total shares on average than B2B content, as well as that the average content length is very similar for both B2B and B2C firms. 

There were also some very interesting differences in how the respective types of company content fared on social media. One thing that was very clear was B2C content's much greater reach in terms of attracting shares, with B2C posts attracting an average of 114 shares compared to the mere 68.5 managed by B2B posts. 

3 ways your company may fail to communicate its benefits

Piranha Designs - Friday, May 06, 2016

If your business website isn't converting as effectively as you had hoped it would, fault for this may not lie with the usability of your site, the readability of its text or even the relevance of the product or service that you offer. Instead, you may simply be failing to convey your company's value proposition - in other words, why prospective customers should do business with you. 

Your firm's value proposition can be defined as the benefits of your product or service, minus the costs - or to put it in terms that the buyer might understand, its pros and cons. The pros obviously need to far outweigh the cons when you are marketing your business's offerings via your website, but here are three ways in which companies can so often get it wrong. 

1. Not being clear about what the product or service does 

Many products or services, especially those of a more technically complex nature, can be difficult to explain. This makes a more traditional brand marketing approach potentially disastrous, as customers often need plain English explanations that they may be more likely to find on a Wikipedia page for your product or service type than your actual homepage. 

Look for signs that customers are struggling to understand what your product or service really does - such as an admission that "I'm still researching" - as many of them are unlikely to directly say, "I don't understand the value proposition."

2. Not mentioning certain valuable benefits 

It's easy to forget to refer to all of the extras and other benefits that may apply to your product or service. Sometimes, you may only realise this when a customer provides feedback about a certain aspect of your product or service that they appreciate, but which isn't covered well on your website. 

A good tip is to order your product or service yourself - what great things do you notice that aren't mentioned in your online marketing at all? It's also advisable to ask your customers why they purchased your product - they may have certain perspectives that aren't addressed on your site. 

3. Not explaining what happens after a sale 

Services-oriented companies, in particular, often fail to make clear the post-order experience. It is common in Japan, for example, for companies to use cartoon flowcharts that clearly communicate each stage after the customer says "yes" -  including delivery of a product, how the customer may then use it, any subsequent payments that may be made to the company for additional services and so on. 

Such a 'future pacing' technique helps the customer to envisage the role that a given product or service will play in their lives, long before they hit the 'order' button. 

Methods like the above can make all of the difference to your business website's conversion potential, with great results potentially obtainable from just a few relatively small steps. Good luck! 

Great product descriptions help you sell more online.

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 03, 2014
We have all had the negative experience of buying something online and receiving something completely different than what you ordered from the net. And we all know how it feels! 
These sorts of experiences are normally the type that as a online seller you want to avoid because it damages your reputation both with individual customers, and more importantly with search engines like Google. Be aware that product descriptions and photos are normally the only reference point your potential clients will have for your products so make sure you do it properly from the start. Don't fall into the same trap as so many others by copying and pasting manufacturer's descriptions or using the same collection of words for all your products. If you are serious about e-commerce check out these tips we have prepared for you to write a good product description from the start.

 Think before you begin
Before putting pen to paper, pause for a second and meditate on what you are selling. Put down the main points that make your product useful and how you can describe them to a potential buyer. By going through this slightly longer process you can ensure that you include everything you want to get across to the public in one piece of text, so nothing important is omitted and you can feel satisfied you have done the best job possible. Style and tone should reflect the audience you are are trying to reach, so make sure you have done your market research.

 Innovate, don't imitate!
Whatever you do always make sure that you don't plagiarize what someone else has already written, even if it is the manufacturer. All text must be freshly conceived in its entirety and therefore never published beforehand on the web. While reproducing previously drawn up descriptions for the product can sound like a really quick and easy shortcut, it is the biggest mistake you can make. The first thing that will go out of the window will be its SEO value, quickly followed by your ranking in search engines. It is better to round up the best ideas from other reviews of your product or those in the same bracket and develop your own words from that material.

 Keywords are the key
Keywords are the mainstay in any product description so make sure you do not forget to include them. This will do two things at once – give you a better SEO ranking and make a client feel they have reached the place where they want to be. At the same time, don't overdo it. If you go overboard with keywords your description will be unreadable and you will be downgraded by your search engine. Most of the time keywords will appear naturally  in your text if you just write what you feel about a product, thus giving the reader an impression that you are having a dialogue with him or her.

 Be seriously funny
The most important thing about product description is that it is accessible and user-friendly. Humour and emotion play a big part in giving these pieces of text life and imagination, but always remember to tailor it to your target audience. As part of this identification with the reader you could also use colloquial terms and cliches which make a connection with your reader. In particular if what you are selling are luxury products, wow as many of the the customer's senses as possible so that they will feel it will really make them feel better.

 Put yourself in their shoes
Ask yourself what the person searching for your product is thinking. How could you make it sound so irresistible that they would not hesitate to proceed to checkout? Which things are imperative to include? Examine what characteristics could be asked for in a buyer's mind and deliver them. When you have written them all up check with someone else to see if they would have anything done differently or if they need more answers than what you provide.

 Improve your layout
Web-users don't normally have much time when they are looking to buy things online so the best thing to do is to avoid is long chunks of prose. Write up stuff clearly and concisely, so information can be examined easily and follow it with tidy bullet-points that summarise the product features to a potential client. 

 Include client feedback
While it would make no sense to point out what could go wrong with your product, it is valid to be able to show that a neutral observer like a past client has had a positive experience both with your company and more specifically, with the product in question. This can be presented in the form of product reviews or as a link to an article written about your product making sure it is recent and fits in with your description. Such a ploy could corroborate your own product description, affirm that your company is open to criticism and virtually confirm a sale. You can find product reviews all over the internet which will boost your e-commerce no end and additional modules can also be purchased online.

 Create a narrative
You want the customer to be captivated by the product and for the description to translate that emotion. One way of doing this by telling a story of the product's journey. Below are some things you could include:

Where it was manufactured
The manufacturing process and what it is made from
Who designed it
The influences that led to the product being created

A product story like this can read more like warm advice from a previous buyer than a cold description from a sales-orientated company, which, when accentuated with colloquialisms, can really create a sense of confidence in the product. A narrative like this can really give you the cutting edge over your closest rivals and will make people take more interest in what your brand has to offer.


• Show why yours is top dog

Nowadays, the harsh reality of the market is that every product has a replica which is could be cheaper than the one you are selling. Additionally, the amount of companies getting acquainted with the Web and its commercial advantages is increasing everyday. This is why your product needs to be a cut above the rest. And the best way to prove that is by contrasting it positively with other brands and using rich vocabulary like superlatives to strengthen your argument. Special offers or free services are always a great way to make your client get over their reservations and order the product immediately.

Examine the advice above to ensure your product descriptions are a real hit which will bring in more sales than ever before. When presented alongside quality images of the product and attractive web design, the results will mean you can just sit back and start taking orders.

Responsive website design - what is it?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Mobile usage is continuously growing. Websites are finding it hard to keep up with all the different devices and screens.

Responsive website design is a solution to this problem.

In simple terms it means that the website 'responds' to the device screen size it is on. This website is responsive. If you view it on a desktop with a large screen you will see that it expands to fill the whole screen. If you then try the site on your ipad you will find that it looks very similar but has condensed the content a little to fit perfectly within the screen. Now when you switch to an iphone or Android smart phone you will see that the site has changed quite dramatically. The menu across the top has become a menu icon which can be expanded on tap. The overall layout has become much more vertical, one column rather than a few columns. 

The important thing with responsive design is that there is only one website with all the content in it, but it responds cleverly to the users device. 

It is a lot more work for web designers like us, but the end result is really worth it. Stats show that over 70% of mobile users switch to a competitor if they find the site they are looking at is not mobile friendly.

Is your site responsive? Is it mobile friendly?

Mobile websites are a must

Piranha Designs - Friday, February 01, 2013

In the ever-changing and fast-moving markets in which small businesses work in, its important to stay ahead, and not just ahead of the competition, but ahead of our customers too.

At PDG, we often ask the question ‘What’s the next big thing?’ in our team meetings. It’s the small difference between being proactive and reactive that makes a big difference on your annual financial statement. 

So, what’s happening? What’s changing? What are clients and potential customers doing differently now?

There may be many answers to this question, but for most of our clients the most relevant answer would be the way their potential customers find them!

Indeed, there is no doubt that more and more people are using mobile devices such as the iPad and Smartphones to surf the web. Google produced an excellent report (Download the Google Report ) showing that everyday more of the world’s population are using their mobile phones to surf the web! In fact, Microsoft believes that by 2014, there will be more people accessing the internet on mobile devices than on their desktop.

You customers are changing the way they use the internet, the question is, are you ahead of the game?

Your business needs to cater for the growing number of current and potential customers that are using their tablets or Smartphones to find products, services and information online. If you do not offer a mobile version of your website, then you are not catering to the demands of this significantly large group of people.

Have you browsed your website on your Smartphone? Is it difficult or frustrating to navigate through? Do you need to zoom in to read the text easily? Then, your website is not ‘Smartphone-friendly’.

Take a look at www.amazon.co.uk the mobile version is ‘leaner’ and ‘more streamlined’ on a Smartphone then on the desktop. The text is larger (compared to the screen), only the key features or sections are displayed and the website fits the Smartphone screen perfectly (its long, rather than wide) on their mobile version of the site.

Normally mobile versions are focused on the primary reasons for visiting a website, which actually makes them more user-friendly and often a good exercise for the business owner.

Currently we are building mobile versions of our sites and if you haven´t thought about it already give us a call on 20045599 or send us an email (web@pdg.gi) and we can explore the options with you. It is not expensive and can really make a difference in the long run.

6 things that must be on your homepage

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Your website is often the first port of call for a potential customer, when they get to your site you only have a matter of seconds to make an impact. There are a number of things that people look out for and are proven to make a huge difference on the relationship with the website visitor.

I have been very surprised to find huge businesses failing on these basic principles, so even though they sound incredibly obvious they aren’t.

Here is the list of 6 key things that must be on your homepage:

1. Clear contact information
Many people visit your website just to get in touch with you, make it as easy as possible to call you or email you directly from your homepage. Don’t make the visitor search around for your contact details, put them clearly on the top right if possible.
Stats show that by having a telephone number clearly on your website you instantly increase customer trust in the site.

2. Your unique selling proposition

If you have a USP then make it clear on your homepage, if you don’t then at least explain what you do clearly and concisely. Remember to speak to the visitor with simple words that they will understand.

3. Clear navigation
People need guiding around your site, so help them. Give them the 3 or 4 most popular options. I normally recommend clients to think of the top 4 reasons someone would visit their website, make those options clearly visible as soon as they get to your site.

4. Good images
Images can make a massive difference on first impressions of a company. You should have good quality and well taken photographs showing what it is that you do.

5. Call to action
Ideally you should have some call to action that includes the visitor giving you their email address in exchange for some information, eg. a free guide, a newsletter or some other free gift.
This means that you can begin to convert your visitors into leads.

6. Social media links
A recent experiment showed that a florist who displayed their facebook likes on a prominent section of their website increased customer trust by 44%. If you are using social media (you should be) then make it easy to connect with you by displaying this on your homepage.

Make sure your site is doing as much work as it can, so you don't have to.

Easy tips to make your emails more effective

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, March 28, 2012
We all use email so much that it can actually eat up all our free time. With our mobiles receiving emails and the Ipad too, you can’t seem to escape from them.

Over the years I have learnt many ways of improving my efficiency. I would like to share some useful tips with you, on how you can improve your emails.

Your email signature.


If you are constantly having to type the ending to all your emails, eg: Regards or Thanks – you can put that into your signature.

Make sure your signature is on all initial emails and that it includes all your relevant contact details. It can be really frustrating when you can’t find a persons phone number and you have loads of their emails.

Your Inbox


I have been to visit many clients who have shown me their Outlook with thousands of emails in the Inbox. That scares me. I have seen Outlook crash when there were simply too many emails in the Inbox. When Outlook crashes it can be very distressing!
It takes a few seconds to create folders and then you can organise your emails and keep your inbox clean. I try to leave only things I have pending in my inbox, when it builds up I find sometime to get things done and it all cleaned up again.

Writing emails


To me this is the area that is most important. Some people are extremely brief in their emails and in their SMS messages, others write whole books. I think a comfortable comprise is needed.
After you have said the usual pleasantries, get straight to the point, and make it extremely clear. Try and say everything you need so that the other person will definitely understand, rather than leave any guessing. Here is an example.

Client emails me, or even worse sends me an SMS:

Hi Julian,
My website isn’t working.
Please fix.


There are a few assumptions here:
1. I know which website he is referring to
2. That I know who he is
3. That I have all his contact details

The more effective way to right this email would be:

Hi Julian,

My website www.domain.com is not working. This page shows an error – www.domain.com/about.htm
Can you please fix this?

John Smith
ABC Limited
Tel: 2000000
Email: john@domain.com
Web: www.domain.com

When you write the email try to think of the questions that may arise from the message you are sending and answer them. 

Another typical example is in arranging meetings:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week?

--
Yes, sure when is best for you?
--
Wednesday or Thursday
--
Ok Wednesday morning?
--
What time?
--
11am
--
Sorry can’t. How about 12?
--
Ok 12 it is. At my office or yours?
--
Mine is better.
--
Ok. Wednesday at 12 at your office.
--
Ok see you then.

That’s 11 messages which could have been done in 3. Lets see:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week, I am free on Wednesday and Thursday morning, except for 11-11.30 on Wednesday. It would be best in my office as I have something to show you.

--
Sure, let’s make it Wednesday at 12 at your office. Ok?
--
Great. See you then.

Summary:


• Be specific
• Be clear
• Try not to leave questions open ended
• Explain what you need to in order to avoid unnecessary questions

These are just a few tips that can help you make your emailing quicker, easier and more effective. Let me know any tips that you use to improve your email efficiency, by commenting below.

Does good graphic design affect website success?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Imagine you enter a shop, the logo looks like it was designed by a child, there are sheets of paper stuck on the walls with hand written text on them. The tiles are all misaligned on the floor. The walls are painted in bright contrasting colours which almost hurt your eyes. The display units are huge, but the products are tiny. None of the products have clear labels or prices. You look for a shop assistant but can’t find any. After a few minutes you give up and leave.

No business owner would ever want to have a shop like that one, and no client would bother wasting time in that store. However, when it comes to the online store/website it is often forgotten that we are dealing with the same person and the same issues.

Some excellent businesses have terrible websites. Badly designed, disorganised, difficult to navigate and just not user friendly at all. The Stanford Web Credibility Project found that 47% of users make buying decisions based upon the site itself. This implies that if the site looks professional and has good graphic design it can heavily influence sales. So much so that nearly half your customers can make a buying decision without having to shop around, or doing off-site research.

This seems extremely obvious in the physical store example explained above, but for some reason it is often disregarded when creating a website. Whilst in a physical store you may have up to a few minutes, on the web you only have 10 seconds to make an impression.

 

10 Seconds

In the first 10 seconds of arriving at your site many users will have already made a decision in their minds. In this time visitors gather a large range of impressions: company quality and size, product range, product offering and price. They either connect and feel they are in the right place or leave.

Website owners need to look at their websites objectively and ask this type of questions:

  • Does my site look attractive and professional?
  • Does my website properly reflect what we do?
  • Would a complete stranger know how we can help them within 10 seconds of visiting our site?
  • What is the overall message my site is sending?
  • Do I have clear calls to action?
  • Is it easy for someone to find what they are looking for?
  • Is my contact information obvious?

In my experience I have seen some incredibly convincing results that good graphic design can positively increase sales. One particular ecommerce site is our best example of this:

The site was consistently selling around 6000USD per month before we took it on.

Without any further advertising or increases in traffic, but just by applying a totally revised look the site sales shot up to 10,000USD per month instantly.

The second redesign of the site, after extensive user testing has again increased sales to 13 – 15,000USD per month.

Don’t forget that your website can say a lot for your business. Make sure your site is saying the right things.


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