Every business deals with prospective clients, and these clients are chosen from among the rest of the people because they are more likely to generate a response favourable to your business. The response can be purchasing merchandise from you, filling out forms and surveys related to your business, or accepting your business proposals. Once a person or a business group performs such a favourable action for your business, they do not remain prospective clients, but become your clients. Such a process is called a conversion and conversion rate is a factor that depicts how many prospective clients have been turned into clients. Increasing conversion rates, therefore, is essential for your business.
There are many tested methods of the best practices to follow for increasing conversion rates for both online and offline businesses. Let us take a look at some of them:
Building and Maintaining Credibility
Your clients choose you from a pool of competitors in your business. This means that there is a certain level of trust involved when they have preferred you. Establishing and maintaining this trust generates more clients and increases your conversion rates. Here are some quick tips:
• Providing genuine information about your business is the first step towards building an aura of trust. In an online business, this means having elaborate, accessible and unambiguous ‘about us’ and ‘contact us’ sections on your website. Similarly, you should make it known that transactions with you are safe and secure. If you are running an offline business, this may mean specifying that you deal with trusted banks and have hassle-free and guaranteed refund policies. In online business, this could mean creating a safe transaction environment online with the help of online security firms such as Verisign.
• Furthermore, you may also gain more popularity by citing testimonials and names of reputed clients. You can put this information in your brochures, product covers and even on your websites.
• Another trust-building action you can do is to make more room for transparency by providing customer support on the phone or through live chats. These may also encourage curious and interested people or groups to become your clients when they become absolutely sure that your products or services can fulfil their requirements.
Maintaining trust becomes even more important once you have established it. Remember the following 5 good practices.
1. The more risk free and transparent your transactions are, the better. You should always give receipts of new transactions and keep copies of them yourself.
2. You should always be updated with the key figures, trends and developments in your business and make sure that your clients are made aware as well. Bloggers should update pages frequently to avoid giving the impression that the site is poorly maintained. Similarly, meeting halls and conference tables in offices should be well kept and clean at all times and look like they are in regular use and have all the facilities needed.
3. The information you provide to clients should never be misleading or offensive. Any errors made should be rectified as soon as possible; just as newspapers print an apology corner with the correct facts the very next day if a discrepancy is found. Your workforce should be professional at all times and exhibit expertise in their field of work. For example, a new moderator or contributor on your website who is not familiar with the ethos may break the decorum by posting something disliked by the majority.
4. Have you seen how insurance advisors stay in touch with clients even after their policies have been sold? You must provide excellent after sales services to maintain the customer and encourage future participation. An impressed client will be happy to refer you to his contacts. This is particularly helpful if you run a business for only a few clients and rely heavily on word-of-mouth publicity.
Making Research Easy for Customers
Prospective clients do not know the entire range of products and services you offer. Making all this information accessible to them is more of your job than theirs. Take a look at these suggestions:
• To make their research easy, you can place advertisements for introducing any other products they are not aware of. These advertisements could be of a curious nature, so that they may come to you asking for more. Or they can be in the form of tempting offers to make them buy more from you. In the online mode, this can work really well using pop-ups on your sites. You can also have a moving graphic on your homepage to attract visitors towards new sections.
• Customers are most influenced by a compelling value proposition. They need to know why your product is different, better and more beneficial than the competitors’ products. This information should be made crystal clear in your value proposition. Your product should give them everything the competitors offer and more at a price that they think is just. Ideally, the proposition should be summed up in just one sentence, such as ‘more mileage per car’ for a vehicle business or ‘100 paid apps included’ for cell phones.
• Some smart entrepreneurs also try the trial closing method. This method involves taking an unsure prospect to a decision-making mode. This is particularly helpful if the prospective parties are only surfing casually or ‘window shopping’ your product. Tell them that they may now make the purchase, give information about the benefits or discounts and directly ask them if they would pay by cash or credit card. Assume that they are going to say yes, and more often than not, they will. If it still does not work, you may try to find out the reason. Invest some time on them. If they still do not ‘convert,’ at least you will know about any faults with your product or client behaviour. You can use the same information to become more aware in future. Plus you will know what kind of customers not to interact with.
Setting up a Sales Funnel
Now that you know that even casual visitors can be converted into clients, you should also know that it is not always beneficial to try to convince them directly. The sales funnel starts at awareness, moves to interest and ends at sale. This means that making customer research easy is not the only thing you have to do, but you also need to give customers time to absorb that information and generate an interest. For a very reluctant buyer, you may try offering samples to introduce them to your product. For online businesses, you may have a short clip that piques curiosity. For examples, many educational websites have a short clip of video tutorials on YouTube that gives a link to the website at the end.
The sales funnel should also filter out people who will never convert to customers. For example, a college student who is curious to know about house loans, but will never purchase one, or a casual website visitor who is looking at information on buying telescopes online. Such people should never be categorized as prospective clients and you should refrain from spending time and resources on them.
Finding out What Clients Want
Let us suppose you launch two versions of a product to test which one is more popular. If A sells more than B, you should channelize your energy and resources on A. This is called A/B testing or split testing. For example, if you sell a rose-scented soap and a lime scented one and the rose scented soap is more preferred by your target market, you know which way to go. You can follow the same technique for your website or blog. If you create two versions of a page carrying similar information using different tools such as photos, infographics, videos, etc. and one of the pages gets you more visitors, you should write more articles in the same style as that of this page.
Making Buying Easy
You can take a horse to water and unless it’s a very stubborn one, it will drink if it is thirsty. Your customers will buy from you if they do not have to go through a complex procedure before getting the final product. Make your forms easy to fill, avoid asking for too many documents unless absolutely essential, give all the necessary steps and avoid giving customers too many choices. If you compel users to sign-up before buying from you, they often get frustrated in the form-filling process and leave. Similarly, if you have a long queue of customers, they may not stay for long; and if you have too many queues they will be confused. The solution is finding a middle ground where all customers can get what they want in the least amount of time and without spending too much energy. Home delivery, free shipping, take away etc. are some of the things you may consider. Avoiding distractions, such as too many ads on your site that deter a customer from actually trying to get to your product is also a good practice. Lastly, you can try to generate instant sales by creating urgency through spot offers and limited period benefits. E.g. offer valid only till 31st Jan, or 20% off on Thursdays.