To Boost Conversions, Think Conversely

A recent study found that 65% of online shoppers are “window shoppers,” and take on average up to 33 hours to make a purchase — often over security concerns.

Some interesting findings show that most people who abandon their shopping carts don’t do so permanently.

They tend to return within the first day to complete their purchase, likely after they had a chance to shop around, review their security, or practice some due diligence.

According to WebProNews who reported on the study, “65% of all shoppers will wait a day or more to complete a purchase.” The most notable finding was the idea that just increasing security and buyer confidence can increase conversion by 11%.

Interesting, yes. But far from surprising.

In fact, I often tell my clients and students that, in order to boost sales, you should be a “conversion contrarian.” In other words, don’t focus on increasing conversions. Not at first, anyway. Instead, you should focus on decreasing something else…

… You should focus on decreasing non-conversions.

In recent times, I’ve been hammering home the idea that:

The latter of the three — i.e., reducing friction in the sales and ordering processes — has become a chief focus in my recent split-tests. With dramatic results.

More important, you need to bring those non-buyers back to the salesletter and get them to complete their order, and a mechanism that allows you to do so. As the last paragraph in Chris Crum’s WebProNews article about the study clearly states:

That’s not to say that if you are selling things online, there isn’t a good chance you are missing out on a substantial amount of money you easily could be making, if you only examined why people are leaving the shopping cart. Just focus on the ones who aren’t coming back.

For many years, one of the central teachings from my friend, Armand Morin, a top Internet marketer who generates millions online, is the idea of “forced optin,” i.e., a mandatory form where people must join a list before they see the salesletter.

“All salesletters should be preceded by a forced optin page,” says Morin.

A forced optin page — also known as a “squeeze page,” “namesqueeze page,” or “flycatcher page” — is no longer considered an add-on strategy, an extra step, or even a bottleneck (which is why some people refuse to use it), but a necessity.

And these recent findings underline this practice, as it goes to prove that you need to, and must, have a way to follow-up with your non-buyers within that first 24-hour window.

Those first 24 hours are crucial.

Speaking of bottlenecks, I agree that, in some cases, a forced optin page can be a deterrent. But keep in mind, you must use them intelligently for them to work.

An optin form that blocks access to your information and forces people to subscribe before giving them what they’re asking for is definitely going to push some away.

Granted, if your visitors are already on your list, you don’t need one — although it might prove itself to be effective in segmenting your list. The key, in either case, is to use them properly, effectively, with the right message, and with the right audience.

If your traffic is targeted, you can use…

  • Persuasive teaser copy that’s informative yet incomplete;
  • A strong incentive or bribe, perhaps with a certain exclusivity;
  • Registrations to events, such as teleseminars or webinars;
  • Multimedia, such as videos, demonstrations, interviews, or samples;
  • A notification process for when the content or product is made available;
  • Continuous content, such as newsletters, courses, or periodic updates;
  • A multistep process where content is broken down in parts or layers;
  • Or sequential content delivered over a period of time.

There are many creative ways to get legitimate, qualified optins, and this list is by no means exhaustive. Incidentally, the second half of that list is based on a technique that’s becoming more and more popular these days, which is the reverse optin process.

Nevertheless, forced optins are powerful tools for a number of reasons — not the least of which is the ability to follow-up with them, particularly within that first 24-hour window.

But a forced optin also helps you in qualifying visitors more effectively, starts the relationship-building process, fosters trust and credibility (by immediately giving them what they’re asking for), and even trains your prospects to eventually buy from you.

As Armand often notes, “If you can’t get them to give you their email address, chances are you won’t be able to get them to give you their credit card number, either.”

However, forced optins aside, there are many other frictional components that are killing your sales right now. You’d be amazed at how many elements can impede, slow down, interrupt, distract, break the flow, and deter your prospects from buying from you.

These bottlenecks are like speed bumps, slowing down that greased-slide momentum that’s often talked about in copywriting courses — from getting them to start reading the copy, all the way to getting them to finish processing their order. And then, some.

Therefore, rather than looking at ways to increase conversions, you can boost your sales — oftentimes, dramatically — by first looking at why people are leaving, addressing those reasons, and focusing on ways to decrease your non-conversions.

In short, you need to start looking at how can you reduce the number of non-buyers rather than, or at least together with, how you can boost the number of those who buy.

Think about this for a moment.

If you have a 2% conversion rate, and you conduct a split-test that increased your conversion to 3%, that might be all well and good. You boosted response by a third! Who wouldn’t want a 33% boost in sales? But the problem is, 97% are still non-buyers.

You went from 98 to 97% non-conversion rate.

Doesn’t sound as appealing, huh?

That’s why one of the best ways I’ve found to increase sales is not to focus on more aggressive, or even surreptitious ways to boost sales, such as testing different colored headlines, tweaking layouts, changing fonts, or adding more copy to the mix…

… But to focus on increasing trust, building relationships, adding more proof, making better offers, and above all, removing friction from the sales process. Such as:

  • Making the navigation more fluid,
  • Communicating more security,
  • Facilitating the checkout process,
  • Reducing any confusion or friction,
  • Projecting a great brand and image,
  • Having a cleaner look and feel,
  • Being congruent and consistent,
  • Adding more “seals of approval,” etc.

Ultimately, don’t stop looking for ways to boost your sales. But conversely, I would definitely start looking at what causes your non-sales, such as what pushes people away or stops them from coming back, and address those as well, if not at first.

The worst you can do is to ignore your non-buyers altogether.

After all, you might be sitting on a goldmine.

About The Author

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Michel Fortin is a certified SEO consultant, content strategist, and marketing advisor helping plastic surgeons, cosmetic surgeons, and medical aesthetic clinics attract more patients. Since 1991, he helps cosmetic and aesthetic professionals increase their visibility and grow their practices. He is the author of the More Traffic Memo™ SEO email newsletter.

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