Tips to Improve Online Sales Conversion

My website is giving me too many leads! Now you are probably thinking 'And this is a problem?". Not if you have a fully automated online business where customers can buy and fulfillment happens with little or no interaction. But what if you have a service business that requires phone calls or quotes to build relationships or close the sale?

This is the problem recently raised by a local business owner who updated and optimized his website. Within weeks, the number of calls and emails exploded - that's the good news. But they were not responding to them in a timely manner - that's the bad news. In the short-term, this hurts your sales conversion rate; in the long-term it may damage your reputation for dependability and responsiveness.

So how do you avoid this? First, remember that your business systems need to change as your business and revenue grows. If you expect growth from a new or improved strategy (and you should), keep this in mind - and prepare for it. In his case, the procedure for handling online leads worked when they trickled in, but didn't when they more than quadrupled.

Next, use technology, anticipate issues and simplify what you do. Here's a few things we did to demonstrate this point:
  • Avoid vague contact forms. You need their name, phone and email, but most website contact forms use a comment box to gather more information. They often leave you wondering what action the prospect wants you to take. Do they want you to call or simply email them information? Add a 'How can we help you' section and list the specific options.
  • Screen leads. Add one or two specific questions to your contact form to help you screen and prioritize. Make them simple and don't over-do it. Those that are truly seeking your service will typically take the time to answer them; tire kickers may not.
  • Make quotes efficient. If someone wants a quote, take them to a separate form and gather most (or all) of the relevant information. Having information before you call makes it more productive so you can spend time asking great, probing questions - the kind that actually help you convert prospects to customers down the road!
  • Make auto-responders count. Most websites have a default 'confirmation' message that goes out when people send a contact form email. Customize yours to begin educating customers - benefits you provide, why you are unique, expectations on return calls. Remember, this is the first direct communication from you - make it count.
  • Use templates. What are the top 5-7 requests, questions or issues you receive via your contact forms? Develop email responses that address them - and use them consistently. Whether you use an auto-responder software program or manually cut and paste, they will save you time and customers will receive consistent, concise information.
  • Publish FAQ's on your website. These provide a simple, easy way to answer common questions prospects have about your products or services - in a well thought-out way. They can help reduce non-essential emails or calls leaving you more time to focus on the important ones. Most businesses have some of these for customer service reps or receptionists to use. Clean them up and put them on your website.
Plus, here is a bonus when it comes to publishing frequently asked questions. It gives you the chance to include questions you WISH customers would ask - but often don't because they simply don't know they should. I'm sure you have a few in mind! Use them to reinforce your uniqueness, value and benefits. In a question and answer format, they sound less promotional! Take advantage of it.

If you are struggling to convert online leads - whether you get a lot or a little - take a look at the entire process. Is it efficient and effective? Does it save you time and money? Is it convenient and responsive for prospects? Then get to work and make some changes.

Joan Nowak is a Small Business Profit Builder, seasoned Business Coach, and creator of the Hybrid Coaching System for small businesses. For additional resources and ideas to grow your small business, visit While you are there, join her mailing list to get her monthly eNewsletter and receive a FREE copy of her eBook, Mastering the 7 Elements of Business Success.

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