Sales people are taught, you always need 'a call to action’, a request to act or lose the opportunity of a lifetime. Most of us are familiar with those annoying infomercials, website presentations, online direct marketing come-ons, and even high-pressure seminar and tradeshow presentations that will never be repeated, so you better act now. You know how it goes: "act now and we'll send you two pieces of rubbish you don't need, but wait there's more, call in the next ten minutes and we'll add a third useless item."
Does any intelligent person really respond to this kind of pitch and what self-respecting business would actually behave in this manner? The fact is, if you sell something of value at a reasonable price and you treat your customers with some respect, you will get your share of business. You may not get all the business, nobody does, but the business you do get, will result in more satisfied customers, more word-of-mouth referrals and ultimately more sales. High-pressure tactics and demands for instant commitment frighten off as many potential clients as they trap.
Beyond Statistics …
Statistically it may be true that if someone leaves your website without ordering, the chances of them returning to order are low. But keep in mind that the problem is NOT the customer - it's what you're saying, how you're saying it and the expectations you've set for determining your site's performance.
Success is not a question of attracting more traffic, especially if your message is weak, unfocused, and lacking in emotional perspective. Success is a question of how many people you connect with both directly and indirectly, and how many people come back to your site because they are interested by what you have to say.
To start, many products and services are either too complex or too high valued to expect people to make an instant decision, and demanding one just frightens people away. Asking for an order is asking a lot, and leads to resistance. Inviting someone to call or email is reassuring and friendly - it's an offer to communicate, provide assistance, advice and information, and it's easily accepted.
Orders are the result of building relationships and relationships are built on communication. You may not be able to speak to everyone who comes to your website but that only means that your website's primary job is to communicate what needs to be said so that it makes a memorable impression, and provides something more significant than a 'add to cart' button.
The ecommerce industry, with it's easy to implement technical solutions, has created a class of entrepreneurs who think all they have to do is display a product photo, description, price and order button and the sales will follow. This approach may work for mega sites like www.amazon.com but it's doubtful it will work for you.
When small and medium sized companies try to emulate major corporate business models, they are looking for trouble. This is one reason why so many websites are so bad and why so many under-perform.
Peters and Waterman didn't do entrepreneurs a favour when they wrote "In Search of Excellence." (In Search of Excellence: Lessons from Americas Best Run Companies)
What they should have written was 'In Search of Failure,' since we learn more from things that don't work than from things that do. In the world of Internet marketing, creating websites that are nothing more than online catalogues, digital brochures or direct marketing come-ons is a waste of time and money, not to mention all that effort devoted to attracting website traffic.
Redefine Successful Website Performance
Orders are not the true measure of a website's success, nor is the volume of traffic a site attracts. You can have tons of traffic with little of it ever getting turned into business and you can even get some orders, but few long-term customers.
The primary objective of your website should be to initiate contact either by email, phone or in the case of brick and mortar companies, store traffic. In order to achieve that objective your website presentation must be engaging, enlightening, and above all memorable. Potential clients want a little repartee, a little respect and the confidence that you are trustworthy.
Marketing Is More Art Than Science
Marketing is about human nature and the idea that all aspects of human nature can be measured, and that meaningful results can be extracted and formed into an action plan guaranteed to produce results, is simply going too far. The human brain is far too complex, and human motivation is the result of far too many interdisciplinary factors to be boiled down into a unified mathematical formula. The movie and music industries have been trying for years and still neither one can accurately predict what will be a hit.
In an effort to always maximise productivity, business has bowed-down to statistical hype, and surrendered to its fake inferences. As a consequence business, and especially Internet business, has forsaken insight, intuition and a 'consilience'* approach to marketing, one built on continuous creative experimentation and implementation.
*Consilience: "the linking together of principles from different disciplines especially when forming a comprehensive theory" – www.merriam-webster.com.
Three Website Ingredients Needed To Motivate Action
Communication, education, and the ability to affect others.
1 Communication - Engagement
2 Education - Enlightenment
3 Affect Your Audience - Create An Experience