There are many possible factors, like traffic. If you aren’t driving enough traffic, sales are bound to suffer. But lets look at another important factor in online sales: your product pages. These are the pages that describe and sell your product. The pages from which you hope to generate your sales.
Unfortunately, due to the enormous range of product types (and services), each with its own unique characteristics and customer requirements, there is no-one-size-fits-all, silver-bullet of a product page. But there are standard elements of all product pages that you should only eliminate with good reason.
Use the following as your product page checklist and vary according to your own unique product needs.
- Headline: If you have a very large store selling many products that do the same thing, you may simply use the product name as the headline (as Amazon.com does). So people instantly know where they are and what’s for sale. If you are selling only one or a few products that fill different niche’s, take advantage of your headline real estate by crafting a more compelling headline. It may be one that promotes an offer or discount, that highlights a benefit, that draws readers in with a question, etc. Copyblogger.com has a great series of posts on headlines called Magnetic Headlines.
- Name of your product: If you are selling lots of product, and multiple products in the same area, that you include all elements of a product name (such as model numbers). Sometimes a small model number difference makes a big difference in the product. And make sure, especially if you are using product names as headlines, that you include descriptors that let people know just what it is. For example: Gizmo XYZ-750 may be the product name, but if, it’s a home theater system, Gizmo XYZ-750 Home Theater System is advised. Amazon.com does this well. You’re never left wondering by the headlines: OK, that’s the name…but what IS it? It’s also best practice to make sure you have the product name next to the offer and CTA (call to action), such your Buy Now button. So people are 100% sure what they are about to buy.
- Product offer: What’s the price? What’s the discounted price? Are their other incentives to order, order now, order multiple items, etc? Doing the math on offers is often effective. Don’t just say the price is now X. Say it’s now 35% off, or now you can save $200. In some cases, businesses also find showing the previous price with a strikeout and then showing the new lower price is effective. Amazon.com is very good at this. If there is a discount, they always show the List Price with a strikeout, their lower price under that (larger font size, in a different color), and they let you know in both a dollar amount and a percentage how much “You Save.”
- Call to action (CTA): This may be part of how you constructed your offer, but it’s worth double-checking. Make sure you have a strong CTA that tells customers what you want them to do. Use forceful verbs to drive action. It may be implicit that you want people to order your product, but be explicit: Order Now for Special Online Savings of 40%! Call Our Upgrade Hotline to Qualify for Our VIP Customer Discount! Click Here to Save $50!
- Pictures of your product: People are visual. It’s reassuring for them to see a product before they buy and not seeing it can introduce some anxiety (more so for clothes, furniture, electronics and other items where the style matters); and anxiety is the enemy of sales. Ideally, show multiple product shorts with different angles showing different features, different uses etc. Services are naturally hard to picture, but try to find photos to support your services. If you paint houses, showing houses you painted is perfect. If you are a plumber, maybe it’s just a picture of your truck outside a house or shots of the different kinds of work you do (sinks, shower drains, toilets, etc.). In some cases, a before-and-after photo series can be very compelling.
- Product feature list: This is often the easiest for businesses. It’s simply a list, or long-form copy about, the features of the product. What are the components that make the product or service compelling. For example, with EarthLink’s cable Internet service, you get high-speed connections up to 15Mbps (which is 250x the speed of dial-up), you get a complete online security suite, 24/7 support, free dial-up service, a cable Internet modem, etc. If we were selling a TV, the features would be the type of TV, screen size, resolution, built-in Wi-Fi, sound, etc.
- Product specs/technical parameters: Specifications can overlap with features, but they usually represent an extra level of detail down from the main features. The fact that your television is 48 pounds probably isn’t a main sales feature (though if it were just 5 pounds maybe it would be) but some people may want to know how much it weighs. Think about all the details people may want to know and make sure they can find this info. It can be linked to on a separate page or dynamic layer that pops up (like the Learn More and Compare Speeds links from our DSL Internet access page).
- Product benefits: This is one of the most important elements of your product sales page that is often overlooked. Benefits answer the consumer’s “what’s in it for me?” or “why should I care” questions. Sometimes because business owners are so close to their products they assume when they list product features that people simultaneously know the product benefits. That’s not so. You need to spell out not only that your TV has a XYZ-50 screen but that having an XYZ-50 screen means there will be no blurring while watching sports, that you can gather more people around the TV to watch at different angles without distortion, etc. Another way to think of benefits is to describe the pain they solve. For example, if you make service calls to people’s homes, saying you schedule in 15 minute windows is a great feature, but remind consumers of the benefit (the pain you remove): that you won’t waste your whole morning sitting at home wondering when you’ll get your service.
- What’s in the box: Make sure you specify everything a person can expect when they order your product. Some 3-D TVs come with 3-D glasses when you order them, others don’t. Some come with 1 pair, others 4. Is there a remote? Are there batteries? Is there a DVD setup guide? Etc. I was recently looking to buy and outdoor ping pong table and noticed some included ping pong paddles, some nets, and very few included outdoor covers to keep the table in good shape.
- Objections: Just because you are positive about your product or service, don’t forget people will have all kinds of possible objections or apprehensions about buying the product in general and about ordering from you specifically. There’s a sales and marketing acronym for this: FUD, which stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt. You need to address and lessen potential buyers’ FUD to make them more likely to order from you. Maybe you need more proof about product claims. Maybe you need to more explicitly show how this product is better than a competing product. Maybe you need to reassure people of your reputation. Maybe you need a strong and clear refund and return policy. Think about all the people who did NOT buy from you and why they didn’t. Put on your skeptics hat and make a list. You may put some of this on your main product page but put more details on a product FAQ linked from the main page.
- Guarantee / return policy: This overlaps with the Objections category above but it’s worth breaking out because it’s so important. Especially if you are a smaller business, not a top brand, or are relatively new online, you need to gain people’s trust. So having a strong and clear guarantee and/or return policy will go a long way to establishing trust and making sales.
- Testimonials, ratings & awards: This is another way to combat objections. Show testimonials from satisfied customers. Ideally, show them near where others will make their purchase decisions to help ease their fear, uncertainty and doubt. If you have a product rating mechanism, that’s great too, as long as you have enough ratings. Showing a product with 1 or 2 ratings may actually introduce more doubt. Depending on the nature of your product, you may have full case studies, which function as fact-based testimonials typically for large business purchases. Our EarthLink Business division has a page full of case studies about businesses that have benefited by using EarthLink Business services. Awards can also help support your product sales if you’re lucky enough to have won one. EarthLink Cloud recently won a Cloud Computing Excellence Award from Cloud Computing magazine, which we now have displayed on a rotating banner on the EarthLink Cloud homepage.
- Shipping/order information: The big fears around shipping are will shipping costs raise the price significantly and will I get what I order quick enough. The big sites are more consistent about shipping but since there’s a wider range of experiences with small companies, you have to work harder to allay people’s doubts. Make your shipping policies clear and make it easy for people to know when shipments will arrive (if necessary, include a phone number if you need to give an estimate that way).
- After the sale: Shipping info may be the last box you need to check, but depending on what you are selling, you may need to be clear about what comes next. For example: “Your shipment will arrive in 5 – 7 days. In 7 – 10 days we will call to schedule installation, which is typically complete in 48 hours. You will be able to choose from 3 installation windows per day. The installation typically takes 45 – 60 minutes. The professional installer will do X, Y & Z and make sure you are good to go before he leaves.”