101 Ways to Make More Sales Online

image of number 101

If you’re trying to make money online, sooner or later you have to face it. Conversion. That intimidating topic: how to get more buyers from the same amount of traffic.

The only reason conversion is intimidating is that there are a lot of places you can go astray. Most of them aren’t that hard to fix, but any one of a thousand little problems can keep you from getting the conversion you should have.

I don’t have a thousand tips for you today, but I do have 101 to get you started.

Here are 101 fixes, some small, some big, for making more sales online.

  1. Does your product or service solve a problem people actually care about? How do you know? If your basic offer doesn’t appeal to your prospect, you’re sunk before you begin. Make sure you’re selling something people want.
  2. Let prospects know they’re buying from a human being. Keep your language personal, friendly, and (for most markets) informal. Sound like a person, not a pitching machine.
  3. Tell a story about how you solved this problem for yourself before you started selling the solution to others. Let readers put themselves in your shoes. Let the prospect feel, “Wow, this person is a lot like me.”
  4. Fix your typos, make sure your links work, avoid grammar mistakes that make you look dumb. Reassure your prospect that you know what you’re doing.
  5. Test two headlines. When you find a winner, run it against a new headline. Keep eliminating second-best. Google Adwords is a quick and efficient way to do this.
  6. Try testing an “ugly” version of the sales copy. Boring fonts, not much layout, no pretty colors. Weirdly, sometimes a bare-bones presentation works better. Don’t just run ugly without testing it, though, because it doesn’t always win.
  7. Instead of sending traffic right to a sales page, put them through a six- or seven-message autoresponder first. Give them enough information to build their trust and let them know you’re the best resource.
  8. Strengthen your call to action. Make sure you’ve clearly told readers exactlywhat to do next.
  9. Make sure you’ve described your product or service in enough detail. If it’s physical, give the dimensions and some great photos. If it’s digital, tell them how many hours of audio you include, how many pages are in the PDF. Don’t assume your prospects already know any details — spell everything out.
  10. Getting traffic from advertising, pay-per-click, or guest posting? Be sure your landing page is tied to your traffic source. If you’re running a pay-per-click campaign for “Breed Naked Mole Rats,” make sure the words “Breed Naked Mole Rats” are in your headline for the landing page.
  11. Master copywriter Drayton Bird tells us every commercial offer should satisfy one or several of these 9 human needs: make money, save money, save time and effort, do something good for your family, feel secure, impress other people, gain pleasure, improve yourself, or belong to a group. And then of course, there’s the obvious #10 — make yourself irresistibly sexy to the romantic partner of your choice. I guess Drayton is too much of a gentleman to include it, but it’s about the strongest driver we have once eating and breathing have been taken care of.
  12. Now that you’ve identified your fundamental human need, how can that be expressed in an emotion-based headline?
  13. Have you translated your features into benefits? I bet you’ve still got some benefits you could spell out. Remember, features are what your product or service does. Benefits are what your prospect gets out of it.
  14. Put your photo on your sales page. Human beings are hard-wired to connect to faces. If prospects can see you, it’s easier for them to trust you.
  15. If you have a dog, use a photo of you with your dog instead. There’s something about a dog that lowers nearly everyone’s defenses.
  16. You can try just using a photo of the dog. Believe it or not, sometimes it works.
  17. Simplify your language. Use something like the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale to make sure you’re keeping your wording clean and simple. (Please note that simple writing is not dumb writing.)
  18. No matter how emotional your appeal, justify it with logic. Give people the facts and figures they need so they can justify the purchase to themselves. Even the most frivolous, pleasure-based purchase (say, a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes) can be justified with logical benefits (superior workmanship, rare materials, giving the wearer a boost in confidence).
  19. What kind of tasty bonus could you offer? Peanut butter is good; peanut butter with jelly is great. Find the jelly for your peanut butter, the bonus that makes your good product even better.
  20. Are you getting your message to the right people? A list of people who really want what you offer, and who are both willing and able to buy?
  21. Listen to the questions you get. What are people still unclear about? What’s worrying them about your offer? Even if you outsource your email and/or support, it’s a good idea to regularly read a random selection of customer messages.
  22. Keep your most important sales elements “above the fold” (in other words, on the first screen, without scrolling, when readers go to your page). Usually that means a compelling headline, a great opening paragraph, and possibly either a wonderful product shot (to create some desire) or a photo of you (to build trust and rapport). Eye-tracking studies suggest your most important image should be at the top left side of the page.
  23. Check the dual readership path. Do your headline and subheads tell an intriguing story if you read them without any of the rest of the copy?
  24. How’s your guarantee? Could you state it with more confidence? Can you remove any of the weasely stuff? Does your guarantee remove the customer’s risk?
  25. Do you take PayPal? PayPal has its issues, but it’s also “funny money” for a lot of customers. They’ll spend freely from PayPal when they’d think twice about pulling out a credit card.
  26. Have you asked for the sale boldly and forcefully? Is there any hemming and hawing you could edit out?
  27. What’s the experience of using your product or service? Could you make that more vivid with a testimonial video or a great case study?
  28. Is there any reason your prospect might feel foolish for buying from you? Are they afraid they’ll kick themselves later? That their friends, spouse, or co-workers will give them a hard time about this purchase? Fix that.
  29. Are you using standard design conventions? Links should be underlined. Navigation (if you have any on your sales page) should be immediately understandable.
  30. Got testimonials? Got effective testimonials? (If these are hard for you, check out Sean D’Souza’s great advice.)
  31. Does the prospect know everything he needs to know in order to make this purchase? What questions might still be on his mind? How can you educate him to make him more confident about his decision to buy?
  32. Does the link to your shopping cart work? (Don’t laugh. Go test every link onthe page that goes to your cart. And make a point of testing them once or twice a day the entire time your shopping cart is open — even if that’s 365 days a year.)
  33. Is your marketing boring? Remember the great Paul Newman mantra. “Always take the work seriously. Never take yourself seriously.” If your marketing is putting customers to sleep, it can’t do its job.
  34. Social media isn’t just about talking – it’s also about listening. What are your potential customers complaining about on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, in forums, in blog comments? What problems could you be solving for them? What language do they use to describe their complaints?
  35. Have you answered all of their questions? Addressed all of their objections? I know you’re worried the copy will get too long if you address every point. It won’t.
  36. Have you been so “original” or “creative” that you’ve lost people? Remember the words of legendary ad man Leo Burnett: “If you absolutely insist on being different just for the sake of being different, you can always come down to breakfast with a sock in your mouth.”
  37. Can you offer a free trial?
  38. Can you break the cost into several payments?
  39. Can you offer an appetizing free bonus, one the customer can keep whether or not she keeps the main product? An incredibly useful piece of contentworks perfectly for this.
  40. Does your headline offer the customer a benefit or advantage?
  41. How can you make your advertising too valuable to throw away? How can you make the reader’s life better just for having read your sales letter? Think special reports, white papers, and other content marketing standbys.
  42. Have you appealed to the reader’s greed? Not very pretty, but one of the most effective ways to drive response. (The nice way to put this is “be sure you’re offering your prospect great value.”)
  43. Is your message confusing? A bright nine-year old should be able to read your sales copy and figure out why she should buy your product.
  44. Can you link your copy to a fad? This is particularly effective for web-based copy and for short-term product launches, because you can be absolutely current. Just remember there’s nothing more stale than yesterday’s Macarena.
  45. Similarly, can you tie your copy to something a lot of people are really worried about? This can be something in the news (an oil spill, climate change, economic turbulence) or something related to a particular time in your prospect’s life (midlife weight gain, anxieties about young kids, retirement worries).
  46. Try a little flattery. One of the great first lines of all sales copy came from American Express: “Quite frankly, the American Express card is not for everyone.” The reader immediately gets a little ego boost from assuming that the card is for special people like him.
  47. Is there a compelling, urgent reason to act today? If prospects don’t have a reason to act right away, unfortunately they have a bad habit of procrastinating the purchase forever.
  48. Are you visualizing one reader when you write? Don’t write to a crowd — write for one perfect customer who you want to convince. Your tone and voice will automatically become more trustworthy, and you’ll find it easier to find the perfect relevant detail to make your point.
  49. Tell the reader why you’re making this offer. In copywriting slang, this is the “reason why,” and it virtually always boosts response.
  50. Can you get an endorsement from someone your customers respect? Celebrity endorsements are always valuable, but you can also find “quasi-celebrities” within your niche that hold as much sway as a national figure.
  51. Can you provide a demonstration of the product or service? If it’s not something that can be demonstrated on video, try telling a compelling story about how your offering solved a thorny problem for one of your customers.
  52. How often are you using the word “You”? Can that be bumped up?
  53. How often are you using the word “We”? Can that be eliminated? (“I” actually works better than “we,” which tends to come across as corporate and cold.)
  54. Stay up late tonight and watch a few informercials. Keep a pen and paper handy. Write down every sales technique that you see. In the morning, translate at least three of them to your own market. (Remember, you can change the tone and the sophistication level to match your buyers.)
  55. Have you made yourself an authority in your market?
  56. Is there an “elephant in the living room?” In other words, is there a major objection that you haven’t addressed because you just don’t want to think about it? You’ve got to face all inconvenient truths head on. Don’t assume that if you don’t bring it up, it won’t occur to your prospects.
  57. How’s your follow-up? Do you have the resources to answer questions that come in? Remember, questions are often objections in disguise. Prospect questions can give you great talking points for your sales letter. You may want to bring on some help in the form of a friendly VA or temp to help out with email during a big launch.
  58. Is there a number in your headline? There probably should be.
  59. Similarly, have you quantified your benefits? In other words, have you translated “time saved” to “three full weeks saved — plenty of time to go on a life-changing vacation — each and every year.” Put a number on the results you can create for your customers.
  60. It’s weird, but “doodles” and other elements that look like handwriting can boost response — even on the web. There are hundreds of handwritten fonts available, which can be converted to visual elements with PhotoShop or simple logo-generating software.
  61. Does your headline make the reader want to read the first line of copy?
  62. Does the first line make the reader want to read the second line of copy?
  63. Does the second line make the reader want to read the third line?
  64. (Etc.)
  65. Throw in some more proof that what you’re saying is true. Proof can come from statistics, testimonials, case studies, even news stories or current events that illustrate the ideas your product or service is based on.
  66. Compare apples to oranges. Don’t compare the cost of your product to a competitor’s — compare it to a different category of item that costs a lot more. For example, compare your online course to the cost of one-on-one personal consulting.
  67. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to have at least one platinum-priced item for sale. They make everything else you sell look nicely affordable by comparison.
  68. Make your order page or form easier to understand. Complicated order pages make customers nervous.
  69. Remember to restate your offer on your order page. Don’t expect the customers to remember all the details of what you’ve just (almost) sold her. Re-state those benefits.
  70. Include a phone number where people can call for questions. I know this is tricky to handle, but it can boost your response by a surprising amount.
  71. Include a photograph of what you’re selling, if you can.
  72. Is there a lot of distracting navigation leading your customers away? (Worst of all are cheap-looking ads that pull people away for a penny or two.) Get rid of it. Focus your reader’s attention on this offer with a one-column formatstripped of distractions.
  73. Put a caption on any image that you use. Captions are the third most-read element of sales copy, after the headline and the P.S. The caption should state a compelling benefit to your product or service. (Even if that benefit doesn’t quite match the image.
  74. While you’re at it, link the image to your shopping cart.
  75. Make the first paragraph incredibly easy to read. Use short, punchy, and compelling sentences. A good story can work wonders here.
  76. Does your presentation match your offer? If you’re offering luxury vacations, do your graphics and language have a luxury feeling? If you’re selling teen fashion, is your design trendy and cute?
  77. Are you trying to sell from a blog post? Send buyers to a well-designed landing page instead.
  78. Halfway through a launch and sales are listless? Come up with an exciting bonus and announce it to your list. Frank Kern calls this “stacking the cool.”
  79. Are you asking your prospect to make too many choices? Confused people don’t buy. You should have at most three options to choose from — something along the lines of “silver, gold, or platinum.”
  80. Look for anything in your copy that’s vague. Replace it with a concrete, specific detail. Specifics are reassuring, and they make it easier for the prospect see herself using your product.
  81. Numbers are the most reassuring details of all. Translate anything you can into numbers.
  82. Look for any spot in your copy that might make your prospect silently say “No,” or “I don’t think so.” Rework that spot. You want the prospect to mentally nod in agreement the entire time she’s reading your letter.
  83. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. Prospects often don’t read every word of the sales letter. Find ways to restate your call to action, the most important benefits, and your guarantee.
  84. Hint at a genuinely exciting benefit early in the copy, then spell it out later in your sales letter. (Be careful of curiosity-based headlines, though, as traditionally they don’t convert as well as benefit- or news-based ones do.)
  85. Use the two magic words of persuasive copy.
  86. Successful marketing doesn’t sell products or services — it sells benefits and big ideas. What’s your big idea? What are you really selling? If you’re not sure, go back to our ten human needs in #11 above.
  87. If you offer something physical, make sure there’s a way they can get expedited delivery. The ability to place a rush order lifts response, even if the customer doesn’t take advantage of it.
  88. Put a Better Business Bureau, “Hacker Safe” seal, or similar badge on your sales page.
  89. Could you be underpricing your offer? A surprising number of buyers, even in a bad economy, won’t buy a product or service if it seems too cheap to be worth their time.
  90. Are you using the wording “Buy Now” on your shopping cart button? Try “Add to Cart,” “Join Us,” or similar wording instead. Focusing on word “buy” aspect has been shown to lower response.
  91. Allow your prospect to picture himself buying. Talk as if he’s already bought. Describe the life he’ll now be living, as your customer. If you want a delicious example, go to the J. Peterman website. Few have ever done it better.
  92. Cures sell vastly better than prevention. If your product is mostly preventative, find the “cure” elements and put those front and center. Solve problems people already have, rather than preventing problems they might have some day.
  93. If your funny ad isn’t converting, try playing it straight. Humor is, by its nature, unpredictable. It can work fantastically well, or it can destroy your conversion. If you can’t figure out what else might be wrong, this could be the culprit.
  94. Are you the king of understatement? The sultan of subtlety? Get over it. At least in your sales copy.
  95. How’s your P.S.? (You do have a P.S., right?) Is it compelling? Typically you want to restate either the most interesting benefit, the guarantee, the urgency element, or all three.
  96. Cut all long paragraphs into shorter ones. Make sure there are enough subheads so you have at least one per screen. If copy looks daunting to read, it doesn’t get read.
  97. Increase your font size.
  98. Include a “takeaway.” No, this isn’t a hamburger and fries — it’s the message that your offer isn’t for everyone. (In other words, you threaten to “take away” your great offer for those who don’t deserve it.) When you’re confident enough to tell people “Please don’t order this product unless you meet [insert your qualification here],” you show that you’re not desperate for the sale. This is nearly universally appealing.
  99. Are you putting this offer in front of cold prospects? What if you put some variation of it in front of people who have already bought something from you? Your own existing customer base is the best market you’ll ever have. Make sure you’re regularly sending them appealing offers
  100. If they don’t buy your primary offer, try sending them to a “down-sell.” This is a lower-priced product that gives the prospect a second chance to get something from you. Remember, even a very small purchase gives you a buyer to market to later. Building a list of buyers is one of the wisest things you can do for your business.
  101. What is it about your product or service that makes people feel better about themselves? Ultimately, everything has to boil down to this.

Have your own favorite conversion-booster that you didn’t see here? Let us know about it in the comments.

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