In this new economy, traditional brick-and-mortar stores are showing some pretty dismal numbers. Only last month, Border’s Bookstores filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is planning to close 30% of its stores and cut as many jobs. Pretty dark numbers, yet take heart. According to the Association of American Publishers in their 2010 sales figures, ebook sales break records yet again with +164.4% gains for 2010.
This is just one example of how ecommerce is blowing most of its competition out of the water.
However, this wonderful news won’t help any online retailer or small biz owner with an online store if they can’t convert their visiting traffic into profitable sales.
Enter Khalid Saleh and Ayat Shukairy, experts in conversion optimization –the practice of creating websites with the prime intent of increasing the percentage of visitors who convert to buyers– to help show you how to guide your visitors to a buying decision.
Their book, Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of Converting Prospects to Customers, really impressed me with how well it was written. They utilized some unique terminology to get their point across. I had never heard of a FUD before (customers’ Fears, Uncertainties, and Doubts).
Their expertise shines through rather quickly in the first few pages, and they don’t mince words. The first words to greet you on page 1 is the header: “Selling online is hard.” They give it to you straight.
I also learned fairly early on to read this book with a pen and notepad beside me, as I had to take extensive notes and test them out. For example, on page 41 you’ll find actual formulas you can use immediately to calculate your actual Bounce Rate, and they walk you through the process step by step.
In Chapter 7, “Appealing with Incentives,” deeper into the chapter they explored not only incentives and how to utilize them, but the behavioral psychology of a potential customer and what inspires their buying actions. They made a very good comparison between the effectiveness of incentives when utilized in a straightforward and user-friendly fashion, and make their point by examining the incentive practice of a certain online company whose “free gift” offer wasn’t very successful. They examine why it wasn’t, explore the buyer’s psychology that contributed to the sales flop, and give another (successful) case study to illustrate their point.
It made for some very interesting reading. It was a little slow at times, and the writing got a bit dry from time to time. However, the book made up for it in the clear examples and case studies both authors give, bullet-point lists, and solid formulae and other strategies that I was able to apply immediately. There were many times I put the book down beside my laptop and applied their concepts to my own blog as I read them.
Feedback was instantaneous in some cases. All around, Conversion Optimization is a book that I would highly recommend if you’re looking to increase your sales by understanding the motivation and inspiration of your customers, improving the mechanics and structure of your online store, and acquiring higher profits through a better conversion rate.