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Why Should I Buy From YOU?

September 16, 2009
Today we have another guest article from SEO copywriter and trainer Karon Thackston. For those few of you who may not have heard of her, she's a long-time friend of High Rankings, plus she's authored 3 popular books, including the keyword optimization guide "Writing With Keywords." She and I will be hanging out together at SMX East in October as we're both on the speaking roster.

Without further ado, take it away, Karon!
- Jill
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Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston SEO Consulting Agency.

If you learned from this article, be sure to sign up for the High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter so you can be the first to receive similar articles in the future!

Why Should I Buy From YOU?

© 2009, All Rights Reserved

During a recent copywriting consulting call with a new client, we discussed her primary concern: having good traffic, but no sales. I've seen this a thousand times before. Usually, what I find is a site filled with content that is chock-full of keyphrases and sounds stupidly repetitive. The solution is easy: Write natural-sounding, persuasive SEO copy that entices customers to buy. But this client's site didn't fit the stereotype.

The home-page copy needed some work, but it wasn't awful. The category and sub-category pages had no copy at all that needed to be fixed. The product descriptions were canned (straight from the manufacturer). While that's definitely not the best way to go for several reasons, it's not a death sentence. But still, for a site – even a brand-new one – to have several hundred unique visitors a week and not one sale was frustrating.

We looked at some stats. Low bounce rate, high number of pages viewed per visit, acceptable length of time spent on the site. The rankings left something to be desired, but they'd come along soon enough with a few tweaks and some linking.

As we clicked our way through the site's pages, it became clear. This site suffered from a common curse among e-commerce resellers: lack of differentiation.

Why Should I Buy From You?

Generally speaking, most grocery stores carry nearly the same things. So how did you decide to shop at the one you frequent most? Chances are it was because of the store's location. Online, we don't have that advantage.

When e-commerce resellers carry the same exact items as hundreds or thousands of other sites, comparison shoppers have a difficult time deciding whom to buy from. Most often, it falls to price. Since my client wasn't branding her site to be the cheapest, she had lost the location and the price advantage.

After searching through dozens of websites offering the same products, the surfer had no way to answer their most burning question: Why should I buy from you?

Identifying Differentiation Points

As our tour continued, I asked questions – lots of questions – in an effort to help my client find ways she was different and/or better than her competition.
  • Do you offer free shipping or reduced shipping (with or without a minimum order)?
She did, but that wasn't stated visibly on her site. There's one differentiating item. Online shoppers love free shipping.
  • Do you hold any promotions?
She did, but that also wasn't clearly stated. She made a note to draw attention to her promotion on the home page.
  • Do you offer quantity discounts?
She did, but the link to the copy that explained the discounts was rather hidden. We discussed adding a few words of copy right by the price to let visitors know discounts were available.
  • Can you tell me about the wish list feature? What happens after someone adds products to their wish list?
She didn't know, so we went through the process together and created a plan for strategically placed copy that would entice visitors to add items to their wish lists. We then discussed the particulars of creating copy for an autoresponder series that would follow up with people who had created a wish list, but never ordered.

When our hour was up, we had identified several actionable steps for her to work on to differentiate her site from her competitors. Of course, they'll all need to be tested to see which works best to achieve her goals. But for now she's busy tweaking and tracking instead of scratching her head.

Karon Thackston
President, Marketing Words, Inc.
Author, Copywriting Course

 
 
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 Alan said:
Excellent points Karon

I've been saying [for ever, it seems] that the internet brings nothing new to marketing, only more effective and efficient ways of doing the [proven] old things. Your article is - I think - evidence of this.

Although you offer sound 'online' advice, the core of the issue - and title of your article - has existed as long as retail has been around. As your client is competing on price, you offer advice on how to do that online [offline, put up big posters and PoS re promotions etc].

Other traditional answers to your question would be 'offer a wider range of products', 'offer better service' or 'offer niche lines not available elsewhere'. A quick scan of the most successful online retailers will show that they meet one of these criteria - or your client's preference of price competition of course.

I get frustrated with some online marketers - you are obviously not in this goup ;-) - who seem to think that online is unique to marketing and requires 'thinking outside the box' and that us older more experienced types who served our time on the literal shop floor know nothing of the virtual world.

Sure, the applications are new, but the concepts, strategies, tactics and theories have been around for ever [branding anyone?] - look to those for the route for the answers to online problems .