Updated: Feb 5, 2021
Your customers want to find all the information they are looking for and fast. A Corporate Executive Board study published in the Harvard Business Review found that the best tool for measuring consumer-engagement efforts is the "decision simplicity index," a gauge of:
how easy it is for consumers to gather and understand (or navigate) information about a brand,
how much they can trust the information they find,
and how readily they can weigh their options.
The easier a brand makes the purchase-decision journey, the higher its decision-simplicity score. Brands that scored in the top quarter in the study were 86% more likely than those in the bottom quarter to be purchased by the consumers considering them. But what does this mean for your website? How can you leverage this information to get more customers online? By making sure you provide the five most important things your customers need.
Why should you display your prices on your website? Because you may lose customers over it. According to a 2014 Hubspot article, price is an overwhelmingly important factor in making a purchasing decision. If the price is not displayed, most customers will not even bother to find it out.
One key psychological insight is that people strive to avoid unpleasant situations. Even if they are willing the make the effort of getting in touch, they will try to avoid a conversation that might end in finding out that they cannot afford what you're selling. The price may very well be within their budget, but they will not ask for fear of being embarrassed.
Another important insight is that people usually expect the worse. There's a good chance that they will think that your services cost a lot more than they actually do, and you'll lose a customer just because they have to make assumptions about your prices that are not displayed.
Many businesses don’t provide pricing for their products or services because they think an initial meeting will make the customers decide for them anyway, even if their offering is on the pricier end. This is not true. Those who cannot afford your services will not be able to do so even if they like you. It’s a waste of time for all parties involved.
2. Amazing Product Images and Videos
If the price is right, your customers still need to decide whether your product is the one they want. According to the same Hubspot study, 44% of people are most likely to engage with branded content that contains pictures; video content is close behind at 40%. So how does this play out in real life? Let's say that Michelle here is looking for a couch. It's affordable, but is it not going to overwhelm the living room? Is it the right shade of dark brown? Is the fabric textured or smooth? Will it blend into the room's decor? Therefore, you need to provide two kinds of images:
1. Lifestyle images. These will feature your product in the environment they will use them: in this case; the velvet couch placed casually in the middle of a light-filled loft with a linen throw draped over it, and then in another, cute cottage-style living room next to a fireplace, a Scottish terrier sleeping on the nearby and matching, ottoman. These enticing images will make Michelle covet your product whether she is into modern or urban style or prefers homey, country-inspired interiors.
2. High resolution, detailed shots with sizes, colors, and other key parameters. Michelle is now really leaning towards buying the couch. But it's crucial for her to know whether it would fit in between the fireplace and the dining set without overpowering the space and whether the back of the couch is just as attractive as the front.
3. Ratings, Reviews, Testimonials
According to Fan & Fuel's 2016 research, companies that don't include reviews are in big trouble because:
92% of consumers hesitate to make a purchase if there are no customer reviews
97% say customer reviews factor into their buying decisions
73% say written reviews make more of an impression on them than star/number ratings
Again, let's see how all this works in Michelle's case. Michelle loves your couch! Everything checks out; she already pinned it to her Pinterest board, emailed it to her girlfriends, and Googled all images available on the world wide web. But what if it's not as pretty/sturdy/brown as the images show? What if shipping is not on time? How can she tell that the couch or the company is legit? Michelle turns to previous customers' reviews to find out. She will look at the star ratings, which are 4 out of five, but she doesn't stop there. She wants to see what these sofa owners think about the product. So she reads that Joan, who purchased the same couch in November 2016, thinks that the couch looks even better in their home than on the website, the color is a shade darker than they expected but still beautiful, and that it's the most comfortable couch they ever owned. Other reviewers' opinions are very similar and very positive, so Michelle now has no qualms about clicking the "Buy" button. She just needs to find out what the return policy is first.
4. Crucial Information About Policies / FAQ
Michelle goes to the FAQ and looks for the "Returns" section. She finds out that she can return the couch within 30 days of receiving it for free. However, she isn't sure whether she will need to arrange for transport or the company is going to do that. She doesn't feel comfortable placing the order without this information, so she decides to get in touch.
5. Ease of Contact
Michelle is an introvert. She doesn't like to talk to people. And like everyone else, she hates the automated messages she needs to listen to before even getting somebody on the line. Still, she doesn't want to wait until somebody replies to her email the next day either. Fortunately, there's a live chat on the website, and she can quickly get the information she needs without too much hassle. She finally clicks that "Buy" button.
Yay! Michelle's going to have a beautiful new couch in two weeks, and you snagged a new customer because you:
had a great product,
you allowed the customer to learn everything about that great product,
and your customer was able to get immediate answers to her questions from you.
Please note that the above scenario is just one of the possible many. The customer journey might be very different in the case of other products or services. However, if you know your customers and their pain points and provide plenty of available, relevant information, you took the most important steps toward increasing sales through your website.