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5 Ways Brands Lose Online Sales and How to Win Them Back

By Shaun Tinney
6 minute read | Last Updated: March 20, 2016

Don’t look to your competitors for e-commerce best practices, focus on building features and creating great experiences that will help customers buy from you.

Most brand sites share a list of features so common that nobody questions their utility. Digital Brand Managers point to competing sites and if they don’t have the same features for their marketing toolkit, they think they are falling behind.

What most marketers don’t realize is that many of the “tried and true” digital marketing practices don’t help customers research or purchase a product, and if they can’t do that, your company can’t win. (The banner ad being a prime example.)

Here are five common practices that we know are costing active lifestyle brands big time in lost sales. Here they are:

  1. Leading with demands
  2. Talking too much
  3. Saying the wrong things
  4. Asking for too much
  5. Not listening enough

1. Leading with demands

Imagine walking into a retail store and being asked for your contact information. Or to fill out a survey. What would you say? “No thanks, I’m just looking.”

Now think of the last time you’ve visited a brand website to look for a product and the homepage was covered by a box telling you to “Sign up for emails.” What did you do? If you’re like most people, you looked for a way to close it so you could resume doing what you were there to do.

If what you came to do was buy something and there was a tempting enough instant discount offered in exchange for your address, you might give it (and perhaps unsubscribe later). Most of the time, however, an immediate demand for contact information is both jarring and irritating. And if the pop up is not implemented properly it actually can kill all mobile functionality.

The thing to keep in mind is that customers aren’t coming to a site looking for a place to put their email address. Sure it helps build a list of emails but the question is how much is it really costing your brand to acquire that information?

If that’s the kind of experience you want your customers to have, check all vital site stats before and after launch to make sure you’re not losing sales to gain a few email addresses. And if someone actually does sign up, do them a favor and pre-fill the email field at checkout to save them some time.

2. Talking too much

There’s a time and place for brand storytelling but brands needs to make sure it doesn’t obstruct the shopping experience.

Embedded social media feeds, homepage product technology features, or an extensive video library of pro athletes doing tricks all seem like a great investment to increase engagement and tell the brand story.

The problem is that most customers aren’t visiting a brand site to find any of those things, and having to wade through all that to find and buy something can be very frustrating.

Instead, spend more time creating content that is of value to your customers, and tell your brand story along the way. Integrating tidbits about quality, history, and R&D efforts into a product detail page will have a positive impact on sales.

Putting more content in the way of your products will cost you twice — once to produce it, and again when it distracts or confuses a potential customer and they don’t stick around to complete a purchase.

3. Saying the wrong things

Most customers aren’t familiar with the extensive research and development behind a product. They definitely want the best thing out there, but don’t want to decipher marketing copy to sort it out. The gap between most tech descriptions and the ability to understand their impact on product performance is enormous. Offer helpful information about your products, written in plain english, in an easily scannable format.

4. Asking for too much

There have been many experiments testing form conversion rates, and each has showed that shorter forms convert better than longer ones. This is something most brands don’t even think about. The platform they’re on provides a default, and they either leave it as is or add more fields. Companies love gathering data about their customers, but customers hate filling out forms. There has to be a balance.

Determine the least amount of information required for any form, and only request that information. Unless the transaction requires a fax, or you’re going to send someone a free gift on their birthday, don’t collect the information. Every field added to a form reduces its conversion rate and increases the cost in customer time and frustration filling it out.

While you’re at it, make sure to save any data a customer enters just incase they navigate away from the page, or there is an error. Don’t make someone fill out a form twice, and re-use information they’ve already entered whenever possible. The easier it is to be your customer, the more likely your brand is to acquire more.

Every field added to a form reduces its conversion rate. Click To Tweet

5. Not listening enough

Whether it’s listening to customer complaints (or praise) on social media, or listening to your Customer Service department, too many active lifestyle brands aren’t participating in the listening side of the conversation.

Heavily moderating reviews and forums or ignoring feedback from customers on social media is a fast track to out of touch. While it’s important to manage reputation online, one of the best ways to do that is to actively handle customer complaints and frustrations by listening.

By the way, if customers have common questions, creating an F.A.Q. page is the wrong approach. Taking customer feedback and updating existing content in-context will help future customers find the right information.

Asking your Customer Service department about where people have the most trouble on the site will give immediate action items to invest in. Listening to what customers don’t like about a product will help you make it better, and offers an opportunity to engage and delight those customers.

Be helpful

If you’re going to spend good money making a website, it’s worth spending a little more to make sure the site actually is helping your customers buy from you. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and focus on creating the best possible experience you can for your customers.

Save people time. Be helpful. It works. Click To Tweet

Think of your site like a store. Arrange content logically. Remember information. Act like a customer on your own website and identify with them. Fix problems. Make better content. Save people time. Be helpful. It works.