As the world moves into a post-COVID state, the economic forecast remains hopeful. So hopeful, in fact, the Federal Reserve Chairman of the United States recently stated, “I think the economy is on the cusp of exploding.” Not only is this statement something you never hear from the Federal level, but it’s also the statement of a majority of financial professionals. With the idea of people ready to spend in the near future, online businesses must also ensure their sales process is ready to compete with in-person stores.
Money has started moving quickly in areas where post-COVID times are a reality. According to Andrew Cass and Aaron Parkinson of Sales Velocity TV in doing your best to stay ahead of the curve it is time to review two critical aspects of the sales process (info at: www.SalesVelocityTV.com). If not attended to, these two things will prevent sales. The first is the front end of your website and its speed, and the second is back end through customer service including retention and call back.
The Sales Process
Online sales are practically a no-brainer. Potential customers come to your site through your sales funnel and other marketing efforts. After browsing, or potentially adding the initial draw product to their cart, they either abandon the cart or proceed with the sale. What differs with in-person sales is the immediate gratification and customer service received. As an online business you can provide a similar feeling. Let’s look closer at how website speed and customer service play this critical role in building your online business.
The Front End: Website Speed
A Story of the Slow Versus the Fast
Imagine you're searching for a new product on your favorite search engine. Using the shopping function to find the best price, you click on the item of choice. Then, the wait begins. After waiting what seems like forever (it’s probably been less than 5 seconds), the site is lagging. You eventually hit your back button and move on to another site for the same item at a slightly higher price. This happens more often than most business owners know. Speed is critical, especially when trying to sell online.
Conversely, the next site you visit loads quick as lightening, you quickly order the product and go on about your day. Unfortunately, you’ll remember this experience well. The first site will be on your ‘not worth it’ list, while the second site will be on your ‘good site’ list.
Website Speed and Advertising Costs
One critical aspect of website speed is how it affect advertising costs, and most business owners aren’t even aware it’s a reality. For example, Dan Wilkerson, a site speed specialist, notes that sites like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites have a ‘relevant quality score’ for website speed. It has been found that load times of a site at 3.25 seconds will maintain your score load times. At 4.5 seconds load time, your score decreases considerably. Load times under 2.8 seconds will considerably improve your score. This score directly effects the cost of your paid advertisement efforts on these platforms.
Basically, if you have a long loading speed, you are charged (some say taxed) as a penalty. This charge is in fact because as these sites are advertising your store, it reflects poorly on them if your site is slow. Eventually, if users are always getting ‘bad links’ to slow sites, they will stop using the marketing efforts available through the platform. So again, website speed is critical to your sales success.
Optimizing Site Speed
In considering the above information, while under 3 seconds is good, try shooting for 1.5 to 1.8 seconds for loading speed. There are free tools online to just drop your URL and you’ll know exactly how long it takes for your page to load. One of the free sites is GT Metrics. Just enter your URL and the report will show how long your page takes to load and provides a score. The second option is Google Page, which provides additional insight into the problems on your page causing it to load slower.
The Back End: Customer Service
Customer service can easily be overlooked when doing online business. This will be critical in moving forward post-COVID. In short, this is because people are hungry for connection. There are several ways to achieve this, from automated emails to newsletters and subscription services. Let’s take a closer look at these options. Honestly, customer service is critical in sales success because if they’ve already been a customer, it can be easier to get them to buy again.
Whether you follow up on an order, request for return, or other issues with a customer, matters greatly. If you treat each customer like a person and not just income, they know. Ensure your site has automated emails, including post-order confirmation. Make sure your site provides contact information in easy to find ways, it shows you are accessible and responsive before there is an issue. This alone can help build rapport with customers.
Be sure to follow up with your list of subscribers. This is important and often missed by online business owners when they get in the weeds of other parts of the business. Subscribers enjoy their regularly arriving package of items and if you include special offers, stories, and a simple ‘give us a call’ additions to the package. Pulling them back to your site through engaging, regular content will ensure they are return customers in the long run along with maintaining their subscription.
As people start spending money post-COVID keep in mind the above critical pieces to sales success of your online business. Whether you check out your site’s speed or increase your customer service, your bottom line will show the difference.
To go deeper on this topic, watch Episode 24 of Sales Velocity TV: