The Order Card: It’s Your Cash Register

The order card is your close, your ring of the cash register. Your design should maximize revenue and/or response potential. Order cards need to be simple, clear and single-mindedly focused. And in print, especially, give people enough space to fill it out. We’ve all had that form that required us to write in a microscopic space.

My previous post discussed how many people often do not put enough time or creativity into their order cards and landing pages.  I hear too often “it’s just the order card.” It’s a shame. This is a critical component — think of it as your cash register, where the sale is closed. You can easily lose a sale if the order device is difficult to figure out, hard to complete, and unclear what to do next.

The order card is your close, your ring of the cash register. Your design should maximize revenue and/or response potential. Order cards need to be simple, clear and single-mindedly focused. And in print, especially, give people enough space to fill it out. We’ve all had that form that required us to write in a microscopic space.

13 Design Considerations to Optimize Your Order Cards
Some of this will sound familiar as they are similar to what I suggested you do on a landing page — but paper is not a screen and requires even more effort to get it right and make it easy.

1. Roadmap the page: The layout is even more critical in print. Create a clear path for your customers to follow. This could mean numbering your steps (probably the easiest way) to lead a person through the process. It should be obvious where to go and what you want them to do step by step.

2. Give them enough space to write: This is one of my pet peeves. One of the fastest ways to stop a sale: don’t give enough room to write. If you need to squeeze an order card, your first thought should be why. If it’s because of the format you are using, seriously consider changing it.

Are you asking for unneeded information? Remember, giving enough space will also help you to process the order as you’ll be able to more easily read what they write.

Planner Pad Order Card3. Clear headline/label: Have a headline that makes it clear it’s the order form. This could be as simple as calling it the “Order Form” or “Reservation Certificate.” It’s also a great area to test. Trying different headlines or labels could help lift your response rate.

4. Auto-complete/personalize forms: I’m always surprised that this is not a standard. If you have to give up personalization on a piece in your package, lose it on your letter. Use your order form as the addressing vehicle and personalize the order form. The less work recipients have to do, the sooner they’ll have their order in the mail.

5. Use check boxes: Make it easy to make selections. Check boxes or circles indicate prospects might need to make a choice and helps people through the form. I go out of my way to find a way to do this. On a complicated order form, this can be a great way to make it feel simple.

6. Use contrasting colors: Color can be a powerful tool to help roadmap your form and make it clear where they need to pay attention. It can also be used to help with choice selection, highlight upsells and emphasize bonus areas — all of which can dramatically improve responses and order size.

Boost Your Website Sales: 8 Simple E-commerce Tips That Really Work

OK, so you’ve won half the battle. You’re driving traffic to your site. Now what? How can you get your visitors to convert? This is a challenge that most every website that sells a product faces. The following are some tried and true tactics that, over the years, I’ve seen make a difference. Some may seem simplistic, but they DO most definitely impact your online conversion rate.

OK, so you’ve won half the battle. You’re driving traffic to your site. Now what? How can you get your visitors to convert?

This is a challenge that most every website that sells a product faces. The following are some tried and true tactics that, over the years, I’ve seen make a difference. Some may seem simplistic, but they DO most definitely impact your online conversion rate.

Here are a few things you could do to boost online sales and gain loyal customers. These can be applied and refined for most any business, industry or niche:

1. Make Sure Your SSL Seal And Other Consumer-Trust Logos Are Prominent. SSL or secure socket layer is a sign that the site is encrypted … that the information consumers enter, such as personal and credit card information, is protected. Most e-commerce sites must file for an SSL certificate from vendors such as VeriSign, GoDaddy, eTrust, TRUSTe and others. It’s a good practice to display the vendor’s logo on your order page, as well as make sure in the browser window the “https” or image of a lock is present. This is a clear and comforting sign to consumers that they can order online with confidence. Other logos that are in plain view and are anchors on each page of your website can also instill confidence with potential buyers. Some may require membership or purchase, when applicable, and may include Better Business Bureau (“BBB”), PayPal Verified, Authorize.net Verified Merchant and virus protection software (i.e. “McAfee Secure”). Also, if you accept credit cards and have a money back guarantee, there’s nothing more powerful than strong, eye-catching graphic image icons, such as “100% Money Back Guarantee” or “We Accept All Major Credit Cards” (than have images of Visa, Mastercard, Amex and Discover).

2. Encourage Online Sales vs. Other Response Mechanisms. Offer special “Internet Only Pricing” to customers. It could be a discount of 5 percent to 10 percent if they order online versus by phone, fax or mail. This reduces any potential overhead costs for staffing fees, such as telesales or order entry personnel. These Web-only specials can be highlighted on your homepage via a banner ad, as well as on your product pages near qualified items.

3. Offer Free Shipping. Many e-tailers already factor all or a portion of shipping into the retail price of an item as part of their COGS (cost of goods sold). If you are truly offering free shipping, already factored shipping into the product’s cost, or are simply having a limited time free shipping special—if you’re offering it, mention it—big and bold on your home page. Free shipping offers have a huge psychological affect on consumers when they’re comparing competitor’s products and websites. In addition to product quality and value, offering free shipping can make all the difference regarding the final purchase decision.

4. Use Buyer Feedback To Your Advantage. Have an area on your website or indicate next to select items “Customer Favorite” or “Hot Item.” Also, have some glowing customer testimonials or reviews next to the product itself for potential prospects to see. Sites like Amazon, Babies”R”Us and others are pros at this strategy as well as using ratings and ‘Likes’ to convey a product’s popularity. Consumers like to feel good about the item they are about to purchase. as well as see that it’s popular with the masses. Seeing a great testimonial and knowing that others purchased the product provides validation and a feeling of comfort to a consumer. In addition to helping the conversion rate, this tactic also helps reduce buyer’s remorse and product returns.

5. Advertise Products in Google Shopping (formerly Google Product Search, and before that, Froogle). http://www.google.com/shopping is a free product information platform from Google where you can post a single item or submit a data feed. Your products will appear in Google Product search and may also appear in Google.com search results, depending on keywords used. This is simple and easy way to increase your product’s visibility and market share.

6. Make Sure Your Product Pages are Optimized for Search Engines. Sounds obvious, but many folks overlook their catalog and product pages. After doing some keyword research on actual search behavior for your product, refine your meta description, meta keywords and title tag of your product pages. This will help consumers find your product in the organic listing of search engine results.

7. Have a Special Coupon Code “Call Out” On Your Home Page. This is a best practice with online fashion retailers who typically have a banner ad or interstitial ad on their homepage stating something like, “Summer Blow Out Sale, Use Coupon Code 1234.” But this concept can be applied to virtually any industry. This is another great way to offer a special discount for your online customers that makes them feel good about the purchase. You can also encourage viral activity by having “forward to friend” or “share” create viral marketing. Make sure to have some great intro copy mentioning how customers should “pass on the great savings to friends, family and colleagues.”

8. Consider Payment Plans. For higher-ticket items, consider setting up extended payment plans that allow customers to pay for an item over a few payments. HSN.com and QVC.com have mastered this. If an item is, let’s say, $200, you might want to offer a flex pay option of “6 easy payments of $33.33” that is conveniently auto-billed to their credit card. Just be diligent when calculating your payment prices, as well as creating your return/refund policy for these items. The general rule is that your actual production costs/hard costs should be covered in the first one to three payments.

It’s all about being strategically creative and taking the consumer’s point of view into account regarding e-comm strategies. Remember to keep testing methods that help improve sales and drive prospects to your storefront.

Make note of when you implement new tactics and then after a month of being live. Compare sales results year-over-year to see if your efforts had made an improvement. I’m confident that you will see a positive difference in your online conversion rates.

Best Online Marketing Practices For A ‘Bionic’ Business: Part III

My last two posts, part one and part two, focused on real-life questions I’ve gotten from business owners, as well as my responses. Topics that were covered included free online press release distribution best practices and social marketing secrets for stronger visibility.

My last two posts, part one and part two, focused on real-life questions I’ve gotten from business owners, as well as my responses. Topics that were covered included free online press release distribution best practices and social marketing secrets for stronger visibility.

This final post in the series will share some powerful, yet easy, ideas to help build your list and boost website performance.

Enjoy!

Question: What can I do to start building a list of qualified leads?
Answer: Creating free content is a great way to give something and get something in return. You’re offering free, powerful editorial content. And, in return, you’re asking for an email address from the reader. Creating this type of content isn’t just good for acquisition efforts, it’s also good for branding and establishing you as an expert within your niche. You can then leverage your free content to build your list (prospect database). Your list is your key to future sales. Growing and cultivating your list through editorial is a proven business model from top online publishers. It’s a great way to bond with … and cross-sell to … your readers. And this helps create a loyal following. And, from there, the sky is the limit!

Question: What are some tips to boost sales and eCommerce performance?
Answer: No matter what you’re selling, whether it’s products or a service (i.e. copywriting, freelancing, consulting) you should always have a variety of price points for customers at every level. Offering front-end products and back-end products gives you room to bring in a customer at a low level and up-sell them. As far as eComm ideas:

  • Make Sure Your SSL Seal is Prominent. This is a sign that the site is encrypted … that the information consumers enter, such as personal and credit card information, is protected. Most eCommerce sites must file for an SSL certificate from vendors such as VeriSign, GoDaddy, eTrust, TRUSTe, etc.. It’s a good practice to display the vendors’ logo on your order page, as well as make sure in the browser window the “https” or image of a lock is present. This is a clear and comforting sign to consumers that they can order online with confidence.
  • Encourage Online Sales vs. Other Order Mechanisms. Offer special “Internet Only Pricing” to customers. It could be a discount of 5 percent to 10 percent. This reduces any potential overhead costs for staffing fees such as telesales or order entry personnel.
  • Offer Free Shipping. Many eTailers already factor shipping into their published price, so when there’s a big, flashing banner next to the item saying “free shipping” it gives consumers that extra little push to move forward with the transaction. It boils down to basic psychology. Everyone likes to feel like they’re getting something for free.
  • Use Buyer Feedback To Your Advantage. Have an area on your website or next to select items that says “Customer Favorite” or “Hot Item.” Also, have some glowing customer testimonials next to the product. Consumers like to feel good about the item they are about to purchase. To see a great testimonial and knowing that others purchased the product is a validation and comforting feeling. In addition to helping the conversion, this tactic also helps reduce buyer’s remorse and product returns.
  • Make Sure Your Product Pages are Optimized for Search Engines. After doing some keyword research on actual search behavior for your product, refine your meta description, meta keywords and title tag of your product pages. This will help consumers find your product in the organic listing of search engine results.
  • Have a Special Coupon Code Banner on Your Home Page. Something like, “Summer Blow Out Sale, Use Coupon Code 1234.” This makes consumers feel good about the purchase. In addition, encourage viral activity by having a “forward to friend” text link that opens an Outlook email window with the coupon or coupon code. Make sure to have some great promotional copy mentioning how customers should “pass on the great savings to friends, family, and colleagues.”
  • Consider Payment Plans. For your higher ticket items, consider setting up extended payment plans that allow customers to pay for an item over a few payments. If an item is $200, you might want to offer a flex pay of “6 easy payments of $33.33” that is conveniently auto-billed to their credit card. Just be diligent when calculating your payment prices, as well as creating your return/refund policy for these items. The general rule is that your actual production costs/hard costs should be covered in the first one to three payments.

A Real Mobile Wallet (Finally!)

I heard about an interesting mobile payment technology yesterday from MobilePayUSA. The press release I saw detailed how MobilePayUSA, a mobile payment solutions provider, launched a private beta test of its solution with Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt in Balboa Island, Calif.

I heard about an interesting mobile payment technology yesterday from MobilePayUSA. The press release I saw detailed how MobilePayUSA, a mobile payment solutions provider, launched a private beta test of its solution with Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt in Balboa Island, Calif.

Big deal, right? Well, the release noted that MobilePayUSA launched its test without near-field communication (NFC) technology.

What does this mean? Basically, it means that unlike most other players in the mobile payment space, MobilePayUSA doesn’t require vendors or customers to buy new NFC technology-based hardware to use it. (NFC is next generation short-range, high-frequency wireless communication technology that enables the exchange of data between devices built with this technology. Many devices aren’t yet built with this technology, however, nor have any standards been created around it.)

Here’s how it works: MobilePayUSA’s mobile payment app connects to its cloud service, which gives users access to multiple payment options as well as discount and group cards. Users that sign up for the service enter their credit card information on MobilePayUSA’s website and download the app. Then, when they’re in a store that accepts the service, they simply open the mobile payment app and show the cashier. The cashier hits a few buttons, the transaction is processed and a receipt is emailed to the customer.

Here’s a promotional video showing an actual mobile payment transaction taking place at the Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt store using MobilePayUSA’s app. Pretty neat, huh?

Also unlike other e-wallets, MobilePayUSA doesn’t use RFID chips embedded in smartphones, so credit information is never stored on a phone or shared with the merchant. The company declares this difference will prove to make its solution more secure from the real threat of illegal skimmers and hackers.

I have to admit, I think this is a really great use of mobile commerce technology. It seems to make it very easy for consumers (and retailers) to finally take the mobile commerce plunge. What do you think? Please leave a comment below.