So you have a website where you hope to make money off visitors. Unless you’re making money with advertising, this usually means that your visitor is going to have to buy something. Your conversion rate is the ratio of people who actually buy versus the number of total visitors you have.
At a minimum, you should know what your conversion rate is. If you don’t, then you’re missing out on a lot of data your website can give you, including priceless information on which keywords your visitors are using to find you. Use some form of web analytics to track this information, which will include the total number of unique visitors. Your sales software should be able to tell you the number who bought.
An average conversion rate is 3%. This means that if you get 100 visitors, on average only 3 will buy something. When you’re paying for advertising to get visitors, a low conversion rate means you’re not getting much return on your advertising investment.
There are three classes of people who will visit your website. Those who are ready to buy, those who have no intention of buying, and those who want to buy but are undecided. You can’t do much to affect the first two classes, but the last class, the fence sitters, can be converted. On a normal website, though, they’ll look at all the available information and then leave, intending to make up their mind later. Maybe they forget, or buy from someone else later. Either way, you’ve lost a sale.
The primary problem online is that you can’t have a conversation with the fence sitters. In a retail store, a salesperson could talk with them and get an idea of what might be keeping them from buying, and provide information to help them decide. Online, where do they get that type of interaction?
From opt in lists. They allow the fence sitters to start a conversation with you. Autoresponders take the role of the salesperson, giving the standard information most customers want to know.
Here’s how it works: you put a form on your site where customers can ask for more information about a product. They fill out just their name and email address. No billing info is sent, and they’re not asked to make a commitment of any kind. A fence sitter is more likely to do this than to jump into buying. Once they click submit, the autoresponder goes to work.
You would have had to have previously written a series of email letters about the product, with common questions and links to answers on your website. Each letter is personalized, so appears to be a conversation with the customer. Well written letters make the customer feel like they’re having a personal contact with you. The autoresponder sends each email in the sequence you specify, at whatever intervals you specify.
A typical series of automated letters will start out with the information the customer requested, and then a day later check back with them to see if they have more questions, and then a day or so after that offer them a special price if they haven’t bought yet.
At any point, the customer can reply to the email and contact you directly, breaking out of the automated sequence of emails.
Stay on Topic
With today’s spam regulations, it’s easy to get into trouble with an opt-in list. The key is that users have signed up for more information about a specific product or service, so you’re allowed to send them a nearly unlimited series of emails, about that product or service. You don’t have a license to send them emails about different products or services (that comes once they’re a customer and they agree to receive your “special deals newsletter”).
Getting blacklisted by spam lists is a Bad Thing for your business, so stay on topic.
See It Work
To see an autoresponder in action, put your name and email into this form and click Submit. You’ll get a three day series of emails I setup just for this post. Note that this series will not try to sell you anything, it’s just an example so you can see how the autoresponders work, in case you’re one of the few on the Internet who have never signed up for these before.
These days, any website that doesn’t use opt in lists is missing out on converting fence sitters into customers. Getting visitors is only half the battle. Converting them into customers is the other half.
The undisputed king of autoresponders is Aweber Communications. The chances are good that you’ve signed up for at least one series of mailings from someone using Aweber’s autoresponders.
I also quite like Traffic Wave, which is the company I use for autoresponders. Both companies offer much the same services at much the same price. Both also use their own autoresponders to provide you with more information on their own services.
You can sign up for Traffic Wave’s demo emails using the following form (note that while the letters are personalized to appear to be from me, they’re the standard Traffic Wave demo letters):
And this one for the Aweber demo series: