|By Alex Pejak||
|July 2, 2014 01:16 PM EDT||
If you're a modern business, two things are probably true: one, you have a website, and two, it's not making you as much money as it could. The fact is, most people put up websites without a clear idea of how the site will bring in profit, and for some people the idea of making money off a website is revolutionary. Fortunately, it's not difficult to turn even dead-weight websites into profit centers -- here are a few ideas to get you started.
Driving Sales and Collecting Leads
The most obvious way to increase profits with your website is by increasing sales and bringing in more leads. Each person who visits your website is an opportunity to sell your products or services. If you have the ability to accept credit cards online, your goal should be to maximize the number of people who make a purchase from you on your website.
In the event it's not feasible to allow purchases online (or even if it is), your second goal should be to capture sales leads -- in other words, the personal details of people who might buy from you but who aren't quite convinced yet.
Remember, your website is a remarkable tool for overcoming potential objections, communicating the value you offer, influencing the customer's buying decision, and providing a steady flow of new prospective customer. Your sales team will have a much higher success rate calling on someone who's already expressed interest (by filling in a form on your website) than cold-calling someone out of the blue. The more people who express interest and give you their personal details, the more likely your sales team will make sales.
Your sales team may not speak very good Spanish, but thanks to website translation (example: http://www.simpletranslation.com/webtranslate) your "electronic salesman" can speak it fluently. By making your website available in several languages, you open your business up to customers from overseas, and a flow of new business which it would be very difficult to bring in otherwise.
Up-Sell and Cross-Sell
One of the greatest benefits of selling with a website is you can make one change and have it automatically applied to every future transaction. Your "electronic salesman" will never forget to up-sell a new customer after he or she makes a purchase, provided you set it up that way. When someone makes a purchase, think about what else you can offer them immediately which they would like to buy. Add-ons, warranties, and accessories can incrementally increase the size of an average customer's purchase... and greatly increase your profits.
The same goes for cross-selling. Someone who's interested in one product may also be interested in a complimentary product, even if they haven't realized it yet. Therefore, show them an ad or offer them a discount on a complimentary product at the time of purchase.
Maximize Repeat Purchases
It's very hard to tell whether you're making a mistake offline which is costing you sales unnecessarily, but with a website you can track how it is being used and maximize your results. By looking at how people use your website, you can tell if a particular page or element is confusing or welcoming, and develop new ways to keep bringing customers back.
Once you have a buyer, use automated (but tasteful and "non-spammy") email reminders to alert them to new purchase opportunities. Remember, it's much easier to get a sale from someone who's already purchased from you.
Save Time and Reduce Costs
A website is more than a tool for bringing in sales and leads. You can also use it to reduce the time involved in servicing each particular customer. For service businesses, this may mean offering forms online to reduce the amount of time customers have to spend talking with your staff, and allowing customers to input their details directly into your system. In other cases it may mean offering customer service online, to reduce costly calls into your service department.
Similarly, a simple "frequently asked questions" page can answer the most common questions you get by phone or email. To be sure, some people will never read and simply call, but providing the questions online will reduce the amount of time you spend answering the same thing over and over. You can find some tips on creating a useful FAQ page here: http://sixrevisions.com/user-interface/designing-effective-faq-pages/.
Ultimately, profit is simply income minus expenses. A website can be used to both increase your income and decrease your expenses -- the one by bringing in more leads and sales, the other by reducing the amount of time and cost needed for each transaction.
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
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