Podcast Title Why Your Customers Aren't Buying From You

Cath Langman:

Well, hello there. Catherine Langman here back with another episode of the Productpreneur Success Podcast. And today, I’m actually going to be taking another different angle on the e-commerce business model, and I really wanted to sort of dive into why customers may not be buying. So, obviously, if you’re in the business of selling online in an e-commerce environment, then most likely, you’re always on the lookout for new ways to grow your sales, to convert more website visitors into paying customers. And I’ve got loads of blogs and podcast episodes and interviews, and other sort of resources to help teach you various different strategies to increase your sales. It might be around improving your website or designing your website to getting Facebook ads up and running to implementing email marketing or various other promotional strategies, right, and you can check that all out at your leisure.

But honestly, there’s so many different things that we can and should be doing in our business, and it can take a while to get to the point where you have it all dialed in and it’s working like a well-oiled machine. And sometimes, it might be working like a well-oiled machine and then suddenly stopped working. So, if you’re in the position that none of it’s working as well as you would like, and you are pretty sure that your product doesn’t stink, then maybe it’s time to actually take a different way of looking at things and try and work out why customers aren’t buying.

So, let’s kind of start with some typical reasons why customers may not buy from you because look, there’s numerous reasons why customers might not buy. This is not going to be an exhaustive list at all, but here are a few common ones and I would definitely recommend that you try and review your own website and your own kind of marketing efforts as objectively as you possibly can. Really try and be empathetic for your customers and put yourself in your customer’s shoes, rather than looking at things from the business owner’s perspective because when you’re the business owner, you’re really familiar with everything in your business and everything on your website and you know where everything is, right, but your customers may not. So, we have to try and be really objective when we’re analyzing this.

So, the first common scenario is that customers just can’t find what they want on your website. So, it often comes down to things like navigation not being really simple and intuitive. And so, really, what we need to get our website to is that our customers need to land on our website and immediately be clear about what you sell, who it’s for, and how to get it. So, that needs to be an immediate kind of intuition that a customer can understand once they land on your website. You really don’t want to be making people try and figure it out by being a little bit obscure or a little bit overly creative with your text, or your images maybe aren’t sort of arriving at the point quickly enough, or your collections or your menu labels are a little bit obscure. So, really try and look at that objectively.

The second common reason that customers may not buy from you is that they might not feel secure. So, this one definitely should be a no-brainer, but if you don’t have an SSL certificate or a security certificate, you need to get one in place. Now, if you’re on a platform like Shopify, that’s bundled in with your plan. But basically, you need to check out where your URL goes at the top of the internet browser and make sure that it says HTTPS instead of HTTP. So, if you’re on WordPress, for instance, you need to make sure you’ve purchased and installed an SSL certificate. And the other part of feeling or one other part of feeling secure is that you need to be using some secure, trusted payment methods. So, if you’re not using some trusted, well-known payment methods, then that can be a big, red flag for most shoppers as well.

Now, the third common reason is that they might’ve found a better price elsewhere. So, there’s not really any explanation required there. I guess I do want to, whilst I’m mentioning it, but, at the end of the day, there’s always going to be some people who don’t care that much about price. There’ll be some people who are really price-driven. You need to know where your customer base lands there, but equally, if you are selling a particular product and there’s a massive price discrepancy between yours and the competition, then you might need to have another look at that.

The fourth reason someone might not buy from you is just that they got distracted. If you have kids, like I do, you’ll know exactly what I mean with this one. And I guess if that’s the case with your audience, then you need to do everything you can to make a purchasing on your website super simple and easy. Really make sure that the process of choosing and adding to cart, and then the checkout process is very, very simple and easy if that’s the case and that’s who your audience is.

The fifth common scenario is that customers just don’t know what to buy. And this will definitely be the case if you are selling products like makeup or skincare or shoes, or something really personal like sunglasses, for instance, anything, perfume, anything where customers typically want to test it or try it out or try it on before they make a decision. You might fall into this scenario where customers just don’t know what to buy and so, when it is hard to know if you’re choosing the right thing, a lot of the time customers just will buy nothing rather than risk making a mistake, if that makes sense. And so, it may be that people don’t know what to buy for other reasons.

So, in my last business, which was a modern cloth nappy business, or cloth diapers if you’re from the Northern hemisphere, and it wasn’t like people didn’t know what a nappy was. Of course they did. But oftentimes, they just… Because it was quite a, at that point in time, it was quite a new product invention, and people often felt like if they were new to this kind of product and they didn’t really know anything about it, oftentimes we would get questions like, oh, well, how many do I need? What else do I need to use with them to make it successful?

And so, what we did to sort of get around that and help people to figure out what to buy was to bundle things up into some value packs that made it really clear how to choose. So, it might be a half-time pack so for some of our customers only wanted to use them at home during the day, and they weren’t going to use them for night times or for daycare. And then we would have a full-time pack, and that was obviously for people who were going to be using them a hundred percent of the time. And so, those sorts of strategies made it easier for customers to know what to buy.

And then the sixth reason that I wanted to mention here that definitely holds customers back from making a purchase decision is not understanding the value of your product. So, this is definitely relevant to those of you who sell niche products or new innovations or products that just are really not commonly known about. So, that was definitely the case with my modern cloth nappy brand. And it’s also the case for one of our clients who’s called Up On The Rooftop. I’ve spoken about her before. And she has these water pots. They’re actually really old technology, ancient technology that we’ve sort of forgotten about, and then now it’s kind of been brought back to the market for modern gardeners to water their plants in a really water efficient and cost-effective way. But a lot of people still don’t know how to use them.

So, one way that you can really help to get around that issue is to have video demonstrations that show exactly how to use the product and really bridge that education gap so that people really understand that value and how to use it. There’s also an issue with understanding the value of the product if you have really high-priced products. So, how can you make sure that you really clearly communicate the value of the product in that scenario? So, for instance, if it’s a really luxurious, premium brand, then you really need to be able to communicate that with the way you’ve styled your photography and your other graphics and really make sure that they do look super luxurious and premium. And you only have to go and have a look at some of the premium brands that you know out on the marketplace.

So, obviously, if you are looking at high-end designer fashion in a magazine, those sorts of images are going to look really different compared to something from Kmart, for instance. And just to kind of back onto the last point too where customers don’t know what to buy, if you are in that scenario where it’s something like makeup or skincare, for instance, something that you can do to really help customers to figure out what to buy for themselves, and what the right thing would be is to use a product selection quiz. Now, I wouldn’t call it that on your website because that sounds a bit weird for a customer to read, but it might be find your perfect skincare quiz or something like that. So, one of our clients that’s been doing this really well over the last year from our Mastermind is morganannie.com.au. She’s a makeup and skincare brand. And so, that, having a quiz in place can really help a customer to figure out what to buy if it’s that sort of a product.

But, like I said before, it’s not an exhaustive list, but those are some common reasons why customers may not buy from you. But none of these reasons were the issue during a couple of my recent shopping experiences that I also wanted to tell you about. Now, I have to confess, I do love shopping online. I don’t particularly like having to go into actual shops, except perhaps shoes stores. I guess many of us have probably become a bit like that over the last year, thanks to COVID. But shopping online’s just so much easier and more convenient. You’re not wasting time getting stuck in traffic. You don’t have to lug bags around from store to store or back to your car or find a car park, or all of that kind of stuff. And, of course, there’s no kind of COVID risk if you’re shopping from home. Probably, I’ve become a hermit, haven’t I? I might need to get out of my own way at some point.

But anyway, like I said, I like shopping online. So, it goes without saying that during the fairly recent back to school period, I did do a lot of my shopping online. So, I’m recording this in March. Our kids went back to school at the end of January and at that start of the year, there’s also a lot of sales on so it’s a great time of year. There’s incentives and you can save time and money. So, it’s all good, right? Except that’s not what happened at all. It was a complete disaster. Well, not a complete disaster, just these two particular scenarios.

So, the first of these two doomed shopping scenarios that I want to tell you about was really weird and it’s nothing that I’ve ever come across before in all of my 22 years of working in the digital space or thereabouts. I wasn’t shopping for the kids’ back to school stuff in this scenario. I was actually hunting for a really specific brand of earplugs. I’m sure a few of you have probably had the very irritating experience of sleeping next to someone who snores. Drives me crazy. Anyway, for quite a few years, I’ve been using a very specific brand of earplugs. Trust me, I’ve tried every brand of earplugs that’s on the market, and most of them hurt or don’t block the noise out. And in either of those situations, they’re kind of useless, really. And anyway, so I’d been using this particular brand of earplugs, and for years, you’d go on to pharmacy websites and wherever they were sold on, there’d be so many customer testimonials from people who were saying that this particular brand of earplugs had saved their relationship. It was that good. And they’ve been discontinued. They literally have been discontinued everywhere.

And so, I’m hunting all over the internet, all over the world, trying to find this particular brand of earplugs. I honestly, I would have paid any amount of money to get my hands on them. And I eventually tracked down this particular brand of earplugs on one website and at a price four times higher than the price I used to pay. But like I said, I didn’t care. I just needed to sleep. And I did not want to hear hubby snore so I was happy to pay that amount. And so, I excitedly added the product to my shopping cart and I went to check out, only to find out that they would literally only take payment in the form of cryptocurrency. Now, maybe I’m an old fart, but I’m pretty sure that the majority of the world still does not deal in Bitcoin yet, certainly not when it comes to e-commerce. So, I thought that was super weird that they would literally only take payment in that one single form. Really weird.

But this situation and this experience did actually remind me of something that I learned the hard way in my own first business. So, in that first business, I only used to offer PayPal as the payment method. So, my thinking at the time was that even if a customer didn’t want to pay by PayPal, they could still use PayPal to pay by credit card. And what I didn’t initially realize was that this can be a bit confusing and a bit off-putting to those who don’t have a PayPal account, right, which apparently, there are people out there who don’t have a PayPal account. And when I added that in, when I added in a separate credit card processor, my sales conversions increased absolutely astronomically. It was such an obvious difference, it was not even funny. So, lesson number one here is definitely to make sure that you have the right payment options and you need to be offering more than one payment option.

So, I’m going to go out on a limb here and recommend PayPal, a recognized credit card payment processor, if you’re on Shopify, you should have Shop Pay, and you should also have at least one buy now pay later option. Afterpay, obviously, is a really big one here in Australia, but there’s a lot of different options now. So, pick at least one well-known version of a buy now pay later option as well. So, those should be the bare minimum that you have on your website.

So, let me go on to disaster shopping experiences number two. So, that cryptocurrency experience was really weird, but the second experience just actually pissed me off quite a lot. So, like I said, my kids were starting back at school and I needed to… I don’t know what happens. Every year, your kids grow and you have to go and get some new uniforms, and they lose their hats. What is it? They go through several hats in a year. Anyway, so I had to attach name labels to a big pile of new school uniforms and it’s so boring. Right? This is like the worst kind of online shopping to do ever, not exciting at all.

So, of course, when I saw a back to school sale on some iron-on name labels, I, of course, jumped online and ordered them. And the website was promising delivery within 10 business days, and that left me with plenty of time, loads of spare time. I was not doing this at the last minute at all. Except, two weeks into the school year, and I still had not received the order. I tried emailing customer service and the replies I received made absolutely no sense at all. I tried tracking the parcel with the tracking number that I was given, but the tracking number was invalid. I tried phoning the company and I was given several sob stories and excuses as to why my order had not arrived, and they still couldn’t give me a valid tracking number.

Now, I’ve been in business a long time, and I know that customer service can be hard and it can be draining, but you just cannot ignore your customers or lie to them and expect them to ever come back and buy from you again. And so, again, this sort of reminded me of my first business and you learn all this stuff. And of course, as you grow, everything increases, including customer service inquiries. But I remember in that business, our customer service team was so well-loved and so well-respected that we actually used to get customers from our competitors calling us up because they heard we could solve any problem. So, the lesson here is definitely customer service is king. Your customer service is so important. If you want to succeed in business, it needs to be right up there with an awesome product.

You also definitely should be having a phone number on your website if you’re in the business of e-commerce, as well as an email address. As much as it can be tempting to literally just only have a contact form, I’m not a huge fan of limiting it to that. And certainly, if any of you, just as a side note, if you want to be advertising on Google, then you need to have two forms of contact on your website. But I’m actually an advocate for actively encouraging your customers to contact you with any questions or issues. Don’t wait for issues to crop up because that’s just going to invite negative feedback, negative word of mouth, and no return customers, which is a big death knell if your aim is to grow a profitable online store.

So, off the back of those sorts of scenarios, I wanted to kind of pivot and then dive into some ways that you can try and gain the trust of customers when they first land on your website. Because not only out that might there be all of those reasons why someone might not buy, but there’s also, I think all of us have probably, we would at least know somebody who’s been at the mercy of some sort of unscrupulous business practices. Maybe not necessarily a fake online retailer or a scam scenario perhaps, but at least a unscrupulous situation where an online store has taken orders for stock they don’t have, for instance, or they’re just simply not fulfilling orders. Right? And so, given that in the e-commerce world and the online world our customers do need to have… They do need to feel like we’re trustworthy.

If we want customers to buy from us for the first time, obviously, once they’ve bought from us, we have that opportunity to give them a really good experience, to get the order out to them promptly, give them a really good unboxing experience, send them really good products that they’re going to enjoy to use, make sure the customer service is all great. But before we have that opportunity to win a second or third subsequent order, we need to get them to trust us enough to place a first order. So, what are some ways that you can start to gain that trust of your first-time customers and your new website visitors? And there are actually trust symbols that you can use on an e-commerce website that will help you with that relationship and rapport building and being able to build up that trust with a new customer and just, I guess, help mitigate any perceived risk that they might feel when they land on your website.

So, maybe what we can do is go through a few different ways. So, let’s discuss four different ways here of how you might be able to really establish trust quickly and really build that trust and help put you in the position where you can end up with a loyal customer who goes on to become a repeat purchaser. And so, the first thing that I want to mention, which I kind of touched on before, is to identify yourself. So, did you know, you may or you may not, but did you know that the number one most visited page on any website is actually quite often the about us page? And why do you think this is? And the simple fact of the matter is that customers want to know that there are real people behind the website interface. And a customer is going to build trust in a business when he or she identifies with you, the business owner. There might be some values or experiences that are similar to her own, but even just putting a name and a face behind the business, it gives them something tangible to engage with on an emotional basis. Right?

And I know that there’s the temptation, there’s a couple of reasons why people don’t put their name on the about us. Number one, I do often see this with people who start e-commerce businesses and they’ve come from a big corporate background. Obviously, in big corporate businesses, they’re always writing and speaking in the third person. It’s all very kind of formal and there’s no personality or personal touch in that at all. And I think that people can go from that sort of a corporate environment into starting their own e-commerce business and assume that if you operate in the same way, it will make you look like a big business, right, and a real, established business with a big team and lots of customers and all that kind of stuff. But I don’t think that’s the case.

I think, quite honestly, when we are trying to deal purely in the online realm and there is no physical presence for customers to come and interact with an actual human being, we need to try and put that personality and that human touch and communicate that through the website. And the number one way that you’re going to do that is by identifying yourself and having your story and your name and your photograph on the about us page. And the other reason that I know that people don’t do this was that or is that people are shy and don’t want to be the face of the brand and don’t want to put themselves out there. They feel uncomfortable. I definitely felt like that when I started my first business. I found it really hard to do that, and I really wanted the brand to speak for itself.

But at the end of the day, your brand will speak for itself. But the customers still need to know that there’s a real person behind it, and that’s what they are looking for when they go to that page. So, the tip here is don’t hide behind the brand. Definitely try to avoid writing in that sort of corporate style or speaking in the third perty… Third perty. Third party. As my kids will say, “Mum, you’re getting your mords wixed.” So, don’t say, “Catherine was inspired to create this business.” You say, “I was inspired to create this business because duh, duh, duh, duh dah.” Tell your own personal story on your about page. Share what led you to creating the business and what your customers can expect when they buy from you, and try and give it more of a human element. Include your name and get a decent photograph taken of yourself. You’ll be amazed. If you’ve never done this on your own website, you’ll be amazed what a difference it actually does make.

Second tip here is to include a phone number. And this may sound familiar, but I remember speaking to one online store owner, and to explain why she didn’t include a phone number on her website, she said to me, “I don’t want to talk to customers. That’s why I started an online store.” And at the end of the day, if you don’t want to talk to customers, then get out of retail because, honestly, there’s nothing worse than a website, an online store that forces you to communicate only by filling in a web form. It does kind of make you feel like it’s a government bureaucracy. And realistically, you want to be providing multiple contact points. So, phone number, email, address, or a post office box address, and a contact form, and social media handles as well. I love on the birdsnest.com.au website, I love their contacting communication trust symbols that they use on their website. It really makes you feel like that they’re not hiding behind anything there at all. And they’re absolutely happy to hear from you in whichever format that you want to contact them.

Now, caveat here. I totally understand that many startup businesses don’t want to be funding a separate… Well, probably, you don’t want to be receiving phone calls on your mobile phone. Right? So, what you definitely can do is to get a very… It’s very inexpensive to actually pay for a 1300 or a 1800-type phone number, and obviously, that’s here in Australia. I’m sure there’s the same options internationally. And you can just have them routed to a mobile phone and just get a cheap plan for a mobile phone so that’s not your own personal phone number that you’re putting on the website. And put some times of the day that you are able to take calls. You don’t have to be available to answer the phone all the time. You can absolutely take messages. Right? That’s totally fine. But have those multiple contact points.

One thing that is a great tip there too, though. If you have a contact us page, what you can do is you can put your frequently asked questions at the top of the page, and then underneath that, if you haven’t found what the information you’re looking for, here’s how you can get in touch. And so, that’s a really great way to kind of prevent too many really common questions coming in that people could really figure out for themselves. I can’t claim that tip. That awesome tip comes from Lisa Munro from Happy Tummies who literally cut hours out of her customer service time each week by structuring her contact page in that way with the FAQs up top.

All right. The third thing that we need to do is to get external proof. And so, this is about social proof. Right? So, reviews and testimonials literally are the most trust-inspiring types of marketing content that you can include on your website. So, if you have no other trust signals, you should at least have this one. And there are studies that have proven time and time again that consumers will trust recommendations from their friends and family first. So, that word of mouth is the most trustworthy thing that’ll get somebody to make a purchase decision at 92% trust rating. But just below that is consumer opinions posted online which has a 70% trust rating. And then beyond that, the next most trusted type of content is editorial content like newspaper articles at 58%, tying with branded websites at 58%.

So, you are going to really increase that trust rating or that immediate trust with a new customer if you have those sorts of reviews and testimonials. You can’t just copy and paste something onto your website and assume that that’s going to work. It needs to be verified. And so, this is where we use apps like stamped.io, and we can put that in the show notes for you. But stamped.io, it’s a separate independent app. There’s a free version. You don’t have to pay for it straight away, and it will verify, independently collect and verify those testimonials and reviews, and then post them on your website. And it can also share them across to your social pages, et cetera, et cetera. And that, so that’s what I mean by external proof. So, it’s not just you, the business owner, or the brand owner saying it, it’s your customers are saying it on your behalf.

And I want to highlight here as well, something some time ago, the Marketing to Mums expert, Katrina McCarter, confirmed this through her research. And this is that in her research, she discovered that mothers look for reviews by other mothers and celebrity endorsement isn’t as influential. Now, obviously, not all of you are going to be in selling to mothers, but I think you’ll find that, by and large, a lot of consumers, probably most consumers are going to be more influenced by seeing someone just like them give a really good review. Obviously, it’s really fun and exciting to see a celebrity use something. But most of us regular humans feel like celebrities are so far out of our league that it’s just not going to be as influential as our mate saying, “Well, this really worked for me in the situation you’re in so I recommend this.” That’s going to be way more influential.

So, make sure that you get something like stamped.io, the app, onto your website, and be collecting those sorts of reviews so that you can really get this happening in your own business. So, that is the app that we use and recommend. It automates the collection of customer reviews in a really nifty way. Customers can actually type their reviews straight into an email. So, they’ll receive an email that shows them what they bought and ask them what do you think and ask them for some feedback. And they just literally just type it into their email and press the button to submit it, and then the app does the rest. It’ll automatically post it to your website. It will know where to post it on your website or on social media, all of that good stuff. And so, it removes the need for customers to click back through your website and log in in order to leave a review or to go looking for the product that they bought and leave a review. So, it’s really, using an app like stamped.io is going to significantly increase your chances of collecting more reviews. So, get onto that one.

And then the fourth way to establish trust quickly and easily, as I mentioned before, is to get those trusted payment methods, payment options. And so, this is, as I was saying before, having multiple payment methods. So, I think I mentioned before, using PayPal and then a known credit card processing one. So, you’re on Shopify, Shop Pay, but otherwise, you need to use some sort of a known credit card payment gateway. So, in Australia, eWAY is a commonly known and recognized gateway. And then, of course, Afterpay, and you might want to use zipPay or a couple of other options as well.

You actually don’t want to go over the top though and have lots and lots of different methods because that’s actually then going to cause friction at the checkout. You don’t want to force people to stop and make a really difficult decision by offering too many choices here. Okay? So, multiple payment methods that are known and trusted by your customers, but not so many that then they can’t figure out what to use and how to check out. Okay? Certainly, in Australia, we definitely want to be using a buy now pay later option, like Afterpay if you can because it’s kind of become like the new PayPal. So, people who are shopping online and they can’t be bothered getting off the couch to go and find their credit card but they know the login for their Afterpay so it’s a bit like using PayPal as well. It just makes it really easy for people to check out for those of us who are a little bit lazy whilst we’re sitting at home, maybe shopping whilst also watching something on the telly or whatever. Right?

And then the second part of kind of showing trust symbols, which I guess is one of the reasons why we use trusted payment methods, are the trusted third-party badges and certifications. So, this would be things like your security certificate. You might also have a guarantee or like a money-back guarantee. One great example there is babiators.net.au, and they have a money-back guarantee. So, that is always visible and they communicate that everywhere. You might have some awards that just lends extra credibility and respectability to your business.

So, again, if you have a look at birdsnest.com.au. If you have a look right down the… I think it’s right down the bottom of the website, it shows you the icons of the different payment methods that they accept. There’s Visa, MasterCard, eWAY, PayPal, zipPay, and some others there, but it also shows some awards that they’ve received as well, just small, little icons. And so, that definitely also gives you trust. Right? So, it makes the first-time customer feel a little bit more comfortable and less risky about making that purchase decision.

So, perhaps what you could do as a next step after listening to this episode is to go through your website and figure out how many of these different trust signals do you use from those third-party badges and certification and awards to payment methods, to the external proof, the verified reviews and testimonials that I was talking about, the contact details, contact numbers, and then identifying yourself and showing up on that about page. So, I would recommend going through your own website and writing a bit of a list which ones can you tick off and which ones do you really need to add to your website, and see what a difference that that might make if you are in the situation where things just are not converting the way you really want right now.

All right, guys, that is what I have for you today. I hope that you found that a useful episode, and it’s given you a little bit of food for thought. As always, I want to make sure that you are invited into our Rockstar Productpreneur group, our Facebook group. If you aren’t a member of this group yet, this is definitely the place to be if you are an e-commerce store owner and you’re looking to get some help and support as you launch, scale, and grow your online store business, and, of course, get to network with other e-commerce brand owners who are doing the same thing as you. That’s it for me. I look forward to being with you on the podcast again next week. Bye for now.