5 tips for improving sales without cutting prices

As the world turns from traditional to digital, it’s imperative to make sure you’re communicating your product or service as clearly as possible.

Here's how your comms may be driving uncertainty and losing you sales - and how you can fix it.

Uncertainty occurs when a customer has missing or incomplete information. This is more likely to occur through digital mediums, as (unless you have a chat feature on your website) it’s harder for the customer to ask questions and gain clarity compared to traditional sales.

Addressing uncertainties in your customer's decision-making process will fill gaps and help you complete sales – without having to cut prices or increase benefits.

This post deals with uncertainty within digital sales, but some of the advice also applies to traditional sales.

Why uncertainty matters

Uncertainty is a result of gaps in information. How much will this product cost? How hard will it be to end this free trial? How do I use the product? Where can I access the product? If your customers are asking these questions, you're missing the mark.

Uncertainty is a stain on the customer experience of buying your product - it kills customer motivation to complete a purchase.

In fact, uncertainty is so important that research shows customers would rather have a bad result than no result. For example, if they have to wait for a product or service, it’s important that you clarify the waiting period, rather than leaving them in the dark.

How Uber cornered the market by addressing uncertainty

You order your car - you're told exactly how far away it is. You can track it to see when it'll arrive, or you'll get a notification when it does. Once you've ordered the car, you're told the driver's name, the number of trips they've completed, their rating by other Uber users, and the make and colour of their car. No stone is left untouched for you to ponder over. You don't need to fear getting in the wrong car; you don't have to experience the awkward emotion of knocking on the window of the wrong cab. You don't need to wait on the kerb in the cold for your cab to arrive. You know he’ll be a good driver by his rating.

These aspects work together to provide a seamless user experience, with very little gaps in information.

How you can fix uncertainty

1. Evaluate your customer’s purchasing journey

Marketer Erin Balderson has done a fantastic example of what Uber's customer journey map might look like. Draw your own customer journey using this free guide and template from Hubspot.

Next, identify where uncertainties can occur at each step by asking yourself:

  • What's the purpose of this step?
  • Is it truly necessary, or could removing it make it easier for my target customer to complete my call to action (even if it produces more work on our end)?
  • Is there any room for misinterpretation or assumption, or anything that may leave a customer confused?

If you're evaluating an existing resource, or after you finish creating your new website, leaflet or brochure, get a peer to take a look and note down every question they encounter on the way, and where.

Common areas of uncertainty include:

  • How much will it cost me?
  • What can I do if I do not like the product?
  • How do I use the product?
  • How can I purchase the product?
  • Is the product good quality? 

If the product is a food or drink, your customers may also ask:

  •  How will it be delivered?
  • Where do I need to keep it?
  • How long will it last?

Once you've identified areas of uncertainty, you can take the next step.

2. Answer the questions

Marketers love an FAQ for a reason – embrace it! Take the areas of uncertainty you have identified and turn them into a Question/Answer format. This will make it extremely easy for your customer to find the information they need.

If you’re not a fan of an FAQ, consider other ways you can abate uncertainty.

How Booking.com answer the questions before they’re even asked

If you go to book a hotel through their platform, you’ll notice a little note under the 'reserve' button - "Don't worry, pressing this button won't charge you". This provides clarity and reassurance to the user, and ultimately helps build trust in the brand and product.

This shows that your solution doesn’t need to be complicated. Something as simple as clearly displaying the price of your product or providing ‘next step’ instructions can reduce uncertainty and increase sales.

3. Invest in a good website

UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) are the tech“buzzwords” of 2020, and so they should be. Put simply – if your customer struggles to navigate your site, they’ll lose interest in purchasing your product.

Consider a brand or website that you often make purchases from. Is it easy to find their product? How can you pay? Do you need to create an account to purchase the product?

You could easily improve the customer experience of your website by ensuring that paying for a product is simple. How many times have you decided against purchasing a product, or have delayed your purchase, because the site required the input of a lot of information?

Putting in a 16-digit number, the security code, the expiry date … a name … a billing address … a shipping address. The process of paying online can be long and joyless. It also gives the user amble opportunity to change their mind. With PayPal, GPay and similar payment systems, you can reduce uncertainty in the payment experience and make it much quicker for a customer to complete a purchase and reduce the drop-off rate.

Consider also including the following on your website:

  • Testimonials with photos. Testimonials help assure your customer that your product is high quality and that your brand is trustworthy – but research shows that testimonials without photos are not memorable.
  • Video content. This enables you to show people the purpose of your product, how to use it, and the benefits of doing so. It also provides material for your social media pages. Apps like Adobe Premier Rush make it easy to remix video content to provide ‘fresh’ versions for your feeds.     

4. Be transparent

How Netflix use transparency to reassure their users

We all know the benefits of Netflix – it has a wide range of TV shows and films, parental controls, it produces its own quality content, you can access the platform on most devices. But the first information Netflix communicates to us upon landing on their homepage isn’t the benefits of subscribing. It says, quite simply, “Watch anywhere. Cancel anytime.”

Why does this work? Subscriptions can be daunting. Most of us have had the experience of signing up to a free trial and forgetting to cancel it on time. Sometimes cancelling them can be hard work, the steps made deliberately laborious to discourage you from doing so.

With those two words, ‘cancel anytime’, presented in large, clear text on their homepage, Netflix removes the fear and uncertainty of joining their free trial.

Brand transparency is important to the customer. It helps build trust, improves a brands’ reputation and can even help you develop your brand's tone of voice. So how can you apply this same concept to your own product?

5. Utilise social media and clarify your call to actions

A website is a great start, but there’s no better time than the present to get your business onto social media and start promoting your products.

This is where you need to ensure you have clear call to actions. If your customer doesn’t understand what you want them to do by reading your content – they can’t act on it.  

Each post should have purpose – whether it’s to sell, raise profile or spark interest – and each post should be the beginning of a journey to purchase your product.

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