The purpose of a website seems obvious, right? If your site focuses on your business and its products or services, then its purpose is to sell…
…But there’s so much more to a website than selling. By looking at the various ways you can use your website to support your business, you can deliver a better experience to your customers and improve your overall sales process.
What the research says.
We agree that selling should be a priority. But as experienced web designers and consumers ourselves, we can tell you that websites which focus only on closing a sale can be off-putting. They are also often unhelpful to customers and potential customers.
When asked about positive sales experiences, research shows that buyers prefer sales representatives who “listened to my needs” and “is not too pushy”. This is no different in online environments than it is in person. In fact, further research suggests that a softer approach to selling is better received by online audiences.
One of the biggest blunders you can make when writing copy for your website is failing to understand your audience’s needs. By focusing on making that sale, you are prioritising your own goals above theirs.
What is soft selling?
When talking about the landscape of sales and how it has evolved over the years, you will see the terms hard selling and soft selling appear a lot.
Hard selling is the traditional approach to sales. Think of the used car salesman stereotype. Direct. Brash. Will make a sale, no matter what. This approach assumes that your audience is ready to buy and doesn’t need to shop around.
The internet has been a big game changer for selling because it has also completely changed the way that we buy. With the increasing use and functionality of search engines, consumers find it easier than ever to find what they’re looking for online.
This is where soft selling comes in. This method relies on building a relationship with the consumer and appealing to their emotions.
Soft selling online demonstrates a greater awareness of your audience’s needs. You’re not pressuring them to buy right away. Instead Call To Action phrases, like “learn more” or “get in touch”, can be just as effective. You are showing your audience the next steps to take if they want to buy or request more information.
Soft selling can also save you time. Instead of trying to turn every person visiting on your website into a customer, you have provided visitors with enough information for them to better make that decision for themselves.
Also be aware that there are many online tools out there which will block irritating promotional messages. If your target audience is particularly tech-savvy, they will have tools, like ad-blockers, installed onto their computers to help them avoid hard sales techniques.
Other purposes for websites…
Now that you are aware of soft selling and its benefits over the traditional sales approach, it’s time to start thinking about the purpose of websites more broadly and how this can help you achieve your business goals.
Tells your audience what your business is, where it is situated, opening hours and how to contact you. It can also include the latest news about your business – and possibly your industry too – if you want to establish yourself as an industry expert. It is especially important for businesses who offer more complex products or services, where their benefits are not immediately clear.
As well as keeping your customers updated with upcoming events and promotions, informational websites offer relevant and current content which rank higher on search engines. This means that potential customers are more likely to discover your business online.
They ask visitors to complete a quiz as part of signing up to learn more about their size and preferences for activewear
Offers a one-minute review of everything going on this day
- Kady Valente
Shares content about skincare routines and products designed for sensitive and acne-prone skin
Includes stories and media which shows new and inspiring ways an audience can use your products and services. This content doesn’t just have to come from you – your own customers will be able to contribute here.
Inspirational websites can offer a highly visual and appealing way of promoting your products and services. It can also increase the value of your offerings. And if you include examples from your own customers, you will increase the trustworthiness of your content – consumers are more likely to trust other consumers when making a purchase.
A digital mall where users can collect products, follow stores and see what’s trending
A visual discovery engine where users can curate content, such as ideas for recipes, home and style inspiration, and more.
Designed to attract visitors and keep them returning for more. They tend to be more interactive and dynamic than other types of websites.
Entertaining websites are a great way to grow your reach and establish memorability, but are not always suitable as business websites. Asset production and maintenance can be costly for these websites. Instead, we recommend looking at existing entertainment websites which target an audience similar to your customer base and consider placing an advertisement.
Users can stream music and listen to podcasts online
An online art community featuring artwork, videography and photography
An online video sharing and social media platform