strategies posted in business strategies  on 22 April 2008
by Andrew Lang 
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Converting complete strangers into repeat customers

There are 5 basic steps to converting a complete stranger into a repeat customer:-

1. Effective Marketing - which brings visitors to your website

2. Quality Content - your marketing works, and you've got an audience. Now you need to give a good first impression: do they like what you're selling, and the prices you're selling them at? Are they presented in a clear way? How is the overall presentation of the website?

3. Strong Trust Factor - they found you, like your products and prices, but they need to trust you now before buying anything.

4. Usability - they found you, they like your products, they trust you, now
how easy is it to actually BUY?

5. Taking Care of Your Customers - they found you, they liked your products, they trust you, they could easily buy your products. Now can you get them to buy again? Repeat business is a wonderful thing. It's a lot easier to keep a customer than trying to constantly find new ones.

Without marketing, nobody finds your website, so points 2,3,4 and 5 are irrelevant.

Without the right products/services/prices, nobody wants to buy your products so points 3,4 and 5 are irrelevant.

Without winning the trust of your visitors, points 4 and 5 are irrelevant.

On point 4, a difficult checkout process means you will lose many potential customers - many potential REPEAT customers.

Succeeding at all 5 points will maximise your sales conversions and actually make running your business a LOT easier.

Let's look at each step in more detail:-

Effective Marketing

Effective marketing draws in targeted, relevant visitors to your website. It's not all about numbers, but about relevancy.
  • 1. Visitors who found you via a search engine are already targeted and relevant since they actively made a search for something related to the content on your site, and clicked on YOUR search engine result in the search engine results page.
  • 2. Recommendations/testimonials from your customer's websites (with a link to your site) buys you some trust and those reading the recommendation will know you at least have one satisfied customer
Point 1 is THE most effective method of marketing since you are attracting active searchers and let's face it - you're going to get a larger volume of visitors from search engines than individual website referrals. If you don't already rank well in the search engines, you can pay to appear in the sponsored listings within the search engine results page. This is quite a good way to measure what keywords/keyphrases work best for your site in terms of attracting people and converting them to sales. However, the long-term strategy is to rank well in the search engines. We've written several articles on search engine optimization here!

Quality Content

Quality content sounds a bit vague, but there are specific signs that identify quality content:-
  • Your content is well written and INTERESTING. Keep it compelling - avoid clichés.
  • Proof-read your copy and avoid lazy spelling mistakes / grammatical errors.
  • Update your content regularly: up-to-date content will encourage repeat visitors and your site will appear much more "live" than your competitors who fail to update their site often
  • Become an authority in your field - put it this way, NOT being an expert means you're just dishing out information that's readily available everywhere already, and is likely something your reader already knows. Being an authority comes naturally if you're passionate about your business and you're willing to put in considerable amounts of time in improving your knowledge/skills.

    If you ask the question "how do I become an authority on something?", a good answer would be "What do you enjoy doing?". It can be something that's related to what you're selling - you don't have to write 100 articles directly about your products (which likely would bore the pants off most people). An example: if I sell surf boards, eventually I'm going to run out of things to say about the surf boards I sell. However, I doubt I'd run out of things to say about surfing - the places you can surf, the people who surf, the competitions available etc.
  • The items you sell will need compelling titles/descriptions and clear images so your potential customers can properly evaluate each item.
  • If the price is too high, or even too low, this can be a dealbreaker for a sale. Check out the competition's prices - people have a perception of how much they're prepared to pay. Too high is an obvious dealbreaker, but too low a price can cause a false red flag to wave as they will feel the item may be of inferior quality - even if you're simply giving them a fantastic deal!!
  • Unique and useful content is valuable. Be yourself, and your content will be unique. Put yourself in the shoes of your website visitors and ask yourself what they would find useful. Write as if you're writing for a good friend, and you'll feel less inhibited. Don't worry too much about what others think of your opinion. Don't mimic others - this is the internet: people WANT unique voices, not "me too" commentators who simply echo what others are saying.

Strong Trust Factor

Trust is a big deal online. If someone trusts you and likes what you sell, they won't feel uneasy spending money with you. Even better, trust means repeat business from the same customer (who you've already won over) - they can even turn into a mini-salesperson recommending you to their friends and family. Signs of trust on a website:-
  • Phone number is clearly present on the website as well as other contact information. The idea that I can just make a call and talk to someone means you're REAL and not some fake site
  • Terms and conditions are easy to find, written in plain English, short and to the point.
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Testimonials from several happy customers
  • Website is updated regularly
  • Website owner is an authoratitive voice and a passion for their business is shown throughout the site
  • A website that "speaks" directly to you in an informal, assured and confident voice. Avoid business-speak, which is cold and formal, and is often used as a smokescreen to disguise a lack of knowledge.


This is a very important point, and the good news is YOU don't need to do anything here other than choose a website developer who takes this point very seriously and has integrated a very simple checkout process on your site. When considering what website developer to choose, ask each developer: how many clicks does it take to purchase something from any of the e-commerce sites you develop? Do customers need to register to purchase anything?

Taking Care of Your Customers

Strong after-sales support can feel like a chore (since the sale's already made), but it can make your life easier in the long-run since you can win repeat business from existing customers. This is a lot easier than spending time and effort looking for new customers. Some good after-sales support:-
  • Offer them discounts on future purchases
  • Support their questions regarding their purchase enthusiastically
  • Keep them up-to-date via email of your new products/services


Marketing will involve some search engine optimization such as link building and choosing your website developer carefully (since their responsibility is on-page optimization). Quality content, the trust factor and after-sales support will require the aforementioned passion you will need for your business, while finally usability will fall under the responsibilities of your website developer.

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