Customers have been buying online since the advent of commercialized Internet. But what makes them choose one merchant website over another? This is a complex topic with several influencing variables. Details ignored, we'll do our best to simplify the thought process behind the majority of Web purchasing decisions.
First off, most inbound marketers know that the objective when setting up a new site is to get visitors to know, like, and trust you and/or your brand. That's because gaining a strong following is an optimal way of pre-selling an audience. What they often neglect, however, is the amount of work involved in accomplishing this task. With disruptive ads now rampant on social platforms, it's more difficult than ever to un-pitch visitors to your blog, e-commerce store, etc.
Users automatically think that you're trying to sell them on something - and they're right. But their tone is different than it was 15, 10, or even 5 years ago. Today, potential buyers are cynical towards merchants. They've been screwed over, experienced terrible customer support, and are just fed up with how companies handle their business online. The sometimes-overwhelming challenge of winning hearts can be a blessing in disguise, though.
Through a hard work ethic, and a relentless desire to appease clients, it can still be done, and, consequently, prove to be very profitable. Tech giants are a good example of this. Not because they're income-generating machines; rather, because they've mastered the art of being customer-focused. They listen to their fan base, reciprocate requests with free offers or options whenever possible, and ultimately provide good support prior to, during, and following the checkout process (with guarantees attached to their products/services most of the time).
The lesson here is that, while connecting with an audience may be rooted in the understanding of human emotions (particularly those who make up your niche market), the overall user experience is what drives sales - and it can be implemented systematically so to speak.
Based on the targeted traffic they receive, countless bloggers would be able to grow 6 and 7-figure consulting practices (or attract the equivalent in ad revenue or affiliate commissions) without the need to hire staff beyond an assistant or two (if at all), but it's only a select few who become successful based on similar storytelling efforts. Why?
Free content, although essential, isn't enough, not anymore. People need products, so at the very least, they'll want a recommendation. And not a link to another website; an actual personalized recommendation. They may also need guidance setting up a hosted service you referred them to. Whether it's out of your scope of obligations or not, assisting individuals in this area may result in a lifelong customer somewhere along the road. Successful bloggers meet this challenge every single day. In other words, they care - or care enough to abide by this process. The same applies to small, medium, and large organizations who have cracked the conversion code.
The good news is that, once a visitor knows, likes, and finally trusts you (and turns into a buyer), things get easier thereafter. In sum, it's the momentum-building that's the hard part, from the beginning of it all right up until a person gives you their vote of confidence. It's a significantly-extended period in comparison to that of the past, but one that still holds lucrative value.
Whether measured or not, founded on a concrete monetization plan or not, the fruits of the Internet rest on your ability to meet (and preferably exceed) the demands of users from start to finish.