What makes people almost buy?
What makes them get most of the way there, then drop out of your shopping cart at the last second?
What makes them stare at your landing page, wanting what you have to offer, and yet, ultimately, close the page and move on to something else?
It turns out there’s a hideous troll hiding under the bridge. Every time you get close to making a sale, the troll springs out and scares your prospect away. Get rid of the troll and your copy will start converting better than it ever has before.
The ugly, smelly, dirty, bad-mannered troll is prospect fear. And it’s sitting there right now, stinking up your landing page and scaring good customers away.
Fear of wasting money
Remember when you were a kid and you went to that rinky-dink carnival that came through town? After eating all the cotton candy you could manage, and throwing it all back up again on the Tilt-a-Whirl, you checked out something called the Midway.
Remember that persuasive fellow who convinced you to spend a whole months’ allowance throwing softballs at those damned milk cans?
It looked so easy. He showed you exactly how to do it. Toss the softball, knock over the milk can, win a cool stuffed animal for a prize. Simple.
You spent quarter after quarter trying to do it yourself.
When all your quarters were gone, you got an inkling. It looked easy, but actually if you were standing at the throw line, it was pretty close to impossible. Now the carnival guy had all your money, and you didn’t even have an ugly green plush monkey to show for it.
The troll is born.
Fear of mockery
When the sting of the carnival wore off, you were innocently minding your own business and you ran across an ad for the wonderful product Sea-Monkeys.
They were little people! With tails! They looked pretty awesome on the cover of the package. You begged your parents to get them for you and told everybody you knew. Your little brother. Your best friend. Your entire third-grade class.
This was going to be so cool. The ad said you could even teach them to do tricks. You planned on getting them medicine, vitamins, special formulas, everything they needed to be the happiest pets ever.
You followed the instructions to the letter. You waited breathlessly. You told anyone and everyone how amazing this was going to be.
It turns out Sea-Monkeys are just brine shrimp. In no way do they resemble little people. They resemble fish food, which is what they are.
Your little brother, your best friend, and your entire third-grade class now thought you were an idiot. And they delighted in letting you know that at every opportunity.
The troll gets a little bigger.
Fear of feeling stupid
Every time we’re betrayed by a sleazy salesperson, we toughen up just a little. The troll grows. Our mistrust grows and our inclination to believe shrinks.
And then a blogger shows up with a wonderful ebook, MP3 course or membership site that will solve a problem that’s been really bothering us. Let’s call that blogger . . . you.
We want to believe you. We want to get the benefit from what you have to offer. We want to have something — anything — work out the way it was promised.
We would love to be able to trust our own judgment.
But the troll keeps whispering in our ear, with his truly horrendous breath, how stupid we’re going to feel when we fall for that again.
(By the way, do you think the troll gets even stronger when the economy is bad and folks are in a general state of anxiety? Yep, I agree.)
How to kill the troll
Killing the troll isn’t easy, but you have to do it if you want to monetize your site.
Everything on your site needs to show that you can be trusted. Real contact information. Showing your photograph. Displaying seals for anti-hacker technology and the Better Business Bureau on your shopping cart. FAQs that actually answer questions. Clear, reassuring calls to action.
Every detail matters. Even things like hosting your site on your own domain, or how frequently you post. Everything you do needs to build trust and kill the troll.
Unless you sell to ten-year-olds, your prospect has been kicked around so often by unscrupulous (or incompetent) businesses that the troll is a very hard fellow to kill. Give the prospect any tiny reason to mistrust you, and all those wretched old experiences come back.
There’s an old joke that a second marriage is the triumph of optimism over experience. In fact, that’s exactly what happens every time you make a sale, especially to someone who hasn’t done business with you before.
So let’s declare war on the trolls. Be extraordinarily trustworthy. Show your value. Put your customers first. Keep your promises.
The troll is tough and hard to kill. But with dedication and commitment, we can chase him off to go wreck somebody else’s business.