This question and answer has to do with someone in the art world, but it’s almost completely applicable to the plastic surgery world.  (You’re all artists, anyway, right?)  The part about giving a guarantee so strong it almost makes you want to vomit doesn’t work in medicine, but just about all the other advice and suggestions do.


Good afternoon Scott,

We have a new website business called Rescued Art. There is a steady
traffic to the site from Adwords, Ebay referrals, etc. Yet, the visitors
are not buying art through the site. However, we seem to be able to sell
at a modest pace on Ebay. How can this be understood?

We are setting up a store on Ebay to expand our visibility there. Soon
we will add a vintage gallery to our site and will open a shop on Etsy
when we gather up a few more nice old works.

We write Rescued Art Stories about how specific pieces were saved from
dusty places and some visitors seem to come for the stories alone. We
are producing a book of the first 30 stories through CreateSpace right
now and will sell the volume on the site as well. We are also planning
to put a small survey on the site (4-5 questions) to get input from


Hi Rodney – thanks for the great email.

You are going through something that is very common in the online world – you have people coming to your site, liking and engaging with it, but ultimately not buying anything.

You’ve done many things right with your site – it’s nice visually, is clean, has videos and social media connections, etc.

The basic issue is that your sales funnel is the equivalent of meeting somebody at a coffee shop for the first time, and asking them to get married a few minutes later.

In the end, they might very well say yes…but only after you’ve spent time building a relationship, getting them to like you, and most importantly, getting them to trust you.

Since you asked them right at the beginning, however, they said no, and then you never had a chance to build that relationship.

This scenario is similar to many websites we review.  A visitor comes to your site for the first time and browses around a little bit.  But they aren’t ready to “talk” to you yet via your Contact Us page…nor are they ready to buy something quite yet.

So, they keep browsing around the Internet, maybe even intending to go buy something from you after they’ve thought about it a bit (or maybe after they’ve “checked you out”), but then the phone rings, or the baby cries, or a dancing cat video gets their attention and they disappear forever.

With only a few exceptions, we preach that your singular goal for new visitors to your website is to get their contact information and give yourself that chance to build the relationship.

Using an “autoresponder” (see this post on what is an autoresponder), you insert a small form on your website to capture the visitor’s name and email address.

Then you create what our industry calls an “ethical bribe” – in other words, you offer something so compelling that your new visitors think to themselves “…I hate giving my email address out and taking the chance that this website will send me spam, but that report on ‘3 Valuable and Profitable Reasons to Collect Rescued Art’ sounds really good, so I guess it is worth it to take the chance…”

Once they sign-up, your autoresponder “series” (customized emails that you setup in advance, and program to be automatically sent out at predetermined times) slowly builds that relationship and builds that trust.  (Just so you aren’t too worried, Aweber, the service we use and recommend, is only $29 per month for up to 500 list members.)

By the way, in addition to providing great information and content to your subscribers, one of the best things you can do in your autoresponder series is to tell stories.  Your business is perfect for that, as stories are core to your business!

Each email/story would then finish with something like “…If you’d like to hang the next Picasso we find on YOUR wall, then come check out our Originals now”

We think of an autoresponder series as a bank, in a way.  Each time you send great content or tell a fascinating story, you make a deposit into the “karma vault.”  Then each time you make that gentle nudge to get them to go to your website and buy something, you are making a withdrawal.

Plenty of good stories and content and not a bunch of blatant pitches without much value?  You should do well over time with that strategy.

Keep in mind that many people are ecstatic if 1% of their visitors buy something from their website – sometimes the “conversion rate” can be much lower than that.

Let’s compare that with targeted traffic sent to your ethical bribe (we also like to think of it as an “irresistible offer”) opt-in form.

Especially if you use some type of scarcity/urgency to get them to act now, you could easily have 15% of your visitors give you their contact information.  Some well-tested and optimized offers can convert at 30% – 40% or higher.

Yes, this method takes longer.

No, it isn’t as fun as getting an instant sale.

However, for every 100 visitors that come to your website, do you want a 1% chance to sell them something or they are gone forever, or do you want 15 or 30+ people that you can develop a relationship with to try to get them to buy something?

This is a proven strategy that almost all successful online marketers use, and even though it takes some work, it consistently transforms businesses.

Besides, as you build that list up, you have a true business asset that you can (gently) market to, or recommend future products to, or even products created by others that you are paid a commission on.

Now, let me completely switch gears for one last point.

Some people just don’t want to implement this autoresponder strategy, and that’s okay too.

However, if you are determined to sell something to people as soon as they arrive at your website for the first time, you have to absolutely bowl them over with what we call trust elements.

Trust elements can be as simple as those “hacker proof” badges you see, or even the little pictures of the credit cards and PayPal under your “add to cart” button.

Even more effective is adding your Better Business Bureau badge/rating or your local Chamber of Commerce badge, or associations you are a member of.

Finally, you want to reverse as much risk for your potential customer as you can.

I understand that your business is different than many, but guarantees are huge for online purchases.  None of us business owners like taking the risk of losing money.

But here’s a saying about risk that I really like, which I only recently heard:

“Risk exists in every online transaction – if you won’t accept that risk, then you are asking your prospect to accept it.”

Your customer probably likes your site, and appreciates the fact that there is a phone number there (even better if you have a physical address).  However, without a ton of trust elements to overwhelm them, they simply decide that even though you are probably a nice guy, and it would probably be okay…that they just want to think about it a bit more before they are willing to take that plunge.

And you know what “thinking about it” means – gone forever.

So, I challenge you to create a guarantee that passes the “vomit test.”  Sorry to be graphic, but this is important.

When you make that guarantee, it should be so strong, and so pro-customer that you feel like you want to vomit as soon as you publish it.

The incremental business you get from having that strong guarantee should dwarf the money you lose from people that invoke your guarantee (yes, even jerks who are clearly taking advantage of you!)

By the way, the reason that you are selling things successfully on eBay is both because eBay is a well-known and trusted brand, and also because eBay’s guarantee covers the buyer…trust and risk reversal.

The last thing you mentioned is one of the best things you can do – very smart of you.

Asking a few specific questions of your visitors really helps you get inside their mind and pinpoint issues so they can be changed or fixed.  I would highly recommend doing this on your site, and also even with good old-fashioned phone calls and postcards.

Let me know what kind of questions you have after reading the above, and if you are leaning in one direction more than the other.  I’d be happy to give you some pointers to get things moving in the right direction.

Take care,