How To Increase Online Sales In The Health & Supplement Industry

Forbes, has identified the health and nutritional supplement market as one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In 2012 alone, the nutritional supplement industry brought in $32 billion in revenue. According to the Nutrition Business Journal the health and supplement industry is projected to double by 2021.

The $64 billion dollar projection is due to a number of factors. For one, the aging baby boomer population in the U.S.A. has a lot of anxiety around the uncertainty of Medicaid and Medicare. As a result, people are seeking alternative ways to stay healthy.

The health market has rushed to fill this need and therefore, there is an over abundance of health information and products entering the market both online and off-line, which is fueling demand.

The majority of those health conscious consumers are turning to the Internet to educate themselves and buy supplements, in order to maintain and improve their quality of life. A recent survey from reported that 44% of consumers purchase health supplements online.

Yet so many health and supplements companies are failing to address the fundamental way that people buy health products.

Increasing Health And Supplement Sales Online Requires Two Critical Levers

Health buyers are unique compared to buyers in other markets.

The prospect’s posture towards the buying decision, for a health product triggers some unique concerns in the mind of the visitor that are not as intensified compared to other products.

For a visitor to make a buying decision for a health product, weather it be a bottle of supplements, an information product like a set of DVDs or even a physical medical device there are two main factors that contribute greatly to the sale, those factors are trust and belief.

The Trust Lever

The prospect must trust in the product, which includes, trusting in the ingredients and the manufacturing process for a supplement product. Or trust in the process for a health information product. This is why you’ll often see research studies (typically for the specific ingredients or methodologies used in a health solution), and university research sited in the sales copy, as a way to establish trust up front.

But the visitor must also trust in the company as well. This is why you often see health and fitness companies aligning themselves with doctors and other medical professionals (such as a health advisory board), and celebrity endorsements.

In addition to solving for trust, you also have to account for what the prospect believes before they can buy a health product.

The Belief Lever

People that buy health products are not so much buying a solution as much as they are reassuring their inner belief of health. This is a key distinctive piece of the health buying decision that does not exist when buying any other product.

Which is why selling a health solution is totally different than selling other products online and as a result, the way to grow an e-commerce health business is also different than other businesses.

When buying a product that you ingest like an organic, non-GMO food or a natural health supplement or a diet or exercise product or health device where a customer must take action on in order to get the benefit, both trust and belief is vital, not only for the initial purchase but also for compliance in continuing to take and benefit from the results.

This is very prevalent in supplements. They go to work on the inside yet we usually don’t feel any immediate direct effects. However, you may feel the negative effect once you stop taking the supplement and the benefits leave your body. Often times we miss this negative effect because we’re not looking for it so we don’t even realize it was working until much later.

Leveraging The Trust Lever

Tapping into trust levers to aid the sale is vital to support those areas of doubt and uncertainty around the product and the company.

Trust is built online through a combination of logic and belief, then multiplied by credibility. If the emotions that a solution is tapping into is in-line with the prospects desires / beliefs, and presents a logical argument the credibility of the source is multiplied and the visitor is driven to trust just enough to make a purchase.

One trust lever the health marketer can pull, to multiply that credibility is the testimonial lever.

Most marketers simply add testimonials to a page, but a health product requires a bit more, due to the nature of mistrust in the marketplace.

Health products can leverage the credibility of trust by choosing specific results based testimonials that address specific objections your visitors already have. The reason why this works is because showing someone that has the same concerns and how they were able to get results and get around that concern taps into the human need for social-proof.

We Buy From Those We Know Like And Trust

Showing a face behind your product that tells the story about that person that’s selling, is also an excellent way to build trust in the health industry. Your visitors will start to get to know the seller before they buy. This builds trust and adds in an element of authority. Plus showing a bit about yourself makes people feel more comfortable about buying from you. Remember people always buy from people not websites.

This also gives you permission to talk about “the reason why.” This is a very powerful trust lever that most health marketers often overlook.

  • Why did you create this product?
  • Why are you making this offer?
  • Why do you even care?

These are all small trust levers that move big decisions to buy.

Leveraging The Belief Lever

Belief is fundamentally a combination of the prospects desires and their self-story.

In the case of a health supplement, think of the belief someone has in the idea of health itself. Let’s say you’re taking a B6 supplement. The reason why is because you believe that it’s having some positive effect. It’s working in some way, even when you can’t quite tell or feel an immediate difference.

The B6 vitamin supports proper brain development and function in addition to aiding in making the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which affect mood. Vitamin B6 also helps the body make melatonin, which is important in helping regulate your internal body clock.

In this case the desire might be that the prospect wants to take on the world. The self-story this prospect might have is that if they slept better then they would have more energy and get more done.

One way that desire and self-story can be leveraged in the sales copy is to start with the problem and the desire, to be more productive. Then address the self-story of how B6 supports sleep and thus energy. What you’re doing here is moving the prospect from point A to B to C in a logical progression. You’re basically building a case to buy on the back of their beliefs.

Another way to leverage belief is to explain how your product does what it does.

  • How do you deliver on that claim?
  • What happens in the body when B6 levels are increased?

You can’t use this lever all the time but when you can it gives you a way to eliminate fear and prove your product works.

Believe it or not, talking about not believing your claim at first when a customer was first introduced to your solution or product but then saw results later is a great way to leverage belief. This type of approach connects with skeptical visitors who don’t believe you or your product and need a bit more proof.

The Holistic Approach To Growing Healthy Profits

As you can see, increasing sales in the health and supplement industry requires a different approach. The typical conversion rate optimization process only looks at the surface of usability and basic psychological factors holding back sales like friction, anxiety, etc. but the health market requires more.

It does not matter if you’re selling natural health supplements, information health products or physical health products. Increasing sales in the health market requires a greater focus on trust and belief than any other market.

It’s just the nature of the industry, health solutions are constantly under scrutiny from media. Consumers are constantly hearing negative news about recalls, bans, etc. Each of which erode trust, adding a hurdle the traditional conversion rate optimizer does not have to deal with.

For a product like a sofa the hurdle of buying is more or less based on price, and personal taste.

A normal online e-commerce business does not have to address trust in the same way, nor do they have to address consumers belief and self-stories the same way a health business does in order for prospects to buy.

Increasing sales for a health business online requires optimizing and split-testing for both trust and belief as well as a growth strategy specifically designed around both of those levers.

About The Author

Bobby Hewitt is the CEO of Creative Thirst, ( ) a conversion rate optimization agency that focuses exclusively on increasing revenue and average order value for companies selling health products and natural health supplements direct to consumers online.