Six Steps to Attracting Black Customers Online

Jamila White
Jamila White
In the rush to keep up with technology, many African-American business owners are so busy trying to add the latest bells and whistles to their Web sites, get to the top of the search engines, and learn the latest database technology that they often forget this simple fact: people do business with other people, not computers. Understanding the importance of relationships is key to attracting African-American buyers online. Here are a few practical tips to getting Black customers to buy more from your Web site.

Here are a few practical tips to getting Black customers to buy more from your Web site.

Step 1: Make a personal connection... put a face on it.

Adding photos of realistic-looking people to your Web site will increase your sales. Photos jump out from a page, so even if someone just skims over the words, the photo will create a lasting impression. If you don't have photos of your actual employees or customers, use stock photography.

Here are a few of my favorite sources for photos:

Royalty-free images start at around $19-35 per image and are much less expensive than rights-managed images. If you have a bigger budget, you can purchase CDs with entire collections of African American stock photographs and illustrations.

Step 2: Establish trust.

When you walk into an establishment, you usually can tell right away if you feel comfortable doing business there. You can see if the place is clean and well maintained, brightly lit, and whether someone friendly is available to greet and help you. On the Internet, your Web site has to do all the talking and all the handholding. If this is a potential customer's first visit to your Web site, they may be uncertain if you're a legitimate business and if they can trust you.

There are a number of ways to alleviate these fears and give your customers peace of mind. First, provide full contact information — including a telephone number — on your Web site. Second, show a picture of your location and employees, if applicable. Third, if you are a member of any professional organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau and/or professional trade organizations, this is a great time to display your membership logos. Most importantly, display quotes and testimonials for your current happy customers to show how what great quality products and service your company provides.