Ostensibly you didn’t spend a couple thousand dollars on your website to have it just sit there; you probably want it to attract some customers. After all, your website should be an investment not a money pit.
So what happens when you aren’t getting any customers? How do you know what to fix? The list below is pretty long, but includes almost every aspect of your site that could be going wrong.
Starting Point – Current Conversion Rate
Before we get into what’s going wrong, we’ll have to start with calculating your current Conversion Rate. This will give a baseline for you to compare to when adjusting your site. You can do this for your entire site or for specific pages.
Start with an estimate (usually taken from your Google Analytics account) of how many visitors you’re getting to your site (or a single page) per month. Then, approximate how many customers you get calling/emailing you (or whatever your ideal action they should take – sign up for newsletters, etc.) direct from the website. If you don’t know this number, take the next month to ask how new customers found you. Then you’ll do this equation:
Customers who emailed/called/bought/etc. divided by Current Visitors
That’s it: that’s your Conversion Rate. So, for example, you have 1,000 people visiting your site monthly, and 10 people emailed you through the website, you have a 1% conversion rate.
Conversion rate norms differ depending on what you’re asking your visitors to do. Asking for an email will have a higher conversion rate than asking someone to buy something. Normal Conversion Rates for most websites sit between 2% – 5%, but for the highest conversion websites like Google, they can be in the 20-30 percentage range.
Why Visitors to Your Site Aren’t Converting
From the normal Conversion Rate mentioned above, you’ll realize that 95% of people that are visiting your site are often not doing what you want them to do. They aren’t calling you, emailing you, buying anything, or signing up for an email. If your website isn’t creating leads, the items below will create a checklist for you to discover where your sales funnel is breaking down.
You have no Visitors
We’ll start with a really basic issue. If your conversion rate is 1%, but you’re only getting 50 people per month, you’ll only get 1 lead every two months. Probably not the overwhelming demand that you were hoping for from your website. If lack of visitors is your problem, you’ll also need to look into the flip side of this coin of website optimization: bringing people to your site. The below items are primarily dealing with converting people that are already on your site.
Otherwise, let’s jump in.
1) It Doesn’t Pass the “Grunt Test”
The “Grunt Test” is the idea that within 5 seconds of visiting your site, a new visitor can immediately spot what you do and why you’re unique. And while an increasing number of business are communicating what they do quickly, their uniqueness is a little harder to find on the website. Keep in mind that if you have a large visual on the top half of your website (and you most likely do/should), that visual should also communicate what you do. For example, if you’re a contractor, having an image of people working at a computer isn’t going to do it for you. Your visual/image should support your unique offer stated in large text above then “fold”.
If a visitor can’t figure out what you do within 5 seconds, you’ve already lost them. No one wants to put in additional effort just to find out if you can help them.
2) You have no Call to Action (CTA)
First reason why visitors aren’t converting? You aren’t asking them to. In the offline “salesperson” world, this is called “closing the deal”. You can upsell something all day, but if you don’t ask the pivotal question “Are you ready to buy” they’ll never buy. Close the sale.
When you’re done talking about your service, is there a way for them to act on that information? Can they call/email you from that page? Can they provide you their email address? What do you want them to do when they finish reading each page on your site?
3) You have the wrong CTA
If you could have every visitor to your site do one thing, what would it be? Do you want them to email you directly? Do you want them to call you? Do you want them to make an appointment on your site? Whatever that primary CTA is, make sure the design and layout on your website reflects it. Don’t put your primary Call To Action at the bottom of your homepage!
You might be great at getting emails, but if you need people to call and no one’s calling, you have the wrong CTA. You can include other Call to Actions, but don’t let them overshadow your primary.
4) You Immediately Demand Action
In face-to-face sales, the best responses don’t come from shoving the product or service into a potential customer’s face. The first step is breaking the ice. In the same way, your website shouldn’t immediately demand an action of the visitor. If your popup comes up instantly on your site, consider switching to an exit popup (right before the user leaves).
This doesn’t mean your CTAs need to be at the bottom of the page; in fact, you should have a CTA at the top. But temper the presentation with information and make sure it’s easy for them to scroll down to find out more.
5) You don’t know what your key performance indicators are
Key Performance Indicators, in relation to your website, are what articles and/or pages are bringing in the highest conversion rates. To know this, you’ll need some sort of statistics installed on your site (most likely Google statistics) and you’ll need a way to tell what CTA users are choosing. Let’s unpack that a bit.
Google statistics can show you what pages have the highest number of visitors. Once you know which pages those are for your business, take a look at the Call To Actions (CTAs) that are on each of these pages. If they’re all the same CTA, say emailing you from the same form, you’ll want to add some way to differentiate the form on your side or track it within Google. Then you’ll be able to calculate what percentage of people are converting on each high-traffic page on your site.
You also want to start on the flip side – find the pages that have your CTAs and figure out your traffic numbers and conversion rates for those pages.
Are those CTAs converting? Do your highest trafficked pages have CTAs? Knowing these specifics will allow you to tweek your site and massively increase your conversion rates. If you’ve heard about people that “suddenly” get a huge increase in their conversion rate, this is usually how it’s done.
6) You’re Using Flash
Hopefully 2017 will be the last year I need to include this in a list, but Flash is dead. If you’re unsure what Flash is, right click on animation on your site. If a menu looking like video options pops up (and it’s not youtube, vimeo, wistia, etc.), it’s time to change. Google can’t read Flash, and most browsers are either phasing it out or can’t play the content.
*Adobe just released that they’ll be removing support for Flash in 2020!
7) Your Contact Information is Hard to Find
The standard placement for your contact information is in the footer of your website. However, on certain websites you might be able to get away with just adding it to the Contact Page. Regardless, you should always have your information on the contact page. Don’t just provide an email form with no other way to contact you. Your phone number, email, and physical address should be prominently displayed.
This is a trust signal for potential customers; if it’s hard to find contact information before they buy your product/service, they assume it will be virtually impossible after they buy it. And no one wants a seller that they can’t contact directly.
If you don’t have a form or contact information easily accessible at a maximum of 1 click from any page, you’ll want to change that ASAP.
8) Your Email Form has Issues
When’s the last time you tested your email form? Your web developer should have tested it when the site was launched and tested it if when your hosting or email setup changed. It’s remarkably easy for this to be overlooked and subsequently lose quality leads as their emails are lost in the void.
Just in case something goes wrong, the website should also have a way to store entries before they get emailed. That way if the email doesn’t get to you, you won’t completely lose that lead.
9) Your Form is Too Long
Except in rare circumstances, users won’t fill out a long form. Shortening a form to just a couple of questions can lead to higher conversion rates. But a shorter form might also lead to less qualified leads. It’s a balancing act that you might have to test to get perfect.
Make sure you’re asking the questions that you need (a way to contact them) and a question possibly to qualify them (make sure they’re the right audience), and leave the rest of the questions for the follow up phone call.
10) You have no Blog
If you’re a small business, you most likely have roughly 5-20 pages on your site. That means that you have only 5 to 20 ways of grabbing people’s attention. If the visitor is looking for anything else, your website won’t come up. But if you add 80 blog posts, your reach expands exponentially.
Beyond the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) boost that blog posts can give you, posting information on your blog can build trust with potential customers down the line. The standard (if unproven) idea from the marketing world is that people need to see your website/business 7 times before they buy. No one is going to re-read your About Us page 7 times; you need other content to entice potential customers to your site and make them comfortable with you.
With a blog, you can increase potential customer’s trust of your business leading to long-term Conversion Rate gains. BlogHer states that 81% of U.S. consumers will trust the information they find on blogs.
11) Your Blog Content is Old
Was your last blog post written 3 years ago? Blogs are one of the primary ways people check if your business is active. An old blog post removes trust from the consumer. If your posts are that old, are you even still in business?
If your content is evergreen (isn’t dependent on time to stay relevant) consider at the least removing the dates on your posts so this doesn’t negatively impact potential customers.
12) Your Blog Content is Out-of-Date
If your content isn’t evergreen (above), you’ll need to periodically go back and update it. If you leave up out-of-date information, you risk losing trust from potential clients as well as losing rankings in Google for that article as people start clicking off the page quickly.
Websites are not set and forget – they require upkeep! If you can’t write regularly for your business, consider hiring someone who can create the posts for you.
13) Your Post/Page Titles are “cutsie”
Despite the fact that most of us groan at “dad jokes”, for some reason we still love adding puns to our posts’ or pages’ titles. Don’t do this. Label pages and posts exactly what they are. After all, this is prime keyword space you’re giving up – especially for posts! If you really love puns, add them in your content, not your titles.
Don’t get me wrong, when I initially started blogging years ago, this is exactly what I did and I don’t even like puns! It seemed fun and quirky, and even a little “smart”. It’s a temptation that’ll just have to resist. If you already have “cutsie” titles, go back and rename them. Not only will you get a boost in your SEO from keywords in your post titles, people will know that to contact you, they go to the contact page – not the “postcard” page.
14) The Wrong People are Coming To Your Website
Brightedge, a leading content marketing performance company, estimates that only 10% of people that come to your website are looking to buy. 10%! Out of that, if you’re getting 5%, you’re actually converting 1/2 of the people who are actually looking to buy.
But what if the wrong people are coming to your site? That 10% of people looking to buy can shrink dramatically very quickly.
There are two facets to this problem. The first is that you don’t know who you’re trying to reach in your blog posts. Figuring out your ideal customer is vital; if you don’t know who you’re trying to attract to your site, then how will you know what to write about?
The second facet is more nuanced. Writing for your ideal customer will help you to a point. Then you’ll want to write posts that target the moment before they’re ready to buy. Write about the issues and questions potential clients will be having when they need your services.
15) Your Writing is Littered with Typos or is Low Quality
You might be excellent at what you do, but are you a good writer? Bad writing and typos can end up portraying you as someone who lacks attention to detail or even uneducated.
As another trust marker for potential customers, your website should be well-written and free from errors. Not a writer? Hiring a quality writer for your website can do wonders for your Conversion Rate.
16) You Sound like a Sleazy Car Salesman
…Unless that’s the image you’re going for. But I’m guessing it’s not. Your website shouldn’t read like a late-night infomercial unless that’s exactly what you are. The text on your site is just as much a part of branding your company as the design and images are.
Part of branding for your business is deciding on your company’s “voice”. Is your business quirky and fun or are you button-down professional – or maybe somewhere in-between? The copy on your website should reflect you and your company. Don’t use “surfer language” on your suit-and-tie website or vice versa.
17) Your Website Text is Keyword-Stuffed
10 years ago, keyword stuffing was the gold-standard of SEO. Everybody was doing it because it worked. The more times a certain keyword was written in your article, the closer you were to the top in Google. And so we ended up with a plethora of pages online that were, frankly, not suitable for human consumption. Probably because they weren’t written for people, they were written for robots.
Google’s algorithm is far more advanced now. It not only looks at the keywords, but also synonyms for those keywords, how long people are spending on the page, and many other points of reference.
If you still have keyword-stuffed copy on your site, it’s time to switch to writing for humans. As a general rule, the more humans like it, the more Google will like it.
18) You Talk About “Me Me Me”
No one cares – no, really – no one cares. I’m sorry. No one cares about who you are or how long your company has been around. They want to know what you can do for them. Can you solve a problem the customer has? If so, efficiently explain how.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an about us page or that you can’t mention that you’ve been in business for 30 years. But that isn’t your lead. Your website shouldn’t focus on 30 years in business or how great your hair is (even if you have decidedly great hair). Your focus – the large text at the top of your website – should focus on the customer and how their lives will change if they decide to become your customer.
19) Your text uses buzzwords
Remember, someone is hopefully going to read this content. Make it actually readable. If you use too many buzzwords in an article, people will stop reading. Buzzwords give the appearance of communication, without really communicating at all. Remove as many as you can and explain the ones that are integral to your field.
…unless you’re actually targeting people who use those buzzwords as a regular part of conversation.
20) There’s No “About” Page
This is not antithetical to the item above about not talking about “me me me”; in fact, it’s vital to think of the customer when writing your “About” page. This is another trust marker. Customers are less likely to buy from a faceless nameless void than from a living human being. In fact, in one case, Medalia Art almost doubled their click-through rate when they added a picture of the artist next to the art. People want to know who you are in relation to why that matters to them.
When you do write your “About” page, the way you present yourself should match your company’s branding. For a broad example, if you are running an extreme sports website, your “About” page shouldn’t include a picture of you in a suit, drinking wine. This isn’t about lying, it’s about matching your presentation to your brand in the same way you’d wear appropriate clothing to an event.
21) The Contrast is too Low
Good writing doesn’t matter if customers can’t read the text. The font size should be large enough for people to read easily, with a contrast that doesn’t stress out their eyes. People read too little already; don’t make it harder by making the contrast of the text too low (ie. light grey text on a white background).
While I’m seeing this increasingly less often, avoid white text on a black background like the plague. The blunt contrast can often hurt customer’s eyes. If you have to use a black background with text, try a grey text to lighten the effect.
Finally, make sure your audience can read your text. If your ideal customer is older than 50, consider bumping up the text size to make reading easier.
22) There’s no Portfolio/Projects information
This is one of the rare items in this list that will not apply to everyone. If you’re running a store, you can skip this one and move on to Testimonials below. Otherwise, you should have some sort of online “resume”. Potential customers are looking for proof that you are good at your job and that you’ve done it before. They want to know where your skills lie and how you’ve helped other people like them.
If you aren’t listing past projects and some information about them, you are missing a major trust signal for potential customers.
23) You have no Testimonials
I know I’ve mentioned multiple trust signals, but this is another big one. For many people, including me, reading testimonials or reviews about a service or product is the first thing they do. Everybody says they’re the best, but reading another customer’s glowing review can massively impact my willingness to buy.
In fact, testimonials and the portfolio/projects information above are considered by marketers to be the most effective way of content marketing your business [pardot].
24) You have no idea what your competitors are doing on their site
Knowing where your business fits into the market segment can be very helpful. To do this, you’ll need to know not only your own business well, but know the other options customers have for solving the problems you solve. This is helpful in overall marketing – is your selling point the same as your competitors? – but it’s also helpful specifically in your website development.
Your competitors offering features that you aren’t offering on your site (whether that’s viewing a t-shirt design online or immediate chat help) can be seriously cutting into your conversion rates. No business operates in a vacuum; make sure you know what’s happening.
25) Outdated Design
At first glance, design might seem more like a cosmetic issue; after all, isn’t what’s inside more important? Unfortunately, if you’re relying on old design, you might be surprised by what potential customers think of you. In fact, some studies say that as many as 97% of people in today’s world say that design influences their decision.
To stay up-to-date with design, you should ideally redo your website every every 2-4 years. That may seem really often, but the internet of today moves much faster than the internet of the 90’s. The design trends come and go and technology improves much faster. For example, in 2013, just 4 years ago, Responsive Design took over the internet. It was such a massive change to what was currently happening in website programming that by 2015, Google was integrating Responsive Design checks into it’s algorithm. So if your site was build in 2014 – just 3 years ago – and it wasn’t built responsively it is most likely getting penalized in Google’s rankings. And that’s just one aspect of your design!
Your website is the face and the primary marketing aspect of your business. Let it languish at your business’s peril!
26) Not Optimized for Mobile
While we’re on the subject, optimizing for the mobile/tablet world is really important. We’ve already talked about how Google is penalizing websites that aren’t Responsive (responsive = mobile optimized), but there’s also real person issues when people are trying to read your site on their phone. Mobile traffic online surpassed desktop traffic in 2014, so you’re talking about a lot of potential customers lost.
Depending on your business niche, optimizing for mobile users can double your audience reach!
27) Your website isn’t verified on Google Business
Google Business, Google Plus, Google My Business, Google Maps, who can keep them all straight! Thankfully, Google has combined/removed a few of these so that businesses can actually make it work. Being on Google Business is incredibly important for your business. This is the information that shows up on the right side of the Google’s results page when you search for a business – phone number, images, address, reviews, etc. Not claiming this means that wrong information can end up there, really hurting your traffic.
To get your Business on Google Business, go to their Business website and log in using a Google login. You’ll need to add your information (search first to see if your business is already on their results) and request a postcard for verification. Once that comes in the mail, follow their directions to verify. Make sure you also add your hours, images of you and your business, and a description.
28) You aren’t Focused
When a football player wants to make it big, they don’t learn how to do every position excellently; they focus on one position and become the best at it. Or maybe 2. The point is that you can’t do everything and expect to succeed at it all. As the quote goes, “you can succeed at anything, but not everything.”
Many website owners use this shotgun approach to making money on their site. They want to just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Now if you’re just starting out and trying some different avenues of income, that’s ok! But you won’t earn as much or have as high of a conversion rate when your focus is everything. If you have a business selling woodworking, don’t also use ads – focus on your eCommerce. If you’re using ads directly from businesses, don’t use Google ads as well. Once you figure out your niche, dig in and improve there.
29) Your Site Takes too Long to Load
Studies suggests that 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. 40% is astronomically high. If your site is slow, you can test it on Google’s Speedtest to see what’s actually happening. There are lots of ways to lower your website loading time including using a cache, optimizing your images for a website, minifying your coding, using a CDN, or even changing hosting services.
In the world of WordPress websites, a huge theme can be a major culprit in slowing down a site. If you can, it’s better to steer clear of the “do everything” themes and opt for a theme that’s created for one thing only. The less the theme has to load, the better it is for your speed. And please, don’t use the “loading” icon on your site; it makes your site loading time seem much longer to the user.
30) You “Set and Forget” Your Website
Oh for the days of adding a table to your website and then leaving it alone for the next 5 years. Those days are long gone. As the primary marketing for your business (even if you don’t want it to be), your website must be updated regularly. Updates mean not only plugin, theme, and WordPress coding updates, but also blog posts, information changes, and marketing updates to the site.
If you want your website to bring in customers, you’ll need to do some A/B testing to find out what increases your conversion rates. This could be switching out images, changing color schemes, or changing your text copy. But whatever you try, it will take time and effort to move your conversion rate needle higher.
The items listed above aren’t focused on bringing more traffic to your site, but optimizing your conversion rate so that you get more leads and/or sales from your current traffic.
If you’re ready to re-do your site, contact White Fox Creative for a free consultation. We’ll walk through your website with you and let you know what areas specifically your website can change to improve your conversion rate.