What if you could pay a sales employee less than $0.50 an hour? And you knew they would absolutely perform better over time. That is what your website could be for your business – a salesman working around the clock converting your audience into customers! Yet so often as businesses, we treat our websites as a box we have to check when setting up our business but we don’t maximize its potential. What a missed opportunity to grow our businesses on a budget! Your website is more than a digital brochure. It is a powerful part of your sales team that works 24/7. In this post, we will cover 7 common reasons websites don’t convert visitors into paying customers. I’m sharing from my experience in evaluating and designing dozens of client websites and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that making simple changes to your site can have a big impact on the number of inquiries you receive.
Reason #1: Your website doesn’t clearly state what you do and who you do it for.
As soon as a person lands on your website, they should be able to clearly know what problem you solve and who will benefit from your service. It needs to be crystal clear. Most often, I see two different approaches taken by businesses that often leave website visitors clicking away to find something they can understand.
Too vague or broad.
It can be oh so tempting to try to appeal to everyone but I’m going to encourage you to get really specific on your website. It might seem a bit counterintuitive… you don’t want to turn down any potential customers right? The danger with this approach is that by using a main headline that is so vague or broad that it appeals to everyone, you really aren’t talking to anyone. When a user is navigating the web and lands on your site, you want them to immediately think “I’m in the right place.” When the messaging covers such a large scope of people, it often means it is so broad that no one will really identify with it. Be selective, niche down, and speak directly to your target audience in a way they can resonate with.
Too clever and confusing.
If you’ve ever tried to write a quippy tagline or slogan you know the delicate balance that needs to be struck between crafting something that is memorable but is also clear at the same time. The messaging on your site (especially on the home page and the top of each landing page) needs to be written at a 7th-grade reading level or lower. In his book Marketing Made Simple, Donald Miller refers to this as the grunt test. He says a caveman should be able to grunt out answers to the following three questions after landing on your home page (1)What do you offer? (2)How will it make my life better? (3)What do I need to do to buy it? Make your messaging extremely clear!
Reason #2: Your website is not usable on mobile devices.
A study was conducted in 2018 that found 52.2% of all web traffic was conducted on mobile phones. (source) I don’t know about you but I’m pretty certain that number has continued to increase dramatically over the last few years. If you haven’t done so already, it is time to make sure your website is optimized for mobile and tablet users. Gone are the days when mobile design is an afterthought.
Even if you think your target audience is made up of an older generation that isn’t as likely to be using a mobile device, you need to remember that search engines like Google now favor sites that provide the best user experience. And you guessed it… that means a lot of priority is given to the sites that have been designed with mobile users in mind. Screenfly is a great (free) online tool you can use to see what your website looks like at various screen sizes.
Reason #3: Your website focuses on you, not your customer.
A few years ago, my husband and I prepared to sell our home. Although we already embrace a lot of neutral colors and simple decor, our realtor suggested that we remove some of the personal touches around the house. Family photos and little trinkets were packed away in storage while our home was photographed and shown to potential buyers. Why hide away the personal belongings to make the house as neutral as possible? So the buyers could easily picture themselves in the home. We want to apply the same concept to your website.
No, your colors don’t have to be neutral but hear me out on the important point here — your website can’t be so focused on you that the user has trouble picturing themselves benefitting from your service. If your company history is a selling point to your customer, then absolutely include it on your website, but do it in a way that ties the messaging back to your customer (ie use “you” as you write the content instead of “we”). Your imagery should be focused on your customer, oftentimes this means photos should show smiling people enjoying the benefits of your service. The key here is to have your customers be the focus of your website rather than just you or your company history.
Reason #4: Your website makes it difficult for your potential customer to take the next step.
Every page of your website should include a call-to-action, instructing your user where to go or what to do next. Taking action, whether that is booking a service, requesting a custom quote, or scheduling a consult call should be super easy. Within a matter of minutes while using my smartphone I can book a hotel, a flight, and order food to be delivered to me. I can shop, research, and take courses. Technology is truly amazing and with the progression comes a higher expectation from your audience. Invest in the software and technical expertise needed to make these actions as easy as possible for your users. Customers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to choose your business as the solution to their problem. Practically speaking, this means including buttons and calls-to-action that are easy to understand, on each page. Limit the number of clicks required to accomplish the action.
Reason #5: Your website visuals are confusing.
Elements of design, such as color, contrast, and alignment, can cause confusion when not used properly. Limit the number of fonts used on your site, be sure they are easy to read, and choose colors that provide enough contrast. The layout should be based on a grid – but if you are working with a limited budget and diy-ing your website, just remember that things should be aligned in a manner that is logical to the content. Design elements should be minimal and used to provide clarity or emphasize brand recognition. Error on the side of simplicity!
Bonus Tip! To keep text readable for your users follow these rules of thumb:
- The majority of your text should be dark colors (ie black, navy, dark gray) on a white background.
- Break up large blocks of text into short paragraphs with spacing between them.
- Use headings and bulleted/numbered lists to make skimming possible for your readers.
- Lines of text should be short (50-75 characters if possible!)
Learn more about the specifics from the Nielsen Norman Group here.
Reason #6: Your website has broken links.
This might be the EASIEST fix to make on this list of 7 common website mistakes! Fill up that coffee cup and set aside some time to run a broken link scan on your site. You can follow along with my tutorial below if you need some guidance on how to do this. Start by going to deadlinkchecker.com.
Reason #7: Your website analytics aren’t dictating edits.
Several years ago I was on a mission to create the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I researched different baking times and temperatures, the ratio of brown and white sugars, and tested freezing the dough before baking. All of that research and recipe tweaking would have been a lost cause if I didn’t taste-test my creations in order to evaluate the success (or failure) of adjusting the variables. Using your website analytics is a lot like taste-testing your cookies. You need to assess the data that your website can be collecting in the background in order to know how to make adjustments in the future. Google Analytics is free and our recommended tool. Learn how to set up your account here.
Does your site have any of these 7 common mistakes? You may be surprised to find how these simple fixes can have a significant impact on your website’s conversion rate.
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Be sure to check out the “Navigation Mini Training”, the “Website Words Template”, and various other tutorials, templates, and freebies. I think you will find these detailed resources to be especially helpful in updating your website!