Which of these 7 silly website sins are killing your business?

Would you like 21% … 92%… even 200% more sales from your website? Then read this. Because I wager you’re missing some of these tricks. Most sites – not just a few – are guilty

However much time and money you throw at your website, or invest in SEO it’s all wasted unless you collect visitors’ details.

Most sites not merely lose sales but drive visitors away by failing to do so. I know this because I’ve been guilty myself. I’m sure I’m still not perfect.

  1. No email sign-up box?

Your website is not there for fun, decoration or to tell the world how wonderful you are.

It is there to sell.

But unless people buy what you sell on impulse very few are ready to buy right away. So if you don’t do everything you can to collect visitors’ names and email addresses, you’re crazy.

You only have to think what happens in real life.

There’s all manner of research into this, but it all comes to the same conclusion. Persistence is the key.

Years ago I read that that on average a real salesman makes the first sale after six visits. More recently I saw figures that suggested 48% of online sales come after your first two messages.

The figures will vary, of course. If what you sell is expensive or complex you can expect your first sale to come on average after months or even years.

Yet I would say nine out of ten websites make no serious effort to collects those precious names and email addresses.  Sheer insanity.

Once you have the email address you can keep talking – giving them advice and useful information. They start to trust you. To see you as an expert. To trust – and eventually buy – from you.

So make sure you have an email sign-up form. Make sure your visitors can’t miss it.

And offer something helpful so they’re more likely to sign up. A free report on something interesting, an e-newsletter, a free quote, a free catalogue, free webinar – whatever you find works best by testing.

Just adding a sign-up form can treble your profits – I’ve seen it happen.

Think of all those who would have bought from you if you’d been able to keep writing to them until they were ready.  If you think about the figures I just gave, not being able to do so is probably halving your sales.

We follow people up 197 times after we get their details because we never know when they’ll be ready to buy. It can take 3 years – and we’re not selling anything expensive

  1. Hidden contact details

Following from the above, I am simply astounded by how many websites hide their phone numbers and email addresses away where people can’t see them immediately and have to search.

It’s as though you decided to hide your shop in a back street where nobody will see it. Madness – and usually due to web designers building sites based on what they think looks good rather than what works. (And that’s exactly what so many do).

But tell me: how on earth can people get in touch with you if they have to work out how?

They’re not going to hunt around. People are incredibly imnpatient. You’ve got maybe two seconds before they give up and go elsewhere.

Your contact details must be so prominent even a child could find them. (You would do well to test this with a real child – I’m serious.)

Think it’s going too far to have your contact details appear several times on the same page?

Not at all. Just as only asking once for a response in a letter, e-mail or ad limits your response, so does only giving that address once.

  1. The wrong kind of photo – or no pictures at all

Are you using pictures on your site? Because you should.

And having the right kind of picture makes all the difference.

For God’s sake don’t use those stock images of grinning women, signposts, smirking buffoons in meetings or gawping idiots watching a presentation.

Everyone and his mother uses them – and for the most part they aren’t just unreal; they remind people of all the things they dislike about their jobs.

When you use an image everyone uses you are subliminally telling people you’re like everyone else. If so, why should anyone choose you?

Simply changing the size of an image can increase conversions by 7%. But that’s not all. What you show is immensely important.

Instead of a product shot or – please – not your premises, try your face. The conversion rate on some websites rocketed by 95% when they did just that.

Don’t forget a caption, saying something more than just your name and some inflated title. If you just say Call me on XXXXX if you have any questions that will help.

Maybe you think you need to show your products. Well, that’s fine. But try to show them in use, with a before and after if you can.

And if possible use pictures of your colleagues too. And give names. Don’t talk about “the team”. You’re not running a football club.

People like to see what results they get; and they buy from people – not corporations. The more human your site the better you’ll do.

  1. No video

The longer visitors stay on your website the greater your chance of selling or collecting their names.

Video helps. It can boost your conversions by up to 80% says eyeviewdigital.com.

The reason is simple. People are lazy. They prefer watching to reading.

Yet very few sites use video at all – and most who do use it badly.

Many don’t feature themselves. I touched on this above. But just think. If you could afford to speak to every one of your prospects face to face, your sales would go off the chart. Well, video is the next best thing.

Hargreaves Lansdown is one of Britain’s most successful financial advisory firms.

They have video interviews of fund managers on their site. Not only do the videos offer advice; they  introduce you to people who may be managing your money – thus building your belief in them.

And your videos don’t have to be slick or expensive. Ian Brodie, a marketing and sales coach I’ve worked with, uses lots of video on his site. It is his main source of new clients.

The videos are just him talking in front of a white background. Simple – and easy for you to copy. Don’t waste money having very fancy videos done by professionals. They seem less sincere.

And if you have case studies or testimonials on your site try video versions instead. People are cynical about testimonials. But this way they see real people recommending you. So much more credible.

  1. Talking features, not benefits

You visit a website looking for information and what do you find? Lots of boring stuff listing features and technical details of what’s on offer.

Sure, your widget comes in a range of attractive colours and is made of Plutonium – useful to know: but will it make me buy?

This is a common failing in copy – not just on websites. But it doesn’t make it any less dangerous. In fact it’s  often worse online because so many marketers still fail to realise a website is a sales medium.

Make sure your copy talks about the benefits of what you do. What do your visitors need from you? What problems are you solving? What makes them unhappy? Why should they choose you over your competitor?

And above all, what are the emotional benefits?

Use emotional language. No matter how techical the product, people buy on emotion.  And for God’s sake avoid corporate dead-speak and jargon. People hate it.

Focus on your headlines most. If people don’t read these, they won’t read anything else.

The right changes to a headline will increase conversions by 24%, 37% – even as much as 92%.

  1. You’re not testing

The great benefit of all online marketing is that it is incredibly quick and easy to test your messages and get more conversions and sales.

With Google’s free analytics software you see the results of changes you make almost instantly. So why wouldn’t you test?

Try putting your email sign-up box in different places. You’ll soon find the spot that works best.

Similarly, test your pictures, your headlines, your calls to action. Test the length and content of your videos. Will you get more conversions if you put a sign-up box under your video? Will you get even more if you mention the sign-up box in your video?

And what colour are the buttons you want your visitors to press? This might seem a trivial detail, but I’ve seen one colour outperform another by 21%.

You would be wise to test everything significant, and do so constantly. If you don’t your site will make the money it can and should.

Just be sure to test only one thing at a time. Otherwise you won’t know which changes made the difference.

You might protest that testing is great in theory but you don’t have time. But are you really so busy you can afford to throw away 21% more leads? Not to mention that 92% boost you could get by finding the right headline.

  1. Your site is hard to browse

The longer you can keep visitors on your site, the more likely you will sell. Make it easy for them to find what they want – and make sure there’s lots to keep them there.

But if your site is too big or confusing your visitors will give up – most likely never to return.

Ask yourself if you can cut some of your pages. Make the site easy to navigate, either using tabs or a sidebar – or both. Consider adding a search function: many people prefer this.

Remember, the advanced technology your web designers have is not in most people’s homes.

Smart record producers used to play their songs on cheap radios to see how they would sound to their customers. The same principle applies.

Test to be sure everything on the site works. And not just on the latest Macs – it has to work just as well for people at home using their kids’ PCs.

And it must work on phones and tablets. More and more people use them – in fact they have overtaken laptops.

If in doubt, keep it simple and keep flashy graphics to a minimum. The longer it takes your site to load, the more you’ll lose visitors

A PS – with a few laughs

Business is not always fun. Often it’s a downright pain

When I helped to run a big agency I always had one aim when clients came for a meeting – or I went to see them.

I wanted it to be fun. Such fun that they’d look forward to seeing me again. Can’t say I always succeeded. But I did enough to do well.

In the same way, the most important thing is to make visiting your website such a pleasure that people who go there stay there – and want to come back.

One of the most extraordinary – and profitable – websites I have ever seen is LingsCars.com. She is in a totally different business to yours, I imagine, appealing to quite different prospects.

But you can learn a hell of a lot by looking at all the ways she keeps people on that site. She uses every trick in the book. Brilliant!

Could you put something involving on your site? A quiz? A game? Something where people have to do something – to join in?

Give it some thought! And of course, I’m always here to answer questions. Drayton@DraytonBird.com




About the Author


<p>In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing.</p>
<p>He has worked in 55 countries with many of the world’s greatest brands. These include American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Columbia Business School, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Visa and Volkswagen.</p>
<p>Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.</p>
<p>He was a main board member of the Ogilvy Group, a founding member of the Superbrands Organisation, one of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing and one of the first three people named to the Hall of Fame of the Direct Marketing Association of India. He has also been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida.</p>

1 Comment

  1. Howie You, your business, and this wetsbie are absolutely TOP NOTCH. I am continually impressed with each and everything you do towards achieving your goals and helping other reach theirs. Great job to The Best Fitness Trainer around! ~The One Body Girl.

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