However much time and money you throw at your website, it’s all wasted unless it makes people want to buy from you.
Yet so many sites lose sales and actively drive visitors away by missing these tricks. I know because I’ve been guilty myself.
1. No email sign-up box?
Your website is not there for fun or decoration. It is there to sell.
But very few people are ready to buy right away.
Your website is really just a selling tool. Research reveals that on average a real salesman makes the first sale after six visits. If what you sell is expensive or complex you can expect it to take quite a few more.
So your website’s chief purpose is to collect your visitors’ email addresses.
Yet I would say nine out of ten websites make no serious effort to do so. Sheer insanity.
Once you have that 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 – 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.
2. 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.
This is madness – and usually due to web designers building sites based on what they think looks good rather than what works.
But how on earth can people get in touch with you if they have to work out how?
They’re not going to hunt around. 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.
3. 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 have one of those stock images of grinning women, signposts or smirking buffoons in meetings. Everyone and his mother uses them. These subliminally tell 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 one of your premises – try a photo of you. The conversion rate on some websites rocketed by 95% when they did just that.
Maybe you think you need to show your products. Well, that’s fine. But make sure to use pictures of you and maybe your staff as well.
People like to buy from people – not corporations. The more human your site the better you’ll do.
4. No video
The longer visitors stay on your website the greater your chance of selling or collecting their names.
Video will help. 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. This is a mistake. 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 slick 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.
5. Talking features, not benefits
You visit a website looking for information and what do you find? Lots of boring stuff listing features of what’s on offer.
Sure, your widget comes in a range of attractive colours – 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 don’t 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?
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%.
6. 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 not 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.
7. 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 – and the trend is growing
If in doubt, keep it simple and keep flashy graphics to a minimum. The longer it takes your site to load, the more surely you’ll lose visitors
A PS – with a few laughs
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.