Is there any more common, sad experience than a business owner or marketing executive rolling out a new website with great expectations only to see its performance fall flat?
If you find yourself in this leaky boat, here are some possible reasons your website is missing the mark with your target audience:
1. Your Website is a "Me Monster"
This is perhaps the most common error, and it’s probably not your designer’s fault (unless you’re the designer). The big mistake that leads to this is assuming that your audience is just like you. It’s not.
Look at the copy on your site – does it make you sound like a "Me-monster"? Your copy should be speaking to your audience, addressing their needs, engaging them in an organized conversation. Narcissistic copy is death to conversion.
2. You Won’t Shut Up.
Your product is the greatest thing since Easy Cheese. You’ve articulated every single reason, often in true "Me-monster" fashion. The problem is, your visitors won’t read long, verbose paragraphs. It takes too much mental exertion.
Get to the point. You can provide more info further down the page for the detail-obsessive, but most visitors want to be able to scan your page to easily figure out what’s in it for them and if it’s worth the cost. Be quick about it.
3. You Chose Form Over Substance
Did your designer talk you into a shiny designy navigation that follows a crazy curvy line around the middle of the page? Or using only symbols and pictures instead of text? Those are SO cool … but regular people can’t figure them out.
It’s OK to be innovative, but not at the cost of clarity and usability. Make sure your site adheres to commonly accepted conventions of website design. Put the navigation in a familiar place, make it look like navigation, make links look like links, etc.
4. You Jumped the Gun with Your Offer
Some Web marketing wannabe masquerading as an expert told you: "Every time you ask for a click, you lose 50% of your visitors." Thus, you put your form at the top of your homepage, before visitors get to read anything about your offer. If your visitors don’t know what they’re signing up for, you don’t stand a chance of converting them.
Organize the sequence of information on your website. Make it convenient to buy/register/whatever, but don’t preempt your visitors’ ability to learn what they’re getting into. You’re not worth a leap of faith to them.
5. You Leave Visitors Hanging
Every page on your website should have a purpose, should be driving towards a next step. Your visitors expect this. They expect to be held by the hand, guided towards the ultimate outcome on the site. Not forced, not manipulated or restricted, but guided.
What they don’t expect is to be left at a dead end. They’ve read your copy and are ready to either learn more or engage you more intently, but your page has no call to action. Don’t do this to them.
There’s always a next step (even after they buy, but that’s another post), so make sure that every page on your site tells visitors what’s next and provides a way to move in that direction.
6. Your Product/Business Doesn’t Provide Value
It sounds like a throwaway list item, but it’s still happening – people are treating the Internet like a shortcut to making money. Never has that been less true than now.
If your product doesn’t fill a unique need in the marketplace, you won’t be able to persuade people to buy from you. The modern consumer can sniff out a pretender like a rotten egg.
7. You Aren’t Split Testing
Split testing elements or pages of your website is the only reliable way to improve your website’s ability to convert visitors to buyers. Guessing at improvements might work some of the time, but you’ll never be able to quantify the effect of your changes.
By employing valid split testing processes and embracing a long-term commitment to the effort, you will be able to compound incremental increases in your website conversion rate into something remarkable and meaningful for your business. Either you’ll do it, or your competitors will. Your choice.