There are many reasons a website does not convert. Below I have listed what I think are nine of the most important things that I have found while auditing sites over the last 20 years
It is by no means a conclusive list – but it points to the huge stumbling blocks that you must overcome to improve the lead generation of your site.
The most important thing to remember is that the site is not designed for you but for your ideal prospect (who will turn into your ideal customer). So don’t be precious – design it for them, not for you.
1. You are acquiring the wrong traffic
In more than 20 years of digital marketing this is without doubt the number one reason websites fail. The vanity metrics of users and sessions should be banished from reporting.
In fact, if you are using any of the top reporting level features for analysis then stop it now. Without context they are all meaningless.
What should you be looking at instead? Channels, engagement by channel, conversions by channel. Segment by geography, demographics and site usage.
Fully understanding how you are acquiring traffic, the channels you are using and how they individually perform is paramount to success.
Paying for traffic
If you are buying traffic through any form of online advertising, be it Google Ads or Facebook make sure it is set up correctly. Don’t waste money acquiring badly targeted keywords and users!
Making sure you’re using your paid search channels correctly takes time and effort but is one of the main reasons I see poor conversions. Businesses are buying the wrong traffic!
Not only is it expensive to acquire but if you are buying the wrong traffic then it will provide next to zero ROI, mess up your website’s conversion metrics and you will give up using this valuable source of leads. Most of the time, when set up correctly, paid channels can provide a generous ROI.
If you don’t know your ROI from paid traffic, then get to know it – NOW!
Is your site appearing for the search terms that will enable your site visitors to convert? If you are not monitoring which search terms that are driving traffic to your site – then the chances are you will be getting some erroneous traffic. Make sure you have Google Search Console connected to your site so you can get this information easily.
All too often I see sites ranking for the big-name brands they have written case studies for (sometimes even getting more traffic than for their own brand)! This traffic is meaningless to you – it will never convert.
Is your brand name working for you or against you? If your brand is the same as something or someone else and they are outperforming you in search then – not only will they be getting some of your traffic – but you will be getting lots of theirs. It doesn’t matter how good your site is – if you are getting another brand’s site visitors, they will never convert!
I have seen this many times, more than you might think. Brand names that are not unique enough to own their own brand traffic. Usually they are acronyms – and unfortunately acronyms are rarely unique. They are often used by government organisations and associations which will nearly always outrank you.
Search for your own brand in an incognito widow and look at the search landscape. If you do not own the whole of page one of Google for your brand, then do something about it!
2. Your data is crap!
Please, please, please segment your data. As much as you can. Segment by persona, by geography, by purchase history, by client or non-client, by lapsed or by lost, by age, by male or female and any combination of the above that is appropriate to your message. Whatever you do, send only relevant, personalised emails to the right people.
When you have segmented your data, create different emails based on the segmentation and make sure you send them to a relevant landing page on site. If you don’t, then your conversion rate will suffer.
3. Your content is inward facing
Here is a quick tip. Go to the homepage of your website and hit Ctrl + F to do a search. Then individually type in ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’. If you have any of these words on your Homepage, then the focus of your content is wrong.
Of course, this is only indicative and a quick way of finding our if your content is not written for your site visitor. But more-often-than-not, when I do this the rest of the site is written from the inside out too.
If the messaging on your site is not written for your key personas, the problems they face, the pain they are in and how you can solve it then your website will not convert.
4. You don’t tell people what you do
This goes together with the above. Making assumptions about your site visitors’ knowledge, skill levels and stage in the buying process will certainly make them look elsewhere. Often, we try to communicate our knowledge from our own standpoint using industry abbreviations, internal words and jargon that a site visitor may not yet understand.
If you aren’t communicating exactly how you can help potential leads within the first five seconds of visiting your website, the likelihood is they won’t convert. Remember, your competitor’s site is only a click away so try to avoid those early bounces!
5. Poor navigation
Take an objective look at your menus, the language you use, the structure and the clarity of the layout. Can your site visitors get to important information quickly and easily, using language they understand?
If not then you have some work to do!
6. Ill-defined user journeys
If you’re facing the above issues, then it is almost certain you are not thinking about your site visitors’ user journeys! Remember they need help, they require direction, clearly defined next steps and calls-to-action!
Have you ever looked at your analytics and reviewed the user journeys people take?
Where do they drop off?
Which pages are never looked at?
Which pages convert best?
There are the questions you should be asking yourself to help improve conversion metrics.
7. Bad user experience
How do most people visit your site, which browser, which device do they use? What type of network? If you don’t know the answer to these questions then find out! You must design and create your site for the lowest (acceptable) common denominator. Your website must be responsive and ideally designed for mobile first – this is how Google looks at it and ranks it!
Your site needs to load quickly and respond smoothly. Do not overdesign the usability of your site. People want only what they want!
8. Not using an SSL certificate
If your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate, then you’re turning visitors away! Most notably Google, (but other browsers too) have made having an SSL certificate almost mandatory, displaying a red triangle in the browser address bar for any page or site that is not secure.
Would you visit a website if you were faced with this message?
9. You simply do not ask!
If your site does not ask the visitor to take specific actions, then guess what? They won’t!
Don’t be afraid to guide your visitors to do what it is you want them to do. Use clear calls to action, obvious forms that don’t ask for too much information, chat bots, live chat and click to call buttons to name only a few. These can all help guide your visitor to what they want and ultimately, what you want them to do.
Considering each of these elements and making changes can make huge improvements to your website. Likewise, reviewing your competitor websites will allow you to understand just how far you need to go to win back your traffic.
Understanding how much they’re spending on paid search, how much organic traffic they’re getting and where you site ranks in comparison with them can give you the edge you need to climb the search positions.
We’ll strip your competition’s digital marketing naked for free so you can see just that! Request your competitive digital marketing report today and we’ll send you an overview in just two working days!