The Misguided Belief That Torpedoes Most Websites

by Adam Kreitman

Let’s say you’re going to open a retail store.

You hire an architect and designer who work together to create a beautiful store for you and you can’t wait for customers to come in and see it.

But in your excitement and rush to open you:

  • carelessly throw items on the shelves
  • don’t train your sales associates
  • hide the cash register so people can’t figure out how to pay
  • have no inventory system in place, and
  • have no way of  keeping track of sales to figure out which items are the most popular and which aren’t doing well.

How successful do you think that store would be? Would you expect to make a lot of sales?

My answers would be “not very” and “NO”!

Now what would you do to fix the problem?

1. Focus on getting as many people into your store as possible (thinking that getting more people through the door would fix the sales problem), or

2. Focus on training your sales staff, strategically placing items on the shelves, fix the inventory issues, track sales, etc. first and then worry about getting more traffic.

In the scenario of a retail store, obviously #2 is the answer. With all the flaws in the store, more foot traffic ain’t gonna fix things.

But when it comes to their websites, most business owners focus on #1. They have the mindset that “if I can just get more traffic to my website, I’ll get the leads and sales I want.”

And that misguided belief torpedoes the performance of most sites.

You may not believe this, but it’s true

Getting traffic to your website is easy. There’s no shortage of ways to do it.

AdWords. SEO. Email. Facebook. LinkedIn. Blogging. Pinterest. adCenter. Video marketing. Article Marketing. Banner ads. Newsletter ads. Twitter. Blog commenting. Forum posting. Press Releases.

And that’s just a starter list that doesn’t even include offline ways to drive traffic to your site like direct mail, TV ads, radio spots, newspaper ads, etc.

Yes, you have to put in time, effort and/or money to get the traffic. But it’s not that hard to get.

Most business owners come to me thinking they have a traffic problem. But the truth is, in most cases, traffic really isn’t the problem.

The real problem is conversions.

Or, more accurately, a lack of conversions.

Conversions are what turn traffic into leads and sales. They’re what actually bring the dollars into your business.

You can get all the traffic you want, but traffic doesn’t make you money. Conversions do.

What It Takes To Win Online

In online marketing, it’s not the sites with the most traffic that win, it’s the ones that have the highest conversion rates.

Why?

Because when you have higher conversion rates than the competition, you make more money per visitor than they do.

When you make more money per visitor than your competition, you can profitably pay more for traffic and get traffic from more sources than they do.

And when you can profitably buy more traffic than your competition, you’re in the driver’s seat.

5 Step Plan For Boosting Conversion Rates

Not focused on the conversion side of the equation yet? Here’s a 5 step plan to help get you on the right track to making your website a conversion generating machine…

1. Set a benchmark

When playing outside with my 4 year old one day, she wanted to see how fast she could run from me to a tree in our yard and back. I opened the timer app on my phone off she ran. When she got back to me she excitedly asked “What’s my time?”. When I told her it was 17.2 seconds, she pumped her fists in the air and let out a triumphant “YES!”

Now this was the first time I ever timed her so she had no benchmark to judge her time by. She just thought 17.2 seconds sounded good and she was as pleased as punch.

Most business owners make the same mistake with their website. They have no baseline by which to judge conversion rates on their site or how many leads the site generates. So, even if they were to make some changes to their site, they’d have no idea whether the changes have a positive or negative impact on conversions.

So step 1 is to start measuring conversions and get a benchmark. You can do this by setting up “Goals” in Google Analytics which track when visitors complete certain key actions on your website, getting phone tracking in place if phone calls are important to your business, using the Conversion tracking code in Google AdWords and keeping an overall tally of leads generated by all sources.

This way you’ll have an idea what your website is actually generating as far as leads and sales and what impact any future changes have on your conversion rates.

2. Differentiate

Why should someone do business with you instead of one of your competitors? Why should someone do business with you instead of doing nothing at all?

Your website should answer those questions for every product and service you sell.

The businesses that have the highest conversion rates do an excellent job of setting themselves apart from the competition. Their sites clearly communicate what makes them unique.

Take some time to think about what makes your business/products/services truly unique from the competition.

Do you…

  • Serve a very specific segment of your market?
  • Offer a guarantee your competition can’t or won’t?
  • Have awards, honors, recognition your competitors don’t?
  • Have better pricing, financing options, payment plans, etc.?
  • Offer a unique twist on your product/service that your competitors don’t?

Showcase why your business is unique in a way that is meaningful to your prospects and conversions will follow.

3. Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

A strong offer is the most important piece of the conversion funnel.

Putting out a strong, unique offer can make up for a poorly designed site, average copy and many other shortcomings on your site.

The more value you offer prospects, the more you show how taking action will benefit them and make their lives better, the more you reduce the risk they take by accepting your offer…the higher the conversion rate on your site will be.

4. Include a Call-To-Action

Every page on your website should have a single goal. The goal is the one action you want visitors to that page to take.

It’s the part of a web page where push comes to shove and visitors either take the desired action or leave.

The stakes are high here so make sure it’s crystal clear to visitors what action you want them to take and why they should take it.

One effective strategy that helps with conversions is to use benefit oriented calls to action instead. So instead of “Click Here”, try “Get Your Free Monthly Newsletter” or “Start Your Free Trial Now”.

Don’t leave it up to your prospects to figure out what action to take. Tell them EXACTLY what they need to do and what benefits and value they’ll get by doing it.

5. Test, Measure, Refine

This is what truly separates the successful websites from those that struggle with conversions.

Once you have a benchmark, start testing different parts of your website to try to boost conversion rates. Common targets for testing include headlines, offers, calls to action, layouts, button colors, etc.

Testing different versions of pages on your site and measuring the results (known as split testing) has been used by the most successful direct marketers for decades. It’s really the key to success for any marketing campaign whether online or off.

Fixing Conversion Problems Fixes Traffic Problems

Traffic and conversion go hand in hand when it comes to marketing your website. You can’t succeed without both.

But the companies who truly dominate in competitive markets are the ones who have the conversion side of the equation down. While it’s much easier to focus on traffic (which, by the way, is why so many online marketing firms only focus on selling traffic), the payoff is much greater when you focus on improving conversions.

If you’ve ignored conversions on your website, please use this post as a wake up call to jumpstart your own efforts or hire a professional to help you start optimizing your conversions.

Because if you fix your conversion problem, you’ll fix your traffic problem.

Image courtesy of wallyg

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