Reliable website hosting is not hard to find. Most hosting companies have excellent up-time reliability numbers and many even offer up-time guarantees of 99.99%. But if you site is never down, why isn’t it producing the results you as a paying customer expect?
There are many reasons a site may not “convert” meaning visitors are not completing the contact form that becomes easy leads for the sales department or not buying your product. The goal of any brochure style site is to create a funnel that leads all points to your sales contact form. Let’s examine some of the biggest funnel blocks leading to reasons why a site does not convert.
1. Site speed: If you site pages take more than a few seconds to load, then you’re losing customers. Anything over 2 or 3 seconds and impatient visitors will quickly move to the next result. We aim at half a second page generation times. Under 1 second is usually fine. Anything slower risks losing traffic.
2. Broken Links: If I’m on a site and I keep hitting 404 errors, I tend to look elsewhere. With online tools and CMS plugins, it’s very easy to detect and correct broken links. Don’t let this simple issue derail your visitor’s experience.
3. Poor Brand and Product Story: Marketing your brand is not difficult. Keep in mind that unless you are paying your webmaster to do so, it’s not their responsibility to convey your business story to customers. That’s the job of your marketing and sales team, you know, the same one’s who are begging for easy to close internet leads. In reality, I rarely see “easy to close leads”. Poor communication between your sales and marketing people and your webmaster can cause a huge disconnect in your product story. Webmasters need feedback from the client and any promotional media, photos, text that the webmaster requests.
4. Unrealistic Expectations: For some reason, people think the internet is a magical land of flowing honey and sales conversions. While that may have been true in the early days, today the web is highly competitive and cut throat. In addition, a product that is new or untested in it’s market is likely destined for failure. Market research is always your first step. Establishing a baseline conversion rate is the next. The formula from there on is relatively easy, just throw traffic at it. That sounds easier than it is. Traffic requires a considerable investment in SEO and generating original content.
5. Overpriced Product or Service: Depending upon what the market will bear, setting a price that is considerably higher than comparable or competitive products will knock you conversion rate down considerably. Also, people tend to take more time when buying high ticket items. I doubt you’d browse homes on a real estate site then call an agent to place an offer. Same with automobiles. It’s become a tire kickers world. Many leads are just that, folks window shopping. If they find you price too high, what are your sales people doing to compel them to buy? If the answer is “nothing” then maybe it’s time to adjust prices or hire new sales people.
6. Typos, Bad Copyrighting: While typos raise some red flags and poor flow of your sales copy unnerving, it’s not always a sales killer. Clients don’t expect to pay extra for copyrighting work, and it’s a pricey option to poor English skills. No matter how good you think your copy is, always double check it with another set of eyes or hire a copyrighting service or add on to your service.
7. Untrustworthy site: Web visitors are becoming somewhat more tech savvy and can spot a secure site over an un-secure site. The simple addition of a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate updates your protocol from http:// to https:// and when installed properly on your web server assures that any data entered into your contact forms or shopping cart is secure and only visible to the recipient. Https: is now becoming the standard in web data handling protocol. SSL certificates start at $100 /year to over $1000.
8. Appearance: This is less likely to cause a customer not to buy than anything. Unless your site is a real dumpster fire, it’s probably just fine. Fancy graphics and eye candy may help tell your story, but fancy menu layouts, graphic sliders and large photos can slow your site down. Too many function can also cause bloat. Trying to make a site do the work of your sales people is not a good idea.
9. Failure to Follow Up: Every lead that comes into your site needs followup. That follow up should not include a one time phone call or email. Research has shown that it takes a minimum of SEVEN times before a buyer commits. Again, higher priced items require more work. If you’re not properly using an email newsletter or lead management tool like Constant Contact, you’re losing out on proper customer followup.
10. Not Responsive: This is a relatively new twist in internet design. Mobile devices can not render a page designed for a desktop properly. The solution is some high end CSS engineering and rules that allow a desktop page to smartly collapse into the resolution view port of the target device. If a mobile user comes to your site and needs to scroll all over to read your copy and contact form, you may lose out on that traffic. As of the writing of this post, mobile visitors account for over 50% of daily visitors.
Those ten issues may or may not apply to your site. It’s a good checklist to be sure you are doing everything in your power to stay ahead or the pack. Just having a website is no silver bullet to success. Sales people are the cornerstone of your company. They earn the commissions and walk away with all the glory. Webmasters do what you tell them and unless you’ve included a budget for marketing, copyrighting, followup and SEO, don’t place all the blame on your webmaster if your product or service fails to convert.