4 reasons why your website may not get you the sales you want
We’re experiencing an unparalleled crisis of trust.
Fake news, corporate scandals and broken promises dominate public discourse. As a result, people ask more questions before they commit to a purchase. They’re more critical of their experience, more likely to "bounce" and buy from your competition — and more likely to complain (publicly) if something’s wrong. So when someone visits you online, you have to prove yourself worthy of their trust. And you've only got a tiny moment to make a good impression.
We've identified 4 common mistakes that can put people off when they first come to your website. In this article, we'll explain what they are, why they matter, and how to fix them:
- People aren't sure what to do on your sales page
- They feel confused about you and your product
- You're talking to the wrong kind of customer
- It's too hard to buy from you
These are not just rookie errors either. We've seen them on startup websites as well as corporate sales pages, and in many different industries. So feel free to bookmark this blog post and return to it whenever you need it.
When you’re able to establish trust with a web visitor quickly, they're more likely to stay on the page, take in your entire message, and click through to buy from you (instead of leaving after two seconds to check out your biggest competitor).
Read on and fix those customer frustrations — for a website that's "on fire" with hot leads.
1. Calls to action: customers aren't sure what to do
Does your homepage clearly tell people what you want them to do? Or is it more akin to this street sign?
We see this error take two distinct shapes: too many calls to action or none at all.
Don’t give in to the temptation to add more than two calls to action — it’s better to set up a separate page for less important actions that attract a smaller number of your users. According to Conversion Expert Claire Suellentrop (click to see her brilliant book), this “reduces analysis paralysis, so the visitor can easily choose the correct next step.”
What to do about it:
Identify the one or two things that are most likely to get you business. Explicitly tell website visitors what to do, and make your words clear rather than cute. So if you sell clothes, for example, that could be “Try our new size finder”, or “See all new arrivals”.
2. Organisation of messages: customers feel confused
Many sales pages focus too much on what the business does, the ethics of its supply chain, and technical details.
While these are all important points to get across, don’t fall into the trap of creating info overload on a page meant to sell. Sales pages are about explaining the value you’ll add to people’s lives, and crafting that message is worth every moment you spend on it. Let your audience savour the future that will be theirs if they buy from you. Move everything else to About pages and dedicated subsections of your site.
What to do about it:
Copyhacker Joanna Wiebe found that to inspire trust, your copy needs to tell visitors six things — in this order:
- What do you do?
- Why should I care?
- Do others like me care?
- Can you really do what you say?
- Why should I believe you? (Will you make my life better? Am I safe with you?)
- If I believe you, now what?
Simply answer each question in turn, as if you were talking to a prospective customer. Give each message its own heading or subheading. You’ll automatically tick the all-important boxes like social proof, highlighting the benefits of your product’s features, and focussing on your prospects’ goals.
3. Matching awareness: you're talking to the wrong kind of customer
Do you sell vegan leather shoes, but most of your web visitors just want chic trainers? Do the people that you're telling where you buy your organic, fair-trade cocoa butter even know that they want cocoa butter?
Many of our clients know everything about their products and how they're sourced or made. That's great, because it's easy to be honest and transparent with that much info at hand. But often they're so close to their own business that they struggle to talk to potential customers who are "newbies" in their field. They send everyone to the same homepage or landing page, no matter how (un)familiar the visitor is with the basic concept of their offering. And that means lost business: you'll sell more locally-produced honey if you can convince the general public that preserving local bee habitats matters — instead of only catering to existing fans of the idea.
What to do about it:
Think about the different kinds of people you want to reach with your product or service, and how familiar they are with the concept and your brand. Create landing pages that tell a convincing story to each type of customer. For example, if your brand is a household name, just showing your logo may be all that’s needed to match people’s awareness. If you’re less well known, put your value proposition high up on the page and use language that resonates with your prospects.
4. Ease of use: it's too hard to buy from you
Ever been stuck at a spinning wheel in checkout? Ever rushed to complete a lengthy sign-up form on your phone, with one eye on the clock because your lunch break was about to end?
Did you 'hang in there' or 'throw in the towel' and go elsewhere?
Reducing effort is the most important thing you can do to increase loyalty and improve customer service (Dixon et al. 2010).
What to do about it:
Assess your website based on a task the customer wants to complete, such as buying a product or signing up to a service. Does your website flow logically? How easy is it to find the functionality — and how intuitive is it to use? Does your form make it quick for people to get a quote? Remember that each field you add to a form makes people less likely to complete and send it.
What comes naturally to you may be hard for the people you want to reach, so user research is essential. Analytics, surveys, focus group workshops, one-to-one observations and interviews will tell you what people really think. You’ll learn what they love about your site, what they struggle with, and what’s missing. You’ll also gain valuable insight into the content they want and the kind of language they use.
"COME and buy from us!" — Sincerely, your website
When they hit your site, customers subconsciously respond to four things. Reading the first letters of this list from top to bottom, we get the easy-to-remember acronym, COME:
- Calls to action
- Organisation of messages
- Matching their awareness of you and your offering
- Ease of use
Over to you
How are you applying these 4 principles? Let us know in the comments — we'll do our best to support you with useful tips and tricks.
And if you're not sure if your website effectively beckons your customers to "COME" and buy, our website benchmarking review can help. It covers the points mentioned in this blog post, plus content and tone of voice:
Start improving your customer experience straight away:
You choose a part of your website and one competitor.
We'll choose another one.
Using linguistics, psychology and user experience, we'll highlight where you're doing amazingly — and how you can do even better!
- A 30-minute Find-Out Session to set the intent and goals for the review.
- A close-up review of up to 30 pages of your website in English or German.
- Benchmarking report: we compare your web pages to those of 2 competitors — you choose one, we choose the other.
- Innovation report: at least 3 simple things you can do now to improve your website — and up to 3 strategic tips for the long term.
- A detailed appendix showing all web pages included in the review and the dates they were visited.
- A one-hour Q&A Session where we talk you through our findings and answer your questions about the results — so you can feel confident about the changes you want to make.
All prices exclude VAT.