Last Updated: 1.23.2018
You’re brilliant, talented, and hard working … so how come clients aren’t signing up? It might not be you that’s the problem, it could be that your website is letting you down in some big way.
If you’re a one-person or micro- business owner like me and you’re not getting enough clients signing up, it could be that your website is a weak link in your chain.
I know, because part of what I do for a living is evaluate other people’s websites — and most of them just aren’t working hard enough to inspire site visitors to act.
Are you spending a lot of energy on traffic but none on your website itself?
Your website is where the sale is closed. But most people just forget about it after it launches and expect it to perform that critical duty, never checking in to make sure it actually is.
“Gurus” are always selling us solutions for how to get more traffic, and that’s great, because we do need traffic — lots of it. But if you’re working your butt off to send traffic to a website and it has problems, you’re throwing a lot of time, effort, and money into a void.
When you’re selling a service, what matters most is booking clients — and that happens one client at a time. Every site visitor is an opportunity, so we need our websites to capture as many as it can and create a connection … then we can worry about turning up the volume on traffic.
Your website isn’t perfect, it was built on assumptions.
Unless you built it with a deep understanding of branding, conversion copywriting, good design principles, user behavior, the customer journey, audience empathy, persuasion and a host of other disciplines that go into making a really successful client-winning website… some of your assumptions were probably wrong.
And that would put you in good company, because even “gurus” don’t really know how people are going to respond to a website in practice — which is why big-player websites hire conversion optimization specialists to test their assumptions. We may not have budgets to run usability studies and hire fancy-pants conversion optimization consultants, but we can steal their big ideas and apply them to our tiny businesses.
Your website needs to be your hardest-working employee, but you must be a good boss.
This means being curious about your website as a matter of habit, giving it your attention so it can develop into an even better performer, and to course correct when its not performing as well as it could.
Big areas where people struggle:
- The “ask” is too big for somebody who doesn’t know you yet
- Copy that’s neither useful nor persuasive for the user
- They have no clue how their visitors are interacting with their website, so they operate on pure guesswork
- Off-brand visual design
- Lack of strong value proposition
- Failure to make it clear what the user should do next
- Technical performance issues that users just don’t have time for
- They don’t feel confident using their websites, it’s an unpleasant technical chore fraught with frustration they’d rather avoid
Improving any or all of these areas will make a huge difference for your business.
Now, before you go getting all overwhelmed about this, making improvements in these areas should be something you do as part of your routine. You don’t need to clear a month of your time to focus on your website, just take it little by little. Even a small increase in conversions can impact your bottom line in a big way, and sometimes just simple tweaks is all that takes.
If you want some quick tips to get you started thinking like an optimizer, check out 5 Powerful Website Fixes That’ll Boost Your Conversions
8 Reasons Why Your Website Isn’t Winning Clients
1. You’re Asking Too Much
If the action you want your site visitor to take on the first visit is to “contact you” and become a client, expect to wake up to the sound of crickets. That’s like asking somebody to marry you on the first date. Marketers will tell you it takes 7-13 “touches” before someone is ready to buy, so if the main call to action on your website is for somebody to become a client, think instead about ways you can create a connection where you can allow them to get to know and trust you first.
Maybe that’s getting them on a mailing list, or asking them to join your Facebook group, or to follow you on social media. And I don’t just mean plopping some social media icons on your website and calling it good, I mean making a clear call to action that answers the users’ question, “What do I do next?”
2. It’s All About You
I mean it makes sense if it is, it’s your website. But actually… it’s totally not about you — it’s about solving your site visitor’s problem.
Did you write your copy with your dream customer in mind? Is it clear that you really understand their problems and have the solutions? Did you demonstrate why you’re the best choice out of all the other options they’re considering?
Oh yeah, and did you do all of that within the first 5 seconds of a new visitor landing on your site?
Because that’s how long people will give you before they decide whether it’s going to be worth it for them to read on. I know. It’s rough out there.
People who don’t know you just don’t have the bandwidth to read and scroll and spend a lot of time on your site figuring out it what’s in it for them. The “above the fold” area on your home page is like a store’s window display … if it’s cluttered and filled with useless junk that the customer isn’t interested in, they’ll walk on by.
3. You Don’t Understand Your Site Visitors
If you’re not using data to inform your decisions, you’re making a lot of extra work for yourself and missing opportunities too. Stab-in-the-dark marketing will only exhaust and defeat you. Think like a scientist instead. Be curious, get the data, and be willing to alter your tactics as you learn more about how your site visitors are behaving and interacting with your website.
Are you using Google Analytics? Do you have it set up but rarely check it? Do you know how to get insights from your stats? If not, consider adding this powerful weapon to your arsenal that’ll teach you 1) what’s working (so you can amplify it) and 2) what’s not (so you can make an adjustment).
4. Your Design Is Undermining Your Credibility
Design is a business tool — more like accounting software than art. Its purpose is to elevate, communicate, persuade, and clarify — and it should be supporting your goal of making profit for your business.
Your design may be turning off potential clients and undermining your credibility, only you may not be aware of it because you’re too close, too personally attached. The only way to know is to get objective feedback — from your target customers ideally.
Great visual branding can make the job of marketing your business exponentially easier and poor visual branding can make your life more difficult. You’ll hear that design is crucial in making a first impression and research backs that up, but take a moment to think about what that really means: remember that it takes 7-13 “touches” for somebody to make a buying decision… if your design isn’t on point, you’ll have more to overcome, it’ll take more effort for people to take you seriously and trust you. And let’s be honest, we don’t always get a second chance — people are busy, they may never be back at all.
5. It lacks a strong value proposition
This is the #1 thing conversion optimization specialists cite as the reason why websites fail. If you haven’t done this, tackle this problem first. What you want is for a site visitor to understand (within a few seconds) why the site is going to be useful to them: what you do, for whom, and why you’re the best choice. If you do this one thing well, they’ll keep reading long enough to get to know you a little better.
6. Users don’t know what you want them to do next
Someone lands on your website and you’ve given them a smorgasbord of things to do: read this, go here, sign up, click this, fill this out, look over here, now look at this… you think that offering them choice is going to make their time on your site more pleasant because they get to decide what they want to do and you get to put everything and the kitchen sink on offer… but actually it works the opposite. Faced with too many choices, with none of them appearing more important than the other, the average user will choose to do nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Each page of your website should be grounded in a goal, an action you want the user to take. You should always be answering, “What do I want them to do next?”
Further reading: How To Get Website Visitors To Do What You Want
7. It tests your site visitor’s patience
I hope not, because they don’t have any. If your site is slow to load, you are losing site visitors. And that means you’re missing your chance to get your message in front of a large percentage of the people you worked so hard to get to your website in the first place. (If it’s loading in more than 3 seconds, it could be as high as 40%. 40%!) Page load times matter and it’s low-hanging fruit, put it on your schedule to test from time to time and work toward making your site load faster.
8. You don’t feel empowered to use your website
I started building websites back in the day when you pretty much needed a web designer’s help to get your website launched unless you were willing to learn how to code. But advances in technology have made it possible for just about anyone to not only build their own website without much technical knowledge, but to really learn how to use it — to create landing pages to send targeted traffic to, write blog posts, and make design and content tweaks when it’s necessary (as we learn more about our site visitors).
Do you feel too intimidated to make changes that’ll allow you to optimize your site for higher conversions? If so, you need better tools or you just need to suck it up and learn how to use the ones you have better — you wouldn’t open a retail store without learning how to use your POS system, would you? Thinking of your website as something you “have” rather than something you “do” is so last year.
A lot of the time people get into the wrong tools to begin with. They may pick out a pretty template and run with that, or use the easy website-builder solution that promised to get them launched in a weekend… or an hour (ugh!).
But then the frustration sets in, it’s difficult and clunky to make changes… I know, because I’ve worked with tools like these and even as a web designer of many (many) years, even I pull my dang hair out. For example, I won’t work with a lot of WordPress themes… I don’t have the patience to monkey around with badly coded and constructed nonsense.
If your website is something you’d rather avoid, if it’s not easy to work with, if making changes doesn’t make you feel excited (if you’re not having any FUN!) — it doesn’t need to be that way. There are AMAZING tools out there that are easy to use, flexible, scalable and even fun. If using your website doesn’t feel that way, and you’re serious about using your website as a central component of your plan to reach and book clients… you might want to consider making a change.
Further reading: Tools for an Empowered Website
Shifting your mindset
The days of “set it and forget it” websites until it’s time for the next redesign are over. Competition is just too fierce these days, and we need to be working smarter and not harder to attract clients. Rather than thinking of your website as “done” or “perfect” (it’ll never be perfect), instead, start thinking like an optimizer. How can you continuously improve the experience for your site visitor?