GUEST POST from Jock Purtle
The Internet has business owners chomping at the bit over how it can help them grow. This is good. You should be excited. But for those who think the value of the Internet is in generating shares, likes, and links—you’re missing the point.
This stuff is important, sure, but the real purpose of all this, as with nearly every activity your business does, is to generate sales. In other words, to make money.
Getting people to engage with your content, visit your site, or read your blog is fantastic, but unless you can convert people into customers, much of this effort will be for naught. Yet this is much easier said than done, as you may well know. The average landing page conversion rate is around 3 percent, with the top 25 percent converting at a rate of 5 percent and the top 10 percent convert at a rate of around more than 11 percent. Of course, these numbers vary by industry, but this is the general trend.
Imagine you’re currently converting at 4 percent. Now imagine what your business would look like if you were converting at 9 percent. That’s more than a 200 percent increase in customers, and depending on what you’re selling, this could mean massive increases in revenue, and subsequently, a massive increase in the value of your business.
If you’re having trouble reaching these conversion numbers, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Many people struggle with this, yet it’s possible to do better. Consider these reasons why you might not be converting as many of your website’s visitors into customers as you may like.
1. You’re At the Wrong Part of the Sales Funnel
This is marketing and sales 101. For those who don’t know, the sales funnel is the process a person goes through as they make the decision to buy something (or not). There are many different variations of the sales funnel, but they’re all similar in principle to this: Awareness / Interest / Decision / Action.
So how does this relate to conversion? Simple. If people are arriving to your site when they’re in the Action stage, and the content you are presenting them is geared towards the Interest stage, you’re creating a dissonance between you and the person visiting your site that will result in them turning away and searching elsewhere.
To give an example, if you’re driving people to your site based on their search for “the best shampoo for hair loss,” you need to understand this person has already decided they’re going to buy a hair-loss shampoo. What they’re looking for is the best one. You don’t need to spend time convincing them why they need the product or explaining how it works. They already know this and are now looking for the best deal on the market. They’re in the Action stage.
If they’re searching for “shampoos that prevent hair loss,” however, there’s a good chance they’re in the Interest or Awareness stage. This doesn’t mean you can’t convert them. It just means your content needs to match this motivation. This is where you would want to inform people about how the product works, what are some common pitfalls, why they might need it, etc. The recommendations you make after giving this information are your conversion strategy.
2. You’re Not Empathizing Enough
I’m sure in your day-to-day life you’re plenty empathetic, but if you’re struggling to convert visitors into customers, there’s a chance you aren’t being sensitive enough to your readers’ needs.
Understand that people are coming to your site because they have some sort of problem, and they’re looking for you to fix it. You want to do your best to get into their shoes and to empathize with their pain. This way when you offer a solution, they’ll see you understand what they’re looking for and are offering something that will satisfy them.
You don’t want to overdo this stuff, but this is where anecdotes and personal experiences come into play. It’s also where having a great content writer becomes critical. You want to be empathetic and understanding without sounding patronizing. If you can do this, you can expect conversion rates to improve.
3. Your Content Isn’t Engaging Enough
Most people read a blog post for less than 15 seconds. That’s right—15 seconds. What does that mean? You have very little time, probably only about three or four sentences, to hook your reader and get them to engage with your content.
This is where the previous two points become so important. If you can understand someone’s motivation and identify with their need, the next step is to convey this to them as quickly and as concisely as possible. This way they know right away they’ve come to the right place for the information they seek, and they’ll be more likely to stick around and arrive at your calls to action, which is how you will eventually convert them into customers.
4. You’re Not Authoritative Enough
To convince someone to buy something from you, they need to believe you know what you’re talking about. Support any claims you’re making with evidence, and spend some time building up your credibility. If you’ve been featured in some well-known publications or have some qualification to verify your expertise, share this with people. It’s not bragging; it’s just evidence.
This part is hard to fake, and people can usually tell when you’re doing so. Get someone you know that isn’t connected to the business to read your content and tell you where you’re stretching it a bit. Eliminating the parts where people scrunch their eyebrows and say, “Really?! I don’t believe that” is critical to a good conversion strategy. You want to be personable and relatable, but you also want people to think they’re getting information from someone who knows more than their friend Joe or Sally from work.
5. You’ve Misplaced Your Calls to Action
Again, the better you do at understanding your audience, the better your conversion rates. Your calls to action (CTA) are critical to online sales. They’re when you literally direct someone to spend their money. Of course, people act on their own accord, but if you do this wrong, your conversion rates will suffer.
Oftentimes, less is more when it comes to CTAs. Site owners have the tendency to include many of them, thinking that people will be more likely to click if they have more opportunities to do so. This isn’t true. It’ll often feel spammy and will turn people away.
Limit CTAs to moments when you’ve really addressed the reason the person came to your site. When you give a detailed review and when you’ve compared two products are both good times for a CTA, but they are also effective in the beginning and at the end, especially for motivated buyers who are just looking to get some info about a product they are already planning to buy.
If I could conclude with one piece of advice that ties in all I’ve shared here, it would be this: Know your audience. This is the most important thing for any sales and marketing strategy.
As you can see, there are lots of different things you need to learn about your audience, but if you’re struggling with conversion, there’s a good chance you’re misunderstanding something about why your customer is at your site and what they are expecting from you. Solve these problems, adjust your content and watch your conversion rates soar.
About the author: Jock is the founder of Digital Exits, an online brokerage service specializing in the buying/selling and appraisal of online businesses. He has started and sold several internet companies in his lifetime and is a big believer in the “content is king” mantra. Most of his work nowadays is helping others maximize the profitability and value of their online ventures.