So, what are your big Internet marketing plans for this year? Will you be investing more in social media? Will you start blogging? Will you take a more proactive stance with self-promotion?
Whatever your online marketing plans, the end goal is likely to attract more people to your website in the hopes that the influx of new eyes will translate into new customers, new leads and new opportunities for your business. However, you won’t be able to do any of that if your website is turning people off, instead of turning them on. You have to work at attracting leads.
Below are some very common reasons SMB websites fail to attract customers and how to avoid falling prey to them.
1. There’s no conversion path in place.
One criticism of many SMB sites is that they don’t include a clear conversion path for their customers. If you want customers to take a certain action, you need to create a funnel intended to guide them to do that. Simply stringing together a number of content pages won’t necessarily put someone on the path to buy.
Your conversion path may be as simple as a solitary landing page paired with a call to action, or as complex as an entire microsite. Either way, you are in charge of designing the flow of your website. Creating a clear conversion path not only helps customers feel more comfortable on your site, it also gives you clear data to track so that you can see where people are abandoning, where they’re engaging, etc. The more data you have to act on, the better you can design your site to attract new customers.
2. There’s no sign of life.
Customers are discriminating. You can bet that when they land on your website they’re going to kick the tires a little to see if they can trust you. They’re going to check your copyright date to see if it lists 2011 or 2006. They’re going to look for old statistics or other signs you haven’t taken the time to update your content. They’re going to check your company blog to see how often it’s updated, if you reply to commenters, if people are talking back, etc. They’re going to look for signs that you’ve created a dynamic website, instead of one lying around in stagnant water.
Before your customers get there, take a look around yourself. Would you hang out with you?
3. It’s all about you.
Customers don’t head to your site to hear how awesome you are. They’re there because they have a problem they need you to fix or a question they need you to answer. Your website should be designed to help them quickly achieve whatever it is they came for. Too many references to “I” in lieu of “you,” too much sales talk instead of helpful information, and too much of you not addressing their fears/wants/desires will turn people away from your brand, not on to it.
Your customers don’t care about you. They care about how you can help them.
4. People can’t find you.
If you’re finding that customers aren’t interacting with your website at all, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself.
- Is it accessible? With more and more users searching via mobile devices and on the go – is your website mobile accessible? If it’s not, users trying to find you may hit a dead end. There’s nothing worse than trying to find your accountant’s website while on the road and finding out his site only renders in Flash and won’t load on your phone. Not that I’m talking from experience.
- Is it properly SEO’d? Have you made it easy for users and search engines to find your content? That means using the right keywords, linking properly, making your site super crawlable for spiders, and staying away from common SMB SEO mistakes.
Sometimes before you can see more traffic, you have to break through the obstacles preventing you from seeing any.
5. There’s no POD.
The more powerful a POD (point of differentiation) you can create, the better you’ll attract the right customers to your brand.
If you want to attract people, you have to give them more of you. You have to stand out from the crowd and show them something that they’ll want to align themselves with. Take a look at your own site – what are you showing potential customers? I don’t mean the graphics or the videos you choose to incorporate (don’t forget to optimize those for search engines, too!), I mean the experience that you’re creating. Are you using your site to set yourself apart, or do you come off like everyone else? Are you talking to customers in their own language or filling your pages up with buzzwords and jargon?
If you’re finding it difficult to attract leads via your website, it may be time to ask yourself some hard questions. Before you can fix the problem, you first have to identify it. What are some struggles you’ve had attracting leads for new sales?
How have you fixed the problems?
Thanks for highlighting the important aspect of POD (point of differentiation). My main leads are coming from referral marketing and business networking activities.
I am “struggling” with getting my site from “alpha” / “beta” stage! 😉 I have to update some sections on my site. The good thing is that I have explained the situation in my first blog post and telling my visitors that it is a ongoing journey. The front page has several features that are updated on a pretty regular basis, e.g., blog posts, Twitter feed, Foursquare check-ins and a rotating Flickr photo album.
Thanks for your article, now I know why my blog get no leads. I never do SEO for my blog because I think that’s not important. Seems like I’m mistaken. I’ll SEO my blog and let’s look for the change. 🙂
Thanks again. Keep writing nice article for us.;)
In reference to your first point, at PubCon it was mentioned that many sites don’t have a conversion path on some of their most highly viewed pages, such as the About Us page. If you don’t “tell” people what you want them to do, many will leave your site without converting.
Attracting leads is a fairly difficult thing to do. It seems like there is always small mistakes that you are making. But, that is how you learn. It requires patience, research, and a whole lot of elbow grease. 🙂
This post is worth its weight in gold! I could go off on a rant here, but I can name about 100 companies that ought to memorize this.
Love it Lisa! Now let me get busy (tweeking & sharing).
Very useful post! A number of seo techniques are readily available, one that you can do yourself. No need to hire web marketers. Check out traffic generation posts on ezine for more information.
Nice post! I made something similar myself. It’s true that a lot of factors should be considered in order to get good ranks and generate traffic to your site.
Great article Lisa. It’s so true that if you want people to see the great content on your site, you really need to make sure it’s visible to your audience, otherwise your efforts are going to waste. In our latest blog post, Dan, one of Nitro’s consultants takes a look at this problem in the healthcare industry.Check it out if you have the time: http://bit.ly/iadzv5
Why every time the great article with simple language with Lisa Barone :p I simply love it but specially the last part! PoD without a POD its like you are in the crowd with everyone else in the market… i think to cater more leads one have to be different and give customer a reason to buy or interact you as a lead.
I laughed when I read item no. 2: There
Excellent post Lisa. One thing I see a lot when working with small businesses is that keeping folks motivated to keep up with numbers 2 and 4 can be a struggle! In my rural area it’s surprising enough if someone has a website that was developed in the past 5 years let alone if they have and maintain a blog, twitter or facebook account.
Updating the content of the website and replying to blog comments is surely a vital ingredient to build credibility. When people see you taking care of your site, they realize the company has better chances of taking care of their customers!
Training For Entrepreneurs.com
A clearly written, accessible article about making your website a viable part of the small business marketing mix. I will use this with my clients to help them think strategically about what they want their website to do. Defining purpose – what do you want your website to do? – in marketing is a struggle for most. Thanks Lisa.
Love this post Lisa! I especially like the last point about differentiation. It’s so common for small business owners to just want to emulate what they see is going on in their industries. Perhaps there’s a fear there of trying something new. Or the thought that well, if this successful company does this, then I should do it too.
If everyone else is doing the same old thing, speaking in the same boring (or unintelligible!) language, this is a great opportunity. I did this for one of my small business clients that’s in an industry that’s super boring online. So what did we do? Had ourselves a whole heck of a lot of fun and brought in some humour and cheekiness. And do they ever stand out from the pack now!
#3 is key! We recently rewrote web content for my company’s site and really focused on solving our clients’ and potential clients’ problems. It makes such a difference to talk about how you’ll help them rather what features your product offers. Benefits are always more appealing.
Blue Sky Factory
“It is all about you” is a prevalent mistake what can see.
SEO can be frustrating and very timely. I am plugging away, but definitely need to work on the conversion and tell my visitors what they need to do!
Truthfully, as a new business owner (2 years ago) i found my greatest return from marketing online. Not only online, but advertisements embedded into applications for mobile devices. Though i tried traditional methods of marketing (direct, newspapers, local social news printings) I never found that i was getting my money
Great point regarding lack of conversion paths. Great article! Thank you.
A huge problem is failing to capitalize on the traffic you are already getting to your business website.
Many website owners still fail to look at even basic site analytics data to measure the success of their website/landing pages. What is your bounce rate? how long people stick around before hitting the “back” button. Where is your traffic coming from?
Knowing these metrics will allow you to improve your site, and ultimately your conversion rate.
Hi Lisa, I agree with all your points but particularly liked number 3. So many small business owners write their website text from their own perspective and never give their target market a thought.
I have borrowed a phrase from someone else to try and get people thinking about this ; WIIFM – what’s in it for me? Your potential customer wants to know this, they don’t really care what year you were founded and certainly don’t want to read copy that is nothing more than sales ‘fluff’ to fill out the site a bit.
If more websites were written with this in mind then I’m sure they would see a big jump in online leads and sales.
Excellent insights, especially the last one about POD. There are so many websites offering similar content or services; it’s critical to differentiate yourself to create a positive impression on your potential customers.
Even if you’re able to master the SEO game and get your site on the top page of search results, not being able to deliver quality, relevant content and a positive impression won’t do you any good!