All of the time, money, and energy you’ve put into planning to start your business, developing your product or services, getting your new website live, and perhaps running some advertising was not in vain.
You’re not expecting your website to be ranking top of Google overnight (although, you may do well if you’ve read our book, “How To Get To The Top of Google”), but you were expecting at least a few sales and conversions at the beginning to make it all worthwhile — Yet, after a few weeks of your site going live you’ve very few or almost no sales or conversions recorded.
It’s incredibly frustrating.
You know you should give it more time, just a few more weeks to fix some of the remaining minor technical issues that tend to remain with new websites, but you’re understandably anxious.
How much longer should you wait?
A month? Two months? Six months?
If your website isn’t making any sales or converting new leads then this is not something you should ignore.
Digital marketing campaigns can and will take some time to take effect and to work — especially the case with Search Engine Optimisation where ranking improvements have to be earned — but websites should convert immediately, no matter if your traffic is only five-hundred visitors in a month.
If you’re converting 0% of 500 this month, without any changes, your website will convert 0% of 500 next month and the next month after that.
You have to improve your website — and you have to do it today.
First, you have to identify exactly where things are going wrong.
I get emails from new businesses with no sales who are planning to rebuild their website, to change their product or service, or planning something else drastic because they assume that their current website, product, or service isn’t what people want.
Seven times out of ten, the problem isn’t with what is being offered.
The first problem is usually with the lack of any significant traffic to their website.
You could be giving away free Lamborghinis, but if nobody is seeing your website, then your warehouse full of Lamborghinis is going to stay full because nobody is going to claim them.
The second problem is with how their product or service is being offered — and normally, it’s exactly what the website’s stats are telling me.
If your website advertises the different colours of Lamborghinis in your warehouse but doesn’t mention that they’re free to those who ask, then nobody is going to claim them. They’ll just assume that they’re available at the regular price and leave (because who has the money for a Lambo, right?).
The third problem is with the way in which the product or service is made available to order.
If you’re advertising free Lamborghinis but there’s no telephone number, email address, or contact form then how is anyone supposed to claim their free car?
To troubleshoot why your website is getting no sales then we’ll need to look at those problems.
Take the owners of fifty websites getting more than 500,000 visitors to their websites every month.
Ask them “Who wants more traffic? “.
It doesn’t take a genius to guess how many put up their hands, does it?
Every website needs more traffic, but what use is more traffic if you’re not converting enough of the traffic, you already have? But if your website is getting no sales, we need to do some quick maths…
Conversion rates vary between markets and according to the type of visitors you are getting to your website. But there is almost always a way to get at least 1% of your visitors to convert into buyers or leads. Assuming this conservative conversion rate, do you get enough visitors to your website?
If you launched your website and in the first month only brought in 60 visitors, 20 of whom were friends and family, 4 of whom were you testing your website on different devices, should you expect any sales? Probably not. In which case, your next task is to bring in more traffic to your website.
How To Earn More Traffic?
There are two ways to increase traffic to your website.
Earning more traffic takes a commitment of finances, time, resources, and plenty of patience.
Earned traffic comes from Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Referral Traffic (websites linking to you and their audiences following those links), and from Social Networks.
An SEO campaign can take several months to see a return on, but the returns typically last for a long time after the money spent on the campaign has been used, unlike paid for traffic which tends to stop immediately the last penny has been spent.
Paying for more traffic can increase traffic quickly, but can consume business finances much faster.
Paid traffic comes from Pay-per-Click Ads (PPC), such as Google Ads, Microsoft (Bing) Ads, Facebook Ads, and so on (there are many more).
Paid traffic can deliver a mixture of qualified and unqualified traffic quickly. This can help when sales are needed quickly. This traffic can supply a steady income of sales, but the Cost-per-Acquisition will be higher than that of earned traffic, resulting in a smaller return on investment.
As you can imagine, the answer to this question depends on a number of factors.
If the agency is using paid traffic channels, like Google Ads, then traffic increases are normally seen in a matter of days. With SEO results will be slower, but the quality of each lead is typically much higher and should continually growth on a monthly basis.
Cheap digital marketing is synonymous with little or no work, and you are often better learning yourself and going it alone than opting for the cheapest marketing companies who will do little to no work.
Paying cheap gets cheap results so you can expect low-quality traffic, expensive Costs-per-Acquisition, and the types of content and new backlinks that Google will simply ignore.
Some digital marketing companies work in only one area and will wash their hands of anything that is not on their patch. Agencies that handle PPC, for example, might bring paid search traffic to your site but might not be able to help if you find this traffic isn’t converting into customers.
If you need help in multiple areas, find a full-service digital marketing company, we happen to know one we strongly recommend, which has experts in every field.
We’ve written a blog post about agency expectations, but the important thing is that you are seeing constant growth and that this growth is fast enough that you feel encouraged by their work.
I’ve seen clever people tear their hair out over a marketing campaign that just doesn’t seem to be working, only to find that the contact form or buy button isn’t working properly.
No matter how much you have tried and tested your website, you absolutely have to find out the answers to these four questions right now:
Go through the entire process of buying or converting on your website.
If it seems to work okay, next you must check the back end. If you are driving people to a contact form, they must get confirmation that their information has been received.
We like to use Gravity Forms because it saves all form submissions inside the plugin so you can check whether people are filling the form out even if you’re not getting the notification emails.
Sometimes these notification emails get caught by an overenthusiastic spam filter, so you must check.
We once ran an offer via Facebook ads with Paypal as the payment processor. It didn’t seem to be doing as well as we expected and we couldn’t figure out why. Turns out that Paypal was conflicting with the Facebook mobile browser and that people using this mobile browser were unable to checkout using Paypal.
The problem is that everyone who clicks on a Facebook ad from the mobile app uses this Facebook mobile browser! Doh!
This issue didn’t show up until we tested the payment inside Facebook. Testing via other mobile browsers worked absolutely fine.
And by properly, I don’t mean “is it possible to use your website on all devices”. I mean, “is it easy to use for people on all devices?”
Another example I saw recently was a long copy landing page which had a contact form in the right-hand sidebar as the main call to action. On desktop computers, this worked great because the contact form was on the right-hand side of the page, just where the Amazon “buy now” button is. Perfect!
However, on mobile, conversion rates were appalling.
Why? Because the sidebar was being forced to the bottom of the page, underneath the long copy.
Mobile users who wanted to quickly fill in the form would have to scroll for 10 seconds just to see that there was a contact form at all. No one scrolls for 10 seconds on mobile, not even for a free Lamborghini.
If you’re getting traffic to your website and it looks legitimate then the next step is to see how well this traffic is engaging with your website.
The first step is to troubleshoot the basics;
How long are visitors spending on the website and is there anything that is immediately turning them off?
To check this, we need to look at bounce rate and session duration inside Google Analytics.
In the example below, you’ll see this very new site has started picking up a small number of new visitors, but they are screaming a collective “Hell no!”:
The top traffic source is Paid Search, which should be well-qualified visitors. But 93.44% of them are leaving the site without visiting a second page, and the average visit length of these folks is just 7 seconds! Either the ads are misleading or the site sucks.
Even our trusty favourite, organic search traffic, which has an absolutely teensy number of visitors so far, still has a high bounce rate.
In this situation, we’d give the site another week or so to pick up more traffic numbers, but early signs don’t look good — clearly, something is putting visitors off.
If you find that your bounce rate is high, that average duration is low, and that people aren’t visiting many pages, then you have found your blockage: the first impression your website gives.
It might even be time to start thinking about a new website. We build two types of websites: low-cost lead generation websites for small businesses and bespoke websites which are custom-built to meet the unique needs of larger businesses.
If in doubt, request a free marketing review from our super review Ninjas. They’ll tell it like it is and if you need a new website, they’ll let you know.
What if my engagement looks okay?
In the example below, notice how the traffic numbers look okay.
Visitors seem happy enough and, projecting our simplistic and conservative conversion rate of 1%, we’d expect 44 conversions (4,445 new users x 1%).
The engagement stats look okay too. The bounce rate on some of those channels looks a little high, but it’s certainly not in the danger zone.
In a case like this, clearly people are using the website and, better yet, they aren’t horrendously repelled by what they see.
If this, is you, then you are almost there. Victory is so close that you can smell the celebratory pizza. Your visitors are relevant, engaged, and interested. We just have to get them converting.
“Why aren’t my visitors enquiring or buying (‘converting’)? “
There is only one reason that an interested visitor doesn’t ‘convert’ to a customer or lead on your website:
They haven’t been offered something where the perceived pleasure outweighs the perceived pain to the extent that they are motivated to action.
In other words, either your product or your service is not appealing enough that people want to buy it.
Recognising which element of your website is preventing people from converting is the first step to fixing it.
Here are some ways to identify why people aren’t buying:
The simplest thing to do is to run some user tests. We like usertesting.com and they have a free taster service (good idea) called peek.usertesting.com (now discontinued – we’re big fans of the cheap user tests at UsabilityHub).
It’s important to recognise that all user tests are slightly biased because:
Testers are sophisticated enough to sign up and install user testing software, so there’s a slight selection bias towards those who are able to do these things
When people are being tested, they tend to give answers which make them seem clever. If they can’t figure out what your site is about, they’ll often start talking about the elements they like or don’t like. Even so, user tests are a useful tool to start with.
Heat mapping software is a simple piece of code you can put on your website which records the behaviour of its visitors.
It can show you how much of a page people are viewing. Are users scrolling down far enough to see your call-to-action or should it be higher up the page?
Our preferred heat mapping tool, HotJar, also has Click Maps which detect which links users are clicking on the page. This can highlight which links or buttons are or are not working effectively to drive traffic around your website or to convert.
HotJar also has funnel and form monitoring systems which help to visualise which parts of the sales funnel or forms are preventing people from fully converting.
The next thing you can do is install live chat on your site and have it pop up when people have been on the page a little while.
You can start by asking them a question like “How can I help you today?”
If they are stuck or unsure about something, this question can get them talking. If you notice that different website visitors all seem to be asking the same questions, this is an indication that there is an issue on your website that needs to be addressed.
We recommend tawk.to to our customers because it’s simple to install and cheap to run. We also highly recommended Olark as an alternative.
HotJar also has Survey and Poll tools in-built which can help to ask customers what is preventing them from converting.
Lastly, you can test using an exit popup. This is a type of popup that appears when someone moves to leave your website.
You can use this to offer them something enticing to get them to stay or an extra incentive to move forward with you.
Let’s say that you’re an eCommerce business. Your exit popup might include a code for a discount or for free delivery just in case that was the thing preventing the visitor from buying.
You might want to offer them a free gift with their purchase just in case they need something to make the perceived reward higher than the perceived risk.
If you’re a service business, your exit popup might include an offer for a webinar or a free download that your visitors can request.
Perhaps they weren’t ready to buy yet — but, by offering them something free of charge which is designed to move them closer to their goals, you have a chance to give them something to begin a relationship with you in a low-risk way.
Your ‘conversion goal’ is the thing that you’re asking people to do on your website. Sometimes this is “Request a free quote”, sometimes it’s “Buy Now”. Basically, what do you want people to do when they visit your website?
The problem is that most websites’ conversion goals are unclear. Worse, many websites are completely devoid of conversion goals whatsoever.
A struggling service business might treat their website as a passive brochure, where visitors can get information about the services they offer. And that’s it. It’s like a salesperson who just reels off the spec or hands over an information sheet then walks away without ever asking for the sale.
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