Ever wondered why you get minimal response from your paid AdWords, SEO, and social media campaigns? There are a dozen reasons why the culprit might be your website.
First impressions count. In fact, research shows us that website design drives a whopping 94% of first impressions (data from the research Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites)
Bad design leads to lower trust and higher friction in contacting you. This means, no matter how much traffic you drive to your site, if it’s not right, your leads are simply wasted conversion opportunities.
Make your website earn its keep. Test its selling power by checking whether its design suffers from any design flaws.
Mistake 1: Low Quality Visuals
I’ve seen thousands of websites in my online marketing career and most have something in common. They don’t sell. Rather they are simply online catalogues.
Here are some samples of what some study participants of the research Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites had to say about poorly designed sites:
- “[On] one of them I didn’t like the color of [it]. I couldn’t wait to get out. It was an insipid green backdrop. It just put me off reading it.”
- “There was nothing I liked about it at all. I didn’t like the colours, the text, the layout.”
- “I found the screen too busy. I couldn’t quite latch onto anything straight away.”
Take a look at this example of the Gordon Vet Hospital.
|The ‘before’ home page represents fairly typical mistakes. It’s a list of the services on offer—an online catalogue.||Notice the differences in the ‘after’ website? It uses real staff photos instead of dated stock images. There’s a call to action above the fold and solid reasons to choose Gordon Vet Hospital. And there’s a visual tour of the hospital facilities and staff, which encourages great impressions of a well-functioning medical centre.|
Mistake 2: The Site Doesn’t Appeal To The Target Audience
Who is your target audience? Do you sell to consultants, academics or truck drivers? Now examine your website. Does it speak to your demographic? Has it been translated into the same vernacular they use? Is it comfortably within their education level? Will the design, images and content appeal to them? It’s unlikely that a truck driver will willingly read the Financial Review or an MBA-graduate read a trucking magazine, so don’t try to make them.
Mistake 3. Content is Stale and Boring
Users spent roughly 5.59 seconds focusing on a site’s written content. These statistics come from eye-tracking studies conducted at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. This means you don’t have much time to capture the readers’ attention, so make sure that you write great stuff.
Have you ever scrolled to the bottom of a web page to where a copyright date is listed and found that it’s outdated by a year or two? It doesn’t offer much confidence that the company who owns the site is doing any recent business.
A website that’s outdated, or looks that way because of an outdated design is an instant turn off to clients. Ensure that your website is current by implementing the latest technology, refreshing existing copy regularly, and adding new, quality copy every week.
The ideal length of a blog post is claimed to be 7 minutes or 1,600 words according to research from Medium. However, this assumes it contains interesting, informative material.
Long stories or page content with rambling copy about how great you are without any proof or examples to back up your claims, tend to have the shelf-life appeal of a month-old cooked prawn left in the sun.
Mistake 4. Under-estimating the Importance of the ‘About Us’ and ‘Contact Us’ Pages
You’d be surprised at how many users check out your ‘About Us’ page. I used heatmaps to track users’ behaviours on our websites across 10 different industries and found that ‘About Us’ is one of the most visited page on the website.
The ‘Contact Us’ page ranks almost on the same scale. Even if you run a business from home, your website should have a phone number and email address for users to see and call or email. Having a simple web form without any basic contact information looks transient and suspicious.
Mistake 5. The Shopping Cart Doesn’t Work Properly
Have you ever personally bought something from your website? How many steps were involved? If it was more than one, then it was that many more-than-one, too then it was too many. In other words, your checkout should be a one pager. Requiring guests to sign up before they can check out or even view the home page, is another turn-off. You need to facilitate a checkout option for guests.
See below an example of a better way to do this – one page checkout process. It’s a website that Result Driven SEO built for Bean Offroad Camping.
Mistake 6. Your Trust Indicators Are Missing
When users first land on your website, they don’t know you, they don’t trust you, they might not even like you, so how can you expect them to buy products from you?
Missing contact information, bad reviews and a lack of social proof can damage a user’s confidence in your brand.
Prior to doing business with your company most clients will cast their eyes over online reviews from third-party sites such as Trip Advisors, Google Plus Local or other local directories. These independent reviews carry a lot of weight on the ‘trust’ scales. It’s important to generate them and to ensure they are positive. Set up Google Alerts to monitor what other people are saying about your business and address their comments immediately to manage your online reputation.
According to research on Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites study participants mistrusted websites because of these elements.
- Busy or complex layouts
- Pop-up advertisements and flamboyant ads
- Small print that’s hard to read
- Boring web design/lack of colour
- Slow website intros and load times
Mistake 7. Bad SEO
Bad SEO techniques can hurt your website and make it a complete waste of time. Google will crack down on your website if it detects questionable practices such as links that are irrelevant to the website’s theme, keyword stuffing, cloaking, linking to irrelevant websites. It will tighten the penalties and be harder on those who appear on guest blogs. For information on how to recover from such Google penalties see here.
Mistake 8. Not Being Mobile Friendly
Image credit: Search Engine Watch
Fifty-five percent of respondents agreed, “A frustrating experience on a website hurts my opinion of the brand overall.”
So what, exactly, are consumers looking for in a website accessed from a mobile device?
- Site speed—loading time of 5 seconds or less
- Big, finger-friendly buttons
- Limited scrolling and pinching
- Quick access to business contact information
- “Click to call” access to phone the business
- One-direction scrolling, either horizontal or vertical, but not both.
In April this year Google’s MobileGeddon started penalising mobile-unfriendly web sites. To examine if an individual page is mobile-friendly, go here or to check the status of your entire site, go here .If your site’s pages aren’t mobile-friendly, Google warns there ‘may be’ (read ‘will be’) a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search. But once your site becomes mobile-friendly, it will automatically re-process (i.e., crawl and index) your pages. You can expedite this process here.
Mistake 9. Not Having Video or Demo to Illustrate Products
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is said to be worth a thousand pictures, or a million words. Either way, video is powerful and provides a quick and easy way to impart a lot of information effectively and in an easily digestible format. If I’m seeking a sales report extension for Magento website, I am more likely to consider a provider offering a video that demonstrates how the extension works. See this blue ribbon example of aheadWorks landing page for Sales Report Extension. It offers video, demonstrations and plenty of reviews.
Your Google ranking for your website will be prioritised if it hosts a video, because Google now owns YouTube, so consider getting a 90-second corporate video to improve your SEO. There’s a new breed of specialists emerging who do this quickly and cheaply. See a great example here of construction company AMG Constructions by YouTubeHelp.com.au.
Mistake 10. Not Having a Clear Value Proposition
In a nutshell, a value proposition is a clear statement that:
- explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation (relevancy)
- delivers specific benefits (quantified value)
- explains why the customer should buy from you and not from the competition (unique differentiation).
Your value proposition should be the first thing visitors see on your home page, and on all major entry points of your website.
Good value proposition
Why this works
- It’s clear about what it is and for whom
- There is a specific lead paragraph
- Key features are outlined above the fold
- There’s a relevant image
- It features a booster – “100% rebrandable”
Bad value proposition
Why this doesn’t work
- It relies only on the video to do the job. Your value proposition should also be in words that people can read. Video supplements words, not replaces them.
- Awful clarity: “We’ll supercharge your website”? Nobody will understand what that means.
Mistake 11. Cheesy Stock Images or Low Quality, Unoriginal Images
Mistake 12. You Haven’t Made Calls to Action Available
You don’t want your website visitors to leave your website without doing anything. You need to at least capture their basic information so you can follow up. You can do this by providing a free consultation or offering a great deal. Who doesn’t like free stuff, after all?
Techniques that can entice visitors into signing up include:
- “Download a Free Ebook”
- “Sign up for a webinar”
- “Talk to our sales team”
- “Request a demo”
You need to highlight the call to action you prefer users to take.
Two best practice examples of how to do this.
So, how does your website sell? If you can tick all the boxes, well done. If not, tackle each point one at a time and remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.