7 Reasons Why Your Website Isn’t Converting Views Into Sales

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So, you’ve got yourself a nice website. You thought that now when you built it, they’ll come in packs throwing money at you.

But your website isn’t converting, and you don’t know why. Welcome to the life of online business owner!

Selling through your website is hard.

All the agonizing over design and copy, all the excitement of finally having a place to share your offer with the world – it’s just the beginning of your journey to sales and leads. A precondition.

A gazillion of things can go wrong, and you’ll never know. And, frankly, you aren’t even supposed to because making websites convert is not what you do for a living.

That’s my job. So, let me help.

Below, you’ll learn about 7 possible reasons why your website isn’t converting views into sales and what to do about them.

They’re quite simple. In fact, those are the same reasons a steakhouse in your neighborhood had to shut down.

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7 Reasons Your Website Isn’t Converting Views Into Sales

  1. You let vegetarians judge your steakhouse
  2. You thought vegetarians enjoy bacon
  3. Your door is jammed
  4. Your steakhouse is a filthy mess
  5. Your menu is autotranslated from Chinese
  6. Your steakhouse is empty during rush hour
  7. The steakhouse next door is better

#1 You let vegetarians judge your steakhouse
Traffic Mismatch

Visitors from UK can’t buy products shipped to US only. Your foodie followers from Pinterest don’t care about content marketing. No matter how good your website is, you won’t convince a vegetarian to order a steak.

To have a chance to convert your views to sales, you need to make sure those viewers are actually interested in what you’re selling.

How to identify and fix traffic mismatch

Traffic mismatch comes in 3 main forms:

  • No/very few visitors
  • Visitors from the wrong sources
  • Visitors to the wrong pages

Here’s how to find out which of these problems you have and fix them.

Problem #1: No/very few visitors

Well, I guess the mystery of no conversions is solved then.

This is an expected situation if your website is new, and/or you don’t rank in search, post on social or run PPC campaigns.

The solution? Get more targeted traffic, which is a topic of its own worth dozens of books and a gazillion of blog posts.

In a nutshell, here are your options.

Organic traffic

Figure out what phrases your target audience is using to search for the information around their needs and problems. Write (a lot of) blog posts targeting those phrases. Optimize your sales pages to target those phrases, too.

Pros:

  • Reliable source of continuous free traffic.
  • Targeted traffic from people who’re interested in your offer (i.e. higher change of conversion).
Cons:

  • It’s easy to do it wrong.
  • Requires a lot of time and effort.
  • It could take months (or years) for you to see any results.

If you have some free cash, hiring a SEO specialist who’ll conduct keyword research and creates a content strategy, and a content writer to write your pages will do the trick faster.

If you have time on your hands and are brave enough to do it yourself, this SEO Beginner’s Guide from MOZ is a great place to start.

Traffic from social networks

Figure out what social networks your prospects hang out on and post there regularly demonstrating your expertise.

Pros (if done right):

  • Helps you connect with target audience, peers and influencers to get occasional subscribers, clients, guest post opportunities and backlinks.
Cons:

To make it worthwhile, select only 1-3 social networks to post on, but take your presence their seriously. Post regularly, craft custom and engaging content and engage with the content of others.

Paid traffic

Create pay-per-click campaign on Google AdWords, Facebook and Co.

Pros (if done right):

  • Immediate results.
Cons:

  • Isn’t cheap.
  • Stops working the moment you stop paying.
  • Won’t work for every business.

Even if you’re hiring an agency, make sure you’re familiar with how it works so that you can double-check their work.

Problem #2: Visitors from wrong sources

Seeing a spike in traffic and already anticipating sales? Hold your horses. Maybe somebody has shared your article on Zest, where the marketers looking for content to share, not for things to buy.

Open the report Acquisition -> All traffic -> Source / Medium in your Google Analytics and see where your visitors are coming from.

Google Analytics: Traffic Sources Report
Traffic sources overview in Google Analytics

If you want to see the traffic sources for a specific page, open the Google Analytics report Behavior -> Site Content -> Landing Pages, click on a page you’re interested in in the table, and set Secondary Dimension to be “Source / medium”:

Google Analytics: Traffic sources for a specific page
Google Analytics: Traffic sources for a specific page
How to get more visitors from the right sources

Great question! Also knows as the Holy Grail of online business. The answer depends on:

  • who your target audience is
  • where they hang out online
  • how much time / money you have on your hands

…and is often a combination of SEO, social media posting and occasional PPC campaigns.

Problem #3: Visitors to wrong pages

A typical case of a page that ranks well in search but has nothing to sell or is top of the funnel content.

Check your Behavior -> Site Content -> All pages. Is it possible that the pages that get many views don’t have anything to sell?

Google Analytics: Most popular pages
A page that has little to do with my target audience, but ranks well in search #howunfairisthat

Can you guess how to get visitors to the right pages?

Yep, the good old combo of SEO, social media and PPC.

#2 You thought vegetarians enjoy bacon
Wrong Targeting

Who’s your target audience? (Gosh, I hope not “everyone” 🙄)

How not to identify your target audience
How NOT to identify your target audience

What are their problems and needs? Are you sure you got all of that right?

The thing is, only a proverbial salesman can sell snow to the Eskimos.

In real life? You can’t create a desire if there’s none.

An ultimate proof of this is an “Unsubscribe” page. Whatever words you use or whatever color your “Resubscribe” button is, 99.9999% of the unsubscribers aren’t going to click.

Why? Because they have no desire for your offer (which is, to subscribe).

This happens on your sales pages, too.

Not only when you define your audience wrong but when you misinterpret their stage of awareness.

Stages of awareness of your prospects
Stages of awareness of your prospects and what your copy should communicate on every stage (Sources: Copyblogger, this post by Joel Klettke).

For example, if you target established businesses with your marketing training, but have no desire to read 10 paragraphs long description of their problems they’re already aware of.

So, you may be better off shortening it down to one paragraph and concentrating on describing the solution you offer – how and why it helps.

Bottom line: Defining your target audience doesn’t end with age, gender or occupation (although it should certainly start there). For every page, think about:

  • What do your prospects already know about their situation and your offer?
  • What’s missing for them to convert?
Defining your target audience doesn't end with age, gender or occupation. Make sure you get their stage of awareness right.Click To Tweet

#3 Your door is jammed
Low website speed

After 4 seconds of waiting, 25% of visitors jump ship. Maybe your visitors don’t make it to your website because it’s so bloody slow.

Website speed optimization myth #1: You need a tech guy to do make your website load faster.

The truth is, you can do 75% of the things yourself and speed up your website considerably within an hour of effort.

This table gives you an overview of what you can do yourself:

How to make a WordPress website load faster: Actionable plan
Things you can do to make your website load faster

Want more conversions?

Follow the instructions in this guide “How to Make Your WordPress Site Load Faster (Without Breaking It or Going Crazy)”, and you’ll be surprised how easy it to make your website faster load faster.

#4 Your steakhouse is a filthy mess
Visual Clutter

Do your visitors have to close two popups and a cookie notification before they can see your content full of ads and shiny visuals? If you put your needs before theirs, they’ll run faster than you can blink.

Visual clutter increases cognitive load (the amount of mental power your visitors need to process the information), which makes the user experience more frustrating.

How to avoid visual clutter on your website
  • Remove everything that doesn’t serve a purpose of that particular page (irrelevant links, meaningless images, meaningless text highlights).
  • Avoid too many visual highlights at once.
  • Avoid conflicting colors and patterns.
  • Keep your fonts consistent. My recommendation for playing it safe is to use:
    • 2 fonts (headings / body text)
    • 4 font sizes (heading / subheading / body text / CTA)
    • 3 colors (headings / body text / CTA)

… while keeping everything readable (i.e. readable fonts, font sizes and colors). You can use a third font – a readable script font for (very!) short phrases.

A real-life example: How removing visual clutter brought 5 times more conversions

I got a comment on one of my LinkedIn posts from Michael sharing his “thank you” page. He embedded a one-question survey on it hoping for responses.

Although it wasn’t the topic of the post, I couldn’t (yet again) keep myself from giving unsolicited advice.

I told Michael:

  • …that the page has too many visual highlights and calls to action (Download guide, survey, social buttons, etc.)
  • …and that whatever he wants his new subscribers to do, they’ll be more likely to do it if it’s the only CTA on the page.

(Plus, that the field for the comment should look like a proper input field and not some divider, but that’s a different story).

Michael got straight to work.

And what do you know?

Already within 11 days, the updated page got him as many survey responses from as his old page did within 4.5 MONTHS! Later, he wrote to me again saying his conversion rate jumped from 6.3% to 27.9% (887 conversions).

Remove visual clutter to increase conversions
A real-life example: How removing visual clutter increased conversions.

Bottom line: Want more conversions? Remove the visual noise around important pieces of copy and CTAs.

Real-life example: How removing visual noise raised conversions from 6 to 31%.Click To Tweet

#5 Your menu is auto-translated from Chinese
Unclear Message

How do you think your prospects will buy from you if they can’t even understand what you offer and how it helps?

Here’s a oh-so-typical example:

Website tagline example: Ground your CX strategy in ongoing employee and customer understanding
I really hope they auto-translated it from Chinese, because if someone wrote it in their sound mind of an English native speaker, they should see a doctor asap.

Talk to your prospects like you would talk to them in person. Use plain words and sentences that sound natural to make sure your visitors understand you.

Have you been staring at your website for far too long to judge if your copy is clear? Use these 6 tests to spot and eliminate BS from your copy, in particular:

  • The BS Test and the Google Translate Test that find vague, unnatural or too clever copy
  • The Forehead Slap Test that finds fake benefits no one gives a damn about
  • The “So what?” Test that converts fake benefits into real ones your prospects actually care about
  • The 5 Seconds Test that shows you if your prospects can grasp your message quickly
  • The Ctrl + F Ego Test that finds spots in your copy where you’re talking too much about yourself

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to use specificity to make your prospects imagine things you’re talking about better. Because if they can’t imagine it, they won’t buy it.

#6 Your steakhouse is empty during rush hour
No Social Proof

Do you also get an uneasy feeling entering an empty restaurant during lunch time? There must be something wrong with them if their place is so empty.

A website without social proof looks as suspicious as an empty restaurant during rush hour.

Types of social proof to use on your website:

  • client logos
  • trust seals – certifications, awards, “featured in” logos, etc. your prospects recognize and care about
  • client testimonials
  • customer reviews
  • case studies
Here’s what make a testimonial / review effective

As testimonials and reviews are the most common social proof, it’s worth mentioning that not all of them are created equal.

To make a testimonial / review work their magic on your prospects it has to be trustworthy. In particular:

  • Is short and direct
  • Is believable:
    • Uses full names and, if possible, headshots of the clients
    • Is specific enough to sound authentic
  • Backs up your claims:
    • Reinforces your unique value proposition, and/or
    • Uses data behind the value service / product delivers, and/or
    • Addresses initial fears of your customers and explains how they were eliminated
Client testimonial example
An example of an effective client testimonial (source)

Little known fact #1: If you have a testimonial carousel, you don’t have testimonials

Do you make your testimonials rotate? Congratulations! You just threw your social proof out of the window.

If you don’t believe me, go try reading them yourself as if you see them for the first time. What, that paragraph disappeared before you could read till the end? Exactly my point.

Not to mention that sliders are generally irritating and ineffective.

Your testimonials are your keys to new clients. So, treat them like royalty and put them prominently on display giving your prospects as much time as they need to read them.

Little known fact #2: Testimonial page weakens your social proof

You don’t have any testimonials on your service pages but have a bunch of them on your Testimonials page?

I see. So, you expect your visitors to take the initiative and check out your Testimonials page to comb through a dozen testimonials to find one that’s relevant to a service they’re interested it.

This explains why you’re still reading this article trying to figure out why your website isn’t converting.

Testimonials are most powerful in context, right next to the claims you make – on your homepage, About or Services page – and this is where they belong.

Did you know? Testimonial page weakens your social proof, and testimonial carousels make your prospects skip your testimonials altogether.Click To Tweet

#7 A steakhouse next door is better
You Lose to Competition

People shop by comparison. Here’s how to make sure this comparison is in your favor.

But before you draw any conclusions, make sure you aren’t comparing cows and tractors. You should only compare your website to the websites that:

  • are in the same niche
  • have similar target audience and business model
  • offer products / services that solve similar problems than whatever you sell.

Make sure your website is prototypical

Your website won’t be the first ever website your prospects see in their lives. Moreover, it won’t be the first website they see in your niche.

So, when they think, for example, “copywriter”, they already have a mental image of what a copywriter’s website should look like.

This is called “prototypicality” – a mental image your brain creates to categorize stuff. If something is prototypical (i.e. matches the mental image people have for this category), it’s easier to understand and use.

Which means, if your website has the similar look and structure as other websites in your niche, your visitors will have less trouble using it. Plus, prototypical feels familiar, and familiarity evokes trust.

For example, this is a prototypical copywriter’s website:

An example of a prototypical copywriter website
An example of a prototypical copywriter website (source)

It checks all the boxes: The name of the copywriter, her photo, her specialization, relevant navigation labels, etc. If someone has been looking through many copywriter websites, they’ll easily find their way around this one and will use their brain power to attentively read the copy.

And this is a non-prototypical copywriter’s website (in fact, it’s a non-prototypical website in general):

An example of a non-prototypical copywriter's website
This is a non-prototypical website (source)

In this case, the website was so unusual that it generated a lot of publicity. Whether it also generated leads remains unknown.

One thing for sure: Having a non-prototypical website is risky, and unless you know the rules you’re breaking, you’re better off with a website that’s prototypical for your niche.

To make sure your website is prototypical for your niche, check out your competitors’ websites and note:

  • How many colors / what color palettes they use
  • How many / what pages are in the navigation
  • How’s the homepage structured
  • Do they use real photos, etc.

It’s possible, your visitors expect things from your website it’s not providing. Or, if it looks too different, they don’t feel like they can trust you.

Communicate your unique selling point clearly

What is your unique value proposition? Why should someone hire you and not your competitor?

It’s not always easy to find your USP, especially if what you’re selling is not unique. Luckily for you, people will compare you with your competitors, and your unique selling point could be a comparative one – something your competitors don’t have or don’t do, or something you do better.

ConversionXL suggest looking for your USP among the answers to the following questions:

  • Is your website easier to use?
  • Can your product be better tailored to the market?
  • Do you have a kick ass customer service team?
  • Is your return policy or customer guarantee superior?
  • Are your prices lower?
  • Do you have faster shipping options?
  • Is your atmosphere better?

Anticipate and address objections and reservations

Your prospects need enough information to make an informed decision. If your competitors provide more relevant details on their offers, you lose.

Oh, you have a detailed FAQs page? Burn it with fire!

Why? Because if your prospects have a question while reading your sales page or a product page, they:

  • may not get the idea to check on the FAQs
  • may not bother looking for their question among a long list of FAQs
  • may not find their answer.

Like client testimonials, the answers to your prospects’ questions are most powerful in context – on the page and on the spot where your prospects need them.

So, instead of stuffing all possible questions into one FAQs page, add this information to the pages where it’s relevant.

And some FAQs may even deserve a whole separate page, for example the ones that describe the process you use in your work (page “How it works”) or questions about your fees (page “Fees”).

Final words of wisdom

There you have it. 7 possible reasons why your website isn’t converting.

I hope you were able to identify the problems with your website so that now you can stop pulling your hair out wondering why this damn thing doesn’t bring you any money, roll up your sleeves and get to work.

And if you need help any, you can always ask me to review your website.

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    1. Haha. Something tells me you’re not alone! 😉 At least now you know what you have to do. Glad you found it helpful, Elaine.