I often get asked by business owners why their websites don’t bring more sales. And usually, the first thing they do is blame the marketing team for doing a bad job.
That might not always be true.
Let’s compare your online website to a Starbucks along Orchard Road.
|Real World||Digital World|
|What are you offering?||Starbucks coffee||Your product or service|
|What brings people in?||Store location - Orchard Road||Your marketing (SEO, social media, digital ads, web banners etc)|
|What helps you make the sale?||Counter & sales staff||Your website|
“But wait a minute, Nate! Did you make a mistake in the table above? Shouldn’t “Marketing” be similar to the sales staff in real life? And shouldn’t my website be my storefront in real life?”
That’s what everyone’s been selling you, that “a website is your business’ storefront on the internet”.
It’s also the cause of a misunderstanding that has resulted in many business owners missing the root cause of their poor website sales.
In the real world, Orchard Road has high footfall traffic. But in the online world, is it Marketing or the Website that brings in new visitors?
Websites alone will never bring you traffic. Marketing (SEO, SEM, Google Ads, Social Media, Content Marketing etc) brings you traffic. In turn, the website’s job is to sell and transform that traffic into customers.
So now, if you’re not getting any sales, is the problem your “Product”? Not likely. You’re Starbucks after all. You’re CONFIDENT in your product.
Is it the location then? Nope. Orchard Road, or “Marketing”, brings in a lot of traffic.
But what happens when you have 0 service staff or your salespeople have a horrible attitude? What will happen to your sales?
In Starbucks, you will have service staff attending to customers. What is your online equivalent of the service staff? What will convince people to buy from you? Your website itself must play the role of the sales staff! No matter how many people you send to your website, sales will suffer if your website isn’t well designed!
Just yesterday, I was looking to order some flowers for my girlfriend’s birthday. I went to Google and searched for “florists in Singapore”. Multiple advertisements popped up. These guys obviously did basic marketing. I opened the top 5 websites and got the shock of my life.
Too Much Information
All 5 websites were flooded with information. I’m a customer here, looking for a specific thing. It’s hard to find what I want with hundreds of things fighting for my attention on every page.
Solution: Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to do everything at once. Pick a few important products/services and use that to lead the customer along. Every page should have no more than 1-2 key objectives.
Think what Steve Jobs did with Apple. He killed off hundreds of products and focused efforts on only 1 phone model. Success followed. Do the same for your website. Remember, less is more.
Poor Contact Options
This one was frightening. I wanted to make an enquiry but simply gave up. Just look at the amount of information the site is asking for! I’m guessing this website can increase online leads by at least 300% by simply reducing the number of required fields.
There were other websites without a contact form. Another one had a tiny contact link right at the bottom of the website.
Solution: You should make contacting you (or completing your key objective) as easy as possible.
This scary contact form here already tells me the website wasn’t put through proper UI/UX testing. Adding on to that, we see language errors like “double confirm” and “coming down”. Finally, they tell customers “must call before visiting us”. Everything combined probably scares the customer away more than making a sale.
Solution: Just like how you serve customers in your physical store, your website must be friendly, easy to use and welcoming. Get a professional content writer and UI/UX expert to help with this.
After all, what’s the point in spending marketing dollars if your website scares customers away?
No Proper Content Planning
Example 1: Main marketing message in TINY and LENGTHY text near the bottom of the website
Example 2: Strong selling points placed near the bottom of the page where nobody will see them
Things like these are common in many Singaporean websites. None of the sites helped me find what I wanted easily and didn’t tell me why I should buy from them. I am a completely new customer and have never heard of them before. Shouldn’t the sale staff (aka website) try to persuade me?
Look at your own company’s website now and ask yourself these questions:
- Are your most popular products easily found by a first-time user?
- Do you have fewer than 3 things you wanna achieve on every page? (FB likes, customer, submitting an enquiry, customer finding out more information etc)
- Are you convincing your customer that you’re the best choice?
If you answered “No” to at least 1 of the above questions, your website can probably do with a proper content restructuring or revamp. This very often results in doubling or tripling of online enquiries.
Solution: Ensure your site content is designed by an expert. And designed to CONVERT CUSTOMERS.
Not Getting a Professional Digital Strategist
With the government giving so many handouts through the PIC scheme, web design companies are popping up everywhere. Suddenly, everywhere you go, there’s either a web design expert or e-commerce specialist. This phenomenon, where people rushed in to milk this market, has caused a great drop in the quality of websites produced. The above examples show an entire industry affected by this, where every website has huge room for improvement.
Web design isn’t as simple as “coming up with a design then turning it into a website”. For your website to help your business, a lot more thought has to go into it. This job is usually left to the digital strategist, rather than a web designer. The problem is that this industry is so technical that it’s hard for us to know who the real professionals are.
Back to the original Starbucks example, my advice to you is not to blame the location (Marketing) if your sales staff (Website) don’t perform.
Most of the time, the reason the online response is bad is not due to poor marketing, but a poor website.
As for my flowers, I ended up sending a few enquiries out. Only 1 replied to me within the day and I’ve since made the order. Funny to think how so many companies are spending thousands of dollars on Google AdWords, SEM and SEO to promote websites that can’t convince customers.
That’s like paying rent for a Starbucks at Orchard, without hiring any service staff.