A very common mistake that many websites make

Does your website tell people what they want to know?

(Or does it tell them what you want them to know?)

In January I sat down with a business owner who had been running his online shop since the early days of the internet. It had been so successful that he had closed his high street shop and focused completely on selling through his website.

He came to see me because his revenue was dropping through the floor and the changes he was making in response only seemed to be making it worse.

The mistake people most commonly make on their website

In a long conversation about his search engine visibility and technical questions about his site, I began to realise that a there was a bigger issue at play, and it was this:

One of the biggest mistakes people make with online marketing is trying to make a sale before the visitor is ready to buy.

Think about it. When you go into a shop, even if you went in there with a good idea of what you were going there for, do you like it when a salesperson gets straight in your face with the hard sell?

It’s one of the quickest ways to get me to leave a shop with my wallet safely buttoned shut.

But when it comes to websites, lots of us seem to think it’s OK that the first thing your visitor sees is a request to buy something. It could be a banner, a demand to join your mailing list or – horrors! – a popup.

“Welcome! Click here to buy.”

In this case, the business owner had changed all of the language of his site around to instruct the visitor to buy the first product they saw. There was very little information about the products or his company. Just an instruction to “buy now”.

Far from encouraging more sales, the data showed it was turning people off, and Google was responding by dropping the site down in the rankings as it saw how quickly people left to shop elsewhere.

So what’s the lesson?

Whether the end goal of your website is to make sales, generate incoming phone calls or sign up new supporters, you need to lead with value.

Value could be:

  • in-depth information about the problems you can solve
  • advice for people who haven’t decided what they want yet
  • some of those amazing testimonials you’ve been getting from the people you currently serve

When someone arrives and doesn’t know much about you, show them how you can help and why you’re a great choice. Then, when it’s time to ask them to take the next step, you’ll be more likely to get the answer you were hoping for.

This business owner ended up doing the right thing. He changed loads of his pages back to how they were before and stabilised his situation. The rankings have stopped dropping and the last time I saw him he was feeling calmer about his business again.

Today, have a look at your website and ask yourself if you’re telling people what they want to know.

Do your visitors know in advance what it’ll be like to use your services, buy your products or become one of your supporters? Could you help them make that decision by answering more of their questions before they get started?

Like everything, this is a process. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Taking some small steps in the right direction now will help you for years to come.

If you need help with some ideas, drop us a line.

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