What’s Hurting Your Conversion Rates?

Like a well-oiled machine, your sales funnel should have many parts that work together.

There’s your marketing strategies, landing pages, offers, and CTAs. These are all designed to bring your customer through the stages of the sales funnel. Once they reach the end of that funnel, they’ll buy and you’ll make money.

Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work. You’ve been having trouble though and you’re not sure why. You can drive traffic to your website no problem, but converting visitors to customers is where you’re lacking.

If you’re not making as many sales as you want, you’re not alone. At some point, almost every company should take a step back and give a hard look at their sales funnel. If some parts of the funnel aren’t working, these have to be cut or amended.

Here are some common culprits that may be hurting your conversion rates.

Your Website

Back when you first started your company, you hired someone to make you a website. You ensured it was mobile-optimized.

Periodically, you go through your site and check that all the links and images work. You double-check for outdated code, too.

You’re golden, right?

Not exactly.

First impressions matter. You only have one chance to make a solid first impression with your website. If you want a visitor to become a customer, there must be something that lures them in.

If your site is cold, plain, and downright boring, it’s no wonder you’re not converting.

Question time. What’s the single most important page on your website?

Your homepage. This doubles as a landing page where visitors will hopefully opt in and become customers.

To get them to do that, you need simple headlines (more on this in a minute) and images. Few things humanize a company more than images.

Make sure these are authentic, though. A visitor can sniff out stock photos in seconds. Real photos of people looking happy will strike a chord with your visitors.

Okay, so how do you know which pictures to use? Does your headline look better in the middle of the page or off to one side?

A/B test to find out.

We touched on A/B testing a bit in a previous post, so let’s reiterate. With an A/B test, you take Version A and Version B of your website and compare them. You test both versions for a few weeks or a few months and see which gets more traffic.

That tells you which elements of your homepage to arrange and where.

Don’t forget though, your website is not static. It should always be changing and evolving to meet customer demand.



Weak Headlines

Let’s double back and talk about headlines.

Nike, Coca-Cola, and Apple might not seem like they have much in common. If you visit their respective websites though, you’ll see that they do.

What is the common thread tying these three giant brands together?

Their sites all make fabulous use of headlines.

These are crisp, concise declarations about your product or company. It’s not uncommon for these headlines to be just three words.

If you’re writing headlines like you would for an article or blog post, you could accidentally hurt your conversion rates. Longer headlines are too clunky and rarely look good on a website homepage.

It will take some time to write the perfect short headline. You may have to spend a few hours brainstorming and coming up with different versions. Feel free to A/B test several headlines until you find one that connects best with your customers.

No Social Proof

Remember how we talked about how pictures humanize your landing page? That human element is more important than you think.

Have you ever heard of a product but felt indifferent about it? You make a conscious decision then not to buy.

Say a week later you see your friend. They’ve bought and tried said product and they love it.

You go home, do some research, and, based on your friend’s recommendation, try the product out.

This is known as social proof.

Social proof is a psychological concept as much as it is a marketing one. Through various tactics, you prove to your customers that your product is valuable because other people are using it.

Let’s briefly unpack the various forms of social proof:

  • Wisdom of friends: As illustrated above, your friends are a great marketing tool. If they’re using a product, you may feel more inclined to try that product.
  • Wisdom of the crowd: The more people who use and love a product, the more you might use it, too. Wisdom of the crowd suggests that if X amount of people are using a product, can that many people really be wrong?
  • User social proof: Reviews and testimonials are perfect examples of user social proof. These people have bought and used the product. They enjoy it. It works for them. You start to think it will work for you, too.
  • Celebrity social proof: Celebrities shill things all the time. If your favorite celebrity starts using a certain product, it may make you want to use that product, too.
  • Expert social proof: If an expert in your field writes about a certain product, you’re likely to trust their input. You may become curious about the product and finally try it.

So how can you use these forms of social proof for your company?

Encourage customers to write reviews and testimonials. Post these on your site. Reach out to bloggers and major influencers in your niche and try to get them to review your product. Share the number of social media followers and email subscribers you have.



Foregoing Pop-ups

If you used the Internet some 20 odd years ago, pop-ups had a very different meaning than they do today.

These were little ads, often for stuff you didn’t want, that would show up as you perused the Internet. Your goal was always to click the little X in the corner as quickly as you could.

You may now have it in your head that pop-ups are a bad thing. That’s why they make ad blockers, right?

Yet if you visit any major marketing site, including Income School, you’ll notice you get a pop-up at some point.

Pop-ups are different today. They’re not ads. They’re offers to prospective customers.

If a visitor clicks a few pages and doesn’t see your opt-in form (we’ll get to these later), a pop-up is like a second chance for them to sign up.

If you’re not already using them, it’s time to implement pop-up advertising.

Like everything though, there are some rules to pop-ups:

  • Always make these voluntary, not mandatory. Allow the visitor the ability to close out the pop-up if they’re not interested.
  • Don’t bombard the visitor with a pop-up the second they visit the site. These should be timed well.
  • Make several pop-ups that are as personalized as possible. For example, a new site visitor would see a different pop-up than a customer who’s already subscribed to your newsletter.
  • Make use of your headline skills here and avoid overly long headlines.
  • Give the prospective customer something of value. Remember, an offer can be free and still be valuable (such as an eBook).

It’s wise to A/B test your pop-ups before these go live.

Your Opt-in Forms

In addition to pop-ups, you should also use opt-in forms on your website. These are exactly what they sound like: forms where a site visitor can type their name and email address to sign up or opt into your email newsletter.

Your landing page is essentially useless if it doesn’t have an opt-in form. You need to make sure this is positioned prominently. It shouldn’t be hidden off to the side or towards the bottom of the page. It should be front and center. A site visitor shouldn’t be able to miss it.

Again, you don’t want your opt-in form to look too salesy. The more salesy it is, the more spammy it may look to some visitors. That will set off alarm bells in their head and they’ll leave your site without signing up.

This is not the time to ask for credit card information. You’re not charging a visitor to sign up. You also shouldn’t ask for much personal info. Just request their name (a first name works fine) and their email address. That’s it.

Don’t overthink it. A privacy policy and too much mumbo-jumbo will deter visitors. They’ll think you want their credit card or social security number or other equally private info.



Lacking an Email Newsletter

If used correctly, email marketing is a key area for huge conversions. If used incorrectly, you’ll see spotty results.

Chances are, as a consumer, you get email newsletters from brands and companies every single day. Your inbox might be littered with these. What makes you open and read some and send others straight to the trash?

Here are the elements of a good email newsletter.

  1. Catchy Headline

When writing email newsletter headlines, brevity is not as useful. You want to let the customer know what they’re getting when they open the email. Don’t be too wordy though, and don’t be too salesy, either.

Customers will react more to email headlines that offer freebies, discounts, sales, and coupons inside.

  1. Personalized Writing

The email should be personally addressed to the recipient. These should be written in a more conversational tone (as appropriate).

You shouldn’t send the same email to all your customers. For example, your new customers should receive your welcome email. Your long-term customers who have bought from you before should get a different email.

  1. Valuable Offers

Remember the offer you mentioned in your pop-up? Now’s the time to make good on that offer.

As soon as a customer signs up to your email newsletter, you should thank them for doing so and send them that offer.

Then, sometime later (but not too much later), you send them another offer. If the first one was a freebie, this second offer may cost money. It shouldn’t cost too much though, so maybe price it between $10-$50.

If the customer bites, it’s then that you present your big offer, your flagship product or service. The customer should be much more willing to shop at this point.

  1. Links

You also want your email newsletter to have links. These should take the customer to your landing page or your online store. You should also have links to your blog and/or social media channels.

Don’t overwhelm your customers with links. Hyperlink these into the copy. Double-check that all links are live and active before you send the email.

Now that you know what goes into an email newsletter, when should you send one? How often?

According to email automation service MailChimp, Tuesday is the best day. Think about it: the Monday slump is over, so your customer may be more likely to read your email.

Thursday is the second-best day, and Wednesday is the third. Avoid Fridays, as customers may be out of the office or they may be tuned out and ready for the weekend.

As for the best times to send out your emails? MailChimp found that mid-afternoon, around 2 p.m., will get the most engagement. You can feel free to send your emails earlier (1 p.m.) or even later (3 p.m.), too.

Weak CTA

A call to action or CTA is a strong, impassioned statement that encourages the visitor to act. They may act by subscribing to your newsletter, clicking a link within your newsletter, or taking advantage of an offer.

A CTA can be anything from “click here!” to “want to learn my secret? Click here to receive my free eBook!”

In those two examples, the second CTA is obviously much better. It tells the customer what to do, what they’re getting, and why they want it. By alluding to a secret, you’re going to pique the visitor’s interest.

They’re going to want to know what your secret is. What do you know that they don’t?

There’s more to a good CTA than just language, though. The placement of the CTA can also help or hinder your conversion rates.

You shouldn’t hide a CTA. These should have a major spot in your opt-in forms and pop-ups.



Useless Offers

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Visitors are arriving to your landing page, opting in, and becoming customers. They’re opening and reading your email newsletters. They’re maybe even clicking on the links within.

Now they’re going to buy, right?

It’s not that simple.

The age of the Internet makes shopping a breeze, but sometimes you get ripped off. The item you receive isn’t what it appears. That gives customer a natural air of concern. They want to make sure they’re shopping from reputable sites and they get the full value for their money.

It’s your job to offer them that value.

To get your customer to spend money on you, they have to trust you first.

You can’t just give them useless offers and hope they’ll buy from you. You must show your value.

As we said, that means offering freebies sometimes. If you wrote an eBook and intend to sell it, give away a few pages for free. That’s a great first-time offer.

If the customer likes what they’ve learned, they’ll want to buy the whole eBook. Then you can prepare to make your main offer. This is the big daddy, the more expensive item.

Your customer will be more receptive to that offer because they know your products are high-quality.

Conclusion

Everyone wants more customers, since more customers equal more sales. In your effort to convert site visitors to customers though, you could be making a few missteps. These hurt your conversion rates.

Look at your website, specifically your homepage. Use social proof to humanize your site. Redesign and A/B test.

Make sure you send your email newsletters on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the early afternoon. Most importantly, always give your customers something valuable. By following these tips, you should see a spike in conversions.

About the Author

Nicole Malczan

Nicole Malczan is a content marketing writer and freelancer. She's applied her knowledge of marketing and SEO to many clients over the years, ranging from foodservice to facilities management and currency exchange. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking, and music.



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