Why Doesn’t My Small Business Web Site Sell?

Many small business owners are disappointed by the ability of their web sites to generate new business. Simply having a web site does not guarantee its effectiveness as a marketing tool. If your web site is unable to consistently generate new leads and prospects you may well be disappointed in your investment in your web site. Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be making one of several common mistakes made by small business owners when they decide to turn to the web for more business. Here are five common mistakes that can hinder the marketing performance of your web site.

Failure to Measure Traffic

Every so often when I speak with someone who is dismayed at their web site’s ability to generate revenue I am surprised when they tell me they don’t know how many people visit their site each month, day, hour, etc. Measuring the traffic to and through your web site is critical for understanding the marketing prowess of your web design and the effectiveness of your advertising efforts.
If your web site enjoys lots of traffic, say over 1000 visitors a day, but generates one or two sales a month you can be pretty sure there is a deficiency in your web design. If you are not measuring traffic to your site you do not provide yourself an opportunity to identify and correct the problem. Your web design should lend itself to helping you get your visitors to take the action you want, buy something or provide you their valuable contact information.
On the other hand, if your web site generates a small amount of sales and you don’t know that only fifty people are visiting your site each month you deny yourself the ability to realize that you have a fantastic web site and that marketing it better will lead to a significant increase in revenue.
If you are not measuring your web site’s traffic you are missing opportunities to increase your ability to generate sales and be more successful. Two providers of web metrics are webtrends.com and webstat.com.

Poor marketing message

Another reason web sites fail to sell is that they do not do a good job of delivering a compelling marketing message. Without an excellent marketing message you risk your visitors hopping off to another web site because they do not know that you have what they want or need.
One sign that you may have a less than stellar marketing message is that it does not speak directly to the consumers who become your clients. Your marketing message should identify exactly whom you help. If you help more than one population you can easily cater your marketing message by changing just a word or two. Be sure your marketing message clearly indicates whom you help and you will notice an improvement in you sales success.
Another sign that your marketing message is not hitting a homerun is that it does not clearly demonstrate that you provide what your customers seek. If you sell handbags and your marketing message is “glamour can be yours” then you are missing the boat as this marketing message fails to indicate at all that you sell handbags.
To correct a dysfunctional marketing message make sure it clearly identifies your target market and the results they seek. Once you have a great marketing message you can use it in your web site and your other marketing material as well.

Don’t See Big Picture

Another common shortcoming of small business web sites is that many fail to realize a fundamental marketing concept: most consumers who make a decision to buy something make the decision to do so after 6 - 8 contacts with some form of marketing for a particular product or service. Failing to realize and act upon this marketing fact will hinder your ability to grow your business.
The purpose of marketing is to establish your business in the marketplace so that consumers think of you when they are ready to act to fill a need or desire. By regularly getting your marketing message in front of your market you can help them associate what you do with what they need. You can also attract more clients by demonstrating your expertise to clients in your marketing material.

Poor design

Do visitors to your web site do what you want them to do? If they are not it may be the design of your web site that is preventing your visitors from taking the action you want them to take. The design of each of your web pages is instrumental in guiding the actions of your visitors.
So what constitutes good design? Good design stems from the skillful integration of graphical and textual layout, color, shape and choice and flow of content. If your site does not have the content your visitors seek you will strike out each time someone visits your page. If your web pages don’t put what you want your visitors to see immediately in front of them you will miss opportunities to sell. If your choice of fonts and colors make your pages difficult to read your visitors will likely move along to another web site they can understand more easily.

To identify if your web pages suffer from poor design ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my text stand out over my background color?
  • Does the design of my site focus my visitor’s attention where I want it?
  • Does my content give my users what they want?

If you answered ‘No’ to any of the questions above you can improve your ability to get your users to do what you want by taking steps to correct anything that may be wrong.

Failure to Focus on Client Needs

When people visit your web site you want them to read through the content of your site. By doing so your visitors develop a sense of how your product or service can help them. If your copy doesn’t focus on your clients’ needs and desires they will be off to another site in a blink.
If your visitors are quickly leaving your web site it may be because your copy does not focus on their needs. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t focus on the process or method you use to do your job
  • Don’t focus on your existing clients
  • Don’t focus on your experience
  • Don’t focus on the quality of your product

By making any of the above mistakes you detract attention from the reasons that are going to help your clients make the decision to buy from you. You may be very proud of your accomplishments, and you should be, but focusing on them does not address your clients' needs and will do little to help you sell more effectively.

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