Why most websites are totally useless

One of the most common things we come across when talking to new business owners or people new to marketing online is incredibly poor results from their websites. Many people report only getting 1 customer enquiry from their website in 12 months! …This can be a massive shock to the system if you have invested time, cash and energy in a website, especially if you know there is a lot of demand for your products or services. In this post, we are going to explain why this might be the case for you. We are also going to explain how to work out what might be wrong and what you can put in place to start driving sales.

The most common issue we come across when talking to new business who are failing to make any sales online, is the assumption that customers will find their website, simply because it’s online. Much like a physical store, you need your website to be positioned in a place where people can stumble across it or be actively driving people to it. Both need effort and resources, but can produce amazing returns when done correctly, as you can reach customers all over the world at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing and without having to pay rents on a high-street presence.

So that means once you have a site online but no sales, you need to work on visibility – promotion. You need to be driving traffic to your site. While this is correct, it’s not actually as simple as paying for an ad in the local newspaper, you need to have a strategy and systems in place behind that ad to make sure you aren’t wasting money.

email-marketingAt the Armoury, our aim is to help business owners by making sure they are well equipped to get the most out of their marketing budgets, while out in the trenches growing their businesses. We specialise in digital marketing for businesses that sell ‘high-ticket’ items. If your business sells products or services for more than £2,000, but these concepts will apply to selling at all price points online. So if you have a site or are considering building one soon and have a budget for marketing, this post has been created to help you identify where potential leads might be slip though the cracks.

When promoting a product or service that costs more than £2,000 people interested in your product are going to want to find out as much about your product as possible and about your business before they will be ready to buy anything from you. We’ll explain more shortly, but first here is a story to illustrate how important this point is.

The Wright Brothers were the first people to successfully build an aeroplane. In a market full of people trying to bolt on the biggest engine and forget about the wings… The Wright Brothers focussed on building an areoplane that could fly without an engine, and then once successful – they added an engine…
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We often use this analogy when talking about digital marketing because it’s really useful to highlight that spending money on advertising and driving traffic to a website that doesn’t convert visitors into leads is just like bolting a bigger engine on to a plane that can’t fly.

You need to have a system in place, based on best practices to ensure your marketing isn’t getting the same results as throwing £50 notes into the wind.

The system you need to understand is known as a Marketing Funnel.

The Marketing Funnel

A marketing funnel is essentially how you lead people who are interested in buying your products or services from not knowing who you are though to a paying customer. Try to think of it as a number of stages which filter out people who won’t be interested and pushes people who are along a clear path to paying you. Here is a high-level view of a marketing funnel…

marketing funnel
The aim is to get as many people into your marketing funnel as possible in order to get as many customers as possible out of the bottom of it.

The stages needed in an effective marketing funnel

1. Attracting Traffic

flow1The first stage in any effective marketing funnel is attracting the attention of people who are interested in buying your products or services. You need to promote your business in such a way that it consistently drives people who are interested in your products or services to your website. In digital marketing, we often refer to this as “Qualified Traffic”.

If you don’t have anything in place to consistently drive qualified traffic to your business, no one will know that your business exists, so they can’t purchase your products or services.

Moreover, it is not enough to hand out flyers on one occasion and hope people will remember you, because they won’t. You need to be engaged in regular and ongoing activities that keep you visible and front of mind for people who can benefit from your product or service.

Here are some examples of what you can do to drive qualified traffic to your website, (this obviously not an exhaustive list but it should illustrate the point…)

  • Pay Per Click Ads (Ads on Facebook or Google)
  • Content Marketing
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Flyers
  • Magazine Ads
  • Ads on TV
  • Word of Mouth

2. Explaining and Educating

If you are managing to get people to your website with your promotional methods, this is great but remember, with high ticket items, people are coming to your website to do some research before they buy.

Explaining all of the details that go into making a website could fill a large book, so it won’t be possible to explain all the details of how to do this here but the overall aim of what you are trying to do is answer all of the questions or objections that anyone might have about your product while clearly communicating the benefits of it. All while maintaining their attention.

It is important to remember that your customers will be visiting a number of websites which are just a click away so you need to be able to keep them engaged and stand out from the competition, not just with design but also with what you are saying about your product or service. Your website needs to be doing all of the things that a highly skilled and experienced salesman would be doing in person.

If you aren’t using catchy headlines to grab attention and explaining the benefits and the features of your product or service well, in addition to explaining why they should choose you over your competitors then they will keep on looking around and you will lose the sale.

Here is a quick checklist of the elements we look at when evaluating how good a website is:

  • Catchy headlines to draw attention
  • Attractive, mobile friendly design
  • Clear, benefit focused product descriptions
  • Clear calls to action
  • A way to capture leads…

3. Capturing Leads

website contact detailsOnce you have managed to get people to your website with your promotional activities and you have done a great job of explaining why people should do business with you over your competitors, the job isn’t actually complete at this point, you still need to capture the details of people who can potentially become customers.

This might seem odd, but you need to think of things from the customer’s perspective – they are more than likely to be in the research phase than the purchasing stage of the buying cycle. This means they are having a look at the various solutions offered by different people in your market, before making an educated decision on which solution or product will be best for them.

To make sure you aren’t wasting the money you are spending on getting potential customers to your website, you need to have a system in place to capture their details, even if they aren’t ready to buy yet. Having their details allows you to keep the potential customer engaged and build up your argument as to why they should invest in you over your customers. We call this process “Lead nurturing”.

4. Nurturing Leads

Again, more people on your website at any given time are “Interested and not ready to buy” than are “Ready to buy”, you are completely missing out on these opportunities because they will buy sometime over the next few months and chances are because you made no effort to accommodate them – they will choose somebody else.

You need to maintain visibility and build trust by educating your prospects about why they should be using your products or services rather than doing business with your competition.

There are a number of ways to do this, the most common being a newsletter, where you send out information on a regular basis, you can also have a list of automated emails. Other popular ways to keep people engaged include social media and retargeting. We’ll talk more about your options for keeping people engaged in future posts because this is quite an extensive topic.

5. Converting Leads

Once you have a list of followers or email subscribers on your list, the challenge becomes converting them from passive names on a list, to paying customers. Your aim is to provide the people on your list or following a reason to take action and make a purchase.

If you don’t have a plan in place to do this, the names on your email list or Twitter following will never actually come back to your site to enter their card details and make an order or book a consultation rendering your time and efforts useless. Understanding this however and having a plan in place can be hugely beneficial to a business as once you have a good system in place. Imagine how powerful it would be to know you can send out an email (which costs almost nothing) to a list of people who know who you are and have expressed a need for your product, knowing you can generate sales?

6. Closing Sales

The final step in the funnel for your customer is obviously the point at which they make the purchase. Depending on your product or service, this can either be totally automated online or have a sales person involved.

If you can do not need to have a salesperson involved in selling your products you will need to have an e-commerce site with a convincing sales page in place. Somewhere your customers can easily find with all of the information they need and a buy button. Different markets may require sales pages to have different types of information and various levels of depth to the information too.

sales teamIf it’s not possible to make the sale online and you need to have a salesperson involved in the transaction, you need what we describe as a Direct Response website. A good direct response website will encourage people to book consultations with your sales team and can be linked to a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system. This allows your sales team to manage all of the people who contact your business about buying and keep a record of where they are in the process to ensure you don’t miss out on sales that may take some time to close.

A CRM can be something you invest thousands of dollars in or be a simple Trello board, it just has to be robust enough to manage all of the potential clients at different stages and allow you to capture the information you need about each conversation you have with that client.

Capturing and Measuring the results

Once you have the six steps of your funnel in place and aligned, you need to have a way of tracking how well the funnel is working. Are people getting stuck in the nurturing stage? Are you actually getting people to the website? Which method of driving traffic is the most cost-effective at actually attracting customers who buy? …all of these questions can be answered if you have an effective way to collect the data in digestible reports.

Having a way to not only capture but create digestible reports is the only way to know what works best and to identify the what needs to be adjusted and what should be improved as a priority once your funnel is in place. So while it’s not an element to the funnel that your customer will interact with, it’s an absolutely essential component that you need to have in place.

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We highly recommend using Google Analytics as the bare minimum to do this. Google Analytics is an incredible tool that can be installed into most websites very quickly and provide incredible insights as to how your marketing funnel is performing. Depending on which other tools you may be using – MailChip to handle emails for example, you may also need to look into additional reporting tools but Google Analytics is still essential in our opinion.

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