This Webpage Fix Will Increase Conversions

Think like your customers and prospects to get more action from your website.

Have you ever had this experience: You walk into a restaurant and there’s no hostess. You take a chance and sit down at a table and there’s no menu. A few minutes later, a waitress comes to your table and, assuming you’re a regular, asks you what you’d like to order.

If you haven’t had that sort of experience, you likely can still get an idea of how disorienting it might be. You might end up not feeling very friendly toward that restaurant, right?

This is the story of many websites: The visitor arrives at the home page. They get a vague idea that they have found a company that has the product or service they’re looking for. But there’s no clear path to find it or to get more information. The visitor doesn’t know what to do (and, really, they shouldn’t have to spend too much time figuring it out) so they click away and go find another site that will hopefully provide a better customer experience.

If you have a website for your business and it’s not creating much (or any) leads or sales for you, it may be because visitors to the site are having this kind of experience. There can be more than one reason for this, but it’s often due to the copy (text) you or someone else wrote for your pages: how much, how it’s laid out, and where it leads a visitor (or not.)

(If you don’t have a website for your business, stop now and read 7 Big Reasons Your Small Business Must Have a Website first.)

Before we jump into the specifics and how to remedy this situation, let’s take a look at who you’re dealing with.

The Behavior of Internet Shoppers

The web user who will be coming to your site is a specific kind of visitor with certain characteristics and behaviors. This kind of site visitor:

  • Goes online with a specific mission. To find information or a product or service—as opposed to someone who is bored and just surfing for entertainment purposes. This web user is engaged in a task and desires a particular result.
  • Is easily distracted. Being online, they are always just a few clicks away from their email in-box … their favorite social media platform… to say nothing of those interesting links on your site.
  • Does not read. The definitive study on the matter, conducted by Jacob Nielsen in 1997, found that 79% of web users do not read web pages word-for-word but only scan them.

Test Your Site

For a moment, assume to viewpoint of one of your customers or someone who might be going online looking for what your company offers. Then, keeping the three points above in mind, go have a look at your business and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have to read for more than a few seconds to know what the company is about?
  • Can you easily find the kind of information a new visitor would be looking for?
  • Does it take more than a minute to know what your next move is or what your options are?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are good that your home page and even other pages could use a bit of work to make them more effective.

What You Business Website Should Ideally Do

Realize that your website is more than just a cyber business card. Sure, minimally, it’s a way to be found online but then what?

That question will be answered by the quality and arrangement of the copy on your pages.

Remember: the person who arrives at your site is there to accomplish something, i.e. get information, do a comparison, make a purchase, etc. So, don’t let them (or yourself) down. Make your site’s copy effective by ensuring the following:

  • Assure them that they are in the right place.

As an example, if you run a house-painting business in Los Angeles, then it’s assumed that you want to be contacted by customers who live in Los Angeles. Customers in that city who search online for a house painter may very well arrive at your site. So, assure them as quickly as possible that they   are on the website of a Los Angeles house painter by putting “Los Angeles House Painters” in a prominent place on your homepage—ideally, high on the page, so that visitors can see it without having to scroll down.

You will want to do similar labeling in your title tags (in accordance with Google best practices.)

  • Tell them one thing and one thing only.

A good rule to remember is “one webpage = one topic or message.” That doesn’t mean you can’t have links to other things but the main content of the page should address only one thing. So, for instance, if your site sells tea and coffee, then a sensible thing to make the homepage about would be the convenience of getting coffee beans or tea leaves by mail. If you have various kinds of monthly subscription plans, that would be the topic of another page. The various coffee and tea products you carry would be the topic of another page.

  • Tell them clearly and quickly.

Remember that web users don’t read; they scan. So structure your copy so that they can understand it by scanning. The rule here is “short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.” Also, breaking up your copy with bulleted lists increases scanability. (See earlier parts of this article for examples.) Certainly, there are exceptions to this. If your product is technical and you’re selling to a technical audience, you will of course have to use long, technical words, etc.

Keep it informational and helpful. Make it easy for visitors to find out what they need. If you try to impress your prospects with blocks of text and long pages of copy, all you will do is overwhelm them. Strive for brevity and customer comfort.

Also, treat each visitor to each page of your site as if they know nothing about your product/service or your industry/profession. Don’t use industry or professional jargon but speak to them in their own language. Keep it simple but informative. (The “simple” exception would be if your customers are other businesses that use businesses like yours.)

  • Tell them how it benefits them.

Particularly when your public are consumers (as opposed to other businesses), you want to show your product or service in terms of how the customer benefits, rather than concentrating on the features or specifications of the product itself. Using the earlier coffee-tea example, a good headline might be “Coffees and teas of the world, right to your door.” The remainder of the copy would elaborate on such things as always having high-quality coffee to serve your guests, the freshness of the product, the speed of delivery—all the ways the customer benefits from coffee-tea delivery.

  • Tell them what to do next.

Make it very clear on each page what you want to the visitor to do. This is your “call to action,” as it is called in marketing circles. There are many different kinds of calls to action.

If you provide a service, perhaps your call to action would be “Call for a free 15-minute consultation” to help them isolate their needs (and for you to close them on a consulting package.) For the coffee-tea business, perhaps the call to action would be “Get a free sample” as a way to get a prospect’s contact information. If you’re a roofer or printing company or cleaning service, your call to action might be “Contact us for a free estimate.” Other types of service people offer ebooks, white papers or other reports in exchange for contact info, as a way to start the sales cycle.

Do you have to wait until the bottom of the page to tell them? No, you can sprinkle your call to action around the page, as anchor text or graphic links.

A Little Improvement, a Big Impact

Your copy may need a little work or a lot. If you can incorporate the suggestions given above, you can expect to see improvements in your conversion rate as well.

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