It is no secret, many businesses are struggling far more than they have in the past, or far more than they need to now. But why?
There are many excuses given; the economy, the season, high rents and rates etc. But if any of this were true, why are other businesses in their industry thriving?
The reality is that times have changed. Advertising that used to work has become increasingly ineffective. This is partly due to increased advertising costs, but the main reason is that 60-90% of all offline business now starts with an online search.
Put simply, if you are not getting found online, you are missing out on the lion’s share of potential business. Even if you run a traditional local business.
Having a website and getting found is only the beginning though…
Before a visitor to your website becomes a customer, they need to take some type of action. That may be adding a product to a shopping cart or an online enquiry, or it could be a phone call, or a visit to your shop or office.
Without an action they will probably leave your website never to return; most likely because they have made the decision to do business with your competition instead.
What many business owners fail to realise is that in today’s world their website has become the front to their business, and serves as their frontline sales team. If the website fails to do its job properly, they will lose sales. Potentially a lot of them.
What even fewer business owners realise is that most web agencies have no training in online conversions (the process of turning a website visitor into an action taker).
It is not enough to just make a website look good. In fact many very good looking sites perform terribly, while many bad looking sites work very well.
A site will need to load quickly, display well on multiple devices, grab the attention of a visitor, be easy to navigate, easy to update, provide the information a visitor is looking for, have a clear call to action, and be tracked well (so you know which marketing efforts are working, and which are not).
Ultimately conversions are all that really matter. Period.
If you update your site to improve your ‘brand image’ or have a site that ‘reflects the personality of you or your business’, or is made to ‘look more modern’, but the changes reduce your conversions, then the update has cost you twice over. Once for the development cost, and again in lost sales.
I don’t care if your site has won awards for design, creativity or innovation. If it is not optimized for conversions then it is an expensive mistake. Unfortunately many such sites that do indeed win awards (or at least win the approval of friends and family), fail to comply with essential rules for conversion.
How much can design impact on conversions?
Testing has shown that even the colour of a call to action button can increase (or decrease) conversions by 34%, and a change in headline can make a difference of over 240%.
But what does that really mean?
For many businesses this is literally the life or death of the business. Sounds melodramatic? Let’s see…
If you are driving traffic to your website from any online or offline advertising, then you are paying for each visitor to your site. If you can’t get enough of those visitors to take action, then this advertising is little more than a costly expense.
However, after passing the break even point, advertising starts producing a positive return on your investment. And at that point the more you are willing to spend, the more you will make.
Let’s assume you need to convert 2% of all visitors to your site just to break even. A 1% increase in conversion rate may not sound like a lot, but it is actually where 100% of your profit is coming from (and remember, anything less than the magic 2% threshold is losing you money).
A simple example…
If the cost per visitor to your site is $1 (that could be 100 visitors to your site from a $100s worth of radio ads, or it could be the cost for a single click from Google Ads, or from any other source), if you spend $100 you will get 100 visitors.
At a 2% conversion rate it would cost you $100 to make 2 sales. If you made an average of $50 profit per sale, then you are breaking even. If you increase conversions by 1%, then you have made 3 sales and have $100 to cover costs plus $50 extra as actual profit.
A higher conversion rate not only gives you more profit, it also gives you the ability to pay more for a lead. In the above example I could now pay $1.50 per lead without losing money.
And this is why business is changing. With populations and economies increasing, there are now more people buying more products and services than ever before. However, they are buying them from fewer and fewer places – those places that get found online, and which successfully convert, lead to sales.
This is why it is more important than ever to not only have a website that gets found, but one that converts. And, as your competitors conversion rates increase, you need to be one step ahead.
Successful companies are focusing more and more on scientific web design. That is design which is based on tested and proven conversion principles (and not based on someone’s opinion of what ‘looks good’). Worryingly, experts estimate that at best only 5% of websites are actually designed and optimised for conversions.
A conversion based website will usually cost more in the short term, but a site not optimised for conversions will cost you many times more in the long run. It is a false economy that may even cost you your business.
So what can you do about it?
Start by checking your site for the following common five mistakes:
- Using sliders. Sliders are those big banners at the top of the home page which rotate to show several different images. These are very popular, but a VERY BAD idea. I could write an entire article on this alone, but don’t take my word for it, Google ‘sliders kill conversions’ and see for yourself.
- Using too small a font. Small fonts can look classy, but they are difficult to read, especially on high resolution screens and small devices. They are particularly challenging for older audiences.
- Having text that is too wide. Text should rarely be wider than 780px wide. More than this and it is difficult for people to read your content (and so they don’t). Many modern designers insist on making the text fit the width of the screen, and while it can often look good, it is costing you money.
- Not optimising your site for mobile. Some older sites look like a disaster on a mobile device, but even many mobile responsive sites are not mobile optimised. That is, they have not been designed to work specifically on both desktop and mobile. With more people searching on mobile than ever before, this is a must.
- Lack of clarity. Try this… show your website for no more than 3 seconds to someone who has not seen it and does not know what you do. Then ask them to tell you what product or service you sell, whether it looks trustworthy, and if they know what action to take next. If they can’t answer ALL three questions, your site is losing you business.
If your site fails any of these five basic conversion principles then get it fixed ASAP. Make sure to use someone who understands conversion based design.
The next step is to test.
Even the most experienced conversion based designers won’t get the best possible results without testing. They may be able to design something that works better than average (and that is a great start), but you can’t beat ongoing testing to really optimize a website.
With the right split testing software in place and a little training, CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) is something many business owners can make good progress with themselves. Medium to larger businesses generally prefer to hire an expert to manage this for them. Unsurprising when you learn that CRO has doubled or tripled the growth of some businesses within a single year.