Updated May 2020 (First published January 2017)
Are website mistakes losing you business?
Unless you rely solely on word of mouth recommendations and referrals to find new training clients, it’s likely that your website is one of your main marketing and sales tools. It’s so, so important because it’s the one place online where you have complete control over how you communicate with your potential customers. Even social media can’t offer this level of freedom.
How is your website performing? Are you receiving a steady stream of traffic and enquiries? Or is your website failing to convert traffic to new business?
If so, you could be making one or more of the five most common website mistakes that can severely damage your conversion rates.
Mistake #1: Your website doesn’t offer a good mobile experience
Way back in 2014, mobile traffic finally outstripped desktop traffic on the internet and this upward trend has continued ever since. People like to browse the internet from their smartphones – it’s fast, convenient and can be done from anywhere at any time.
These days, Google defaults to prioritising the mobile version of a website for ranking and indexing purposes, so it’s essential that your website gives the same great user experience whether it’s viewed on a desktop or on a smartphone.
It’s worth checking how mobile-friendly your website is – you can do this using the mobile-friendly test in your Google Search Console. The resulting report will give you action points you should tackle if your site’s mobile experience could be better.
- Is your website responsive? In other words, does it display properly on different devices? There’s a helpful free responsive design checker that allows you to preview what your website looks like on a range of popular devices and display sizes.
- Does the design fit to the screen of your mobile device without visitors having to scroll across or enlarge the page to see the content?
- Are your calls to action big enough to be clear?
- Are action buttons big enough to touch easily and not too close to other buttons to cause confusion?
- Do your pages load quickly?
Making your website as mobile-friendly as possible should be a priority.
Mistake #2: You don’t have a clear message
How confident are you that your website conveys a clear message about what you offer? How about who you offer it to? Have you ever asked someone who isn’t familiar with your business to visit your website and give you their opinion?
There can be lots of different reasons why a website doesn’t have a clear message. Perhaps you want to tell your potential customers as much as possible about what you do to the point that you’re saying too much. Perhaps you’re so close to your business that you’re assuming other people know as much about it as you do. Maybe you’re trying to appeal to everyone who visits your site because you haven’t identified your target customer. Maybe your business has evolved since you last updated your copy.
It’s a good idea to review your website regularly. Ideally, someone landing on your Home page should be able to identify what you’re offering within seconds, so think about what you would describe as your unique value proposition (i.e. the main reason people should hire you and not one of your competitors).
As an example, world-renowned SEO expert Neil Patel’s message is ‘SEO made easy’ and that’s exactly what his content offers, especially his in-depth guides – this statement couldn’t get much clearer in terms of letting people know what they will get if they become a customer.
Experiment with some short and snappy headlines that sum up your business.
Also, each page of your website should have a unique focus, if possible. This helps both visitors and search engines understand at a glance what each page is about. It also makes it easier to target the message on each page.
As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in my blogs, it’s essential to identify your target customer because you will then know who your copy needs to talk to and who the design needs to appeal to.
Mistake #3: Your website is hard to navigate
The structure and navigation of your website can make the difference between an amazing user experience (UX) and a dismal one.
- Is your main menu in a logical position and can visitors easily click through to all of your main pages from this menu?
- Can people get from one page to another on your website in two or fewer clicks?
- If you have blogs on similar subjects, have you included internal links between them so that people can easily read related content?
- Do your categories and tags follow a logical structure?
Your website should be clearly signposted throughout and as easy to navigate as possible. If it’s not, people will bounce away to find a more user-friendly website.
Mistake #4: It’s hard to contact you
When someone visits your website – either from their desktop/laptop or a smartphone – how easy is it for them to find your contact details? Don’t make being hard to contact one of your website mistakes!
Ideally, your contact details should sit in the header of your website so that they’re visible on every page. Mobile users often decide to call a business straight from the phone number in a Google listing or by clicking on the number on a web page, so it’s important to make sure that there is a way to call you.
If you prefer not to receive phone calls, add your email address. You may also want to include an enquiry form on each page or a clear link to your contact form page so that, regardless of where someone is on your website, it’s easy to get in touch.
Again, your aim here should make it as quick and easy as possible for potential clients to contact you. If you use a contact form, ask for as few details as possible: first name and contact number/email is often enough; you can also add a field to write a message.
Mistake #5: You don’t have a call to action
The lack of a clear call to action may well be the single biggest website mistake to result in lost business. When people read a web page, they want to know what they should do next. Should they call you? Should they fill out your enquiry form? Is there someone they can speak to and find out more? Do you have a mailing list that would keep them up-to-date with your latest offerings?
If you don’t give clear guidance about what to do, visitors are likely to go to someone who does.
A call to action can be incredibly simple. Look at Evernote’s Home page, as a good example:
Accompanying the strong unique value proposition of ‘Your notes. Organized. Effortless.’ is a clear and simple call to action, ‘Sign up for free’. In just eight words, Evernote manages to tell visitors that you can sign up to effortless organise your notes without paying a penny. The sign-up form is fuss-free too – just an email address and password or you can sign in with Google, and you’re up and running.
The other calls to action on the page – Upgrade, Download or Log in – are all positioned to be clear but not distract from the main action button.
Dropbox is another company with a clear call to action. In fact, the website now uses a dynamic design where the call to action sign-up form slides in from the right-hand side of the screen and stays visible as you roll down the page (when viewed on a desktop). On the mobile version, there’s a clear ‘Sign up for free’ button in white that contrasts clearly with the blue background. There is absolutely no doubt what Dropbox wants the visitor to do next.
Advice for service-based businesses (including training companies)
Service-based companies can still create strong calls to action even if they don’t have software that can be trialled for free.
Phrases like ‘Start a new project with us’, ‘Arrange a chat’, ‘Book your training’, ‘Talk to us’ and ‘Get started’ all work well.
Finding the right calls to action for your website will take some experimentation. The first step is to have a clear goal for every page of your website that you know what you need your call to action to achieve.
- Want people to sign up to your newsletter? Make sure you include a sign-up form on your website.
- Want visitors to call you to book a training session? Tell them how to book.
- Want to run a workshop? Let them know the call to action has a deadline.
Are you making any of these common website mistakes? When was the last time you checked your website navigation or how mobile-friendly your site is? Is your website one of your main marketing tools? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below.
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