A new business and no sales. Or as I call it: the website launch trap. It’s a problem many entrepreneurs fall into: they spend time and money building their perfect website, fine-tuning their product offering, getting traffic, and then…..wait a minute.
Where are my customers?
It can be so frustrating to an entrepreneur who has put their heart and soul into creating something from scratch. You know you have a fantastic product. You really believe in what they are doing. But people just aren’t buying it. And the longer this goes on, the more you start to doubt yourself:
Am I in the wrong business?
Is my product just a failure?
Before you fall into a pit of despair, and think you are going to have to close the doors on your new creation, read ahead. Here is a list of some of the most common reasons for why people aren’t buying from you. And the best news of all is that most of them are pretty easy to fix.
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Reason #1: You’ve believed the hype that it’s “all just a numbers game”
Let me crush a myth for you. Selling on the internet is not a numbers game, and don’t let anyone convince you that is the case. By simply driving thousands of visitors to your website, you are not guaranteeing that a single one of those visitors will buy from you, and here’s why:
100 high quality visitors will drive you more sales than 1000 low quality visitors
What do I mean by quality visitors? I’m referring to people who are a perfect fit for your target customer. If you are a business targeting women over the age of 55 with an interest in arts and crafts then you really need traffic from this demographic, not traffic from teenage boys.
Your first step to getting quality traffic is to understand exactly who your target customer is. When you’ve done that, figure out where they hang out online. Are they on Facebook? Do they do all their product research on Google? Are they on forums? Use this to determine where you should be focusing your traffic building efforts.
You can also use a tool such as Quantcast to help you determine if you are currently getting poor quality traffic. They will provide you with details of the current visitor demographics for your site.
Reason #2: Customers don’t understand what you are offering
When buyers make a purchasing decision, they go through a 4-stage thought process:
- I have a problem that needs solving
- How do I need to solve it?
- Let’s look at all the options available
- Now I’m ready to make a decision
You have to grab them at point number 1. You have to demonstrate to your customers that you understand exactly what their problem is, and that you have a solution. If you aren’t doing that, they will never skip to stage 2. They will just leave your website.
And this thought process happens fast. Jakob Nielson suggests that you need to communicate your value to the visitor within the first 10 seconds.
Make it clear on your homepage how you can help your customers. Use language your customers can understand and relate to. Communicate to your visitors that you understand them and that you are on the same wavelength.
Reason #3: You don’t seem authentic
Authenticity can make or break a website. A study by Goodpurpose found that 53% of customers were influenced by social purpose when making a buying decision. Visitors want to understand your intent as a business, over and above just taking their money.
One of the main ways to break down the barrier between you and your visitor is to deliver a message with authenticity at the heart. Don’t try to emulate other websites or other businesses. Be honest, be open, be you. Establishing what your values are as a business and let these values shine through. If you allow authenticity to form a central part of your brand, it will go a long way to building a relationship with your audience.
Reason #4: You aren’t giving customers a reason to return to your website
Not all visitors will discover your website with the intention to buy. In fact, according to Forrester Research it’s likely to be as low as 2-3% of visitors.
Sometimes visitors may stumble across your website by accident. They might be looking for information to help them make a buying decision, or simply browsing around. They might like your website and what you have to offer, but they don’t need to buy anything right now. Those are precious visitors that you’ve spent time and money enticing to your website, so you don’t want to waste that effort by saying goodbye to them so early on in the relationship.
There are three ways you can handle this problem:
Option 1 (the icky way): give them the hard sell! Convince them that they MUST want to buy now.
No, let’s not choose this option. Need I explain why?
Option 2: Bookmark us please! Please?
Well that’s a nice polite request. But let me ask: how often do you use your bookmark function? How often do you return to a website you’ve book marked? My guess is that it isn’t very often.
Option 3: Hey, lovely of you to stop by! If you like what you see, drop your email address here and we’ll send you some super freebies/discounts
This option is your best strategy for capturing visitors’ attention, and it is the same one that many smart businesses use. If you can give visitors a compelling reason to hand you their email address, then you can keep in touch with them so that when they are ready to buy, your business is the one they remember.
Reason #5: You haven’t built up trust with your audience
Building trust is a huge challenge on the internet. Web users are rightly skeptical about businesses they are unfamiliar with, and whether or not their money is going to be spent on something that will offer them quality and value. Here’s how you can help to build trust with your audience:
- Be patient. Building trust takes time, so think about the long term gains of slowly and gradually establishing a relationship with your customers.
- Exceed expectations for your customers. Happy customers lead to great testimonials.
- Offer guarantees on what you sell. So many businesses are scared to do this for fear of customers abusing it, but there is no need to shy away from guarantees. If you really believe in what you sell, and you know you will thrill your customers, then have the confidence to offer it.
- Speak their language To build a great eCommerce website, you need to be ready and willing to serve foreign markets. If you’re an international or continental company, you need to have a translation team working for you. Wherever their office is, you should stay in contact 24/7, so when you add new products and deals to your website, they can be asked to translate product descriptions, pages, prices, etc, into the languages whose markets you’re in. Having an eCommerce website with several language options is going to immediately open up your business up to millions of more people.
Reason #6: You are just not that exciting
Ouch. That’s a hard one to hear. But if you really want to push your business forward, you have to be brutally honest with yourself. Do your products and services look exciting? Ask yourself (honestly) if they look different from what people have already seen on the internet. Do they give customers something new to think about? Or are there similar products that can be purchased at dozens of different websites? Have the courage to be different, to be exciting, and your business will thrive.
Here are two brands I personally love, and when I read their websites their product offerings really excite me:
Lost My Name
The high quality graphics on this site is the thing that won me over (so much so that I actually purchased one for my daughter). It demonstrates that creativity wins over blandness any day of the week.
This is a company that is really getting it right. They don’t make sweeping statements, but they do make exciting claims that they know will grab the attention of customers, and they back their claims up with evidence.
Reason #7: Your sales page needs some punch
You might not be aware of it, but you could have lots of fence-sitting customers. These are customers who like what you have to offer, want what you have to offer, but can’t quite commit to a decision because you haven’t done enough to persuade them.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your sales page:
- Are you trying to sell the benefits or the features? Customers are interested in how a product is going to benefit them.
- Do you understand what your buyers’ motivations are? Why are they looking to make a purchase? What are their pain points? What do they aspire to?
- Is your pricing structure clear? If you are selling different pricing options, is there an easy-to-read comparison?
- Have you showcased your products and services? You can include previews, examples, images, video, or testimonials.
Reason #8: People don’t want what you are offering
Double ouch. It’s hard to contemplate that all your hard work could have gone into creating a product that people don’t want to buy, but sometimes that is the truth. It is so easy for businesses to think they know their customers and make assumptions about what their customers want. However, you are not a mind reader.
There are a few simple ways you can address this if you suspect it’s a problem:
- Test the market with a trial version of your product: bring out a trial version of your product, or a sample version, that doesn’t take as much time to bring to market as your major product offering, and see how your customers react. Do they jump at the chance to purchase it? Or are their reactions lukewarm? This will give you a good indication of how your major product will fare.
- Speak to your customers directly: If you suspect your product just isn’t in demand, speak to your customers (or potential customers) and find out about what is holding them back from making a purchase. They might tell you that your product does A, B and C, when what they really need is A, B and D.
A poor-selling product doesn’t have to be in the end of the world, and you don’t need to sit there and wallow in your misfortune. Neither do you have to worry that poor sales are a sign that you just aren’t cut out for business. The truth is, you could be really close to making that sale, and you just need a few little nips and tucks to your business to really make it flourish. So have a good honest look at these eight reasons, and ask yourself honestly if any of them apply to your business.
Have I missed anything? Do you disagree with any of these points? Drop your comments in the box below. I’d love to hear from you.