Note from Caleb: This is a guest post from Danielle Lynn, a quirky, friendly freelance copywriter and marketing consultant who believes that business is best run with a positive mindset and clear communication. Danielle Lynn writes over at theclearcopywriter.com about copywriting and freelancing.
Getting targeted traffic to your website is just half of the journey towards making it profitable. The other half? Turning that traffic into customers that stick around and buy stuff from you!
Regardless of what market you’re in, you should develop a solid plan and sales funnel to help you monetize your blog. Don’t worry – it doesn’t mean you have to depart from your blog’s persona and ideas to squeeze money from your visitors. In fact, you should stay within the spirit and tone of your blog when selling! Offer relevant products, t-shirts, books, seminars, or services that appeal to the wants and needs of your readers.
Now, there’s already been a lot of fantastic coverage on the funnel process, such as the chain of conversion article by Danny from Firepole Marketing. But what we’re focusing on today are some of the more sinister snags that block that process.
After helping companies and individuals optimize their sites for over a year now, I’ve seen a wide number of conversion blunders that clog up the sales funnel process. So for your reading pleasure, I’ve whittled them down to the 7 biggest profit-killing website mistakes you could make, and how to fix them.
Mistake 1 – You sell nothing on your site
You spend hours writing up epic shit. You drive traffic to your site with carefully targeted keywords. You gain a huge following and readership… and you do nothing to monetize it.
Maybe you’re too busy to come up with a good product, or you’re a little irked at the idea of selling to your loyal community. No more excuses.
The Fix: Understand that people came to your site to fill a need. If your site is a blog, the need they’re satisfying is for information or entertainment. Fill that need by providing services they’re looking for. Even recreational sites like “Clients from hell” put together and offer fun books and items for their readers. Just be a little creative and set aside at least 20 minutes each day to work on something relevant to sell – and sell it!
Mistake 2 – New visitors need ESP to figure out what they’re supposed to do on your site
You may have spent endless months creating and navigating around your site – but that new reader that just landed on your home page hasn’t.
If they’re greeted to a website design that looks like it was put together by M.C. Escher, and have no idea what they’re supposed to be doing, they’ll probably leave without looking around. Which is a tragedy, because it hurts both parties – they miss out on your valuable content, you miss out on a valuable reader.
The Fix: Figure out what you want your readers to do, then construct a visual path for them on your site with a combination of clear design and good copy. A great example is Squidoo.com. They have a nice, clean interface, and giant copy at the top that sums up what you do on Squidoo and guides you to the sign up button. After clicking on the button, and signing up, they guide you through the whole process of using and interacting with the site.
Now, the guidance on your site doesn’t have to be so complex. Even a simple “Are you new here” button above the fold that takes new readers to an introduction and landing page can work wonders!
Mistake 3 – You guide leads into an email subscription, then let the list gather dust in the corner
You’ve worked hard to get that traffic and build up a list. So why let the list go to waste? I’ve known many a starting-out marketer who gathered emails, then for one reason or another, never followed up with that list. Some were shy or they don’t want to impose. Others had no idea what to say. Don’t have that mentality – people signed up to get emails from you. And they always have the option to unsubscribe – so you’re not imposing.
While it’s true that poor emails campaigns can be irritating and border into the realm of spam – doing nothing at all is even worse. At least when you try something you’re learning. And if you don’t keep building up steady rapport with your subscribers, you soon become a stranger. Then they forget that awesome info they opted in for and any sudden messages from you results in a quick unsubscribe.
The Fix: Start by subscribing to email lists from popular sites (especially ones similar to yours.) Study what they do. Create a campaign that allows you to keep steady contact with your leads. Find a good balance where you send out information-packed morsels scattered with links to your products, services. Make sure your messages bring value, but don’t be afraid to suggest. Either pick up some books about email copywriting, or hire an email copywriter to help you flesh out profitable email campaigns.
Mistake 4 – You offer deals that alienate your loyal customers
You offer some sort of special incentive or rate. Perhaps $100 off a service or a deep discount for new subscribers. Then in fine print, you place “offer valid ONLY for new customers.” I don’t know about you, but when I see this, I feel like that’s a big slap in the face. Here I am spending hundreds on your service year after year, and instead of rewarding me for my loyalty, I sit by while you hand out goodies only to the new customers. Sure, getting new customers is important, but you should never put them on a pedestal above your loyal repeat customers.
The Fix: While incentives for new customers can be a good strategy, don’t forget to take care of your loyal customers. Discounts for loyalty, special bonuses and services, or other ‘veteran perks’ can and should be used to counter any ‘sting’ from lead-gathering offers. A happy customer who constantly buys from you is worth more than 20 curious prospects any day.
Mistake 5 – You use social media only as your personal publishing ground
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on social media. I’m not even going to pretend to be an intern. But I do know people. And people are the driving force behind social media.
When used properly, it’s like talking to a room of people — a very big room with millions of people. When you hop on Twitter only to blast an update or do self promotion, people start to tune you out. Would you pay attention to the guy that walks into the room and simply says, “I AM AWESOME, BUY STUFF FROM ME,” and then leaves without connecting with anyone? Probably not.
The Fix: As I said, I’m no social media expert – but when I talk to people, they talk back to me. And you can build rapport and grow a loyal following if you’re willing to respond and keep the conversation going. And talk directly to different people. Time consuming? Yes, but worth the effort when done right.
Mistake 6 – You try to sell things on your site only to make money, not bring value
Oh sure, ultimately we sell products to pay our rent and bills. The problem comes when you’re only focusing on how to fill up your bank account. If all you think about is the profit, you’re not spending enough time thinking about how your product is going to help your customer.
And if someone trusts you enough to purchase from you and you reward him or her with a product that was clearly an attempt to earn money, they probably won’t buy from you ever again.
The Fix: When creating a product to sell, your first priority should be to pump whatever you’re selling with value and quality – exceed your customers’ expectations. Make sure it’s clear and useful. What is the best way to gauge this? When they buy from you, they should feel like they’re getting more than they paid for. They should feel like they’re getting a bargain.
Mistake 7 –You let yourself get trapped in by a wall of ‘expert advice’
The blogging, marketing, and website experts know what they’re talking about. I’m not arguing that. The problem comes when you listen to expert after expert and blindly follow their advice without understanding the fundamentals behind their suggestions. Your blog journey is still your own. And while we might be experts in our field, we’re not the end-all of information on the planet. We’re still learning ourselves.
Besides, there’s a lot more that goes into the advice than a few sentences we wrote up. There’s years of extra experience, intuition, and know-how that backs up each decision. So while the tips you learn from experienced bloggers should be taken into account and heeded, don’t let yourself get trapped in by a wall of advice,
How to Fix it – Build on the fundamentals, then go out there and experiment a little. No one holds the keys to all the answers. And you may discover a new profitable method on your own!
Keeping your website conversions flowing
Most importantly, when working on the snags in your conversions, stay positive and inquisitive. Everyone runs into conversion ruts at one point or another; such as unexplained dips in traffic or conversions drop-offs that don’t make sense. Don’t let these things discourage you. Ask friends to go through your sales funnel and give you feedback, get a conversion consultant to look over your site, read up on everything about marketing you can get your hands on – and always be testing!