Website Sales - July 2004

George has a Brisbane website. He wrote to tell me that his site receives over 20,000 visitors per month, but he's not making sales. His question is pretty basic: Why?

George's problem is very common. Many people have their sites up and running and are getting plenty of traffic, but no one is buying. Assuming the site is decent overall and isn't in obvious need of a complete redesign, what's a site owner to do?

Unfortunately, there usually isn't a quick way to define exactly why there are no sales.

There are hundreds of variables in every site that could be causing the lack of sales. It takes time to analyse the situation and figure out which variables are actually causing the problem.

However, the situation isn't hopeless. If you're willing to take the time to analyse your site, you can identify the problem area and begin working to fix it.

[[ 12website has been redesigning and upgrading poor performance websites for over 7 years using these guidelines. Web site Redesign ]]

If George's scenario describes your site, there are three basic steps to take:

1. Check to see if your traffic is targeted.

If you're getting traffic, but it's not targeted, that's where you should focus your attention first. Untargeted traffic isn't beneficial, because the visitors who come to your site aren't interested in what you're selling. You must ensure that you are seeking to attract visitors who actually need what you provide.

In case you're wondering, it's impossible to target "everybody." Even if you can reach a global audience on the web, most people simply will not need your product. You must identify a narrow niche of people whose needs match the solutions you provide.

2. If you have ensured that your traffic is targeted, figure out exactly where you are losing visitors on your site.

In order to identify what needs to be fixed on your site, you first have to establish where the problem is. Looking at the site as a whole generally won't help, because you need to know specifically where the breakdown is occurring.

Examine your traffic logs and figure out where your traffic is dropping off (if you don't have a good tool to analyze your traffic, invest in one). This will tell you at what point visitors are abandoning your site.

Are visitors coming to the main page but not clicking through to any other pages? Are you losing them on the product pages? Or are they making it all the way to the checkout process and abandoning their carts once they reach that point?

If you try to improve your site without knowing exactly where the problem is, you'll be wasting your time trying to fix an element that might not necessarily need improvement. Concentrate first on figuring out exactly what pages need to be fixed. Then you can work toward fixing them.

Most site owners focus on acquiring new customers and fail to maximize the opportunities to support and service existing ones.

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3. Once you've identified the problem pages, it's time to start tweaking-one element at a time.

Put yourself in the shoes of the visitor and ask yourself a few questions:

  • What information might be lacking on this page that would help a visitor find what he or she needs?
  • What information on this page might be confusing?
  • What about this page might cause visitors to feel insecure?
  • What about this page might be unappealing?
  • What might be preventing visitors from being able to perform the tasks they are supposed to perform on this page?

Remember, don't try to overhaul everything at once. This is not to say that some sites don't need a complete overhaul (many do!), but often, it's an issue of details. In that case, you should focus on the specific problem page you've identified. Then start adjusting individual variables on that page.

If you set out with this systematic approach, you'll be well on your way to turning those visitors into buyers.

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