You’ve got a website, maybe even one you spent a lot of money to have built. Yet day after day you sit around waiting for the phone to ring or an email to come in asking about your services.
If you’re asking that question, congratulations! You’re halfway to generating more leads. If you’re sitting around blaming Google for your rankings or your developer for the code or the gods for the fact that people just don’t get it, you have a bigger problem.
But once you start asking questions and wondering why your website isn’t doing the work it’s supposed to be doing, then you can start to examine the reasons and come up with solutions.
Here are a few reasons that even the most gorgeous and expensive website on the planet could be a dud when it comes to generating leads.
1. It’s Built In Flash
Ten years ago having a Flash website was pretty cool. You could do things with Flash that you could not do with a boring old regular site. You could make things blink and sing and move around.
But two things happened.
One: the internet evolved. Now all those cool things you could once only do with Flash can often be done on a regular old boring website.
And you can do it easier.
And create a better experience for your visitors.
And have a website that is search friendly.
Even back in the heyday of Flash, it was never search friendly. Search engines can’t read the text embedded on a Flash site and no text = no keywords = no search relevance = no search rankings. Period.
Two: Apple. And iPhones and iPads, neither of which displays Flash. And now with the world becoming increasingly mobile and looking for your business on their mobile devices, your Flash site is 100% inaccessible to Apple mobile users.
Even mobile users on other devices may not be able to view your site if it takes too long to load. And by “too long” I’m talking about 3 seconds.
If your site is built in Flash you’re losing your mobile audience and losing your search audience. You can’t generate leads if nobody can actually get to your site.
The solution? Forget the fancy 2002 bells and whistles and go for a site that is accessible all the time, on all devices, to your visitors and search engines.
2. It Was Optimized For Search…. Last Year
I was going to say “a few years ago” but with the way Google has ripped through changes lately, even a site optimized last year could be in trouble today.
Search, once about tweaking title tags and moving keywords around from here to there on a page, is now both utterly simple and infinitely complex.
It’s still about keywords but it’s less about logistics and more about content, the quality of that content, the freshness of that content and even the popularity of that content.
If your site was optimized some time ago and you’re watching leads drop off, it’s not because of poor optimization. It’s because of different optimization rules.
A site that can’t be found in search has less chance of drawing visitors in the first place, let alone turning them into leads. Even a great site can’t win customers if it can’t be found.
The solution? Catch up with the game. Dig into the heart of your site to be sure it’s optimized for today and then get busy working on your content so that it’s readable, findable and shareable.
3. You Don’t Blog
This ties in directly with the preceding point because one of the most effective ways to create content is to blog.
Ten years ago, websites had “News” sections and companies posted press releases or newsletters or updates. Those days are long gone (or should be, so if your site is still hanging onto a news section, consider revamping it into a blog).
Currently, businesses that don’t blog as part of a search marketing strategy are essentially dead in the water.
The only way a site without a blog gets ahead in search is if it has little to no competition. A blog provides an ideal opportunity to target a plethora of keywords and give search engines the content hooks they’re looking for.
Beyond that, a blog builds your credibility and authority in your niche. It gives you a platform to address the questions, concerns and hesitations of potential customers in a friendly way that isn’t a high-pressure sales pitch. It gives your business a personal edge. And it’s a great way to build an email list of potential customers who you can reach out to with your next offer.
And think about it: if you were in the market for a service and you found one site that had a couple of “about us” pages, and another with an entire blog that addressed your every question, which company would you feel more comfortable and confident doing business with?
Your leads are going where the content is. It’s time to follow.
The solution? Start documenting every question, complaint, concern, doubt, frustration, problem, confusion and minor irritation that you hear from customers, prospects or even total strangers when it comes to your industry. Then get writing! Answer and address them all, one blog post at a time.
4. It’s About You
But what’s in it for your customer?
Websites were once little more than glorified brochures. And if you had one, it was way cool. But some sites got stuck in that mode and failed to evolve with the times. Even new sites are built that are still nothing more than some everyday information regurgitated in HTML format.
But… and here’s a tough reality check… nobody cares about you. Or me. They only want to know what’s in it for them.
A website that reads like a dissertation on your excellence is going to turn people off faster than you can say “website”. Even if you have amazing service. Even if you have gorgeous graphics. Even if you’ve won awards or have Fortune 100 customers. The more you talk about yourself, the fewer leads you will get.
The solution? Take every bit of your content and turn it around into a reason for your prospect to care. So, you’ve won awards. What does that mean to someone else? Why will that make their lives better and how will it help them? Even your “About” page should not really be about you. For every sentence you write, ask yourself why it matters to someone and how you can turn it into a benefit for your customer.
5. You Have No Social Presence
Wait… aren’t we talking about your website?
Ah, the times they are a-changin’! Just as websites are no longer brochures, effective websites are no longer just about the website.
A website is only one part of your overall marketing and branding plan. It’s your home base, your starting point. But you must be building your credibility and authority by being present where your customers are. And that includes social networks.
Customers are increasingly social. They take to Twitter with complaints and Facebook with questions. They look to Pinterest for visuals and YouTube for instructions. If you’re not there, you won’t be found. Worse, if your competitors are there, they will.
Right now your leads are out there looking for you. They’re looking to find you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, be amused by your Vines. And if they can’t then they’ll find someone who is.
As an added perk, having a social presence provides social signals to search engines that can help with your search marketing, too.
I was recently considering doing business with a company and even though they had bios of at least half a dozen employees and principals on their “About” page, I couldn’t find a single social presence for any of them. Not even a corporate profile. Their website was pretty impressive and I enjoyed it, figured they probably knew what they were doing. But in the end, their complete inaccessibility sent me elsewhere.
The solution? Get yourself out there! Start small if you must but be present and be available to connect with people.
6. There’s No “Now What?”
When someone gets to your website, what do you want them to do?
Here are a couple of answers I got when I posed the question to small business owners:
I want people to look around. (Wrong!)
I want people to read about my services. (Close, but this is not horseshoes.)
I want people to contact me for a consultation. (DING!)
If you aren’t crystal clear about what you want your visitors to do then I guarantee you they won’t be, either. And while it might be nice if people looked around and got to know you a bit, reading your site isn’t an end in itself. It’s a means to an end, which is becoming a lead.
How do people become a lead on your website? By joining your email list? By filling out your contact form? By calling for their free consultation?
To gain a lead you have to lead. If you fail to do that then people may very well look around, read about your services and then…
The solution? Figure out what the key action is that you want someone to take so that they actually become a lead in your sales funnel. Announce that loud and clear on your site and be sure that when someone visits, they know exactly what to do next.
7. You Sell… What?
I will (almost) quote something to you that I pulled from Random Company X’s website. I say “almost” because I don’t want to name names, but I do want to make a point.
“Our company provides client-focused services using world-class resources. We bring strategy and implementation together to design and execute customized solutions that create value for our clients and support their business objectives.”
What if I told you that came from an IT company?
Or what if I told you it was a software development firm?
How about a financial planner?
I could keep going, but something that generic and essentially pointless could apply to just about anyone. If you landed on a website and read that, would it impress you?
I hope not!
Speaking in vague language or just as bad, industry jargon, does not help your prospect understand what you do – or why they should care.
Writing for your website is not like writing an eighth grade essay where you had to hit a word count and use twenty spelling words if you wanted to pass. If people can’t understand what you do in the first sentence, then chances are they’re only a millisecond away from hitting that back button.
The solution? Talk to people in human. Summarize what you do in one simple, succinct sentence without using a single word of jargon. It’s hard! But if you need a paragraph and six spelling words to do it, you’ve just lost your lead. Once you think you’ve got it, read your sentence to someone who knows nothing about your business and ask them to tell you what they think you do. If they can’t, get back to the drawing board!
Be Smart, Get Leads
Building an effective website can be challenging. It’s a lot more than the “building” part and extends long after you think the building is done. You need to be in constant evaluation mode so that you can find out where you’re leaking leads and how to plug the holes.
Expectations are high. Patience is low. Competition is rampant. “Having” a website isn’t good enough and leaving it to float out there like flotsam while you wait for leads isn’t, either.
But if you look deep into the heart of your site and ask yourself whether it falls into any of the traps here, you’re off to a good start. Then get busy improving, and keep on adapting. The internet (isn’t!) waiting!