How to convert your website visitors into customers

Mistakes that stop you converting visitors into subscribers or customers.

Let’s talk about your website. Are you spending time and effort marketing your website, trying to drive traffic (visitors) to it? Are you getting visitors? Yes? Great! For many businesses, just getting people to visit is the hard part, so congratulations! Now, before you start patting yourself on the back, I should warn you that just getting visitors isn’t the end of the story. In an average day you might visit a lot of websites, but you don’t buy from each and every one. Especially when you’ve never been on that site before. Often times you visit a site, you get the information you need and leave, or worse, you don’t get the information you need and continue looking.

When it comes to your own website, how do we ensure that your hard earned visitors take the actions you want them to take and become “customers”? (Note that this applies for non e-commerce sites too. Feel free to replace “customers” with subscribers, followers etc.) Let’s keep going with the questions.

Do you know what your conversion rate is?

I can hear you thinking “What is a conversion rate?”. Let’s take a step back. Every website on the internet exists for a purpose. For most sites, their goal is to sell you something. It doesn’t matter if that something is free or paid for, the website’s goal is still to sell.

On your website, you will have goals too. Here are some examples:

  • A visitor buys your product / service.
  • A visitor subscribes to your email list or blog
  • A visitor leaves a review
  • A visitor shares your content by email or social media
  • A visitor fills in a lead generation form
  • A visitor clicks on an affiliate link
  • A visitor downloads some of your content

Take a minute to look at the list above and ask yourself “what action do I want a visitor to my website to take?”. Write down 1 to 3 goals for your website. Take your time, I’ll be right here when you’re done.

Got your goals written down? Awesome! Let’s continue.

Now you know what your goals are, we can start to explain what a conversion rate is. Let’s look at an example.

You’ve started running some online adverts and this month you got a hundred visitors according to your Google Analytics. In the above exercise you wrote down some goals. Let’s say your goal was to have customers fill out a lead generation form so you could qualify them and call them back. Out of your hundred visitors, only two of them filled out the form. 2 divided by 100 = 0.02. If we multiple this by 100 we get 2%. Two percent is your conversion rate.

Let’s take this example a step further and add some numbers to it (since we’re in the UK, we’ll use Pounds). Let’s say that to generate your 100 visitors you ran a Google or Facebook Ad campaign, where it cost you £5 to acquire each visitor. This means you spent £500 to bring 100 people to your website. (the value per visitor is made up in this example. Also, I don’t recommend using Pay Per Click adverts on Google or Facebook if you’re just starting our and don’t have cash to burn. If you want to learn about cheaper or even free ways to drive traffic, leave me a comment below or shoot me an email.)

I digress. Back to the example. You’ve just spent £500. Let’s say you’re selling some kind of service, for example coaching. Each coaching client is worth around £50 / hour to you. Let’s say most clients would buy a bundle of 10 hours at £500. This means you’d need to convert both visitors that filled out your form into customers in order to start making a return on your advertising investment. That’s a lot of pressure. I’m guessing you will want more from your business. What happens if the conversion rate goes up to 5%?

If 5 visitors out of the 100 fill out the form, you still paid £500. If you manage to get all 5 customers to buy a 10 hour coaching bundle at £500, your revenue will be £500 x 5 = £2500. That could be the difference between having a a successful business or not.

It’s really important that you think of your goals as a funnel. You’ll often have a final goal and a lot of smaller, micro goals that visitors will usually take on their way to the final goal. What the actual goals are will vary depending on your business. If you’re selling anything, the final goal will be to make the sale.

Let’s look at what your conversion goals should be in order to maximise the number of visitors

What should my conversion goals be?

Earlier I asked you to write down up to three goals for your website. I hope you took the time to do that. In the above example, the final goal was to sell coaching. If you’re running a business website, I’m confident your final goal is going to be the same. Even though the internet is a virtual place, you should think of it like a conversation with a human being at either end of the line. Imagine if you were to go to a party, meet someone new, tell them about what you do and then ask them to give you £500 for your 10 hour coaching pack. What would be the outcome? You’ve just become that weird person at the party. The other person knows nothing about you. You didn’t build a relationship. I would fairly confidently bet that they chose not to buy.

If the internet is the party, your website is at risk of being that weird person at the party.

At the beginning of this post, I asked you to think about the websites you visit in a day and how many of them you buy from. Very few, right? The same is true for the majority of people, unless they’ve come with the express intention of buying exactly what you’re selling. If they do this, they probably know your brand or product already. There’s already a relationship there between them and you. Relationship, is the key word.

Going back to conversion goals. Your goals will determine everything about your website, the content, the layout, the design, the colours etc.

Let’s say that your final goal is to sell. I suggest that your micro goals should focused on building a relationship.

Top Tip: As you design your site, think about each and every action a visitor can take on your site. If it isn’t helping them to complete one of your goals then think about removing that action. For example, a link to your facebook, instagram, linkedin, twitter or youtube page, might seem like a great idea. Every website has those links right? If you put them in the wrong place, and it’s one of the first things a visitor sees and clicks on then they’re taken to a social media site, but haven’t completed any of your goals. If that link took them to facebook, they might see your page, but they also see all of their notifications, messages etc and the chances of them coming back to your site are very low. It’s hard to not take inspiration from elsewhere on the web, I know. By all means, have social media links, but put them in your sites footer and make them proportionately small. I also don’t recommend having “getting more social media followers” as a good micro goal. The social media sites are for profit and whilst they do let people follow you, they will want to charge you to communicate with your audience. This means that those tweets and facebook posts you write for free are not likely to reach your whole audience unless you top them up with some money. Keep reading below to learn my suggestions for micro goals that will help you to build a relationship.

How do I build a relationship?

Every visitor to your website is precious. Whether they came via a search engine or social media for free, or they came via a paid ad, you should assign an approximate cost of bringing each visitor to your site. Doing so helps you to value each and every visitor and ensures you help them to work their way through your micro goals.

When browsing the internet, we all tend to have really short attention spans. A visitor may make a decision about your website within a matter of seconds. The first micro-goal you have should be to have a visitor engage with your website. This can be as simple as them spending enough time on your website to read your content, a blog post, a PDF download, anything. As long as they interact with your content, that’s a win. It’s your job to ensure that while they are interacting with your site, reading, watching, whatever they may be doing, that you are providing them with value. This is really important. It’s the start of your relationship building. If you help someone with a question or problem they have, they’re more likely to want to hear from you again or come back to you when they need more help.

Going back to our party analogy, you’ve just had a great conversation with someone new. You’ve told them all about your coaching business, they’ve shared some of their current problems and frustrations, and you’ve given some impactful tips to point them in the right direction. The natural thing to do may be to exchange details and say “if you have any more questions, send me an email”. Back on your website, we can do something similar. You’ve probably seen something similar elsewhere on the web. Ask the visitor for their email address. “hey there, did you like what you just read? Want to know when we talk more about this topic you’re interested in? Give us your email address and we’ll stay in touch”.

Collecting email addresses

This should be a micro goal on the majority of websites. It’s a great way to built a list of people interested in your product, service or business. Once you’ve collected an email address you should do your best to provide value to the person reading your emails. Don’t send them spam, product promotions, special offers etc. Just don’t. Instead, teach them something. If you know what your business is, you should know what the person your emailing is interested in. What is it that they read on your website that caused them to give you their email address? Do more of that. Remember you’re still building a relationship.

I can hear you thinking, “but when can I sell?”. I would recommend not mentioning anything about your products or services in the first two emails you send out. Instead focus on providing as much value as you can. Really invest in the relationship. In your third email include a soft sell. Provide value and at the end of your email mention your product or service. If you’ve done a good job at providing value then some of your email list will convert into customers. The rest need more time. Keep providing value and sending regular emails (once every week or so). Every sixth email you send can have a “harder sell” where you talk about your product or service and how it can help the person reading. Focus on the benefits to the person reading.


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