Let’s be real for a second.
Blogging can be a lovely hobby… but sooner or later, we’re all hoping to make a little money.
Whether you’re selling a product, service or ad space, you’ve got a motive behind every post, video, photo or status update you publish: conversions.
You want your content to convert.
So… what do you do if it doesn’t?
That’s what we’ll talk about today.
1. You’re Talking Features, Not Benefits
If you want to get conversions, you need to be aware that everything you publish must be benefits-driven.
Lots of companies make the mistake of being too self-centered when they create content – not because they’re narcissistic, but because they really do feel like their prospects need to know about all of the bells and whistles of what they provide.
Here’s the danger in doing that.
We’re all just a bunch of goldfish, really. Our attention spans get shorter and shorter all the time.
If we can’t discern within 30 seconds or less the exact problem that’ll be solved if we proceed, we’re not going to stick around to find out.
Sure, you can talk about features if you must, but your juiciest “benefit statement” has to come first.
Take this benefit statement from the OptinMonster homepage:
Right off the bat, I get the idea that OptinMonster will help me get more subscribers to my website, without having to hire a developer.
2. You Haven’t Addressed Possible Objections
The disadvantage of selling products or services online is you can’t ask your prospect the questions that might have helped you understand the objections preventing them from buying from you.
If you’re not addressing any of the objections they might potentially have, it’s highly likely you’re leaving significant money on the table. That’s why your content (especially your sales pages) needs to pull out all the stops when it comes to “credibility triggers” and/or “social proof.”
Have you been featured on any major publications? That can help.
Have testimonials or case studies? Fabulous! Use those too.
Do you have a money-back guarantee? Shout it from the rooftops!
How about your FAQ page? Do you have one? If not, build one!
The point is, your readers need to know they can trust you. No matter how many “credibility triggers” you display, you might also have to come to terms with the idea it can take time to build that kind of trust.
And that’s okay.
Be prepared to nurture people through the process of building a relationship with you online, and be patient as the process unfolds.
Of course, email is a crucial part of this process. If you’re not building and nurturing an email list right now, I highly recommend you start doing so. According to Amy Porterfield, 96% of people who visit your site for the first time are not ready to buy. Just a little food for thought.
Someone who’s really a pro at the whole “social proof/building trust” thing is Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You to Be Rich. It’s tough to beat the authority signals at the bottom of his homepage:
What’s really cool about Ramit, though, is he doesn’t stop there. He pulls out all the stops to put his happy students in the spotlight with video reviews, testimonials – he’s even been known to fly them out to visit him and have a luxury vacation in New York!
If your content isn’t converting, speaking to common objections is the bare minimum. To be a big success, you have to convince your readers that you’re not only trustworthy, but you’re even more trustworthy than the other players in your space.
3. Your CTA Isn’t Engaging Enough
By this point, I’m hoping the idea of a strong, prominent call to action is old news to you. It’s absolutely vital that everyone who consumes a piece of content you’ve published is able to clearly understand what it is you want them to do next.
There are several ways to make this happen, and it all starts with some clever copywriting. Crafting a compelling call-to-action is about getting into the mind of your reader and offering the solution to a problem with which they’re struggling.
The more relevant it is to the topic of your content, the better, but the most important question to ask when building your CTA is, “Does this create a desire to learn more?” If so, you’re well on your way.
Next, you need to zero in on the look, feel, and placement of your CTA. The more attention you can draw to it (without being TOO annoying), the better.
Think throwing a quick “subscribe here” box at the end of your post is sufficient? Think again! The pros are throwing in several opt-in opportunities throughout their content: sticky sidebars, eye-catching graphics, even pop-ups are commonplace among the most successful blogs because they’re getting results.
Exhibit A: Lewis Howes uses a popup to engage visitors with the call to action, “Build Your Business Around an Epic Life!”:
Exhibit B: Neil Patel uses an exit-intent popup to re-engage visitors who are about to leave, and remind them of his CTA to register for his webinar.
(Stay tuned to see what’s behind this pop-up box… it’s even better.)
Remember, the name of the game is benefits-driven copy and eye-catching design.
If you’re not already, definitely take advantage of great tools like OptinMonster and invest some serious time and energy into creating a compelling reason for visitors to give you their contact information.
Keep in mind it’s quite likely most of your visitors aren’t ready to buy just yet, but they might buy later if you nurture the relationship with some high-quality content!
Which brings me to my next point…
4. You’re Asking for Too Much, Too Fast
It’s not easy to be patient. We marketers would love nothing more than to see a positive ROI for all of our efforts, and we want to see it yesterday. But the (sometimes discouraging) truth is, marketing is every bit as much about relationships in the digital age as it was before the internet was born.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
If your content isn’t converting, you might want to consider asking yourself whether or not you might be jumping the gun a bit. Are you offering a free piece of content, promotion or at least a significant discount… or are you going for the whole enchilada, right off the bat?
If so, it’s quite possible you’re leaving money on the table.
Think of it like dating. You have to court your prospect – woo them, if you will. Your content is really just the bait that draws them into a longer, more intimate conversation that may or may not result in the commitment of a purchase.
Try to rush things, and the relationship could end before it ever gets a chance to begin.
5. There Are Too Many Distractions
This could possibly be the most common offender on this list of “conversion killers” I’ve been seeing lately, and it makes sense.
There are often several different things you’d love to have our site’s visitors do once we’ve got their attention…
- You want them to buy.
- You want them to subscribe.
- You want them to request a consultation.
- You want them to follow us on Facebook.
But when you try to get all of those results at the same time, what happens? You get what’s called “choice fatigue” and don’t make a choice at all. That’s why you have to baby step our visitors through the process, one choice at a time.
Now, remember when I promised to show you Neil Patel’s homepage? Well, here it is:
Any guesses as to why this is one of my favorite homepages?
Is it because it’s…
Or could it be because it…
- Has a clear, first person CTA?
- Mentions a free bonus?
- Includes an authentic-looking photo of someone I trust?
If you guessed “yes to all”, congratulations! You just passed the easiest test ever.
6. Your Copy Is Too Dense
If you’re still writing copy in the same format as your high school English essay, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
For whatever reason, your average reader simply doesn’t have the attention span to wade through giant paragraphs of text. Not only do we expect them nice and short, left-indented with plenty of subheadings – we also want to see lots of lovely images to give our eyes a break!
Does it make creating content harder? Sure, a little, but after all: what’s the point of writing something if your reader won’t be able to get past your first paragraph?
When it comes to boosting conversion, you absolutely must do everything you can to maintain your readers’ attention from the top of your landing page to the very bottom.
In fact, I’ve gotten to the point now where all of my landing pages are strictly “graphics only”, as you can see in the example below from our “join our team” page over at NerdyGirl…
If you’re not graphically-inclined and don’t want to invest in a designer, video landing pages can also hold visitors’ attention really well.
Crazy Egg is a great example of a site that uses video landing pages.
(Contrary to popular belief, these are actually quite easy to create.)
The point is, one of the worst things you can do for conversions is force your visitors to wade through dozens of bulky paragraphs before they actually understand what it is they’re going to get out of sticking around.
7. Your Design is Outdated
You could have the most awe-inspiring blog post the world has ever seen, but if your site looks like it was built 10 (or even 5) years ago, sadly it’s not going to matter a whole lot in terms of your conversion rate.
According to this hallmark post by Derek Halpern, design is “king”. He cites a study by Elizabeth Sillence, with a conclusion worth memorizing:
“When participants didn’t trust a company based on their site, 94% of them cited design-related reasons.”
In other words, if you want your site’s visitors to convert, make sure your design is great. Period.
Does this mean your site has to have a ton of cutting-edge effects, videos, graphics and other bells and whistles?
Not at all.
Take a look at some of the most popular blogs you know. Do you notice most of them have a simple black and white reading experience?
Sure, they might have great looking headers and attractive opt-in boxes, but in the majority of cases that’s about it, really. Definitely doable, no matter what your budget is.
Mobile responsiveness is increasingly important, but don’t let that scare you. Most website themes come with responsiveness out of the box anyway, so it shouldn’t have to be difficult or expensive to make the shift if you haven’t already.
8. You’re Talking About You, Not Them
Now, we’ve already talked about the important distinction of focusing on benefits rather than features, but have you considered the importance of the actual pronouns you’re using in your sales copy?
This is a really subtle shift that can make a huge difference in your conversion rates. Why? Because the easier it is for your prospect to picture themselves taking action, the more likely they’ll be to actually do so.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s a bit of a “good, better, best” scenario here.
Good: Highlighting Benefits as “We”
If you’re talking about the specific problems you’re going to solve for your prospect, you’re off to a great start.
However, if you’re saying “we do this” and “we do that,” it psychologically separates the reader from you and makes it more difficult for them to envision themselves using what you’re offering.
Better: Highlighting Benefits as “You”
While a significant handful of sales copywriters will advocate for your telling your “superhero story” (think, “Once upon a time I was super poor, but now that I did XYZ, I am filthy rich!”) and although that can be effective, it can only be one small piece of a compelling sales pitch.
Where some people get stuck is in thinking readers will stay with them if they continue to speak in terms of “me, me, me”.
Readers only have so much patience for hearing your story because eventually they want to hear how their lives can change as a result of listening to you.
That’s why the use of “you” is so important. But if you want to really get results, you might want to consider…
Best: Highlighting Benefits as “I”
Once you’ve told your story using “you” and helped your visitor see him/herself in the shoes of a buyer, you can take it to the next level by incorporating the first person.
As an example of this principle at work, consider one study cited on Clickz.com that tested two different opt-in buttons. One page said “create your account,” the other said “create my account”.
The “your” page resulted in 24.91 percent fewer clicks than the “my” page.
Can you imagine why this might have been the case?
The use of the “I” pronoun closes the gap between the reader and the product, better enabling them to imagine taking your desired action.
Pretty cool, huh?
9. You’re Not Creating Suspense
I say this all the time because it will never stop being true…
A copywriter’s #1 job is to create suspense.
(If I could crochet that on a pillow and snuggle with it at night, I would.)
And you should create suspense too.
Now, giving away valuable content for free is really the name of the game these days; if you’re not doing it, you probably should be… however, you can’t “give away the farm” as they say, and leave nothing to be desired.
As much as some people might gripe about “clickbait” headlines, you’ll never stop seeing them because they work.
The same is true for brightly colored opt-in boxes and buttons with arrows pointing toward them, countdown timers and all the trappings of the super-prominent sales pitch.
But even with the most conversion-friendly design in the world, if you’re not creating a feeling of suspense for your reader (you know, the feeling that all of your life’s greatest problems would be solved if only you’d click the pretty little button), you’re not going to get the results you want.
No matter what, your reader needs to be keenly aware of the promised benefit behind their next click.
The more juicy that promise is, the more desire (and revenue) you’ll create.
10. Your Offer Isn’t Relevant
Even the juiciest promise can go to waste on the wrong audience. Perhaps the quickest way to chase away a prospect is to offer them something they don’t want and/or need.
How do you know what they want and need?
Well, how well do you know them?
If you don’t have a crystal clear picture of your ICA (Ideal Client Avatar, or the imaginary character who embodies your ideal customer), then stop the presses this minute and figure it out!
Once you know this person inside and out, then you can begin to develop products for them, write blog posts for them, share social media content they’ll enjoy, and so on and so on.
You can do it.
Never forget the old Seth Godin quote: “Don’t find customers for your products. Find products for your customers.”
They’re out there, hungering and thirsting for what you have to offer… but if you’re not speaking to them (and speaking their language), then it’s quite likely someone else is.
11. Your Offer Isn’t Juicy Enough
Ok– so let’s assume you have a perfect understanding of your target audience and you’re speaking their language and offering them stuff (you think) they desperately need.
It’s possible even after all of your hard work, your offer just plain isn’t juicy enough.
There are a few reasons why this might be the case.
- It could be a suspense issue.
- It could be a design issue.
- It could be a relevance issue.
- It could be a competition issue.
Sadly, if you’re entering into a really saturated market right now, it’s possible someone else is offering something similar in a juicier way than you are.
How do you address this problem? Well, it’s time to get a little nerdy.
Do your homework. Check out what your (successful) competitors are doing to see what seems to be working, and what you can learn from their success.
What words are they using? What solutions do they promise? What design elements do you see on their landing pages? What do their ads/opt-in boxes look like?
Having a lot of competitors is not a bad thing– in fact, it’s a great sign there’s money to be made in your niche.
However, if your offer pales in comparison to those competitors, you could be in trouble.
The good news is, you don’t need a ton of money to compete with the big guys. You just need to find the juice behind your offer– the stuff that will really make them salivate about what you have to give them.
12. You Haven’t Built a Relationship
When all is said and done, whether it’s on or offline, business is all about relationships. People do business with people they know, like and trust.
How do you build trust online?
That’s what email marketing is all about.
It’s not about selling until you’re blue in the face. It’s not about capturing people’s information and emailing them once a year.
It’s about building a relationship of trust.
The more value you can provide via email, the more your prospects will trust you.
It’s highly unlikely your website’s visitors are ready to buy the first time they land on your site, so if you’re not able to capture any contact information, you’re probably losing out on a LOT of opportunity.
If you’re not getting the conversion rates you’ve been hoping for, everything we’ve talked about in this post really just boils down to a deep and detailed knowledge of your ideal customer, their needs, and their desires.
The more suspense you can create behind the promise you’re offering, the more relevant/elegant/approachable the promise is to that specific person, the better your results will be.
Over to You: If you’re struggling with conversion rates on a certain page on your site, tell us about it in the comments! Let’s support each other, shall we?