A marketer's rant on websites and conversion


Published on: 5 Dec 2017
6 min read

Goes one of the thumping numbers from the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. The drum beat is so succinct that it stays with you and starts playing inside your mind whenever you recollect the song. Thank you Michael for being the voice of those who weren’t heard, and giving the impetus to those who didn’t care, to start caring.

Now, I have an accusation to make against businesses; those businesses that choose to convert visitors to their websites into customers, subscribers, and anything else based on their goals. I’m here to accuse these businesses of not caring about the very visitors they are looking to convert. Allow me to explain before you brush aside my accusation as one without basis.

To begin with let me offer a set of problems with the websites of these businesses.

The Make your visitor choke with information problem

If you have ever written copy for your website, you would likely find yourself struggling to limit your enthusiasm to share more information. “Lest the visitor go to competition because this little piece of information is missing” is the theme that runs through your copy. So you decide to start throwing everything but the kitchen sink into your copy.

The real problem with this naive act is your website visitor hasn’t got a ton of memory, nor the kind of attention span that you have for your own business. The unsuspecting visitor is likely looking to get a quick idea on what your business or offering is about, but gets stunned by the unloading of an endless tirade of information. You simply end up choking your visitor to the point of running them away to the farthest of web stratosphere, a point of no return.

The Great Escape problem

I find this to be the most prevalent and also the most damaging problem with conversion. So you spend your time, energy and sometimes even pay people for writing a great piece of content and post it on your website. You start driving traffic to your website by spreading the word about your shiny new piece on the most happening thing, and create a buzz. People are loving your piece and can’t help but share it with others.

Your visitors already started respecting you for your authority on the subject and are interested to know more about how you can help them. They want to know why you exist, what problems you solve, and if that is of any interest to them.

Excellent job so far! The iron is hot and ready to take the shape that you want it to.

Unfortunately, you haven’t thought of a way to convert these people in a way that actually works. What I mean by that is, you don’t have a conversion trap related to the content you shared. Let me explain this jargon that I decided to throw in. A conversion trap (for the lack of a better academic term) is a well thought out, carefully placed tool to achieve your conversion goal. The purpose is to capitalize on the heightened emotional state of your visitor and make them perform an action that either converts them for your goal or at least gets them a step closer to getting converted.

Examples of conversion traps would look like signup forms, downloadable resources and Buy buttons. The reason I say “would look like” is simple. On their own, sign up forms etc don’t really do a good job of converting your visitors. It is the careful placement, the message, and use of apt visual cues, that together with the form, perform the trick. Again, for the lack of a better analogy, it is like catching a fish after waiting patiently for them to fall for the bait, only to let them go because you couldn’t hold on to them.

The What do I do Now problem

Imagine your website visitors to be in a state of hypnosis while on your website. With the help of the visuals, navigation and messaging you are guiding them through an experience. The last thing you want to do is abandon them abruptly while they are on this guided journey. A majority of visitors abandon for a very simple reason - they don’t know what to do next. In the common marketing parlance websites are advised to include a “Call to Action” that drives visitors towards an action - could be clicking a button, filling a form etc. Not having one may turn your website into a nicely decorated document that makes for a good read but leaves the visitor with a feeling of not knowing what to do next. They leave the website without doing much sending your investments in driving them to your website down the drain.

The I forgot what my goal was problem

It is funny how we get distracted as we build our website experience for the visitors. We get lost in the details and lose sight of the overarching goal we are chasing. It may start with an image that you find annoying and in the process of replacing it, get caught in an endless journey of reworking the color scheme, the messaging and who knows, redo the whole website. While little details do matter, losing sight of the larger context lands you in bigger trouble.

The I love my jargon problem

Granted, your business is operating in a complex niche. Also granted is the possibility that some of your audience is familiar with the terminology. However, unless you are sure that the jargon that you use is popular and part of standard vocabulary, relying on it may cause incoherence in your visitor’s experience of browsing through your website.

The desperate salesman problem

We spoke of conversion traps already. While I stressed on the problem of not having one, I would also like to highlight the problem of overdoing it. Certain websites turn into salesmen who persist no matter the customer’s interest. When you clutter the visitor’s experience with tons of calls to action and other intrusive tools (think pop ups, slide ins etc) you tend to irritate them, and worse, run the risk of visitors abandoning your website.

The I want to know all about you problem

As a naive business owner, you would want to collect as much information about your visitors as you can. Who knows what piece of information would be needed later, right?

Well, think about it. Would you like to tell everything about yourself to a stranger? Not really. You would be very selecting of sharing your details on a website as well. Unless there is an incentive (like a demo, or a downloadable resource, registering for a webinar), you would rather pass that innocent looking signup form for the good. Even if there is an incentive, you would not want to open up on every detail about you. When using forms as conversion traps, it is very normal for businesses to ignore this behavior of visitors, and witness lower conversion rates.

Conclusion

Now, are you a business with a website that is looking to convert traffic? Do you relate to any of the problems stated above? Let me know in the comments below. There is no magic bullet to conversion, but solving these problems should help alleviate the chronic conversion problems of your business.

Image credits: http://www.picslyrics.net