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Your website may not be getting any sales or conversions because it doesn’t match what your customer needs, wants, and expects. It may be that your website has technical issues. It may be that what you’re offering isn’t compelling enough.

In this blog post, we’ll show you how to troubleshoot your own website’s ability to sell, using user data in your analytics software, to find which part of your website needs to be optimised to improve your sales, leads, and conversion rate.

  1. Why Does My Website Have No Sales or Conversions?
  2. Are You Getting Enough Traffic?
  3. How To Earn More Traffic
  4. Should I Use a Digital Marketing Agency?
  5. What Sort of Traffic Growth Rate Should I Expect With An Agency?
  6. Am I Getting The Right Type of Traffic?
  7. Does Your Website Have Technical Issues?
  8. How To Check Your Website’s User Engagement
  9. Is Your Conversion Goal Appealing Enough?
  10. How To Improve Your Conversion’s Appealing
  11. How To Use Social Proof To Improve Conversion Rates
  12. Simple Conversion Improvements For When Nothing Is Working

 

I’ve spent a lot of time, money, and energy on my business. Is it all for nothing?

All of the time, money, and energy you’ve put into planning to start your business, developing your product or services, getting your new website live, and perhaps running some advertising was not in vain.

You’re not expecting your website to be ranking top of Google overnight (although, you may do well if you’ve read our book, “How To Get To The Top of Google”), but you were expecting at least a few sales and conversions at the beginning to make it all worthwhile — Yet, after a few weeks of your site going live you’ve very few or almost no sales or conversions recorded.

It’s incredibly frustrating.

You know you should give it more time, just a few more weeks to fix some of the remaining minor technical issues that tend to remain with new websites, but you’re understandably anxious.

How much longer should you wait?

A month? Two months? Six months?

If your website isn’t making any sales or converting new leads then this is not something you should ignore.

Digital marketing campaigns can and will take some time to take effect and to work — especially the case with Search Engine Optimisation where ranking improvements have to be earned — but websites should convert immediately, no matter if your traffic is only five-hundred visitors in a month.

If you’re converting 0% of 500 this month, without any changes, your website will convert 0% of 500 next month and the next month after that.

You have to improve your website — and you have to do it today.

First, you have to identify exactly where things are going wrong.


 

Why Does My Website Have No Sales or Conversions?

I get emails from new businesses with no sales who are planning to rebuild their website, to change their product or service, or planning something else drastic because they assume that they’re current website, product, or service isn’t what people want.

Seven times out of ten, the problem isn’t with what is being offered.

The first problem is usually with the lack of any significant traffic to their website.

You could be giving away free Lamborghinis, but if nobody is seeing your website, then your warehouse full of Lamborghinis is going to stay full because nobody is going to claim them.

The second problem is with how their product or service is being offered — and normally, it’s exactly what the website’s stats are telling me.

If your website advertises the different colours of Lamborghinis in your warehouse but doesn’t mention that they’re free to those who ask, then nobody is going to claim them. They’ll just assume that they’re available at the regular price and leave (because who has the money for a Lambo, right?).

The third problem is with the way in which the product or service is made available to order.

If you’re advertising free Lamborghinis but there’s no telephone number, email address, or contact form then how is anyone supposed to claim their free car?

To troubleshoot why your website is getting no sales then we’ll need to look at those problems.

  1. Is Your Website Getting Enough Traffic?
  2. Is Your Product or Service Being Offered Correctly?
  3. Is Your Product or Service Easy To Order?

Are You Getting Enough Traffic?

Take the owners of fifty websites getting more than 500,000 visitors to their websites every month.

Ask them “Who wants more traffic?“.

It doesn’t take a genius to guess how many put up their hands, does it?

Every website needs more traffic, but what use is more traffic if you’re not converting enough of the traffic you already have? But if your website is getting no sales, we need to do some quick maths…

Conversion rates vary between markets and according to the type of visitors you are getting to your website. But there is almost always a way to get at least 1% of your visitors to convert into buyers or leads. Assuming this conservative conversion rate, do you get enough visitors to your website?

If you launched your website and in the first month only brought in 60 visitors, 20 of whom were friends and family, 4 of whom were you testing your website on different devices, should you expect any sales? Probably not. In which case, your next task is to bring in more traffic to your website.

Let’s examine how we can earn more traffic.

How To Earn More Traffic

There are two ways to increase traffic to your website.

  1. Earn more traffic
  2. Pay for more traffic

Earning more traffic takes a commitment of finances, time, resources, and plenty of patience.

Earned traffic comes from Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Referral Traffic (websites linking to you and their audiences following those links), and from Social Networks.

An SEO campaign can take several months to see a return on, but the returns typically last for a long time after the money spent on the campaign has been used, unlike paid for traffic which tends to stop immediately the last penny has been spent.

Paying for more traffic can increase traffic quickly, but can consume business finances much faster.

Paid traffic comes from Pay-per-Click Ads (PPC), such as Google Ads, Microsoft (Bing) Ads, Facebook Ads, and so on (there are many more).

Paid traffic can deliver a mixture of qualified and unqualified traffic quickly. This can help when sales are needed quickly. This traffic can supply a steady income of sales, but the Cost-per-Acquisition will be higher than that of earned traffic, resulting in a smaller return on investment.

Should I Use a Digital Marketing Agency?

Both earned and paid traffic sourcing can be run by yourself by someone within your company, but as much as we may have an aunt who’s good at DIY, we wouldn’t trust them to build an extension for our house. We’d use a professional.

A specialised SEO or PPC consultant can help to do all of the required analysis and set-up required for new SEO or PPC campaigns.

They’ll know exactly how to research the marketing and to see what the competition is doing.

They’ll know how to get a higher return on investment because they’ve had lots of practice earning traffic for other companies.

They’ll also know how to get traffic improvements much faster than an aunt or uncle who’ll be learning the ropes as they go, resulting in traffic increases weeks or months later than a professional would.

What Sort of Traffic Growth Rate Should I Expect With An Agency?

As you can imagine, the answer to this question depends on a number of factors.

Which Channels Are The Agency Using?

If the agency is using paid traffic channels, like Google Ads, then traffic increases are normally seen in a matter of days. With SEO results will be slower, but the quality of each lead is typically much higher and should continually growth on a monthly basis.

How Much Work Are They Doing?

Cheap digital marketing is synonymous with little or no work, and you are often better learning yourself and going it alone than opting for the cheapest marketing companies who will do little to no work.

Paying cheap gets cheap results so you can expect low-quality traffic, expensive Costs-per-Acquisition, and the types of content and new backlinks that Google will simply ignore.

Are They Looking At The Big Picture

Some digital marketing companies work in only one area and will wash their hands of anything that is not on their patch. Agencies that handle PPC, for example, might bring paid search traffic to your site but might not be able to help if you find this traffic isn’t converting into customers.

If you need help in multiple areas, find a full-service digital marketing company, we happen to know one we strongly recommend, which has experts in every field.

Am I Getting The Right Type of Traffic?

If you’re getting hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of visitors to your websites but converting next-to-no sales or leads then you need to examine what type of traffic you’re getting.

It may be that you’re getting hundreds or thousands of website visitors who are never going to contact you or buy one of your products.

It may be that what you’re recording as traffic isn’t really traffic at all.

In the screenshot below, from Google Analytics, you’ll notice how the language settings of the visitors look spammy. That indicates that some of this website’s traffic isn’t legitimate and should probably be ignored.

website traffic

 

Next, you should check the pages your visitors are landing on most frequently.

Are people coming in through your blog posts? To your homepage? Or to other pages?

Blog traffic will often have lower commercial intent because these people are looking for information or advice and may not yet be committed enough to settle on a final product to purchase.

To check how people are finding your website, in Google Analytics (Google’s own free-to-use analytics software) click Acquisition, then All Traffic, and then Channels.

In the image below, we see that a site which seems to be getting some traffic but just isn’t converting.

Social traffic tends not to convert as well as Organic or Paid Search traffic — there are exceptions, though (think, influencer marketing) — so although we’d have expected the site to be getting some leads from this social traffic, there’s no need to panic yet.

The website is also getting a small amount of organic traffic. These visitors seem to be using the site quite well, as we can see from the 3 Pages per Session and low Bounce Rate of 12.82%. From these figures we should be able to expect to have converted at least one sale so far, right?

On closer examination, we see that not all of this traffic is what it seems. Clicking on Organic Traffic shows us this:

 

Screenshot of Organic traffic sources in Google analytics

 

To test whether people are likely to buy from this website the owner could try by running a brief Google Ads Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign to see whether search traffic will convert.

If the PPC campaign does result in sales or converted leads then we know that working on improving the visibility of the website within Google, using Search Engine Optimisation, should be a key focus long-term to improve the number of qualified visitors finding the website.

If the quality of traffic coming to the website is low then this needs to be improved. To do this, focusing on what more qualified visitors needs are will help to determine what to improve on the website. This could be improved content for your website. It could be more or deeper content in your website’s blog (if you have one).

It may be that you already have the right type of content, but it’s not in the right medium.

Would videos be more effective on your website? Would downloadable books or PDFs be useful to more qualified visitors? Would a podcast or video series provide the level of information or expertise the visitor is looking for before converting?

In a nutshell, your website needs to provide the kind of content people are searching for before they purchase a product or request a service.

Making this content available via search engines may be the best method of finding traffic, but so may Google Ads, Bing Ads, LinkedIn Ads, YouTube Ads, and all the other important PPC ads networks.

Be mindful that PPC is great for finding traffic, but can get expensive if not managed with a high-level of care — especially if that traffic isn’t converting. You may end up out of pocket entirely.

If you’re selling an impulse product or something that people see and immediately want, then social ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest could work well for you.

Whichever PPC network you use, make sure to target the right types of audience so that the most relevant buyers are seeing your ads.

 

Does Your Website Have Technical Issues?

I’ve seen clever people tear their hair out over a marketing campaign that just doesn’t seem to be working, only to find that the contact form or buy button isn’t working properly.

No matter how much you have tried and tested your website, you absolutely have to find out the answers to these four questions right now:

  1. Does everything work as it should?Go through the entire process of buying or converting on your website.
  2. Are visitors getting notifications/emails when they submit a form?If it seems to work okay, next you must check the back end. If you are driving people to a contact form they must get confirmation that their information has been received.

We like to use Gravity Forms because it saves all form submissions inside the plugin so you can check whether people are filling the form out even if you’re not getting the notification emails.

Sometimes these notification emails get caught by an overenthusiastic spam filter, so you must check.

  1. Do all of your payment gateways work on all browsers?We once ran an offer via Facebook ads with Paypal as the payment processor. It didn’t seem to be doing as well as we expected and we couldn’t figure out why. Turns out that Paypal was conflicting with the Facebook mobile browser and that people using this mobile browser were unable to checkout using Paypal.The problem is that everyone who clicks on a Facebook ad from the mobile app uses this Facebook mobile browser! Doh!

    This issue didn’t show up until we tested the payment inside Facebook. Testing via other mobile browsers worked absolutely fine.

  2. Does your website work properly on all devices?

    And by properly, I don’t mean “is it possible to use your website on all devices”. I mean, “is it easy to use for people on all devices?”

Another example I saw recently was a long copy landing page which had a contact form in the right-hand sidebar as the main call to action. On desktop computers, this worked great because the contact form was on the right-hand side of the page, just where the Amazon “buy now” button is. Perfect!

However, on mobile, conversion rates were appalling.

Why? Because the sidebar was being forced to the bottom of the page, underneath the long copy.

Mobile users who wanted to quickly fill in the form would have to scroll for 10 seconds just to see that there was a contact form at all. No one scrolls for 10 seconds on mobile, not even for a free Lamborghini.

 

How To Check Your Website’s User Engagement

If you’re getting traffic to your website and it looks legitimate then the next step is to see how well this traffic is engaging with your website.

The first step is to troubleshoot the basics;

How long are visitors spending on the website and is there anything that is immediately turning them off?

To check this, we need to look at bounce rate and session duration inside Google Analytics.

In the example below, you’ll see this very new site has started picking up a small number of new visitors, but they are screaming a collective “Hell no!”:

 

screenshot of traffic sources of a website

 

The top traffic source is Paid Search, which should be well-qualified visitors. But 93.44% of them are leaving the site without visiting a second page, and the average visit length of these folks is just 7 seconds! Either the ads are misleading or the site sucks.

Even our trusty favourite, organic search traffic, which has an absolutely teensy number of visitors so far, still has a high bounce rate.

In this situation, we’d give the site another week or so to pick up more traffic numbers, but early signs don’t look good — clearly, something is putting visitors off.

If you find that your bounce rate is high, that average duration is low, and that people aren’t visiting many pages, then you have found your blockage: the first impression your website gives.

Check out my blog post on how to reduce bounce rate, and run some user tests to find out what sort of first impression the site is giving people.

It might even be time to start thinking about a new website. We build two types of website: low-cost lead generation websites for small businesses and bespoke websites which are custom-built to meet the unique needs of larger businesses.

If in doubt, request a free marketing review from our super review Ninjas. They’ll tell it like it is and if you need a new website, they’ll let you know.

What if my engagement looks okay?

In the example below, notice how the traffic numbers look okay.

Visitors seem happy enough and, projecting our simplistic and conservative conversion rate of 1%, we’d expect 44 conversions (4,445 new users x 1%).

 

Example of enough traffic to get conversion

 

The engagement stats look okay too. The bounce rate on some of those channels looks a little high, but it’s certainly not in the danger zone.

In a case like this, clearly people are using the website and, better yet, they aren’t horrendously repelled by what they see.

If this is you, then you are almost there. Victory is so close that you can smell the celebratory pizza. Your visitors are relevant, engaged, and interested. We just have to get them converting.


 

Is Your Conversion Goal Appealing Enough?

Why aren’t my visitors enquiring or buying (‘converting’)?

There is only one reason that an interested visitor doesn’t ‘convert’ to a customer or lead on your website:

They haven’t been offered something where the perceived pleasure outweighs the perceived pain to the extent that they are motivated to action.

In other words, either your product or your service is not appealing enough that people want to buy it.

Recognising which element of your website is preventing people from converting is the first step to fixing it.

Here are some ways to identify why people aren’t buying:

Run User Tests

The simplest thing to do is to run some user tests. We like usertesting.com and they have a free taster service (good idea) called peek.usertesting.com (now discontinued – we’re big fans of the cheap user tests at UsabilityHub).

It’s important to recognise that all user tests are slightly biased because:

  1. Testers are sophisticated enough to sign up and install user testing software, so there’s a slight selection bias towards those who are able to do these things
  2. When people are being tested, they tend to give answers which make them seem clever. If they can’t figure out what your site is about, they’ll often start talking about the elements they like or don’t like. Even so, user tests are a useful tool to start with.

Use Heat Mapping Software

Heat mapping software is a simple piece of code you can put on your website which records the behaviour of its visitors.

It can show you how much of a page people are viewing. Are users scrolling down far enough to see your call-to-action or should it be higher up the page?

Our preferred heat mapping tool, HotJar, also has Click Maps which detect which links users are clicking on the page. This can highlight which links or buttons are or are not working effectively to drive traffic around your website or to convert.

HotJar also has funnel and form monitoring systems which help to visualise which parts of the sales funnel or forms are preventing people from fully converting.

 

Install Live Chat

The next thing you can do is install live chat on your site and have it pop up when people have been on the page a little while.

You can start by asking them a question like “How can I help you today?”

If they are stuck or unsure about something, this question can get them talking. If you notice that different website visitors all seem to be asking the same questions, this is an indication that there is an issue on your website that needs to be addressed.

We recommend tawk.to to our customers because it’s simple to install and cheap to run. We also highly recommended Olark as an alternative.

HotJar also has Survey and Poll tools in-built which can help to ask customers what is preventing them from converting.

Use Exit Popups

Lastly, you can test using an exit popup. This is a type of popup that appears when someone moves to leave your website.

You can use this to offer them something enticing to get them to stay or an extra incentive to move forward with you.

Let’s say that you’re an eCommerce business. Your exit popup might include a code for a discount or for free delivery just in case that was the thing preventing the visitor from buying.

You might want to offer them a free gift with their purchase just in case they need something to make the perceived reward higher than the perceived risk.

If you’re a service business, your exit popup might include an offer for a webinar or a free download that your visitors can request.

Perhaps they weren’t ready to buy yet — but, by offering them something free of charge which is designed to move them closer to their goals, you have a chance to give them something to begin a relationship with you in a low-risk way.

 

How To Improve Your Conversion’s Appealing

Your ‘conversion goal’ is the thing that you’re asking people to do on your website. Sometimes this is “Request a free quote”, sometimes it’s “Buy Now”. Basically, what do you want people to do when they visit your website?

The problem is that most websites’ conversion goals are unclear. Worse, many websites are completely devoid of conversion goals whatsoever.

A struggling service business might treat their website as a passive brochure, where visitors can get information about the services they offer. And that’s it. It’s like a salesperson who just reels off the spec or hands over an information sheet then walks away without ever asking for the sale.

To a website visitor, this approach sounds like:

If you want to buy from me, take the initiative to reach out to me and tell me exactly which of my services you want to buy.

You don’t know me and you don’t know if I’m right for you but, once you’ve hunted out my contact details, I’m going to try to sell the hell out of you until you buy.

This will feel uncomfortable and weird if you’re not ready yet, so don’t bother getting in contact unless you are ready to buy from me.

ECommerce businesses, meanwhile, can be equally guilty of failing to make their conversion goals sufficiently appealing. Obviously, the goal of an eCommerce site is to sell products. But sticking up a single low-res image of each product with a sentence of text and expecting people to buy, is often a leap of faith too far.

To the visitors of many struggling eCommerce websites, here’s what they see:

Here’s a low-resolution picture of a product with very little information at a higher price than you can buy it on Amazon.

You’ve never heard of me or my company and I’m going to take you through a long and painful checkout process before charging a fortune for delivery which will take five times as long as Amazon, which, incidentally, you know, like, and trust already.

Because you can’t really see the product and don’t really know anything about it, you are taking a big risk by buying it from me.

But hey! At least you get to practice putting your contact and payment details into a massive unsecured form.

Maybe that felt a little harsh and you might even be angry. But don’t shoot the messenger. This is not me talking; this is your website visitor.

Don’t despair and lose hope. Remember, you are almost there.

Understanding the mindset of your visitors, and particularly their risk perception, will help you to convert them better.


 

Here’s the message that you need to be delivering in order to absolutely maximise the number that want to buy:

For Service Businesses

If you have some pain, I want to help you fix it.

You don’t need to know anything about my products, nor do you have to have researched what I offer.

If you have this problem, I am here to help you and get you on your way.

Despite being very valuable to you, this help won’t cost you a penny. It’ll take you less than 10 seconds to get the help you need. Just give me a few details. Once you give me these details, here’s exactly what will happen…

For eCommerce Businesses

Here’s the perfect product for people in your situation.

You can see it in multiple angles, up close, and get a feel for it which is as close to picking it up and holding it as possible.

Here’s a video of someone using it so you can see it in action.

Lots of people in your situation have chosen to buy this product from us, and they are happy with their decision both with the product and with their experience of us. Here are their reviews.

All of the technical information and advice on how to use it is here.

If you’d like to buy it, it’s very good value, the process is very simple, and it’ll be delivered quickly.

If you’re not happy with it for any reason, just send it back to us and we’ll give you a refund.

As you’re new to us, we’d like to show you how good we are. So here’s an extra special something to welcome you.

Those are the messages your website needs to convey to maximise leads/sales.

Many companies decide to dial back or add pre-qualification hurdles, particularly in the case of the service business, to ensure that all of the leads they get are qualified potential clients, particularly if they are offering a free consultation or spending time and money servicing the leads.

But if we’re talking about turning around a site that is currently selling nothing, let’s start by casting the widest and most attractive net possible.

A common mistake on sites that are zeroing is expecting the visitor to do all of the work and take on all of the risk.

You’ll notice that in both of the good eCommerce and service company messages is that the seller removes as much of the risk as possible. They explain exactly what happens and offers something that appears to be far more valuable than the price that is being asked.

In fact, offering something more valuable than the price that is being asked is the foundation of every successful business transaction. Even if the “price” is “give me your email address” and the transaction is just having someone fill in a lead capture form.

Incidentally, this is why “sign up for our newsletter” is the worst call to action ever invented. The visitor reads it as “give me your email address and prepare to be spammed”.

If you’re getting website visitors and they’re sticking around on your website but they’re not buying or turning into leads, then you need to look at your calls to action.

What are you asking people to do on your website?

Does the perceived benefit massively outweigh the perceived risk to them?

If you sell something at a high price, or if you sell something which requires some discovery or customisation (like consultancy), going in for the kill straight from your website is not a good idea. Instead, offer your website visitors an easy, desirable first step which opens up a conversation where you can establish the precise need and prescribe the right solution.

 

How To Use Social Proof To Improve Conversion Rates

Before people buy, they like to know that others in their situation have made the same choice and been happy with that choice.

Testimonials and case studies are a great way to do this, as are reviews, both on your website and on third-party sites like Facebook, TripAdvisor, TrustPilot, and so on.

The challenge for new businesses is getting those all-important first reviews. The good news is that you don’t need many: one review is better than none, and you should have a way of getting someone to review your product or service.

One of the things that eCommerce businesses can do to boost the social proof of their websites is to include product videos where a knowledgeable person in the company shows visitors around each product. This should be done in a sensitive way as to avoid coming across overly ‘pitchy’, but as long as the reviewer is clearly knowledgeable and passionate, the effects of these videos can be significant.

When I interviewed conversion expert Khalid Saleh on the Exposure Ninja podcast, he mentioned how Skis.com increased their product page conversion rate 30% by adding this type of video.

Here’s an example of social proof in the form of a testimonial that we use on the Exposure Ninja homepage:

Exposure Ninja Review by Sarah Willingham from Dragons Den

 

Simple Conversion Improvements For When Nothing Is Working

If you’ve tried everything and yet no-one is converting from your website, it might be time to take a look at your business model or offering.

  • Do you see successful competitors in your market?
  • How is their offering different to yours?
  • Do they have more credibility than you?
  • Is their product or service more appealing than yours?

Taking an honest look like this can be painful. But guess what? It’s nowhere near as painful as quitting. So ask for feedback from people far enough away from your business that they will tell you straight up. Pay a target customer to give you honest feedback about what they do and don’t like. Make it clear to them that you are paying for the honesty, not for praise.

If you’re at a complete loss, then be sure that you’ve asked yourself these questions…

  • Are customers buying/signing up/contacting? If so, why? If not, is it clear that they are supposed to take the action that you want them to take?
  • Does the perceived benefit of this action outweigh the cost?
  • Premium products have to bring a premium benefit. Premium is about more than a high price tag, and the product or service quality must not only justify the high price tag but communicate the difference clearly on the website.
  • Do your product pages sell? In other words, are you getting visitors to them but no one is buying?
  • Try selling at cost price. This is obviously not sustainable in the long-term, but in the short-term it will tell you if it’s the price which is putting people off.
  • Is there social proof? Can you add more reviews, testimonials and case studies to show that purchasers were successful and happy as a result of their purchase?
  • Is there enough demand for this product or service? How do you know? Check to see if your competitors are running Google adverts for the phrases that you are targeting, as this shows that these searches have commercial intent (i.e. result in purchases being made).
  • Do you see successful competitors?

…And be sure to do these things:

  • Don’t rely on your brand if you’re a new company. Brand equity is built over time and with multiple touch points. If you are a new brand, your brand equity is essentially zero, so you will have to work harder to sell your products than established competitors. Accept this, and get on with selling.
  • Run user tests and have testers analyse your site and your successful competitors’ websites. Don’t let the testers know which website you run, because you want their most honest feedback.
  • Add live chat, and see what people are asking about. This can guide you to the extra information you need to provide on your website and show you the common sticking points that visitors are facing.
  • Add an exit popup with a discount to tempt back those who have decided to leave.

If you’re still lost, if you still have no idea why you’re not making sells, then it’s time to contact us. Request a website and marketing review and let’s get this turned around.