How to Diagnose A Slow Steady Decline in Sales

Updated by
Kenny Novak
on Feb 17th, 2022
Written by
Posted in Resources

A lot of what’s talked about online is sudden. By this, I mean the sudden shining moments of a viral surge in traffic, or the sudden sharp decline in traffic and sales associated with a Google update. It seems like almost everything else is talking about the slow rise, the fight for growth that has characterized the last decade of online commerce.

What few people talk about – what few even thing about, even – is the long, slow decline that is associated with something being very wrong, but the people in charge not knowing what it is. In fact, most articles I can find written about the topic are actually about how to sell your site before business drops so much that you can no longer make a profit.

There are many reasons why your sales might be declining, and many of them are perfectly fixable. You just need to figure out the cause first.

Are You Keeping Up with Trends?

Google Trends

This one heralds back to the days of stodgy corporate culture and insular focus group design meetings. You take ideas and run with them, developing tunnel vision along the way, until you have no real association with what the outside world actually wants. It’s like that joke about corporations saying “this is what kids these days like, right?” and pushing something completely outside the realm of interesting or fun.

The thing is, this really happens, and it happens every day. It means that it’s more important than ever for businesses to keep up with trends, but more importantly, be actively interested and involved in those trends. You can’t just look at what’s trending on Twitter and try to work it into your marketing; you need to figure out the greater context and what role you can play.

The increasing separation between a business’s marketing and its audience is a leading cause of the slow decline in sales we all fear.

Are Your Products Long-Lasting?

This is one we see in major industries around the world. PCs, MP3 players, smartphones; there’s one thing they all have in common with their marketing, and that’s a focus on the newest and greatest features. These devices always need to be adding something of value, because the moment they do, they stop selling. Why?

The primary reason is simply the longevity of the product. If you have an audience of 1 million people with a need to buy your product, and you sell it to all 1 million of them, you have a problem. Either your product needs to break so you can sell replacements, you need to expand your audience so you have more people to buy, or you need to make a bigger and better version to sell upgrades.

Are Your Customers Growing Jaded?

It’s harder than ever to engage with your customers. There are only so many hours in a day for social interaction, and there are only so many avenues you can use to reach your customers. That’s why a new marketing technique or new means of communication is so important; it’s a new and unexplored way of reaching your customers.

When your customers are jaded and disinterested, it’s harder to get them to care about the problem you’re trying to solve. This leads to a steady decline in sales as more and more people either have that problem solved or sink further into the inability to care about it.

Does Your Website Look Outdated?

Outdated Website

Remember a while back when the big trend was Web 2.0? The great graphical update of the web left a lot of websites and lot of businesses behind, and those businesses have no doubt suffered. Today, a lot of the businesses that keep websites like that only do so because they know in a vague sense that they need to have a website, but it’s doing less and less for them over the years. They don’t know enough to know how big a disservice they’re doing themselves.

The modern version of that trend is responsive design, which I’ll cover more momentarily. The issue is the same, though; you aren’t keeping up with the way the world works, and it shows. If you can’t be bothered to care about the quality of your website, what does that say about the quality of your products?

Are You Not Catering to Mobile Users?

Responsive design, as I mentioned, is the current big trend. It’s also more important than Web 2.0 was, primarily because it’s a functional change rather than a design change. The point behind it is the ability to interact with users who browse the web with smartphones and tablets, which is an increasing number.

Think about this: pretend you’ve had a steady audience of 500 users for a long time. Initially, your website serves all 500 of them, because mobile browsing doesn’t exist. Then smartphones enter the picture and a few people convert. You end up being able to serve, oh, 480 of them. Then phones keep getting more and more prominent. You end up with only 400 non-mobile users, then only 300, then only 250. Your sales are dropping, even though your interested and potential audience has stayed the same.

You need to have a mobile site, period. Even just implementing one will boost your sales significantly.

Is Your Marketing Campaign Stale?

Some marketing campaigns last the test of time. For example, you’ve probably seen this M&Ms commercial before. You know why? It’s been airing every holiday season since 1996.

Most marketing campaigns, well, they don’t. They get played out in a matter of months, sometimes even weeks. High-turnover marketing departments are pushing out new campaigns and new themes every month. If you’ve been stuck on a single ad campaign for a long time, maybe it’s time to change things up.

Are Global Trends Leading Away From Your Industry?

Finally, sometimes it’s just a case of your industry losing steam. Who still buys fax machines or pagers these days? Heck, with increasing concerns about climate change and the growing prominence of renewable energies, even the oil industry is at risk of steady decline.

If your product is something that’s going out of style or has been succeeded by something else with better functionality, you’re going to have to come up with some way to modernize your business, or else you’ll face declining sales at an increasing rate until you have nothing left.

Written by Kenny Novak

Kenny Novak

Kenny is an SEM and SEO professional. He uses blogging and content marketing as a launchpad for small businesses looking to grow their online presence.

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