Often, when you’re watching your website stats through analytics, the most obvious metric to monitor is traffic. Traffic drives everything. More traffic means more sales, less traffic means more problems. It’s easy to fall into a rut of paying too much attention to traffic and too little to the real metrics, like sales and conversion rates.
Sometimes you’ll take a look and find you’re getting a ton of traffic, but your sales are flatlined. You have low sales, an incredibly low conversion rate, or no sales at all. What’s wrong? There are a number of possible causes.
It’s hard to find what you’re selling. This one is typically a flaw with the design and layout of your site. If your web design doesn’t point to your products, people can mill around on your blog and through your informative pages forever without realizing you’re actually selling something too. Another related problem is when your links to your product pages look too much like banner ads or off-site advertising. Users don’t want to click ads, they tend to overlook them entirely, so they’ll be ignored and you won’t get any sales.
Your landing page is obtuse or unclear. When a user clicks an ad or an advertising link through social media, you should be directing them to an optimized landing page designed to send them through a funnel into a conversion. If your landing page lacks a unique selling proposition, the benefits of buying, social proof and all the other elements of a great landing page, you’re not doing a great job sending users through the funnel. You might also have too many links to unrelated content, sending users off in other directions where you should instead have focus.
Your value proposition isn’t good enough. Sometimes you’re doing everything right, but you’re selling a product no one wants. Ideally, you’ll have performed market research before developing your product, let alone launching a website that brings in traffic. Still, it’s surprisingly common for young new entrepreneurs to come up with a product and invest in it without doing any investigation into whether or not anyone wants it. Just see any random episode of Shark Tank.
Your product images are cheap or poor quality. A picture is worth a thousand words, and in the world of ecommerce, a good picture is worth a thousand dollars. Low quality images make your shop look poorly run or badly maintained, which causes a loss of trust. Users might not be clear on what you’re selling or how it works, or they might not trust you to deliver what you claim to be selling.
Your shipping rates are exorbitant. This is a common cause of dropped and abandoned shopping carts. If people are getting so far as to add products to their carts and start checking out, only to drop away, you might be charging too much. Who wants to pay $15 shipping on a small $10 product?
Your site is slow to load. If you’re getting a lot of incoming users, but they’re bouncing away from your landing page, this is a probable cause. Check to see how long it takes for a remote user – or a mobile user – to load your page. If it’s longer than 2-3 seconds, it’s too long.
Your site looks unprofessional or untrustworthy. Web design, graphic design and a sense of style are all required to make a professional site. The cheaper or more home-made a site looks, the less trustworthy it looks. After all, spammers and scammers don’t pay a ton for web design, so their sites tend to look bad. A bad site design might include poor color choice, odd layouts, frames, embedded music, autoplay videos on the homepage, a lack of consistent navigation, and a host of other issues.
Your traffic is coming from spam sources. This is a big one. If you’re asking this question because you went to a cheap service to buy a bunch of traffic, well, you’re getting what you paid for. When you’re buying traffic, you need to make sure that traffic is coming from a valid, good source. If you’re just paying for bots to refresh your page, you might as well go play Cookie Clicker instead. It’s free, and it has the same effect on your sales.
Your traffic is coming from users who aren’t part of your target audience. This one is less of a flaw with the traffic itself and more of a flaw with the way you’re acquiring it. When you’re getting traffic from ads, you’re targeting those ads with various factors ranging from basic demographics and geolocation to interest targeting, income level and education. If you’re targeting poorly, you’ll pull in plenty of traffic, but those people won’t really care what you’re selling. Thankfully, you can fix this just by learning your target audience a bit better and targeting them properly.
Your payment system isn’t secured. There’s a reason systems like Square, Paypal, Authorize.net and the entire global payment standards system exist. If your payment system is a little less like a chip and pin system, and a little more like “email me your credit card number,” you’re going to have a bad time. For that matter, your payment page needs to be secured using SSL. Yes, even though the SSL certificate can be pricey. It’s definitely not more expensive than dealing with having your customer information stolen.
Your payment system is broken. Another potential source of abandoned carts. Sometimes users will go to check out, only to have the purchase page time out or error out on them. How can you expect to make any sales if the sales system is broken in the first place?
You’re not actually getting as much traffic as you think. This one is an issue that crops up occasionally, particularly on homemade sites that don’t run standard ecommerce solutions and analytics. You might be checking and seeing high traffic numbers, but your sales are exceptionally low. The problem in this case lies in the implementation of the analytics. If you accidentally paste in the code twice, for example, it might be reporting twice the number of visitors.
Your sales and support lines don’t work. Sometimes people want a little more information before they make a purchase, and they want to contact you directly. If you don’t have contact information available, that’s a lost sale. This is also why live chat plugins are so popular and why having a dedicated sales staff, even for a largely online system, is a good idea.
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