In this article, I’ll explain the following:
- Why some websites that “look good” do not and will not generate leads… and a general remedy for this common problem
- My Value Proposition & Differentiation Test
- My Problem Solving vs. Products/Services Test
- My Sales Proactivity Test
- My Proof Test
- My Conversion Dynamics/Calls To Action Test
- My Technical Test
- The reason why I install heat map tracking, and leave it running
Many of the websites I inherit when working with a new client or organisation have clearly been assembled by a talented designer – which, from my perspective, is bloody great because I’ve got a strong foundation to build upon. A strong design communicates quality, attitude, and credibility… and a visually pleasing website can leave a lasting and memorable impact on a visitor. However, a website with a striking design doesn’t always produce leads or sales – which is not good for the guy or girl accountable for sales and marketing ROI, and/or business growth.
This is a pretty common problem. Many sites have been built to look and feel great – but unknowingly via an exclusive exchange for conversion performance. These sites pack a visual punch, but provide no real problem solving or outcome providing value to their visitors… which means the site will struggle to invoke a commercial response from a visitor. Nice looking websites lacking in a conversion strategy are effectively a digital piece of art, open wide for interpretation.
For a website to generate leads or sales, it needs to successfully sell the value of the company or entity it represents. This is achieved via a combination of design and copy components – with a strong emphasis on sales copy. It’s widely accepted in direct-response and conversion circles that a site that looks “average” but has strong sales copy will convert much better than a site that looks “great” but contains little or no sales copy.
In other words, design, and design alone won’t generate a flood of leads or sales. To my friends in advertising, I’m not sorry I said that. What does generate leads and sales is a combination of design, copy, and other tactical conversion elements that I will explain below.
Because I deal with the above situation reasonably frequently, I’ve time-tested a 15 minute strength check process that I use to audit an organisation’s site. When I run this process, I usually end up with a list of action items I need to address to improve the conversion strength of the site. Let me tell you more about it.
Introducing the “15 Minute Strength Check” Process
This “strength check” process is designed to be used quickly on any lead generating or sales generating website… so if your site generates phone calls, opt-ins, enquiries, bookings, or sales, read on.
The purpose of this process is to identify any conversion bottlenecks that may be inhibiting the direct-response capability of your site.
These checks and tests focus on a few different elements – general sales strength, relevance to the prospect, tactical design/copy components and site mechanics (load times, mobile compatibility etc.).
I’ve loaded this process up into a checklist style format, containing multiple ‘tests’, so you can use it on your own site to identify areas for improvement.
If you answer “no” to any of these, you’ve got low-hanging fruit. Let’s get into it.
Value Proposition & Differentiation Test
This test makes sure your Unique Value Proposition, and your key points of differentiation, are clearly presented on your site. Your Unique Value Proposition, and smaller derivatives called Unique Value Statements, are tools that strategically differentiate your organisation from your competitors. Read more here.
- Does your site clearly and quickly communicate exactly how you provide value to your target customers? On other words, if a BRAND NEW customer, visits your site, will they QUICKLY (< 4 seconds) understand what you can do for them? Assume they have never heard of you before.
- Does your site cater to customers who may be in the awareness stage where they do not yet know a solution exists for their problem? In other words, don’t assume all of your customers know what your service or product will do for them.
- Does your site clearly communicate how you are different to your competitors?
- Does your site clearly communicate your experience and unique thought leadership?
Problem Solving vs. Products/Services Test
Everything you say on the site needs to either demonstrate how you can solve the prospect’s problem or provide them with an outcome they desire. Anything else is noise and will interfere with your site’s ability to convince your traffic to take action. Remember – people buy desired outcomes, not processes. The goal here is to focus less on your products or services (your features) and more on the outcomes you provide (your benefits).
- Does your site focus on solving a problem or providing an outcome for your prospects, instead of selling a product or service?
- Does your site clearly explain an understanding of those problems/desired outcomes, and then explain how you solve them?
Sales Proactivity Test
Your website should be considered part of your sales team – and should sell your value and overcome common pre-conceived objections with a sense of proactivity. In other words, you site should contain collateral that proactively convinces your prospects through your sales process, and should provide them with as much decision making information as possible, namely:
- Copy item: Ten Reasons Why You Should Choose <Brand Name> For Your <Insert Unique Service//Offering>?”
- Copy item: Frequently Asked Questions (at least ten FAQs that are commonly asked during your sales process)
- Copy Item: Two column matrix explaining Common Industry Problems and Your Solutions To Those Common Problems
- Copy Item: A piece of collateral that appeals to prospects in the information-gathering stage, at the TOP of your funnel (eg. a Whitepaper, checklist, Ebook)
- Copy Item: A persona page that addresses the core problems of each of your distinct persona types
Your sales copy should also pass the “So What” Test, also known as the “What’s In It For Me Test”, whereby EVERY written statement, sentence, paragraph, etc. should be criticised with the question “So What?”.
If the question can’t be answered by the statement/sentence/paragraph, it should be removed. For example, saying “we have been in the industry for ten years” doesn’t pass the “So What” test. It can be fixed by saying “we have been in the industry for ten years so we know exactly what lawnmower you should buy to get that bluddy nice criss-cross pattern on your front lawn”. Remember – people are only interested in something that provides them with a gain or benefit. And you can probably tell what my front lawn looks like.
Your website should be swimming in proof elements – remember, your prospects love to see evidence of the work you do. Proof elements come in the form of the following:
- Proof of your skills and experience (pictures of the work you do, product shots, before and after comparisons)
- Proof of your qualification (certificates, qualifications, accreditations, badges)
- Proof of your results – eg. testimonials (written testimonials, video testimonials, ratings)
Conversion Dynamics/Calls To Action Test
Your website should be engineered to promote the next logical call to action in your prospects’ decision making process. Here’s what you need to do to make this happen:
- Does your site feature calls to action suitable for prospects at different stages of the decision making process? For example: Research phase – Top Of Funnel Offer (Whitepaper or voucher). Consideration phase – Bottom Of Funnel Offer (Free Consultation).
- Does a call to action exist on every page?
- Is the VALUE of each call to action explained clearly and succinctly?
- Are the ‘next logical steps’ of each call to action explained clearly and succinctly?
- Are forms engineered with a minimal amount of perceived conversion friction?
- Does your phone number exist on every page, in the top right hand corner?
- Does every page pass the “squint” test, whereby the call to action stands out when you squint your eyes and look at the page?
- Is each and every page engineered for minimal ‘friction’ and maximum ‘thrust’ when it comes to conversion elements?
There are a handful of technical items you need to cover off to ensure the site loads quickly and appears correctly on all devices.
- Does the site rate >90 on the Google Page Speed Test?
- Are goals being tracked?
- Does telephone call tracking exist?
- Are remarketing codes existent?
- Do thank you pages contain conversion tracking code?
- Does the 404 page contain core site Calls To Action?
Heat Map Installation
Lastly, I’ll then install some heat map tracking software to the site, to visualise where people are clicking.
This information can be used to work out potential conversion rate optimisation opportunities.
I hope the above provides value to you.