There are three types of business owners when it comes to websites. There are those with their head in the sand and refuse to believe they need a website, or any sort of online presence (see why I don’t believe a Facebook page is enough). The next type are those who accept they need a website, dutifully go out and purchase one and then promptly ignore it, allowing it to quietly wither and die.
The last group (and if you’re a business owner hopefully you fall into this category) are the ones who recognise the irresistible growth of online commerce (in the US it has been growing at least 15% every year), get a website and then make it an integral part of how they do business.
This last group are the fortunate ones who will be reaping the benefits as their shifting customer base becomes increasingly expectant of being able to do business online – from the initial enquiry right through to a completed sale and after-sales service.
Converting visitors – The sales funnel
To make money from your website you need to understand how a sales funnel works. If the concept is new sometimes the best way to understand it is to think in terms of a regular brick’n’mortar store:
- Get people through the front door – this could be done by advertising, street signs, promotions or loss leaders.
- Once in the store you think about how to convert browsers into buyers – effective product presentation, in-store music, limited offers, even certain smells.
- Upsells & cross-sells – looking for effective ways to add value to every sale and increase the per customer revenue.
- Completing the sale – closing well and ensuring the customer is satisfied with their purchase (minimising buyer remorse).
The process isn’t that much different with an online store, except it’s much easier to measure somebody’s progress through the sales funnel including tracking where they came from and where they dropped out of the funnel.
The sales funnel diagram (see image on this page) highlights the individual stages of the funnel and business owners need to sit down and analyse each step to troubleshoot and identify areas they could be losing potential business.
Sales Funnel Troubleshooting – Common Issues
Being aware of the sales funnel is really the first step in fixing it (if it’s broken). To understand that your website is simply a tool to be used in attracting and converting customers is central to getting the most from it.
To help with troubleshooting your sales funnel here are some good questions to consider:
- Are you tracking visitors to your website? You can’t manage what you’re not measuring. All PogoStick websites include JetPack tracking that allows you to login and view basic information about how many visitors your site is getting and where they’re coming from. More advanced tracking is available with Google Analytics. Tracking conversions should be a priority – knowing how many visitors sign-up, contact you or buy something is a key part of measuring success.
- Are you promoting your website? In most cases, it’s unlikely people will magically stumble across your website. Remember you’re competing with millions of other websites (see Why can’t I see my website in Google’s search results?). You need to actively promote your website – everywhere! Online or offline, signage, fliers, even on your invoices. Click here for more ideas.
- Do you have a clear goal for your website? Can you summarise in one sentence what you want visitors to do when they arrive at your website? If you can then consider how well the website is supporting that goal – is it clear to the average person what you want them to do? Most visitors are happy to be lead down a path but you need to make sure it’s really obvious (see Steve Krug’s book “Don’t make me think”).
- How are you measuring success? This ties in with the first point on tracking, but analytics alone are not enough – you need to know what your barometer of success is. Is it leads? Is it sales over $100? Is it referrals? With Google Analytics you can setup goals for specific events, which can help you clearly see when you’re winning!
- Are you continually testing? What might have worked last year may not be as successful now. You need to do what they call “split testing” or “A/B testing”, which is pitting two sales pages side by side to see which performs better. There are lots of tools available now to do this including Optimizely or VWO. Google also allows you to perform content experiments when advertising with them. Even without the tools it pays to vary your sales method from time to time to test the market. Just make sure your measurement are fair and objective.
Mastering the sales funnel means more sales
The better you get at understanding how the sales funnel applies to your business, the better you get at successfully pushing visitors through to the end. You also get better at adding more qualified visitors at the start of the funnel, another factor that improves your success rate.
But you need the right tools to get started. If you don’t yet have a website for your business, you can get one for under $300. If you have a website but need help get in touch!