While it might seem that your business’s website is the most important part of your online marketing it’s really just a piece of technology that makes up a much larger marketing or customer acquisition strategy.
It all starts with a marketing or sales funnel. At the top, we have the initial process of acquiring visitors to your website and turning them into customers. At the bottom, we have a purchase, sale or other action that benefits the business.
A marketing funnel is essential to keeping any website discoverable, growing, and profitable through a continuous stream of new customers who are actually motivated to buy. It’s also the most effective way to build the trust and loyalty your brand needs to churn out plenty of returning customers, too.
But, there are many mistakes you can make along the way in your website design or development that will break this funnel, your conversion optimization, and customer acquisition leading to lost revenue.
We’ve identified the most common mistakes on our client’s old websites and the solutions we’ve used to solve them for clients at New Basis over the last 10 years for businesses such as Milani Cosmetics, Aol, a variety consumer and B2B startups, and many others.
In this post we cover finding new customers, converting visitors into revenue, and building trust through web developed focused on conversion optimization and great UX to generate repeat sales.
These solutions include strategy and execution recommendations for organic SEO, organic social, and technical conversion optimization improvements you can make to ensure your investment in your website is living up to its fullest potential.
Whether it’s a broken customer acquisition channel, marketing funnel, or conversion optimization flow, we never start a web development project with a client at New Basis without addressing the issues below. Solving them is essential in earning the full value of your investment in your business website and keeping the flow of customers towards and through your business constant.
Mistake 1: You’re not running organic or paid campaigns to draw people into your website
Customer acquisition is one of the most challenging and time-consuming parts of any business. Given the massive, global nature of online markets today, it’s not surprising that for many it’s almost impossible to find a signal between the noise that defines your target audience and their location.
To reach customers in the vast internet landscape of 2020 most businesses need a mix of social, search and repurposable content marketing to ensure a realistic marketing strategy.
Depending on whether you’re B2B or D2C, this includes organic and paid campaigns crafted for LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and even Facebook. Consistent, organic search engine optimization (SEO) and email campaigns are even more essential in encouraging a continuous stream of customers as we’ll soon find out.
Organic vs. paid campaigns
The difference between paid and organic reach is defined by how your marketing materials are displayed online.
Organic marketing campaigns are strengthened by authentic interactions whether on search results or social. For example, organic SEO strategy focuses on the publication and promotion of content that is naturally promoted towards the top of results pages by search algorithms like Google’s. Organic results come across as more trustworthy; because a business has content deemed by Google’s proprietary methods to be valuable rather than someone who is paying to appear at the top, the destination is seen as having more relevance to your target audience.
Although organic SEO requires persistence, high-quality content marketing, creativity, and a clearly defined strategy, it’s the most cost-effective way to build trust and reach customers on the internet thanks to its longevity and adaptability. Email is extremely similar yet even more cost-effective in the long-term, too.
On social platforms, organic reach often refers to the more authentic interactions between real followers and a brand. Likes, follows and shares from loyal followers are valuable to brands due to their word of mouth marketing power.
Paid social advertising leverages some of this authenticity by targetting existing followers while also exposing the business to targeted audiences outside of their network, such as a competitor’s followers. In this way businesses who are marketing on social media are able to build loyalty among existing customers while promoting products and services to new customers through content marketing, too.
Social campaigns (Instagram, Facebook, etc.)
Paid social ads are unique because they offer technical features not available to regular accounts or users. This makes these advertising products stand out against the regular social updates compared to more organic campaigns.
For example, Instagram offers a number of unique and innovative call to action buttons and tools for shopping eCommerce brands. These special features are included in both paid advertising products sold by Instagram in addition to special functionality if you have over 10,000 followers or a verified account.
The effectiveness of social ad spending is also heavily influenced by your business’s ability to leverage audience targetting. The platform tools offered by social networks allow you to advertise to specific demographics and affinities or even the exact group of people your competitors are currently advertising to as well.
Search campaigns (Google)
Bolstered by innovation in social advertising by its own competitors like those above, Google recently announced new functionality for its own paid ads in search results.
Its latest improvement allows businesses to reach customers with an offer in exchange for an email address. The new Google Lead Form Extensions place a simple email subscription form in exchange for an offer such as a coupon or free gift. Search Engine Journal reported:
Google notes that, in testing, one advertiser reported a 20% higher closing rate for sales leads after implementing lead form extensions.
Trading a customer’s email address for a valuable offer like a coupon or exclusive download is a great way to demonstrate that your brand offers value and is trustworthy.
Content marketing basics
Whether it’s a destination for a paid social or an organic SEO campaign still reaping marketing rewards 12 months after its publication, you’ll need high-quality content to convert visitors or leads into customers.
In addition to being a destination for paid campaigns or other inbound links and marketing, high-quality content is doubly valuable as an automatic, long-term organic SEO strategy for your website. The adaptability of content marketing for organic SEO and even email drip sequences or marketing is another reason why it’s is so valuable and cost-effective in the long-term.
There are many other ways to connect with and subsequently convert visitors into customers after they arrive at your site through a campaign, covered in the next section.
Mistake 2: You don’t have any valuable landing offers or conversion optimization in your content
The best writing in the world won’t get your business new revenue unless your content and messaging present a clear and incentivized path to purchase.
Part of creating this path is defining the value and motivation to buy your products or services among your target audience. Depending on your industry content marketing coupled with conversion strategy could include:
- Demonstrations: Showing visitors how to do something valuable with your product, also known as “customer education”
- Offers: Giving away something for free such as a one-time coupon for new customers only (D2C), or a free download to give away a valuable business tool (B2B)
- Social proof narrative: Use the power of an enthralling narrative to profile how real, happy customers have been successful in using your products or services
While content marketing strategies can vary widely depending on your target audience or industry, for most businesses success is defined by creating a clear path to purchase through narrative storytelling and interface elements or technical functionality that gently push a visitor along towards a sale.
Without a clearly defined path, customers may feel unclear about the value you can offer them, unwelcome and even lost after they arrive. All of these scenarios lead to lost sales and money.
Instead, your website will need to accomplish these 2 actions:
- Direct customers towards a sale, purchase, or clearly defined call to action
- Make a long-term connection with customers so you can continue to persistently communicate with them in the future after they leave (ie: through an email drip campaign or sequence)
The easiest and most cost-effective way to accomplish #2 is through email subscriptions, email list growth, and drip campaigns that personalize messaging based on customer behavior. As we mentioned earlier, email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to market and grow your business.
However, you can’t just expect potential customers to give up their valuable contact info if you don’t have something immediate and valuable to offer them.
That means to achieve #2 you’ll need to fulfill the marketing funnel and conversion optimization of step #1 through an investment in content marketing, web development and user experience (UX) such as call to action buttons, landing pages, creative assets, and more.
While an immediate purchase or sale after a customer first finds your brand may be ideal, most people make buying decisions much more slowly. If you can gather an email address or a social media connection you can ensure your marketing funnel will remain functioning well after an initial visit.
Recommendations for better conversion optimization and marketing funnel strategy
While not all conversion optimization requires technical modifications to your site, the most effective campaigns have unique buttons and interface elements in order to achieve any conversion optimization.
However, landing pages with offers or content marketing don’t have to be particularly special or different from the other pages on your site. For example, great content marketing can really consistent of concise blog posts with specially formatted areas for offers or promos. The goal is to offer valuable content that draws customers closer and closer to making a purchase.
Here are some starter ideas for content that offers value that you can use for your marketing funnel or conversion optimization strategy:
- Require an email to deliver an offer: Most people won’t offer up their email address unless they know they’re getting something valuable in return. To accomplish this, offer an automatic discount (D2C) or offer an easy download for a free business tool (B2B). By requiring a working email address to deliver your offer, you’re guaranteed an “almost free” method to keep in touch with your audience in the long-term. This means the cost of your initial investment in marketing, coupon or download can be extremely worthwhile.
- Continue targeted campaigns after purchase: Repeat customers are some of the most valuable in business. The best way to get them is through regular, persistent social or email marketing personalized after an initial purchase is made.
- Provide one-click options to make a purchase within your content itself: For an eCommerce website, conversion optimization could mean featuring a real product with selectable variations and a clear Add to Bag or Quickshop button right inside a blog post or landing page. This means visitors won’t have to click more than once to make a purchase, reducing friction within your funnel on the path to purchase.
- Present problems and solutions: Talk with real customers to uncover the problems and solutions your products or services solve for them. This allows potential customers to aspire to the success of the solutions your product solves.
- Limit call to action buttons or areas to only 1-3 per page: You don’t want to confuse users or clutter your UX, or come across as overly promotional and therefor desperate, so keep calls to action to just a few per page. Make sure these areas present a clear path to action for customers and don’t overwhelm visitors with too many options which could cause them to close the page out of frustration or lack of direction.
- Demonstrations: Using video or written content demonstrate in real-time how useful and easy it is to use your products or services in everyday life, whether at work or elsewhere. The idea behind the education you provide here is to come across as an essential yet seamless addition to your audience’s current daily routines.
- Social proof: Weave your products or services into the successful narrative of a happy customer. Social proof is especially useful in generating organic traffic and content because it has such strong power in incentivizing others to share your brand via word of mouth, which is the most effective form of advertising in the world.
- Tell a story: Narrative storytelling is some of the most powerful messaging used in any marketing funnel or website. If you have a clear starting and ending point that demonstrates a worthwhile journey, your new customers will have a blueprint to aspire to and replicate the same successes as your past customers.
These are just a few of the reasons conversion optimization and content marketing are so valuable thanks to the long-term connection and persistent messaging it provides. Whether via social marketing, email sequences, or something completely different, the ultimate goal is to keep an open, incentivized avenue to remind your audience that your brand is the best choice for them.
Mistake 3: Your customers don’t trust the quality of your website
In terms of gaining revenue and growing a business, first impressions are everything. The way your website looks and feels affects your relationship with each customer.
When people first experience your brand, whether through an ad or a completely organic campaign, they want to feel a sense of confidence and success in your products or services that they can seamlessly replicate after purchase.
If your landing pages or content marketing look rushed, unpolished or rough around the edges, then customers will assume you’ll treat them the same way.
If, however, you have a well-polished, clean, easy to navigate, and extremely clear experience and functionality on your website, your customers won’t even notice your UX, content, and offerings gently pulling them through your funnel towards a purchase thanks to the confidence and success they feel radiating from your brand from the start.
Achieving this type of trust and professionalism is an important part of all web development. Because there are no actual people to interact at a website face to face, visitors rely on your website and marketing alone to make a choice to purchase… or not!
Developing, clean, refined UX that provides a clear path to action
Because clean, clearly defined and trustworthy user experiences are an essential part of your marketing funnel drawing in successful purchases, design and web development are some of the most important investments you can make in your business.
For something like a marketing or eCommerce website, this not only includes functionality interface buttons and actions that work reliably, easily, and delightfully in sending a visitor towards a successful outcome or purchase, but also the tone and messaging of your content.
To write content and messaging that converts, carefully research, consider and mimic how your target audience is already speaking in an everyday setting. Whether for consumers or business stakeholders, you’ll want your messaging to complement your target audiences’ existing lives.
This type of writing strategy allows you to effectively and seamlessly depict how much of a difference your product or services could make in your target audience’s personal or professional lives every day.
Keep your writing style for target audiences extremely focused. Instead of writing for a huge audience that could include many different styles of language, focus on the most valuable target audience and write as if you’re speaking only them. Whether every single potential customer fits this audience perfectly doesn’t actually matter. The point is that your product or service will fit seamlessly within the aspirational future your potential customer is able to envision for themselves.
Without any campaigns, conversion optimization, or a website developed professionally and cleanly, your brand is essentially adrift in the vastly different “oceans” that make up today’s Internet.
Instead of letting you float along with these same website mistakes, these recommendations provide solutions for a solid marketing strategy consisting of a conversion optimization strategy and funnel that attracts new customers and keeps existing ones coming back for more.
We encourage you to try at least three or more suggestions from this post a few different ways so that you can track with analytics and test which works best for you.
Need further insight? Get in touch to get expert advice and changes for conversion optimization on your website or project.
Founded by Lara Littlefield, New Basis is a custom software development studio led by Lara Littlefield and founded in 2006. Our unique approach to agile software development methods as a fully remote team allow us to build apps, websites, SaaS and eCommerce platforms quickly and efficiently by eliminating traditional cost-centers via automation or helping our clients grow through new sources of revenue.