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Karen Eisenbraun / Inbound marketing strategy  / 5 common website mistakes that hurt your conversion rates
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5 common website mistakes that hurt your conversion rates

In the early days of the Internet, most websites functioned like online brochures: All you had to do was write a few pages about your company and your services, make sure your phone number was prominent, include a contact form, and you were good to go. These brochure sites were basically response channels — a method of providing more information to someone who was already familiar with your business or your brand and who perhaps needed some additional information before making a purchase.

These days, the way that people search for information and make decisions has changed. Assuming your website is properly optimized for search engines so that users can find you, visitors may arrive at your site knowing nothing about you or your business.

Most website visitors don’t take any sort of action on the first visit. They’ve arrived at your site because it contains information that can somehow answer a question or help them solve a problem. But many websites still adhere to an outdated format that fails to convert these users who are still early in the research process (or what we in the inbound world call the buyer’s journey).

The following are some of the most common mistakes I see when companies come to me with outdated websites. Sites that make these mistakes likely aren’t providing a good user experience or getting the conversion rates the company needs to generate qualified leads.

Mistake #1: Putting what YOU think is the most important content on every single page

I once saw a website that contained about 250 pages that all said more or less the same thing. The business owner wanted lots of content, but he wanted all the content to make the same points.

This is bad for a number of reasons. You’re not providing your users with the information that is important to them or that can answer their questions. You’re also running the risk of having duplicate content on your site (blocks of content that are either identical or what Google considers “appreciably similar”). Not only does this provide a poor user experience, but it could be seen by Google as an attempt to manipulate the search engine, and could have detrimental effects on your search engine rankings.

Mistake #2: Making your content all about yourself

Sorry to break it to you, but when visitors come to your website, they aren’t that interested in you (unless, of course, you’re a major celebrity and they’re on your fan site, but that’s not what we’re talking about here).

Those visitors are on your website to get an answer to a question or solve a problem. They’re thinking about themselves and their own needs. If your site content is all about you and how great you are, they will lose interest pretty quickly and go to a different website — one that is more focused on their issues.

Depending on your industry, your experience and qualifications may indeed be relevant, but should be reserved for a page that is specific to that information, where your site visitors can find it once they reach that point in their research process — which is usually at the end of the buyer’s journey.

Mistake #3: Pushing people to make a decision before they’re ready

If your website constantly asks people to buy your product or schedule an appointment, and if every email you send out pushes them to do the same, they will quickly tire of your message.

On average, at least 50 percent of the people who come to your website are qualified leads but are not yet ready to make a decision. Depending on how long the sales cycle is for your industry, you may need multiple types of value-added content that can keep these site visitors engaged while they continue their research.

Mistake #4: Putting the same CTA (call to action) on every page

This is directly related to the last item. Our clients often think they can just have one CTA and put it on every page on their site, but depending on the content on that page — and where it falls into the buyer’s journey — you should offer your site visitors something different. Think of an e-book, a data sheet, a quiz, or something else that provides them with additional information.

Ideally, your CTA on each page should correspond directly to the content on that page and to the search queries that people are using to arrive at the page. It should also align with the appropriate stage of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, or decision.

Mistake #5: Not nurturing leads who express an interest but fall earlier in the buyer’s journey

Many marketing automation tools make it easy to set up workflows that automatically trigger communication with people who have expressed interest in your products or services (by downloading a content offer or subscribing to your blog), but fall earlier in the buyer’s journey.

Setting up these workflows can help you ensure that you stay in contact with site visitors who may be qualified leads but aren’t yet ready to buy. Nurturing relationships in this way is a major tenet of inbound marketing and will help keep your business top of mind as users continue the process of identifying their needs and considering solutions.

<p>Karen Eisenbraun is a professional writer and a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She has written on the subjects of nutrition, yoga, and natural living for many leading websites, including Livestrong.com. She is the Director of Content for a Platinum-level HubSpot partner agency specializing in healthcare marketing, and has been named one of the top 50 Inbound Marketing experts on Twitter.</p>
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