In my work as a marketing strategist for contractors and the trades, I have met with countless business owners struggling to grow sales. Some were larger companies with elaborate websites, and some had simple websites. But regardless of size, they all faced the same problem: Their websites were not generating leads.
In talking to those business owners about their websites, they often had a misunderstanding of what a website entails. Many see websites as a commodity that they must have. They look to buy a website based on price rather than as an investment that will generate year-after-year returns. By basing a decision on price, the website's design will go to the lowest bidder instead of a company that has experience in creating a lead generating system that takes businesses the distance.
Having analyzed hundreds of websites, I’ve seen the same mistakes over and over again. Here are five possible reasons your website is not generating leads.
1. Lack of Visibility
Perhaps the most common reason websites don’t generate leads is a lack of visibility, or lack of traffic. If your website doesn’t rank on page one of the search engines, Google and Bing for example, and you are not doing any kind of advertising to drive potential customers to your website, then your company is invisible. The only way people will find you or your website is if they know your company name or you hand them a business card.
To generate leads from your website, you need to be visible and you need traffic. Just like sales is a numbers game, so is online lead generation. When I trained real estate agents we used to say it takes 100 suspects to get 10 prospects to generate one sale. In online marketing, it is the same. A great conversion rate on the web is 5% or higher. The average conversion rate is 1% to 2%. So, if you want to make five sales per month, you need to get at least 500 people to your website each month.
The quickest way to generate traffic to your website is to use pay-per-click marketing. With pay-per-click marketing, ads for your company appear at the top of the search engines when customers enter keywords related to your business. When they click on your ad, you are charged a fee for the click.
Depending on the keyword, the cost per click will vary. For instance, today the cost per click for “home builders in Colorado Springs” is $5.23. The cost for “affordable home builders in Colorado Springs” is $3.25. The cost per click is dependent upon how many companies are competing for that keyword.
It is important to have a good mix of keywords. It is equally as important to work with someone who really understands the workings of pay-per-click marketing to manage your ad spend and work on adjusting your ads to increase your ROI.
There is a downside to pay-per-click advertising, though, and that is if you stop advertising, you stop getting traffic. The long-term strategy to drive traffic to your website is to hire a company to optimize your website for the search engines. This process, called search engine optimization, is not marketing. It does not generate leads by itself. But, when your website moves to page one, and ideally within one of the top three organic spots for terms people are using to find companies like yours, you will get traffic to your site without having to pay a monthly pay-per-click ad spend.
If you are getting traffic to your website but visitors are not contacting you, then the question is, what are they doing on your website? Google Analytics combined with Google Search Console is a must-have tool to determine what is and isn’t working with your website. Using these tools, you can know how many visitors are coming to your website, how they got to the website, how long they stay on your site, and where they enter and exit your site.
2. Unprofessional or Lacking Portfolio Photos
Your website in many cases is the first impression a customer gets of your business. Yet many companies skimp on photography. I analyzed a website for a tile contractor that came to me recently. Her website was ranking on page one for 24 keywords, but she said her website wasn’t generating any leads.
The first thing I did was look at Google Analytics to see her website’s traffic numbers. She was getting plenty of people to her website, but no one was contacting her. So, I dug deeper and looked to see where people were exiting her website.
What I found was that 25% of the people who visited her website left the site after viewing the project portfolio page. When I viewed the page, I understood why. There were two pictures that were taken by her with her cell phone, but they weren’t staged in any way. While the tile work in the photo was very nice, you had to look over tools and pans sitting on the kitchen counter to see the work.
Your website must showcase your best work. Hire a skilled photographer. You don’t necessarily need a professional photographer, but one that knows about lighting and that will stage the photo for you.
If you are doing renovation work, have before and after photos taken from the same vantage point so the visitor can easily see the differences. A little planning before taking photos will go a long way in making you look great.
3. Missing Call-to-Action
In sales we say "ABC," always be closing. The equivalent to that in websites is always have a call-to-action. I have seen many websites missing the call-to-action. Essentially, the website gives a lot of information on the company’s product or service and then says, “for more information contact us.”
That’s great, but website visitors need direction. Your website needs to very specifically tell them how to reach you and it needs to be easy.
A call-to-action on your website needs to be in two forms. The first is your call-to-action within the text of your site. It should say, for example, “To learn more about our custom home building offerings, fill out our convenient contact form or for immediate assistance call us today at 719-555-1212.”
In this call-to-action, the phone number should be setup as click-to-call so smart phone users can click on the phone number to dial. The whole call-to-action should be in a different font and set apart from the rest of the content on the site so it is easily recognizable.
The second is a form on your website. We recently worked with a client whose site only had the call-to-action in the text of the site. Once we added a “Request a Quote” form in the right column of all the services pages, he started getting leads.
4. Misaligned Content
When visitors come to your website, they are typically looking to answer a question. Many people start researching new homes or home renovation projects months before they are actually ready to buy. So, in preparation they head to the web to see what it will cost, get ideas of what they might buy, and even compare offerings. What I see time and time again is that websites are not designed to answer the questions customers are looking to answer. Instead, they give the information owners and salespeople want them to know.
Take for instance a custom home builder we worked with recently. His website had a lot of information and gorgeous examples of his work, but visitors were not requesting to meet with him. After working with him at a local home show we noticed that people in the booth first looked at the photos of his work and then they asked for floor plans. He didn’t have floor plans on his website because he said he can build whatever the customer wanted. But customers want a place to start. They want something to build on. So, we added a few of a variety of floor plans that he has built to his website.
Understanding how your customers think and what questions they always ask is important when building or redesigning your website.
5. Lack of Attention
The biggest reason business websites don’t generate leads is because business owners don’t understand what is required to create a lead generating machine and they don’t give their website the attention that it needs.
Just like building a home, building a website is part art, part science. Building a website that generates a steady stream of leads takes time, testing, and analysis.
I always tell my customers, you wouldn’t put an ad in the newspaper for 52 weeks and leave it there if it wasn’t generating business, and so you shouldn’t let your website sit if it is not generating business.
Your website can be a powerful player in the success of your company, but as a business owner you need to understand that this is not the Field of Dreams. They will not come just because you build it. A website can be your best salesperson, but it needs to be nurtured and tended to.