One of the biggest misconceptions many new entrepreneurs and small business owners have when they set up shop online is that a popular site with a lot of traffic will yield big profits.
It all gets reduced to a simple equation:
Traditional Marketing Efforts + Social Media Initiatives + Good Customer Service => Traffic => Revenue
Of course, there is more that goes into creating a successful website, but you get the point. Traffic should mean profits. Shouldn't it? Unfortunately, it doesn't always go like that, and this can be extremely frustrating to the entrepreneurs and business owners who run these "popular" sites especially considering the time, energy, and money it takes to bring in all that traffic.
If you find that your visitors aren't sticking around to buy, you're not alone. There may be several reasons why your traffic is not leading to sales. Here are three of the most common:
- Your marketing efforts may work, but once consumers reach your site it is difficult to navigate, slow to upload, or too busy to understand, and thus it's turning them away.
- Your content is fun and interesting, so people come to read your articles; however your articles have nothing to do with your company's brand, products, or services.
- People visit your website because it is a great research tool, but it offers no incentive to buy from you specific company.
Fortunately, there are several tried and true strategies out there that you can use to help transform these visitors from general readers and researchers to buyers. Keep in mind, however, that drawing in traffic and building up a solid web presence are typically the hardest steps in ecommerce. If you are already bringing in targeted traffic then you can pat yourself (or your employees) on the back. But only for a moment; you still have bills to pay.
So how can you help turn that traffic into a profit-generating machine? Here are a few tips and considerations:
1. Get the right people to help you.
Many small businesses falter online because in an effort to conserve money they take a DIY approach. The problem is when it comes to online sales generation it's time consuming, it's confusing, and it's constantly changing. Unless you're knowledgeable and skilled in online marketing, chances are you'll need the assistance of someone else who is. And that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on a social media marketing campaign either. Do your research, take a look at the considerations below, and try to determine where you need the help the most.
2. Get to know the leaks in your sales funnel.
Put simply, your sales funnel is the step by step process of building a relationship with your site's visitors that will eventually lead to a sale (or several, increasingly committed sales). A simple example of a sales funnel at work would be offering a free ebook with compelling information, giving visitors the option to sign up for a weekly newsletter with even more fresh, compelling content, then sending an "exclusive offer" to your email subscribers for a for-pay product or service, such as a book, seminar, or consultation.
Obviously, there could be many reasons for the "leaks" along the way, such as content that isn't compelling, or poorly presented and timed approaches. It's another reason why you should invest in professional online marketing assistance or at the very least take the time to get as educated as you can about Internet marketing and use whatever tools you have at your disposal, such as web analytics, to get to know your customers and their buying habits.
3. Set goals for different income streams.
You may be trying to generate income from your site from several different sources simultaneously, such as a product or service you are selling, a hosted advertising network, such as Google Adsense, or outside sponsors and affiliates. Keep in mind that success in these various streams requires different approaches. There is no one-size-fits-all method, and success in one area (ie sales of your product) does not guarantee success in another (ie Adsense).
4. Pay attention to your site's navigation.
Check and see if your site is easy to navigate. If you are driving a lot of traffic to your blog or to a certain webpage, don't assume that that visitors will know about or bother to check out the rest of the content on your site. You have to find a way to let them know (at a glance) what they can expect to find on your site, compel them to check it out, and make it very easy for them to get there, such as by having a clear menu bar(s), linking articles, placing a search box on every page, and recommending similar webpages to the one they're using.
5. Conduct promotions.
Begin factoring in a deal or a coupon that readers will find enticing. You have the traffic; now help them to see your special promotions. And be very careful about holding your readers hostage with your promotions by putting them in the center of the page with big flashing letters and blocking out the rest of the content. You may have more success by placing promotions prominently on your webpage and giving your visitors the option of perusing them.
Moreover, pay attention to those visitors who have already shown some commitment. If you offer something to your loyal readers only, they will likely feel special and will be more likely to take advantage of the opportunity. Make the deals time-sensitive so that they are "special," and continue to offer special deals throughout the year. It might even help build excitement if you announce when the deals will be coming to your site.
6. The power of referrals.
If you have a lot of traffic but little revenue, it could be due to the fact that many of the people visiting your site really don't need your products. However, there is a good chance that your visitors know someone who would benefit from your product. Make connections with your regular visitors through social media and article comments, and then ask for referrals.
If you are already generating targeting traffic to your website then making money through it can just be a matter of knowledge and time. Lend yourself a bit to both of them, and you may find that success if not far off. After all, being popular is great, but you also want to be richer.
Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to HR software. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including business proposals to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading business B2B Directory, Business.com.