The company owner believed she needed to re-do her ecommerce website because sales were lagging. Her ecommerce website sold courses to particular industries.
She wasn’t familiar with Google Analytics, so she didn’t know whether it was a traffic problem or a conversion problem once traffic got to her site.
She was also short on cash. So she looked for the cheapest option advertised in a free publication that was circulated in her area.
Her website wasn’t selling products sold by their looks — she was selling products sold by the sales copy. So content was likely much more important than the design of the website. She needed to find a resource that could improve her content.
But the owner didn’t realize that — she just thought she needed a new website. But if you put the old content (that is no longer selling) into a shiny new website, it’s still the old content you’re relying on to sell the product.
It was clear after talking with the web development agency that many on the team were from other countries. But the company owner didn’t think about what that meant for the ability of her website content to sell.
If she had realized she probably needed new content, she might have looked for a resource with copywriters for which English is their first language. But she didn’t look for a solution that could address WHY her sales were declining.
So the project began.
The team copied content from the company owner’s prior websites, and loaded that content into the new website. They charged the company owner $500 a month to optimize a few of those pages each month for search engines.
After the site was up for a few months, the company owner began to wonder why she was continuing to pay $500 a month for SEO. Organic traffic wasn’t growing. And sales were still down from states that used to be strong markets for her.
What had gone wrong from a sales perspective?
The ecommerce website needed a stronger sales approach — with stronger sales copy.
The company had some key points of differentiation — but they only appeared on the Home page, and nowhere else on the website. Their online advertising and email efforts were linking to other more specific pages on the website — so that traffic may have never seen those points of differentiation.
If the company was familiar with Google Analytics, they could have reviewed the Landing Pages on the website — and computed what percentage of sessions didn’t start on the Home page. And that may have helped them realize the importance of getting the points of differentiation on their Landing Pages.
(The “marketing consultant” the company was using for email and online ads also apparently wasn’t paying attention to what was on the Landing Pages.)
Sadly, the owner blindly assumed the web development agency knew what they were doing. And they very well may have understood how to build WordPress websites. But what they didn’t understand at all was how to build ecommerce websites that sell.
So the web development agency never considered putting the points of differentiation on the product pages. And the company owner didn’t question their actions.
Further, apparently, neither the company nor the web development agency actually reviewed the sales content that was loaded on the new website. Unfortunately, the majority of course descriptions had an old date of publication listed. And the site was littered with typos and other problems that should have been cleaned up, had someone actually read the copy.
What about the Search Engine Optimization?
Many web developers will load an SEO plug-in into WordPress, and let it create SEO elements by default. The “Page Title” (which becomes the headline of each page listing on Google.com) is coded to drop in the name of the page, and sometimes tack the site name onto the Page Title as well.
But the name of the page may or may not contain the keywords your audience is searching for to find your product. And the name of your website isn’t needed in Page Title, and just dilutes the power of the other Page Title keywords. Creating Page Title this way rarely results in an effective headline on Google.com.
If you don’t load a Description for each page into the SEO plug-in, Google pulls content from the page to use as the description on Google.com. That content may or may not be written to get searchers to click on your organic listing.
The SEO that the company did for their $500 a month involved creating Page Titles for a few pages that did include keywords. But they didn’t create descriptions using the company’s points of differentiation to help increase clicks on the listings.
And for a website like this with over 200 pages, it launched with only a handful of optimized pages. Organic traffic was dismal.
What are small businesses to do, when their expertise is not in Google Analytics, websites, or marketing in general?
Step one for solving any sales problem should be to identify WHY you’re having the problem. “We need a new website” is rarely the solution to solve either sales problems or lead generation problems — without understanding WHERE the problems lie.
If you’re not able to review Google Analytics in-house, give Google Analytics access to any web development agency you’re considering, and let them analyze your situation. Or you can hire a consultant for an hour or two to review your reports. Focus on traffic from the marketing tactics you’re using (which includes Organic traffic from your SEO efforts), and have the agency/consultant look at conversion from traffic to sales (or leads).
Have the agency/consultant identify where problems or opportunities lie, so you have a correct DIAGNOSIS of what’s going on.
- Maybe your traffic-driving tactics aren’t as strong as they used to be. That’s a separate problem from the website.
- Maybe your Organic traffic isn’t growing. That means your SEO needs work.
- Maybe you’re converting too few visitors to customers. For an ecommerce website, that usually means your content isn’t selling.
Once you understand exactly why your sales are declining, you can then pursue the right strategies to solve the problem.
If your problem is conversion, be sure to ask web development agencies for their specific recommendations on how to solve that particular problem. Only when you find a team that offers a solution to your particular problem will you be investing your dollars wisely.
More from our new book, “The Results Obsession: ROI-Focused Digital Strategies to Transform Your Marketing” now available on Amazon. If you’re considering improving your website, this book will walk you step-by-step through the process.
Learn more about The Results Obsession and see the Table of Contents
The book includes chapters on: accurately diagnosing your opportunities for improvement using Google Analytics, identifying why your customers buy, crafting Sales Offers, planning and editing the best copy of your life in all media, evaluating your website navigation, website design and content, and improving your website copy.