• Jennifer Fortney Cascade PR

2018 Checklist: 5 Reasons Your Website Isn't Selling


Any PR agency can get your business media attention that will drive traffic to your website, however, not many of them care about the health and ability of your website to actually sell to the traffic we drive.

Since 2001, Cascade Communications has conducted public relations for a variety of companies, small businesses and startups. Helping to grow a number of them into million-dollar businesses. But, there was always a problem once the campaign was complete - a handful of clients would get huffy about paying us.

That's crazy. We did our job. We generated huge amounts of interest from media and tons of stories in reputable media. So, why don't they want to pay us?

It's simple really, and I get it.

Yes, we did our job of creating awareness through the news media and securing a load of interviews, mentions and inclusions in local and national media. We got the traffic to our client's websites, but the traffic wasn't buying. in fact, they would bounce right off. So, our clients, expecting to pay us from the revenue generated through public relations, simply couldn't afford to pay us.

I had to do something to really ensure the success of our clients, and of my agency.

That's when I decided to expand Cascade from just a public relations agency in Chicago, to an all out marketing communications agency that includes website design, SEO, content, video, photography and more. We stopped telling client's stories only to media, and started helping them tell their story across all platforms. See, they're all connected.

Moving forward, I wanted to ensure that all of our clients were truly successful in achieving their goals of growth, and that we could all bask in the glory at the close of the campaign.

You see, I realized why these websites weren't selling. They failed to connect. So, I struck out to evaluate and help ensure client's success in driving sales, as well as media attention.

Successful marketing makes an emotional connection with consumers.

This has always been true. Successful websites, in particular, make an immediate connection with the customer by addressing their pain points, and how they can solve it. They use photos of real, happy people, or invest in high-quality product photos with real people, to create a desire for their product; something a customer can look at, relate to and say "I want to be that person".

These companies know how to tell their story!

Often times, when you're in the weeds of running your business, it can be hard to take a step

back and look at your business as a first time customer. A key part to a website, and successful marketing that has an impact on sales, is telling a compelling story that generates Desire. That story can be translated in a variety of ways across all platforms, although a thoughtful strategy is required for each.

Today, great marketing is all about a story that invokes an emotional connection. If that connection and desire are strong enough, they will pay anything for your product or service.

Maybe you think you have a fantastic story. However, if it's not generating sales, than your story isn't what you think it is. It's actually far better than you believe!

Here are some other ways why your website isn't generating sales;

1. The layout and design are dated - Perception is 9/10ths of the rule, always, and aesthetics are everything with websites, as it is all of your marketing. If it doesn't look like you've smartly invested in putting your best foot forward, then perception will be that it is not of value or that you're a teeny tiny company that is desperate for a sale.

Even a new website that uses an outdated design can cause people to bounce right off. You have to understand the new forms of design and what appeals to people. Customers have preferences in design and layout (i.e. userability) that, along with content, can make all of the difference to your website's success in selling.

It's amazing how many websites I come by that do not put the user experience first. If it's too difficult to find what I want, I am checking out fast.

The key to your website design is that your it should be built around the story of your company and how you tell it to customers on your website. Take the time to map out your story and how you will tell it to entice interest of customers.

2. Quality content is KING - It seems that there are a lot of differing opinions in the web design world on how much content a website should contain. Now, most of these people are simply designers. They are not marketing professionals. I can tell you in my years of research and mastering of SEO, that content is still king when it comes to search. Better yet, quality content is king.

What does this mean? More is not always better, but genuine, keyword-friendly written content (not read: list of keywords), even if it's only one meaningful paragraph can be more productive than a ton of copy loaded with keywords. Yes, you want to use keywords, but you still need to keep content authentic. Your customers will notice.

Keywords may get people to your site from search, but great, high-quality content, incorporating those keywords, that quickly makes a connection is what will get people to click "Buy Now", or to utilize the various calls to action to explore your website to learn more.

3. Communicate effectively - People don't have time to read tons and tons of copy. Nor do they want to or need to when your competitor's website is much easier to use and understand.

It can take practice and a lot of editing, but learning to shorten your messaging to the point, and not wax on into tangents that will drive away customers, can be worth your time and energy. You will be surprised how it will help you tell your story in marketing materials, an elevator or short pitch, even on social media.

This is what you should focus on:

  • Put your Value Proposition up front

  • Describe the problem everyone can relate to

  • Show how you can solve the problem

  • Tell them why it will change their life

  • "For the incredible price of only..."

  • Testimonials

  • Contact us - make it easy to get in touch by enabling IM through your website, a direct email that you can respond to quickly or a phone call to a number you will answer immediately 9a-10p daily.

This may seem over simplified, but this is what people want in this stage of the buying decision process.

4. Graphics and photos make the ultimate connection - When you use high-quality photos of happy people using your product or looking like a satisfied customer, other potential customers feel they can relate to those people. Mostly, they want to be like them; They want to be the happy people in the photo and they can only become those people if they buy your product!

You can see why it's important to invest in high-quality photographs, either with your product or through websites like iStock. Because, again, perception is all that matters. You want people to imagine themselves happier because of your product or service.

5. Not enough calls to actions or internal links - Some customers will hit your website home page, or landing page, browse and pull the trigger right away. These customers just need a few "Buy Now" buttons strategically placed to make the order.

Other people have the personality type that requires them to thoroughly research your company and product. They're afraid of buyers remorse. They're also concerned with the time and energy that it may require to return it if they don't like it. So, you need to provide calls to action for them to click to learn more - about the company, about you the founder, the features and benefits, about the materials or the process of your service, and more.

Remember that the key to understanding how to properly market your business for growth is cohesive messaging and approach to communicating to customers - finding your compelling story and telling it across all platforms.

PR and advertising can drive traffic to your website (i.e. store front), however, if your website messaging doesn't link, if the design and graphics don't jive with visitors, then they will not buy and the marketing you've done, spent money on, will be wasted.

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