Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Increasingly, entrepreneurs are leaning on their websites to do the selling on behalf of their business. This is advantageous in many ways. It’s automated, it’s easy to make adjustments, and you may not have to pay for a full in-house sales team to manage it.
However, it’s important to realize that most websites never reach their full sales potential. They never generate as many sales, or as much revenue, as they could under different circumstances. This is difficult to empirically prove since we might never know what the full potential of a website is. That said, we can reasonably assume that websites could probably sell more — most websites are held back by simple things that can be easily changed.
The deceiving allure of full potential
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to figure out what the true potential of a website is. That’s because there’s almost always room for subsequent growth, whether that’s reaching new audience members, achieving a higher conversion rate or boosting some other important metric. In some ways, it’s an exercise in futility to try and reach that full potential, because you’ll never end up getting there. But it’s also a valuable motivational tool and baseline philosophy to assume that there are always improvements that can help your website achieve higher sales.
Related: Shortcut to the Perfect Sales Call
It’s relatively easy to commit to a small, limited goal like boosting your conversion rate by a specific percentage within a specific frame of time. It’s much harder to commit to a culture of ongoing improvement and near-constant changes.
Common mistakes that limit sales growth
There are many possible reasons why your website isn’t generating sales — or as many sales as you want.
Inconsistent branding. It could be a large, somewhat generic problem, such as inconsistent branding. If it’s not clear what your company does or what it stands for, people aren’t going to be interested in buying from you. The same is true if your branding efforts on the website aren’t different from the branding efforts you’ve made in other capacities, such as in your traditional marketing and advertising campaign.
Uncompelling offers. If you want people to buy something, you need to price it and market it appropriately. If your offer isn’t compelling, it doesn’t matter how many people are visiting your website — they’re not going to buy. Market research is your best tool for figuring out whether your products are genuinely appealing to your target audience and whether it’s priced correctly.
Site functionality issues. Does your site work correctly on all browsers and all devices? If a person has difficulty viewing your content, or if they can’t navigate your pages easily, they may leave and return.
Poorly written content. Even if you’re not into content marketing, you should recognize the value of having competently written content. If your website content or your calls to action are sloppily written, it’s going to be discouraging for prospective customers.
Audience targeting issues. It’s also possible that you’re targeting the wrong audience, or you’re reaching your intended audience in non-relevant ways. Revisit your audience research to verify your assumptions and ensure you’re reaching your audience as effectively as possible.
Trust issues. Before you can expect customers to buy from your business, you need them to trust your brand. If your design, your website content or other particular features of your website lead people to distrust your brand, it’s going to be difficult to get people to follow through on sales.
The curse of complacency
Even if you’ve learned from these common mistakes and you have a fantastic sales strategy in place, there’s a chance you’ll never reach your full potential because of complacency. Essentially, this means you reach a certain sales target and feel inclined to maintain the status quo indefinitely. Let’s say your website is generating $100,000 in sales every month; you decide that’s pretty good and even more than you initially expected. Why bother changing the formula if you’re already seeing great results?
You could make the argument that overhauling a strategy at this point would be unpractical and detrimental to business. It’s also a bad idea to simply assume that this is the best you can do. Too many entrepreneurs lock themselves into a relatively low conversion rate simply because they are interested in trying to achieve more. If you want to maximize your chances of success, you need to keep pushing your website for further improvements.
There’s a flip side to the argument. It’s important to realize that you’re not reaching your full potential, and you can push your website to achieve more with the proper research and strategizing. But it’s also important to realize that you can’t afford to mindlessly chase moving goal posts. It’s on you to find the balance and put together the sales strategy you need for your website to be successful.