Website traffic may feel like a problem solved. Google analytics go in the right direction, people are finding you in search, and the numbers look good.
And then nobody buys.
We get this question a lot: why aren’t my website visitors buying? The short answer is simple: you either have the wrong traffic (low intent or just wrong people) or the wrong offer. These are fixable problems, and as long as you have some traffic, you will be able to use that traffic to generate sales. But, it may take longer than you expected.
A year ago, I wrote a blog post for an accountant. The SBA at the time required a form for the EIDL loans that wasn’t available. The searches for this form were through the roof, and I had a PDF version of the form. So, I created a simple post: “Here is the form,” and traffic exploded.
We ranked #1 for the search the next day and started getting thousands of hits a week. And how many clients did we get out of this? Zero. At first, we didn’t even get newsletter subscribers, and the bounce rate was close to 100%.
We had the wrong traffic. There are two possible problems when you have the wrong traffic: low intent and the wrong people.
The wrong people
You may have a great post that everyone is interested in, but it has nothing to do with what you are selling.
Our site, Start Grow Manage, exists to help entrepreneurs build businesses. I may get a million visitors by writing a post on Pokemon that ranks in the top 10 Google searches. Still, nobody who visits our site to read about Pokemon will be interested in what we offer.
So, we get lots of traffic but no sales because these are the wrong people.
Therefore, the first thing to check is: are we talking to the right people.
In the Start Grow Manage case: posting Pokemon on our website would be an utter waste of time that we should avoid at all costs. Pokemon aficionados are the wrong people.
(Unless at some point we start a Pokemon-themed business advice service, but that isn’t going to happen, seriously I don’t even really know what Pokemon is).
To fix the wrong people problem, design content that speaks to the right people. Answer questions that your ideal customer avatar has, identify keywords they are researching, and create content that helps them.
- Use the Google Search trick to find more keywords and questions.
- Research questions on Reddit or Quora.
- Use Facebook groups to find questions.
The accountant case is more interesting than the Start Grow Manage case because the people were the right people. The accountant targeted small business owners, and the people who needed this form were running small businesses.
We had the right people, so we had to move on to thinking about intent.
Intent determines what people will do on your site.
A high intent visitor visits your website intending to take the action you want them to take.
If you are selling something, then they are there to buy. If you want visitors to subscribe, they are there to subscribe.
When you run a google ad, you run the ad for a specific need and specific product so that the intent is high. For example, imagine you sell Pokemon t-shirts. You can run an ad for people searching for Pokemon t-shirts and be pretty sure that their intent to buy is very high when they click on that ad.
In the accountant case, however, we were selling accounting services. We knew we had the right people, small business owners, but they had zero intent to buy. So they were trying to solve an immediate problem: “how do I apply for the EIDL?” they’d download the form and be off.
They had no interest in learning anything more about our accounting services.
How to fix low intent:
To fix low intent, buy traffic that matches the action you want your visitors to take. If you want them to read a blog post, buy traffic to read the blog post. If you want them to purchase, buy traffic that intends to buy.
Notice the words “buy traffic.” You can’t fix intent by restructuring your website. Intent is inherent in the person and the actions they are taking. Intent is a given once they get to the website.
By buying traffic, you can get much more specific about intent.
It will take some tuning:
Try an ad.
See if it works.
Hone it to find the high intent buyers who make a purchase.
For our accountant problem, we identified that the intent was low; there wasn’t anything we could do about that, so we had to move on to thinking about the offer.
You are making the wrong offer
While you can’t fix intent, you can change your offer so that it aligns more closely with your visitor’s goal.
For example: if I have a lot of Pokemon interested visitors, I can offer them something Pokemon-related. They are much more likely to buy that than my entrepreneurial offerings.
You will get more sales by matching your visitor and your offer.
If you have the right visitor, then the question is as much when they will buy as it is whether they will buy.
You can think of your visitors in these categories. Those who will:
- buy now.
- buy soon.
- buy someday.
- never buy.
Your low intent visitors are not in the “buy now” category. Many of them will be in the “buy never” category. But, a percentage of them fit in the “buy soon” or “buy someday” categories.
In the accounting case, we had people very thankful for the information that we were providing. However, they were not interested in buying now. So our sale had to move from “hire us to do accounting work” to “let us follow up with you.”
One powerful way to do this is to gate your content. Drive traffic and ask for an email address to get the goods. Gated content is a great way to build your list, and email is a fantastic marketing tool. Once you get their email, you are ready to go.
We didn’t want to do gate our content because we wanted people to get the form and solve their problem immediately. So adding a barrier for marketing didn’t jibe with our values at that moment.
Therefore we did two things:
- We added the option to sign up to our mailing list.
- We added some links to other pages so that they would spend more time on the site and maybe become interested.
The results: we ended up with about a 0.5% subscription rate. So we were adding about 100 people a month to our mailing list, many of whom eventually bought. We could have optimized this for better conversions but were happy with this result. Our very soft sell meant that people were very interested. They were very likely to be in the “buy soon” or “buy someday” categories.
The links reduced our bounce rate from close to 100% to the ’80s. 8x% bounce rate is not great. It did mean, though, that we ended up with 100’s of people viewing our content, engaging with it, subscribing through those pages, and expressing interest in buying.
In this case, the intent was zero, so we did not convert anybody to sales directly.
In other cases, we have been able to get some sales this way, this is never a big driver, but you can eke a few transactions out.
How to fix the wrong offer problem
Change the offer.
- Gate your content.
- Encourage subscriptions so that you can sell later.
- Encourage visiting other sites so that you can expose them to new offers.
- Create a better offer: I don’t describe this above, but your problem may be that your offer isn’t any good; the perceived value is too low. To fix this. Make your offer more interesting.
Too much traffic is not a problem
These tips should help you change your traffic so that it is the right traffic or meet your visitors where their intent is. Having traffic is a great win, and one way or the other, you should be able to use it to learn from it, increase your exposure and generate sales, whether now or in the future.
Unless that is, you are sending Pokemon traffic to an entrepreneurial website. That is a lost cause. (Well, I think, since I don’t actually know what Pokemon is…)