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20th June 2017 3 min read

5 Reasons Why Companies Underperform Online

Categories — Thoughts

Many companies invest a lot of their budget in search marketing to drive large volumes of traffic to their website. What if your website does a poor job at winning visitors over?

Do your visitors leave soon after they arrive without performing any of the actions you hoped they would? Driving traffic to your website is only half the battle. Converting them into customers or incentivising them to do something is what brings the return. If your website isn’t performing as well as you would like it to be, here’s where you might be going wrong.

01. Lack of focus

Switching between smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops, we spend large portions of our day staring at screens. So much information to digest and so little time. The more options vying for our attention on a screen, the more snapshot decisions we are forced to make. If an interface is cluttered, it’s likely that half the options will be ignored or overlooked for the sake of speed and efficiency.

Knowing what’s relevant and what’s not requires you to have a strong understanding of who you are targeting and how your offering specifically benefits them. If you don’t take the time to anticipate what information will be of most value to your visitors, they won’t waste their time wading through the noise to figure it out.


02. Information Overload

“For many consumers, the rising volume of marketing messages isn’t empowering—it’s overwhelming.” – Harvard Business Review

Cramming content on a screen in the hope that a customer won’t miss anything is a total turn off.

By disclosing information progressively, you reveal only the essentials, minimise clutter and hold attention. Overwhelming a visitor with alternative offers and ‘unskimmable’ content shows a lack of consideration and will bounce them straight over to a competitor website. Applying a hierarchy of importance to your content creates a thoughtful flow for your visitors. You don’t need to curtail the information you provide but you do need to decide how much should be presented and when during a user’s journey.

03. Aimless navigation

To successfully guide your website visitors toward the outcome you want (which is usually to subscribe, buy, download, rate or get in touch), then you need to do the work for them and eliminate the obstacles that might negatively impact that journey.

Steve Krug’s common sense bestseller “Don’t Make Me Think” is a powerful reminder of how many unnecessary decisions visitors are forced to make during their website experience.

In order to create a strong narrative, you need to be very clear about who you are specifically targeting. Only then, can you provide them with the information they need as they journey through your website. People give up after a few seconds if they can’t find what they’re looking for. The experience and outcome should be mutually fulfilling for both you and your customer.

Providing useful guidance and helpful calls to action establishes credibility. Without trust, individuals are unlikely to provide you with email addresses, contact information, or payment info.

04. Unrelatable Content

So many brands fall into the trap of proclaiming all the wonderful things that “we are this” and “we do that”. So what? How does that relate to my needs?  Messaging is at its most powerful when it consistently considers the person it’s intended for. Messaging that boasts of “highly professional service” is so generic, it means nothing to anyone. (Who knowingly chooses to do business with an outfit that’s unprofessional?)

Really look at the words you’re using  – are you recognising the needs of your target audience? Have you anticipated what their pain points are and communicated how your offer will tackle/solve these?

People have acquired 70% of the information they need to make a decision before they come to you. They’re not looking for what you offer as much as they’re looking for why they should buy into you.

05. Underwhelming Visual Impact

Every visual component you use to represent your business should serve a purpose. People see and remember your business as a brand that they either relate to or they don’t. All your visual assets need to work together to present an integrated and consistent experience to anyone who encounters it. Does it successfully encapsulate the kind of  (traditional, quirky, informal, objective, classical, playful, reassuring, bold) company you are? Ensure your brand expresses itself consistently and thoughtfully at every touchpoint.

One of your most important visual assets is your logo. It’s a symbol of everything your brand represents. If it looks amateur or outdated, busy or an afterthought, so does your business. Your logo sets the tone. It’s your reputational stamp. Don’t leave it as an afterthought. If you want people to take you seriously, then take yourself seriously. If you’re looking for investment, a global partner or a customer base, your identity needs to support you in all your promotions, presentations, communications and sales efforts.

Videos, animation, illustration, bold typography and authentic imagery wield extra power in the attention economy. Try to avoid using cliché stock imagery or you might end up using the same stock personalities adopted by hundreds of other brands the world over.

To conclude, if people can’t quickly see or experience the value of what you’re offering, they’re not going to buy from you. You only have a few seconds to catch and hold their attention so what you communicate and how you communicate it makes a significant difference to your success online.

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