Website Marketing Failures (and how to avoid them)

Hidden mineshafts

Image by AndyRobertsPhotos via Flickr

Even established marketers can make big mistakes. Sometimes, their focus is misdirected.  Other times, they use the unsuitable language, or talk too much about the wrong things.

Is Your Website Driving Readers Away? If you’re doing what this well-known guru does, you may actually be shooting yourself in the foot.

The Biggest Website Subscription Fail Ever Newsday (a newspaper in the New York area) just spent $4 million (US) putting their web site behind a paywall. Their intent was to limit access, and earn more money from paying subscribers.  That’s not quite what happened.

The Biggest Mistake Advertisers Make This error can cost you sales and alienate prospects.  It’s not only a big mistake, it’s also an extremely common one.

Why Your Web Site Visits Don’t Equal Sales


Image by à voir etc… via Flickr

Are you having this problem?  You get lots of visits to your site, but no sales (not even clicks). Nobody seems to click on anything, or buy anything?

Someone mentioned recently that he was getting a lot of visits to every page of his site (!), but nobody was clicking, or buying anything.

He proudly showed off his AWStats (those are the stats that your web host will often include in your hosting package), showing over 1,000 monthly visits to his brand-new site, from all over the world. Great, huh?

Not so fast.

I’m getting visits, why no buyers? Why no clicks?

The problem?

The visits were robots. AWStats counts every time a robot, a spider, or other automatic web indexing tool browses your site as a visit. It’s, of course, important to have Google notice you. However, robots, and spiders don’t click (or buy anything either).

Get a truer picture of your stats

If you want a more accurate picture of your stats, there are better tools. Head over to Google and set up analytics for your site. It’s free. It will show you visits, sources, time on page, and much more.  You can even set up goals and conversions (for particular actions or pages you want people to visit (like sales page).  You’ll get a much more accurate picture of what real people are doing.

Once you’ve got stats set up, you can get a better idea of what’s going on. Look at which pages are getting traffic, then where it’s coming from, how long people stay on each page, and the bounce rate.

Is the bounce rate too high?

This could be because the information isn’t what your visitors really wanted.  I had a blog post that referenced Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone to illustrate a point about voice mail.  I kept getting visits for people looking for recordings to use for their answering machines. The traffic was high, but so was the bounce rate. My post didn’t answer my visitor’s question or fit their needs.

Traffic to the right pages

Are there specific pages you want people to read?  Products you offer, or an article about an important industry topic?  Monitor which pages draw traffic, and from where.  If all the traffic you’re getting is going to a silly post about mustaches, rather than your serious take on choosing the right app developer, you may need to adjust your marketing strategy.

Traffic from the right sources

Do search engines see your site?  Are they sending traffic?  Are your social media efforts paying off with traffic to your site? Are you visible in the right places/blogs/groups/sites with comments and articles?

Sales funnel failure

There are a number of reasons that your sales funnel can fail.  It could be that your “buy” button is hard to see. Or, maybe your sales page is difficult to read and your page design needs an overhaul.  Another possibility is that your sales page is leaking (too many distractions).  Or, it could be as simple as a broken link somewhere. Try it yourself.  Go through your sign up process or your sales process.  Or, if you’re too close to it, ask a friend to try.

Not ready to buy

There’s another possibility. You can do everything right, but still not get high sales because you’re attracting people who aren’t ready to buy.  Either they’re still in the research phase of the purchasing process or the problem they have isn’t urgent.  If they don’t need to fix it right now, they won’t buy  immediately.  You can help them along by pointing out additional resources for their problem, offering a free quick consultation, or adding a chat option so they can ask questions. This can help nudge people along in the sales process without being pushy.

Is your Website a Marketing Fail?

website review sticky note imageYesterday, Rex wanted to know my opinion of Mission Control. You can see the site in a separate window here. It’s not NASA (luckily), it’s a corporate web site.

So, I went off to take a look.

Web design, graphics, and navigation OK

Not too bad, though I would prefer a “real” photo, rather than a stock image, and I think the blurry image is distracting (I keep trying to focus on something that’s impossible to see clearly, and it makes my eyes hurt). A few other nits about type color (headings could be darker, and not enough contrast on some navigation buttons), but otherwise, fairly clean design, with lots of white space.

Marketing message failure

The benefits and results they claim to get are so vague they’re useless. What does “Translating broad initiatives and objectives into those exact actions that will fulfill those initiatives and objectives” mean? It’s completely circular.

How about:

  • cut product development time by 42%
  • reduced employee turnover by 27%, saving $500,000 in recruitment costs

Poor customer focus

I ran it through the we-we calculator. It came up with a customer focus score of 10% (out of 100).

That means they talk about themselves nine times as much as they talk about the customer. There’s quite a bit about what they do, but very little about what I would get if I hired them. What headache do they stop ? What sort of aspirin do they have?

They seem to provide some sort of services to improve teamwork and productivity, but it’s hard to tell. Do they save me money? How? Do they reduce employee turnover?

Gobbledygook test failure

The first sentence on the home page says, ” Are the things you’re doing the most effective ‘doings’ to accomplish what’s of critical importance to the organization?”

They’ve made up words (doings?) for no reason. Why not say tasks instead?

Further along it says, “Mission control provides actionable access to determining and doing the most effective ‘doings’ that impact and elevate organizational performance.”

Seems they’ve fallen straight down the gobbledygook rabbit hole.

They’re not really telling me what they do. What’s actionable access anyway?

Then it says they create “Precision instruments..acting in alignment to produce their part of the mission critical results” Sounds more like machines in a factory than people.

The grammar is poor, and the writing is clunky, “An executive is left asking themself.”

And, the press releases haven’t been updated since 2003.

What the???

I noticed a copyright notice on their site. It says that their copyrighted terms include “Agenda”, “Now”, and “Transparent.” Huh?

If I wasn’t looking at the site for this post, I would have run away screaming after a few seconds.

If they were my client, I would recommend that they tweak the design slightly, and completely rewrite the text to make it clearer what their services are, focus more on the customer, and emphasize real benefits. No HR person alive wakes up in the morning and says, “I want my staff to be precision instruments acting in alignment.” They might think, “I wish my staff cooperated more.” That’s a real concern, which a company such as Mission Control might be able to solve.

What do you think? And, Rex, why and how did you pick this company in the first place?

12 Steps to Web Marketing Failure

no sale image

Image compliments of Ben Earwicker

Anyone want to fail at marketing? Would you like to spend lots of money promoting your business and get nothing for it?

I’m hoping you’re shouting. “NO!” at the screen right now.

Here are thirteen common marketing mistakes that companies (like yours) make every day. They don’t mean to, they just don’t always stop and think about what they’re doing.

Read these really awful errors… and then don’t follow them!

1.  Never explain you you’re doing

You’re a professional.  Doctors don’t explain, why should you.  The client doesn’t need to know why you’re charging, or what your process is, just that you’re doing it. That should be sufficient for anyone. Right?

2.  Hire other people to write all your posts

Your own voice, views, and opinions don’t matter.  Besides everything that you could say has already been said. Your own slant isn’t important.

3. Replying to comments is a waste of time

Interacting makes you seem approachable (who wants that)? Much better to be off doing something else. If you’re unreachable, it makes you much more desirable. Play hard to get.

4.  Use lots of fancy words on your web site and your brochures

Write desiccated instead of dry and obstreperous rather than disruptive.  Acronyms are good too.  Don’t spell them out and never explain what they mean; they’ll show your prospects how smart you are.

5.  Freebies are for sissies

Don’t give anything away or do anything for free (ever).  It will just cut into your profits.

6.  Make your products appeal to everybody

The more average you are, the more money you’ll make. Everyone can read English, and everyone wants large shipping containers and packing supplies.  They have soo many uses!

7.  Advertise to everyone

Your products and services are great.  Everyone will want them. Get them in front of as many eyeballs as possible.  Even people who don’t have pets will want your dog food.

8.  Ignore emails from your contact form or ebooks

If they really want to reach you, they’ll call. Who has time to answer emails anyway.

9.  Do everything for free

Eating is overrated.  So is sleeping indoors.

10.  Never share your ideas

Don’t even tell your partners or your vendors.  Someone might steal them. Force everyone to sign non-disclosure agreements. Even the janitor.

11.  Turn off all your social networking tools

Disable Google Plus, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, on your blog, LinkedIn and web site.  Don’t let anyone share until you have a private forum or something to sell.

12.  Include a 5-page legal policy on your site

Everyone will read all those rules and regulations.  They won’t mind.  Oh, and require written permission before anyone can link to you.

Important note: I am not making these up. They’re real. Even the last one.

The Biggest Web Site Subscription “Fail.” Ever.

fail roadNewsday (a newspaper in the New York area) just spent $4 million (US) putting their web site behind a paywall.

Subscription cost: $5 per week.

In three months, they’ve gotten 35 subscribers. That’s $11,428.57 per sign up.

Total earnings so far, $9,000. Not much of an ROI. And a pretty big web marketing failure.

Apparently, the site is awful. It’s hard to navigate. Many of the links are broken. The reporting isn’t very good.

When not to charge

Newsday apparently thought that putting content behind a paywall would work for them the way it’s working for The Wall Street Journal. The Journal’s content, however, is perceived as more valuable, and more focused, namely business news.

In addition, many companies pay for employee subscriptions. No company will pay for Newsday – it’s too general, and not even a very good newspaper.

When to charge

If you’re going to charge, charge for something that matters to your audience. Charge for convenience. Or exclusivity. People will also pay for convenience (say taking 20 articles scattered around your site and packaging them together with new material).

Charge for information that solves a specific problem (like poorly performing web sites – look for more on this next week). Or charge for something that’s not on your web site at all.  You can also charge for something that offers special access or personal attention.

Don’t get so caught up (like Newsday did) in your own needs that you forget what your subscribers and clients want. Or what they will think is worth paying for.

Photo: fireflythegreat