Why Business Websites Usually Don’t Work


(And how to turn them around!)

Plenty of New Zealand businesses have websites. However, if you talk to most small business owners, most websites are failing to get results for the owner. Whether it is getting leads, clients or sales, a business website exists to make a profit.

They Can Get Business

On the other hand, websites can certainly work. The internet is a huge opportunity. There are lots of case studies of small businesses having huge success with the internet. Some of those are in New Zealand, lots are overseas.

Whether you’re building a new site, or wanting to improve an existing one, it’s helpful to understand the problems.

Diagnosing The Problem

So what separates the winners from the losers, as it were? What makes the difference, is it just dumb luck? No, it’s not really luck at all. It’s about understanding how online marketing works, and implementing a proven system.

Typical websites usually fail for two simple reasons.

1). Not Enough Visitors

Traffic is how we marketers describe visitors to a website. Without traffic a website is nothing. Just like a print advertisement, you’ve got to get it in front of people to make it work.

Unfortunately the average kiwi business doesn’t do much at all to get traffic. Usually they pay to have a site built and then it sits there doing very little.

So how do you get traffic? There’s a huge variety of ways on the internet. Here’s list of what’s most likely to work for service businesses:

  • Search engine marketing – getting your site at top of search results.
  • Content marketing – putting out great information in the form of video, writing or audio. After all, the internet is mostly about information.
  • Social media marketing – building relationships and promoting your website on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Offline promotion – put your web address on things like your business card, print advertising, in your offices, etc. Give people an incentive to visit your site.

And lots more of course, but those are the main ones to start with.

2). Visitors Don’t Turn Into Clients

The second big problem is that when people do visit the site they don’t turn into clients. This is what we call conversion, converting visitors or prospects into clients.

The normal reason conversion is poor, is the site is what we call a brochure or business card website. In other words, it’s just an ad talking about the business. It doesn’t provide value or talk to the prospect about their problems or needs.

The answer is to use more direct marketing. Provide great information and help the prospect. Focus on their needs, talk about them and give a solution to their problems. That’s the light your services should be introduced in.

Often conversions are poor because a business is trying to do things in too big of a jump. While you might be able to ask a first time visitor to, say, buy a DVD, it’s probably too much to ask them to commit to an expensive service. You don’t get married straight after the first date. They need to know and trust you a little more when you’re selling a service. So we take smaller steps first, like asking the prospect for some contact details, or giving them free info.

Giving prospects good information also helps to setup you, or your business, as an expert in their eyes. Being seen as an authority is vital in the 21st century, if you’re selling premium services.

Turning Your Website Around

Just about any under performing website can be turned around. The key is to have a plan. Break down your website marketing into the two basic areas, traffic and conversion, and make a plan for improving both. It may be you’re already strong in one area, so it’s just the other that needs some attention before you get results.

New Websites

If you’re building a new website from scratch, then plan around these two areas. Don’t just build some pretty pages. Instead build a machine that brings clients into your business.

2 Responses to Why Business Websites Usually Don’t Work
  1. Joel
    February 23, 2012 | 12:55 pm

    Hey just read you’re write up, although I’m not selling anything on my site I really found it interesting. Anyway just thought I’d question this sentence “Just about any under performing website can’t be turned around.” Did you mean can’t? Or can?

    Keep up the helpful posts!


  2. Luke Foster
    March 13, 2012 | 8:12 am

    Sorry for the slow reply, Joel.

    Thanks for catching that mistake! I’ve just fixed it.

Luke Foster, Marketing Geek who helps New Zealand service businesses make the most of the internet to get more business.
Luke Foster on Twitter Luke Foster on Facebook
Contact Luke
Email: luke@marketinggeek.co.nz
Office: 07 218 0278
Mobile: 021 241 5330
Address: 80 Vernon Rd, RD1, Tauranga, 3171
Or use the contact form to contact Luke.