Even with plenty of website traffic, many small businesses are bewildered by hardly getting any new business out of that traffic. It seems like people show up, then simply leave again without a trace.

While traffic to your site is important, it doesn’t result to much if your site isn’t inspiring people to stick around. At times, it can seem like everything you spend on marketing and advertising falls flat and you can be left feeling it was all a waste of time.

The good news is this can be changed. There are a lot of reasons people may leave your website, and here we will cover the most common ones. Once you recognise a problem, you can take action and fix it.

1. Poor website design

You may think that maintaining a quality look for your site is a low priority in your day-to-day business. When in fact, an ugly or messy website can be taken as a reflection of how you run your business. It can make a company look unprofessional or look like they simply don’t give a damn.

Research has shown that good web design instils trust and motivates visitors to use more of your website and to ultimately do business with you.

2. Your content is difficult to read

The structure of your content should be chunked down to allow for easy reading and quick scanning.

Ways to simplify your content and make it more satisfying to read include:

  • Sub-headings to emphasise main points down the page
  • Body copy should be in a clean, clear font at a reasonable size
  • Use bullet points
  • Insert block quotes or pull-out quotes
  • Include images, diagrams and videos to illustrate a point
  • Avoid long words throughout
  • Vary the lengths of sentences and avoid really long ones
  • Make good use of paragraph breaks

Boring vs Interesting

3. Unclear navigation

Congratulations. At this point, your visitors are interested and thinking they would like to find out more. But, they’ve run into a hurdle in the process.

For example:

  • There is a menu at the top, but the labels are confusing. Such ‘Forward Thinking’ or ‘It’s in the bag’. The labels should be descriptive, such as ‘Services’ and ‘About’, so there is no need to be clicking links to find out what you are trying to say. Website navigation is no place to be creative. Don’t make people think. It might be easier and quicker for them to find another website.
  • There are various menus all over the place. Keep it simple and organised, and have one main menu that is structured clearly.
  • Links within the content don’t reflect where they are linking to. (More on this in point 5 below.)
  • Important links within the content are hard to see.

Offer people a simple clean path to follow, and it will steer them towards what you are wanting them to do.

4. Slow loading pages

Tick… tick… tick… We’ve all been there. Some days it can simply be due to the user’s slow internet connection. But if your site is slow all the time, you can be losing a lot of opportunities.

Reasons for a slow website can include:

  • Unreliable webhosting. A lot of people cheap out on webhosting. They think it’s all the same. Not true. Make sure you are with a hosting service that provides plenty of memory, power and security. After years of dealing with different hosting companies and managing clients’ sites, my favourite hosting service is Siteground (starting from the GrowBig plan to include the must-have Premium Features).
  • Adding lots of oversized images to your pages. If you are adding images at their original camera size, one image can take about 20-30 seconds to load. WordPress, for example, allows you to reduce large images so they don’t drain the system.
  • A poorly built website theme. Messy script can take time for the web browser to read. A newer, cleanly built theme will run more smoothly.
  • Too many bells and whistles on your site. Animations, social media feeds, banner ads and all sorts of site add-ons can weigh a page down (as well as scare people off). Keep it simple.

If you think your website may be slow, have it looked at. It may just need some simple adjustments.

5. Misleading links to your website

Are you promoting your website and not getting any success from your click-throughs?

Chances are your promotions are sending people to your home page, or an internal page, that is not specific to the message you are using in your promotion.

For example, a financial adviser is promoting life insurance, and links to his/her home page. Their insurance information gets lost amongst all their other offerings and visitors will hesitate and leave the site.

The landing page should be all about what you are promoting, and nothing else. It’s like steering people straight to what they are already interested in, in the hope that they will take it further.

6. Ineffective calls to action or none at all

Surprisingly, Small Business Trends suggests that 80% of small B2B business websites don’t have a call to action. Just think of the business they are missing out on because they simply fail to ask for the sale.

It may seem that the obvious thing to do is go to your contact page. But most won’t take action unless you prompt them to.

Every web page should include a relevant call to action at least once.

Stopped in their tracks

People come to your website because they are on a mission to get something sorted, and sorted well. They often leave your site because the flow towards getting what they want is interrupted.

The first step is to find what is likely driving them away. This can be done by observing site analytics and running tests, such as heatmaps and A/B testing. You can find what is working, and what is not.

Incredibly, for every $92 spent on acquiring website traffic, only one dollar is spent on converting that traffic to customers.

That said, conversion rate optimisation is fast becoming a “must have” for business growth.

With the resulting improvements, you will experience a lot more people reaching you through your website, and a major jump in the return on investment from your marketing and advertising.

Carolyn Wilson

Carolyn is the founder of Think Internet, and has been helping professional companies get more business through the internet since 1997, optimising conversion rates through usability and online marketing.
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